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Obenjo Kusanosuke
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 5:55 am    Post subject: The Wolves' Den Reply with quote


Please feel free to post anything related to the Shinsengumi here. This way, we can keep it all together in our own version of the "Shinsengumi Tonjo". All posts pertaining to the historical Shinsengumi are welcome.

Note: Anything related to Shinsengumi inspired anime should be directed to the anime forum.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Do you mean we can't have other threads that related to the Shinsengumi?
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Sure, other threads are fine, but anything about the Shinsengumi is welcome here except anime-related stuff as well as erotic stories involving Shinsengumi members. Laughing

Please consider this a quasi-Shinsengumi subforum within the Bakumatsu-Meiji until we can actually create real subforums.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 5:27 am    Post subject: New Shinsengumi Mook Release Reply with quote
CG Nihon Shi Series #10 is all about the Shinsengumi. It has some very nice CG recreations of the Shinsengumi living quarters, Kondo and Hijikata's homes back in Hino, the Ikedaya among others. This is a great edition to a fantastic series.



This can be ordered from Amazon.co.jp. Click here to go the Amazon Japan page for this.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I didn't know if this was the right place to put this question, but since it pertains to Serizawa Kamo, I figured it was as good as any of the (MANY!) other Shinsengumi threads.

To the question: I've looked for and failed to find a text or translation of the death poem that Serizawa wrote in prison prior to his joining the Roshigumi; is it actually extant, or is my quest in vain? I guess this would be part of yet another "I'll never understand..." file for me. Thanks in advance!

Oh yeah, I haven't read the Hillsborough book on the Shinsengumi yet, but I finally ordered it...are there any other good English-language sources I can consult besides the myriad Rurouni Kenshin and Peacemaker Kurogane fans on the internet? Rolling Eyes Cheers and good night!
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Hi Onnamusha,

I'd start with the Hillsborough book. It's the best place to start but it can be confusing at times, so feel free to post questions here and we'll do our best to answer them or guide you through some of head-hurting history and passages.

Regarding Serizawa's poem, I'm on an overseas business trip right now and can't take a look at my book sources. Please wait another week or so until I get back home and have some time to look into it. In the meantime, if anyone else can answer this, please go right ahead!
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Hi Onnamusha,

I'd start with the Hillsborough book. It's the best place to start but it can be confusing at times, so feel free to post questions here and we'll do our best to answer them or guide you through some of head-hurting history and passages.

Regarding Serizawa's poem, I'm on an overseas business trip right now and can't take a look at my book sources. Please wait another week or so until I get back home and have some time to look into it. In the meantime, if anyone else can answer this, please go right ahead!
Thanks, Obenjo-san! Very Happy Ironically, while doing a search on the Mito Tengu group, I managed to come up with a reference that allowed me to view page 31 of Hillsborough's book, which very helpfully and unexpectedly furnished me with the very thing that I had fruitlessly Googled for for several days.

Amidst the desolation of snow and frost,
The plum is the first to bloom in brilliant color.
The blossoms keep their fragrance,
Even after they have scattered.

I seem to have this sort of oblique luck, in that, right after I pose a question, some unexpected quarter furnishes either the very answer or something that takes me somewhere else entirely. I do suppose I need to digest the Hillsborough book in its entirety before asking more questions like this. I'm hoping that it will have a more complete examination of Serizawa's pre-Roshigumi exploits and his involvement with Tengu-to. Thanks again!

Incidentally, in my habitual Ebay searches for Shinsengumi items, I found this, which ends today:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&item=140278884050
An ornately-covered book on the Tennen Rishin Ryu (subtitled Visit the Origins of the Shinsengumi) by Kojima (I assume this is Kojima Masataka, who I found listed as the author of another Shinsengumi book on Amazon). Since it is in Japanese, I can't read it (I'm beginning to feel this is a serious impediment to my researches! Mad ). An unusual item, though! Cheers!
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
Since it is in Japanese, I can't read it (I'm beginning to feel this is a serious impediment to my researches!


