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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 12:53 pm    Post subject: For March - Sakamoto Ryoma Reply with quote
The March 2007 discussion group will cover Sakamoto Ryoma. Facilitated by Obenjo and Wave Tossed.

This is the sign up thread and the info thread.
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Wave Tossed
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:09 pm    Post subject: Sakamoto Ryoma Discussion Reply with quote
Okay, everyone. We spent a month on the pro-Bakufu Shinsengumi. Now for some anti-Bakufu folks. Particularly Sakamoto Ryoma and his colleagues.

I'll see if I can come up with some online sources. But for now, here are two books to get started with to prepare:

Marius Jansen, SAKAMOTO RYOMA AND THE MEIJI REFORMATION, available at Amazon and/or various libraries.

Romulus Hillsborough, RYOMA: A RENAISSANCE SAMURAI, also available at Amazon and/or various libraries.

If anyone else comes up with some other good research sources, feel free to post them here on this thread.

Just to warn everyone: just as was done last month, there will be some homework, questions to research and answer. Cool
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:33 pm    Post subject: Re: For March - Sakamoto Ryoma Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
The March 2007 discussion group will cover Sakamoto Ryoma. Facilitated by Obenjo and Wave Tossed.


Awesome! Ue o Muite, Arukou is one of my karaoke favorites!!! Party time

(oh, and sorry, I'll be gone half the month, so I'll not be playing. THOUGH, if I could be given privileges to see the discussion--kind of like auditing a class--it might help me prepare for the April topic I'm leading)
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heron
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Fantastic, I'd definitely like to be part of this. Especially having done my Ryoma pilgrimage to Kochi last year Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno,

Sign me up. This will be an unfamiliar topic for me.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:02 pm    Post subject: Re: For March - Sakamoto Ryoma Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:


Awesome! Ue o Muite, Arukou is one of my karaoke favorites!!! Party time


Mmmmm.... Sukiyaki is yummy!


Sakamoto, the indispensible musician.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
An excellent readily available source for those who read Japanese is Rekishi Gunzou #4, which spotlights Sakamoto Ryoma. This is from the ‘new’ Rekishi Gunzou series and was published about 8 months ago. The company also put out quite a few volumes about Ryoma in the old series-I’ll post them tomorrow. Many of his original letters are reproduced.
A few words about the two sources cited so far. Jansen’s book is excellent and by far the better of the two-because it is over 45 years old, there are a few errors and outdated information (mainly dates), but overall it’s great.
Hillsborough’s book is another story. It’s entertaining light reading but shouldn’t be looked at as a history book-it’s more historical fiction, like ‘Gempei’, ‘Taiko’ or ‘Musashi’. It’s useful for giving newcomers a framework of information and a general overview of the situation-but a reliable history text, it’s not. Hillsborough mixes fiction and fact to the point where they are indistinguishable, and the book has no footnotes, endnotes, or sources (thankfully, it does have an index). The book is about as accurate as the average Taiga drama-I’m thinking the Shinsengumi Taiga here. Hillsborough puts Ryoma in meetings in situations he had no part of historically, and gives him motivations that are not founded by historical evidence (the ‘Abraham Lincoln’ thing being one-no mention of this in any Japanese sources-if someone has one, let me know, because it would be quite interesting to read). One example off the top of my head involves Ryoma’s wife, Oryo. She recovered two of her sisters after they were sold into prostitution, and had a confrontational face off with one of the pimpmeisters involved-pretty gutsy on her part, and true (well, at least it’s mentioned in one of Ryoma’s historical letters). This was before she met Ryoma. Hillsborough has Ryoma strolling onto the scene, forcing the yakuza thugs to drop their weapons through his very presence, and even browbeating them into going and fetching the enslaved sister. He then helps Oryo find gainful employment at the local inn (actually, he first met her after she had started working there). Obviously, this is done to brighten Ryoma’s ‘halo effect’ even moreso, making him the noble knight in shining armor. It aggravated me because it lessens and cheapens the historical bravery shown by Oryo. Hillsborough does this sort of thing constantly throughout the book.
The book is extremely biased to the point of being blind hero worship, which Hillsborough pretty much admits in his intro. And if you loved the ‘propensity to repeat’ that he showed in the Shinsengumi book-well, the foundation for that was laid here. Ryoma ‘sneers’ and ‘chuckles’ so much that at times I thought I was reading a biography of Dr. Doom-all it needed was a ‘BAH!’ here and there. The ‘normally calm and cool’ Ryoma SLAMS his fist on the nearest available surface and starts screaming out an impassioned abstract speech concerning freedom, the class system, and the rights of man in virtually EVERY conversation he has (and if it’s a conversation where he’s not present, Hillsborough has someone else do the same thing). And another thing-I’m no expert on swords, but Hillsborough is constantly speaking of characters ‘releasing the latch on their sword’ and ‘unlatching their sword’. What the heck is this? As far as I know, Japanese swords and scabbards don’t have latches (he’s not speaking of the sword being tied to the scabbard)-maybe one of you sword aficionados can explain this. If he’s talking about the move you see in movies where a samurai will inch a sword out of the scabbard just a bit with their thumb, there’s got to be a better way to describe it.
Anyway, the book is entertaining and fun to read-but I wouldn’t try to quote anything in it as history unless you can verify it elsewhere. It seems Hillsborough learned a lot by writing this book, since his Shinsengumi book makes several massive improvements on it.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
If he’s talking about the move you see in movies where a samurai will inch a sword out of the scabbard just a bit with their thumb, there’s got to be a better way to describe it.


