Unlike other domains, Tosa had a strictly-enforced separation between joshi high-ranked samurai and kashi low-ranked samurai. By the time he reached adulthood he was by all accounts a master swordsman.
What the Americans found was a technologically backward, though intricately complicated, island nation, under the rule of the House of Tokugawa, that had been isolated from the rest of the world for two and a half centuries.
Whether or not the Americans realized the far-reaching effects of their gunboat diplomacy, they now set into motion a coup de theatre which fifteen years hence would transform the conglomerate of some feudal domains into a single, unified country.
When the fifteenth and last shogun, Yoshinobu Tokugawa, abdicated his rule and restored the emperor to his ancient seat of power in NovemberJapan was well on its way to becoming an industrialized nation, rapidly modernizing and Westernizing in a unique Japanese sense.
Quite a transformation in just fifteen years, and much of the credit goes to a lower ranking samurai from the Tosa domain named Sakamoto Ryoma. When Ryoma fled his native Tosa in springhe was a "nobody. But, of course, Ryoma did not kill Kaishu.
Instead, this champion of samurai who would overthrow the shogunate and expel the barbarians became the devoted follower of the elite shogunal official. Ryoma now worked with Kaishu, whom he called "the greatest man in Japan," to establish a naval academy in Kobe, where he and his comrades studied the naval arts and sciences under their revered mentor.
But certain of his hotheaded comrades called Ryoma a turncoat for siding with the enemy, which, of course, was not true.
As if to belie the false accusation, in the following June Ryoma vowed, in a letter to his sister, to "clean up Japan once and for all. News of the attack deeply troubled Ryoma, who was concerned about possible designs among the Western powers, particularly France and England, to colonize Japan as the latter had China.
When Ryoma learned that the foreign ships that had bombarded Choshu were subsequently repaired at a Tokugawa shipyard in Edo, he was fighting mad. This is all because corrupt officials in Edo are in league with the barbarians.
Four years later the "nobody" from Tosa forced the peaceful abdication of Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu, and the restoration of the emperor to power--the event that historians call the Meiji Restoration.
But how could Ryoma--who had plunged from the status of "nobody," to that of outlaw, and one of the most wanted men on a long list of Tokugawa enemies--be of sufficient consequence to force the abdication of the generalissimo of the year-old samurai government?
And what were his reasons for doing so, even at the risk of his own life? To answer the second question first, and to put it quite simply, Ryoma was a lover of freedom--the freedom to act, the freedom to think, and the freedom to be.
These were the ideals that drove Ryoma on his dangerous quest for freedom--which, of course, was nothing less than the salvation of Japan. But the greatest obstacle to this freedom, and to the salvation of Japan from foreign subjugation, was the antiquated Tokugawa system, with its hundreds of feudal domains and suppressive class structure, which men like Katsu Kaishu and Sakamoto Ryoma meant to replace with a representative form of government styled after the great Western powers, and based on a free-class society and open commerce with the rest of the world.
While Ryoma was painfully aware of the necessity to eliminate the shogunate, the means for revolution eluded him. Having abandoned Tosa, he was a ronin, an outlaw samurai--a status which at once aided and confounded him.
Unlike his comrades-in-arms from Choshu, Satsuma and other samurai clans, he was not bound to the service of feudal lord and clan.Aug 13, · A respectful and intelligent man, Ryoma had passionate political beliefs. He had a clear foresight, and through his involvement with others who shared his beliefs he was able to make a great contribution to Japan’s rapid modernization.
Curator of the Kyoto National Museum and author of Ryoma wo Yomu Tanoshisa (Rinsen Sensho, ), Miyakawa Teiichi, gave a talk about the photographs of Sakamoto Ryoma’s wife, Oryo. It was a fascinating lecture. But the history expert also warns against taking away too much from the Ryotaro Shiba novel “Ryoma ga Yuku,” which fawned on Sakamoto’s achievements and omitted some key facts.
Chōshū’s victory in the summer war of and the impending Tokugawa collapse made Sakamoto’s politics and contacts of increasing interest to his former superiors in Tosa. He was welcomed back in good standing as a Tosa retainer, chiefly through the efforts of Gotō Shōjirō (後藤象二郎, ), now the leading Tosa official.
For a deeper understanding of his subjects' lives, the author has retraced the footsteps of Sakamoto Ryoma and other heroes of the Restoration, visiting the historical cities of Kyoto, Nagasaki, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Shimonoseki, Hagi, Ryoma's native Kochi, and the picturesque fishing village of Tomo-no-Ura on the Inland Sea.
Mar 10, · Sakamoto Ryōma (坂本 龍馬, January 3, – December 10, ) was a Japanese prominent figure in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period in Japan. One of his most noted accomplishments during this period was the negotiation of peace between Chōshū (present day Yamaguchi .