Onnamusha, if you are serious about writing fiction set in Japan you should start learning Japanese as soon as possible - maybe spend some of that time you spend "fruitlessly googling" Very Happy Unless you can read Japanese your fiction will always be one-sided. I don't know how you would find out much about Seriwaza in English, apart from Hillsborough's book, and what is in anime and manga. Shinsengumi hq used to have a lot of information but they seem to be in the process of reorganising it all. However, the resources available in Japanese far outweigh anything in English in all aspects. The illustrated histories like Rekishi Gunzou give a wealth of background visual material for a start.

The only alternative is to hire a Japanese speaking research assistant, preferably one who lives in Japan Very Happy Maybe your writer's luck will lead you to someone. Other than that you just have to join the rest of us studying kanji till your eyeballs bleed. Cool
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:

Onnamusha, if you are serious about writing fiction set in Japan you should start learning Japanese as soon as possible - maybe spend some of that time you spend "fruitlessly googling" Very Happy Unless you can read Japanese your fiction will always be one-sided. <snip> Other than that you just have to join the rest of us studying kanji till your eyeballs bleed. Cool

I think that's the conclusion I'm inevitably coming to; I wonder if it would be foolhardy to teach myself Japanese like my husband taught himself Latin: he translated Caesar's Gallic Wars and in the process learned Latin. I've found what looks to be a translation from old to new Japanese of the 41 'chapters' of Daibosatsu Toge...it might take a lifetime... Confused I guess it is time to visit the "Japanese language" forum and set up a whole secondary path here...but it beats scratching my head and beating my fists on the keyboard! Laughing
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:08 pm    Post subject: The Good The Rom And The Gumi Reply with quote
The thing about Mr Hillsbourough's opus is that he is very much a fan of the Loyalist's and not so much a fan of the various Tokugawa Militia's ,Swat Team's ect .
Rather from attending his lectures and reading his books thats the impression given .
A case in point would be where "Ikedaya Incident" becomes "Slaughter At Ikedaya "yet it would seem the loyalist's had more men than Kondo & co .
I could be wrong but thats just the impression left on me .
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 6:03 pm    Post subject: Re: The Good The Rom And The Gumi Reply with quote
wicked iemon wrote:
The thing about Mr Hillsbourough's opus is that he is very much a fan of the Loyalist's and not so much a fan of the various Tokugawa Militia's ,Swat Team's ect .
Rather from attending his lectures and reading his books thats the impression given .
A case in point would be where "Ikedaya Incident" becomes "Slaughter At Ikedaya "yet it would seem the loyalist's had more men than Kondo & co .
I could be wrong but thats just the impression left on me .


You're not wrong. Based on Hillsbourough's love letter to Ryoma (Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai) and the Shinsengumi book, he's very much in awe of the Loyalists and holds the bakufu factions in scorn. He even goes so far in his Ryoma book of inventing fictional episodes to make Ryoma look like Superman (such as Ryoma fearlessly walking right through the middle of a Shinsengumi patrol and laughing at them).
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:26 am    Post subject: Re: The Good The Rom And The Gumi Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
<snip>
You're not wrong. Based on Hillsbourough's love letter to Ryoma (Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai) and the Shinsengumi book, he's very much in awe of the Loyalists and holds the bakufu factions in scorn. He even goes so far in his Ryoma book of inventing fictional episodes to make Ryoma look like Superman (such as Ryoma fearlessly walking right through the middle of a Shinsengumi patrol and laughing at them).
I had often heard Hillsborough's Ryoma book referred to as his "love letter" to Ryoma. Is there anything in that work that I can't get out of Jansen's Ryoma book? It is interesting that just about everyone seems to be very polarized when it comes to the Loyalists and the Shogunate factions, when I have come more and more to believe that they are much more alike than unalike. I have not yet received or read Hillsborough's Shinsengumi book (it is on the way), but I had wondered whether I should read his Ryoma book or not, having read and enjoyed Jansen's work. Among my recent book purchases is Ravina's book on Saigo Takamori (also on the way), along with Everyday Things in Premodern Japan and some others for a bit of light reading. Perhaps with enough well-rounded reading, I can confirm or disabuse myself of the impression I get that the Satsuma and Choshu were simply trying to replace the Tokugawa, not usher in a new and totally different era (in this, I think Ryoma stands out and IMHO deserves a nice love letter.) Naughty naughty It is good to know fact from fiction, though. I am somewhat amused in my current viewing of the NHK "Shinsengumi!" Taiga series that the rather annoying and rude "relative" of Kondo, Sutesuke, is being made out to be like Kurama Tengu??? I also noticed the writer of this series is known for his comedies. That certainly shows; I guess, as long as it isn't purporting to be dead certain fact, artistic license is ok (if the art turns out well, that is...)