I prefer to think of it as "preparing to open up a can of whoop-ass," but I've seen "loosened his sword in its sheath" used. "Unlatched" is kind of clumsy.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
I prefer to think of it as "preparing to open up a can of whoop-ass,"


If he'd have used this, it would have instantly become one of my favorite books.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
If he'd have used this, it would have instantly become one of my favorite books.


You'd think a guy with a name as cool as Romulus Hillsborough would inject some of that style into his writing.

"Displeased by the ronin's insolence, Sakamoto Ryouma broke the seal on his sword, preparing to unleash a can of whoop-ass."
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
He apparently needs to fire his editor - or get one. I'm shocked and dissappointed that his book(s) seem to encompass a lot of fiction - more disappointed than shocked because I've only read one of his books - but I was under the impression that this guy was a "historian", not a "turnbullian". Guess I gotta finish my book (which will of course use only the best sources and have an index which will include anything up to "and", "the", and "but") Just Kidding

All I need is someone to drop 25G on me and I'll have it done in a few months Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
He apparently needs to fire his editor - or get one. I'm shocked and dissappointed that his book(s) seem to encompass a lot of fiction - more disappointed than shocked because I've only read one of his books - but I was under the impression that this guy was a "historian", not a "turnbullian".


Well, to his credit the Shinsengumi book was a big step up-it is a solid historical source. Lots of endnotes, sources, differing versions of events are given equal time, and when he's speculating he says so...not to mention he's not writing it to read like a novel. The only bad thing is that he enters the proceedings with a negative viewpoint of the group (much of which is legit) rather than let the evidence speak for itself.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 27, 2007 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I looked at the Hillsborough book having read and admired Jansen's biography, but found his style and his hero worship attitude very off-putting. So I've never read it. I've got the catalog of The Age of Sakamoto Ryoma from the recent exhibition in Kyoto which, among other wonders, reproduces a lot of his letters with modern commentaries. And I have Kimura's "In the footsteps of Sakamoto Ryoma" which is mainly about his time in Kyoto (and all the great restaurants there are now in the places he frequented). Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
I've got the catalog of The Age of Sakamoto Ryoma from the recent exhibition in Kyoto which, among other wonders, reproduces a lot of his letters with modern commentaries.


Where was the exhibition held? I wouldn't mind getting one of those for myself (most museums have lots of copies of past exhibitions)...assuming my wife doesn't mind another addition to her 'to-do for Randy' list.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:02 am    Post subject: About Hillsborough's Ryoma book Reply with quote
All,
I agree with the comments you have all made about Hillsborough's book. The reason why I put it on the recommended reading list and Wave Tossed posted it, is because the book is readily available and will give the reader a good enough overview to at least know what we are talking about in the forum. From a pure historical perspective,yes, Jansen's book is the one of choice.

