Daibutsu, Kamakura

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

Two Important Moments In Japanese History

The Choshu/Satsuma alliance and the abdication of the Shogun.

Katsura Kogoro, the military chief of Choshu han, and Saigo Takamori, the commander in chief of Satsuma forces, shook hands. The once bitter rivals had united.

The Satsuma-Choshu Alliance, the first union between any of the clans since the establishment of the Tokugawa Bakufu two and a half centuries before, was finally realized on January 21, 1866, the result of a yearlong struggle by Sakamoto Ryoma. The alliance, which formed the most powerful military force in the nation, was a turning point in Japanese history, and the beginning of the end of the Tokugawa Bakufu.

October 1867. The Shogun had met with dozens of feudal lords. Ryoma and his followers were waitng at their hideout. What would the Shogun do? Finally, a letter was delivered. Everyone watched anxiously as Ryoma opened it and read it to himself. He held the letter so close to his face that the others could not see his expression but they could tell he was weeping.

"What does it say?" they gasped. Ryoma read the letter out loud in stunned amazement, 'The Shogun has indicated that he will restore the political power to the Imperial Court."

Everyone remained silent, mesmerized by what they had just heard. Ryoma handed the letter to the others. "Now I understand the true intentions of the Shogun," he said in a loud wail. "He's really made the right decision. I swear I would die for him now." Ryoma was ready to give his life for the man whom until moments before he had been prepared to kill, because it was this man, the former Shogun, whom Ryoma now considered the savior of the nation. For Ryoma, he now felt that a bloody civil war had been avoided.

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