Cheers and back to the regularly scheduled madness! Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 1:20 am    Post subject: Re: The Good The Rom And The Gumi Reply with quote
onnamusha wrote:
Is there anything in that work that I can't get out of Jansen's Ryoma book?


Personally, I would quit while you're ahead. Since you enjoy samurai fiction and admire Ryoma, though, you might enjoy reading the book anyway-just don't accept it carte blanche as historical fact.

onnamusha wrote:
It is interesting that just about everyone seems to be very polarized when it comes to the Loyalists and the Shogunate factions, when I have come more and more to believe that they are much more alike than unalike.


Generally here on SA, most everyone also accepts that the sides were very much alike (reflected by the rapidly switching positions of many Loyalists concerning the foreigners, also mirrored within the Bakufu) and that there was plenty of both good and evil on any of the sides involved. While many of us do tend to be more interested in and prefer one group over the other (like I do for the Bakufu, and Heron for the Loyalists), we still tend to look at the overall picture moreso than the occasional fanatic that wanders onto the site to defend their faction of choice to the death, ignoring all evidence to the contrary in doing so.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2008 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Most historians seem to agree that the events of the bakumatsu happened so quickly and in so many places at once that their story cannot be contained in one narrative arc. It's one of the things I find so fascinating about this period. Therefore, many historians take one aspect and follow it through (Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration, Choshu in the Meiji Restoration, Matsuo Taseko and the Meiji Restoration, The Last Samurai (on Saigo Takamori) and so on. Even Beasley divides his massive work up into the different participating groups (Reforming Lords, Dissenting Samurai). Because I first became interested in the bakumatsu and isshin while I was in Yamaguchi-ken, I've found myself following Choshu's arc more than any of the others.

Choshu and Satsuma were enemies and rivals throughout most of the bakumatsu period, and their motives had many differences. You can't really just put them together. To begin with no one wanted to get rid of the Tokugawa. They wanted the shogun to live up to his mandate and get rid of the foreigners. It was only when the bakufu policies were manifestly failing that it became obvious the shogunate could not survive. Even Keiki saw the need for massive reform of what had become a non-functional bureaucracy.

Fom an external point of view the han of the south-west were the ones that stood to suffer the most from a foreign influx - in fact both Choshu and Satsuma came under attack in gun-boat diplomacy. They also had the best information about the spread of Western colonisation, one of the great fears among Japanese at the time. Internally, though the problem was the same throughout Japan, because of their large populations they perhaps had more young men of talent and ability who could see no future for themselves under the old system. At the same time there was a genuine call for yonaoshi, renewing the world, largely from educated commoners.

Of course the Meiji Restoration dealt with some of these challenges and not others. It avoided direct colonisation, though the sting of the unequal treaties remained to have a disproportionate effect on foreign policy, it established a meritocracy of sorts, and it built up a strong enough army and navy to defend itself. But it did not really deal with the demand for renewing the world, for human rights or for much in the way of democracy.
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I just posted on the Shogun-ki blog about why I think there is so little non-fiction material available in English about the Shinsengumi. Feel free to post your comments, either here or on the blog itself.