About the Abe Lincoln thing- WT and I have already started a debate on the validity of Hillsborough's assertion on this. The good thing about this issue is that it is indeed a lightning rod for debate and discussion, so let's leave it for the study group when it actually starts.

Hillsborough's article on Ryoma, Sakamoto Ryoma - The Indispensable 'Nobody' is available on the SA articles page. http://www.samurai-archives.com/rin.html
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ashigaru wrote:
"Displeased by the ronin's insolence, Sakamoto Ryouma broke the seal on his sword, preparing to unleash a can of whoop-ass."


Enter this in the Samurai Fiction contest, and it's got my vote. It even eclipses the grandeur of my 'Abe No Seimei' series.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
sign me up
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
heron wrote:
I've got the catalog of The Age of Sakamoto Ryoma from the recent exhibition in Kyoto which, among other wonders, reproduces a lot of his letters with modern commentaries.


Where was the exhibition held? I wouldn't mind getting one of those for myself (most museums have lots of copies of past exhibitions)...assuming my wife doesn't mind another addition to her 'to-do for Randy' list.


It was held in the Kyoto National Museum July-August 2005. 312 pages, it's huge. It includes 60 of Ryoma's letters, " personal belongings, paintings by late-Edo artists who held loyalist ideas, kawaraban news prints and illustrated handscrolls capturing the surprised and curious reactions to the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry's fleet and various battle scenes for the time, and artifacts related to the Sakamoto clan and affiliates from Tosa. (it) offers an in-depth re-examination of the life and legacy of this cultural icon and the turbulent era in which he lived." (from the English intro to the catalog). Curated by Miyakawa Teiichi, who also wrote the commentaries. Paintings section curated by Kanou Hiroyuki (this section is fabulous for cultural background: I found it eye-opening Very Happy )
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
Tatsunoshi wrote:
heron wrote:
I've got the catalog of The Age of Sakamoto Ryoma from the recent exhibition in Kyoto which, among other wonders, reproduces a lot of his letters with modern commentaries.


Where was the exhibition held? I wouldn't mind getting one of those for myself (most museums have lots of copies of past exhibitions)...assuming my wife doesn't mind another addition to her 'to-do for Randy' list.


It was held in the Kyoto National Museum July-August 2005. 312 pages, it's huge. It includes 60 of Ryoma's letters, " personal belongings, paintings by late-Edo artists who held loyalist ideas, kawaraban news prints and illustrated handscrolls capturing the surprised and curious reactions to the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry's fleet and various battle scenes for the time, and artifacts related to the Sakamoto clan and affiliates from Tosa. (it) offers an in-depth re-examination of the life and legacy of this cultural icon and the turbulent era in which he lived." (from the English intro to the catalog). Curated by Miyakawa Teiichi, who also wrote the commentaries. Paintings section curated by Kanou Hiroyuki (this section is fabulous for cultural background: I found it eye-opening Very Happy )


Sounds like a must have. Thanks for the info!
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
OK, here are more volumes of Rekishi Gunzou (original series) that spotlight Sakamoto and the Bakumatsu in general. Sakamoto is in volume 23. Other volumes that include bits on him but are focused more on other groups and individuals (Katsu, the Shinsengumi, Hijikata, Kondo, etc) are 31, 39, 40, 56, 58, and 72.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 2:59 pm    Post subject: RYOMA Reply with quote
Sign me up ,i also think the Roms book on Ryoma is just a gushing love letter that really gives the subject more credit than is due ,not to say Ryoma did not do a lot but we'll deal with that next month .
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:29 pm    Post subject: Re: RYOMA Reply with quote
Wicked Iemon wrote:
Sign me up ,i also think the Roms book on Ryoma is just a gushing love letter that really gives the subject more credit than is due ,not to say Ryoma did not do a lot but we'll deal with that next month .


Ahh, I love the above quote! The wicked lemon is back and dripping with sourness! Awesome! Welcome back! Please ensure you are going to be active next month. Discussions are much funnier and juicier when Wicked lemon is around! Very Happy Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2007 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
What the heck, signme up to, i guess Whatever
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
When does the Sakamoto Ryoma discussion start?
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shikisoku wrote:
When does the Sakamoto Ryoma discussion start?


3月15日から始めます。
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