Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Trade: My Sword for your Gun

The Samurai Sakamoto Ryoma attended a meeting along with his comrade Ito Shinosuke with the Consul General of Britain as well as several other samurai. Following the meeting, they all stood up to shake each others hands and Ryoma followed suit.

Ryoma, extending his hand to the British official, and with a wide smile uttered with an incomprehensible pronunciation the English word "trade." As he spoke he reached for his sword, and offered it in exchange for the Smith and Wesson, at which the Englishmen naturally stepped back and drew his revolver; but as Ryoma had still not drawn his blade, the dumbfounded Briton soon realized that this smiling samurai meant no harm.

Ryoma broke out in laughter, and said, "Ito-san, ask him if he'll trade his pistol for my sword."

The Englishman declined Ryoma's offer, but was nevertheless impressed with this odd samurai who would trade what other men of the two-sworded class considered their soul for a Smith and Wesson.

Sometime later, Ryoma was presented with a gift from Takasugi Shinsaku, the founder of a corps of Loyalists from Choshu domain called the Extraordinary Corps. The gift. A Smith and Wesson revolver Model #2. Ryoma spun the cylinder, wild-eyed, like a child playing with a much longed-after toy.

"Is it loaded?" he asked. "I think so," said Takasugi. Ryoma stood up, walked over to the window. "It's funny," he said, cocking the hammer, closing one eye, and taking careful aim at the sky. "All those years we've spent practicing with the sword, when this thing is so much easier to use, and more effective too." Ryoma fired a shot. "It is loaded!" he roared. "I'm sure it will come in very useful someday."

It did come in useful as Ryoma used it to fight off would be assassins in the first attack on his life. Unfortunately it would not help him the second time he was attacked. He did not have his revolver as he had given it to his sister as a gift after seeing her for the first time in many years since he left Tosa.


  1. Ryoma is a little-known yet impressive man.

    More well known is William Adams, the 'first' Gaijin to be well and truly accepted. If you haven't read it already, I highly recommend Samurai William by Giles Milton.

  2. Thank you Tracy. I am going to put that into my "To Read" list.

  3. That's a great anecdote. I don't blame the guy for not trading his gun for a sword. That's a good way to get shot! hehe Thanks for sharing!

  4. I agree John. I'd prefer to keep my gun as well. Unless I had a spare gun. Then it would be cool to have a souvenir samurai sword.