Here's the link.
http://shogun-yashiki.blogspot.com
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 9:07 am    Post subject: The Romance of the Shinsengumi Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
I just posted on the Shogun-ki blog about why I think there is so little non-fiction material available in English about the Shinsengumi. Feel free to post your comments, either here or on the blog itself.

Here's the link.
http://shogun-yashiki.blogspot.com


I read the blog yesterday morning, and since then, I've composed a long mass of rambling that I think will create too much sluggish mess on this thread, so the bulk of it I am relegating to my own blog with a link to the Shogun-ki blog entry that inspired the rather stream-of-consciousness rant that will follow. Anyone who has read my Samurai Fiction entry will know I'm long-winded and be so forewarned. As for my tidbit here I include only the very first part of the file that extends now to 5 pages in Word (I'm only cutting it off because there are many other things I need to do and this has gone on for two days now!).

A part of my response to the Shogun-ki blog entry: You make an apt comparison of Americans with Old West history and Japanese with Bakumatsu history, certainly, and perhaps the reason that many Americans have a nascent interest in the Shinsengumi, and I’ll bet many Japanese have a nascent interest in, say, Doc Holliday, is partially due to the cross-cultural influence of the old new wave of chambara films from the 50’s, off and on to the present. It is quite easy to imagine six-gun totin’ and boot-wearin’ Sakamoto in the Old West, shootin’ his way outta his favorite saloon in Wyoming or something. His story has the same resonance. Perhaps the Earp brothers facing the Clanton Gang at the OK Corral might have the resonance of the Shinsengumi facing down the Choshu at the Ikeda-ya . Both periods and settings have a great romantic appeal. It is interesting to consider why I, who probably live smack on top of old Civil War battlefields in Tennessee would focus on the happenings in a crowded, chaotic foreign city, eh? What does Kyoto have that the old paths and hideouts of the Confederacy don’t? Maybe it is the appeal of the new and different. Everyone I know around here has something to say about why the South lost and how it’s gonna rise again, or how backwards we are because we live in the losing half of the US, etc. etc. Sometimes I think maybe that’s why I have a bit of an interest in the Mito region of Japan, as they pretty much took themselves out of the happenings in the late Edo era (after the amazing march of the Tengu-To, that is) by having themselves a nice (not-so-nice!) little civil war of their own. I think there must be some sort of fascination with the “other” in the equation as well. I’ve always been interested in the possibility of alien life (non-human, extraterrestrial), but there is the inherent added element of complete “otherness,” the idea that an “exocivilization” would be unfathomable to those who live and function in the cradle of Earth. I get the idea that this feeling is very similar for Japanese around 1853, when the outlandish Black Ships sailed almost right up to the shores of Japan because there was no defensive system in place. Almost like “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

For the rest of the interminable entry, along with my metaphorical theory of "Azeotropic Distillation of History" see my blog entry here: http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=74350917&blogID=449740439

To sum up, I agree with your comparison to US history of the Old West and then go on to riff on the nature of dredging up history and the fascination of the Shinsengumi with regard to the uncertainties inherent in historical endeavors and their advantages for inspiration in fiction writing. I tried to take the apt advice of Paghat in an earlier review I did on the blog by breaking up the blocks of text, but even for all that, it is a long read. (If I can spice it up with a few pictures beyond the stone edifice of Hijikata, I may when time permits, just to make it prettier.)
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:00 pm    Post subject: Re: The Romance of the Shinsengumi Reply with quote
onnamusha wrote:
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
I just posted on the Shogun-ki blog about why I think there is so little non-fiction material available in English about the Shinsengumi. Feel free to post your comments, either here or on the blog itself.

Here's the link.
http://shogun-yashiki.blogspot.com


I read the blog yesterday morning, and since then, I've composed a long mass of rambling that I think will create too much sluggish mess on this thread, so the bulk of it I am relegating to my own blog with a link to the Shogun-ki blog entry that inspired the rather stream-of-consciousness rant that will follow. Anyone who has read my Samurai Fiction entry will know I'm long-winded and be so forewarned. As for my tidbit here...
Glad to know my blog post inspired you. And you call the above post just a tidbit? Surprised I'm still trying to digest all that!

One thing-- I think you've got to be careful when you talk about Americans and their fascination with the Shinsengumi. Most Americans learn about and are drawn into the "Cult of the Shinsengumi" from anime. Wink There generally is no link between Americans who "like" the Shinsengumi and an interest in the "Old West". I merely used the Old West to show how Americans can recall a lot of stories from that time period and why it is popular to show that the Japanese regard the Bakumatsu period and some of the players, both major and minor, in the same way.

Have you finished reading Hillsborough's Shinsengumi book yet? And I'm curious, besides that book, have you found anything else in English about the Shinsengumi apart from fiction or erotic fan-written fantasy? If you have, let me know. Thanks! Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:11 pm    Post subject: Re: The Romance of the Shinsengumi Reply with quote
Obenjo Kusanosuke wrote:
Glad to know my blog post inspired you. And you call the above post just a tidbit? Surprised I'm still trying to digest all that!

One thing-- I think you've got to be careful when you talk about Americans and their fascination with the Shinsengumi. Most Americans learn about and are drawn into the "Cult of the Shinsengumi" from anime. Wink There generally is no link between Americans who "like" the Shinsengumi and an interest in the "Old West". I merely used the Old West to show how Americans can recall a lot of stories from that time period and why it is popular to show that the Japanese regard the Bakumatsu period and some of the players, both major and minor, in the same way.

Have you finished reading Hillsborough's Shinsengumi book yet? And I'm curious, besides that book, have you found anything else in English about the Shinsengumi apart from fiction or erotic fan-written fantasy? If you have, let me know. Thanks! Smile


Interestingly enough, I've just gotten to the part about the Choshu-induced conflagration in 1864 that Heron was referring to in the "Who set fire to Tenryuuji?" thread. It's running a little late here, but I fully intend to read more as I "drift" off to sleep tonight (I can't sleep unless I read first). As for finding things about the Shinsengumi that are neither fiction nor erotic fantasy, perhaps this qualifies, in a quirky sort of way:
. Yes, Nike sells a Shinsengumi shoe...hmmm. I imagine it would be more comfortable for patrolling the Kyoto streets than those pesky waraji... here's the full link:http://www.warakuusa.com/prod_MENS_SHOES_NIKE_310663_SHINSENGUMI.htm A little rich for my blood, after all, a pair of official Bleach anime waraji was only $7.50 plus shipping, and interestingly, they are quite comfortable! As for other links with Shinsengumi information, I included some referential links in the long blog post that may be of interest. Much of it is, predictably, part of an anime fanbase, but one of the sites has a rather long list of Shinsengumi and Roshigumi names. It appears that many of the anime fans do get into the history.

As for the Western/Eastern thing, I meant to draw a parallel by thematic and genre consideration, not necessarily that those who get into history of the Old West would necessarily make the jump to history of the "Old East." Perhaps I addressed more the "Sword of Doom" camp than the "Rurouni Kenshin" camp with that observation and then concluded that the fascination of directors like Kurosawa and Okamoto with things Western might be a parallel development with the fascination over here with things Eastern, including, but not limited to, the Shinsengumi.

Well, it's past my bedtime now, and I'm gonna go snuggle in with my indoor dog and the Shinsengumi (although I don't think Shimada Kai will fit on the bed, so he'll have to sleep outside with Nagasaki...) Anyway, maybe I should just make a list of links and stuff that I've found. Much of the online stuff isn't really documented, but I collect it or links to it anyway!
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Obenjo,
I just read your post on the Shogun-ki and it made me think a bit. You are right about the shinsengumi being popular in japan and Kyoto. My local Book-Off branch has tons of books related to them.

On to the English part. When I took a college course on Early Modern Japan, the professor hadly gave a word to the Shinsengumi. He did mention Sakamoto Ryoma and Saigo Takamori, but that was about it. I think many college professors and academics do not give a hoot about the Shinsengumi in my opinion. It is kind of sad in a way.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
nohime wrote:
<snip>

On to the English part. When I took a college course on Early Modern Japan, the professor hadly gave a word to the Shinsengumi. He did mention Sakamoto Ryoma and Saigo Takamori, but that was about it. I think many college professors and academics do not give a hoot about the Shinsengumi in my opinion. It is kind of sad in a way.

les aka nobu-chan

Nobu-chan, I haven't had the advantage of academic courses in Japanese history as you have, but when I think about the scholarly works that I have read so far (not too many, really, but I'm trying to fix that), the overviews don't really go into the Shinsengumi much or at all. I don't remember them at all from Jansen's 1600-Modern history, and even Shimazaki Toson's fictional work "Before the Dawn" spared a mere paragraph to note the passing through of the group on the Nakasendo in early 1863. I noted that he ID'ed them as the Shinsengumi, not the Roshigumi, which they would have been at the time. This same work has a long and intricate account of the passage of the Mito Ronin in 1864. Of course their advent was more desperate, thus more colorful in fictional account, and also more of interest to the protagonist, who was rather in sympathy with the loyalist side of things. (I do admit I'm reading this work in a bit of a haphazard, skip-around fashion, so I'm definitely not the last word here.)

I wonder if their treatment in chambara and then their featuring in many anime stories has something to do with their rise in popularity, at least in certain niches...
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
That sort of thing is pretty common in college history courses. I took a slew of US Civil War-reconstruction related courses in college where Lee, Sherman, Jackson, Grant (until he became President), and others barely rate a passing mention.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
That sort of thing is pretty common in college history courses. I took a slew of US Civil War-reconstruction related courses in college where Lee, Sherman, Jackson, Grant (until he became President), and others barely rate a passing mention.


I agree - in a class that is examining the entire period, the Shinsengumi rates very low when compared with Ryoma, Choshu, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, Kobu gattai, the Shimazu, etc.

Heck, I had never HEARD of the Shinsengumi until a couple of years ago, and I watched the entire Tokugawa Yoshinobu Taiga Drama and "Ryoma ga Yuku".

I'm pretty sure "Giving a hoot" hardly even registers on the reason-scale. Unless you are talking about a specific battle, the 20th Maine wouldn't even register in an overview of the civil war, despite the relative fame.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Kitsuno, I understand your point and it is well taken. If one was teaching the history of Kyoto during that time period. I know it will be a different story. The Shinsengumi has to be mentioned.

As for Tatsunoshi's comment, I agree with him. It was one of main complaints about college history courses.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:42 pm    Post subject: GUMI Reply with quote
Shinsengumi Shoes ,we should make the Morricone remix theme from the new Nike NFL add and set it to Ikedaya .
Great piece on the blog they were minor players ,aside from Ikedaya the group really do not come into their own until the Boshin War and thats mainly Hijikata with his rag tag army under the Shinsengumi banner .
I read once that their appeal is the loyalty to each other among the main players and also the whole live fast die young (well fairly )approach or young men fighting for a lost cause ,its all romantic stuff but it sells .

Is it not strange while the Ako Vendetta is the paragon of loyalty and virtue (well the play was a big hit in Choshu and Satsuma )when we come to Ikedaya
we have 9 men fighting 30 plus fanatics from Choshu (many murderers in the group like Miyabe Tenzo who was not actual Choshu but still a psycho )for 20 mins until the other 19 members show up to even things up .
Still had the Choshu wako's achieved their goal Kyoto would have burned thousands would have died ,lost their homes yet the Shinsengumi go down in history as bakufu scumbags while the Ako men who really did a hit and run are hailed as the shining beacon on Samurai Hill .

I guess its down to who won in the End had the Tokugawa stayed in power Shinsengumi would probably have achieved the same status as the Ako men .
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2009 3:11 am    Post subject: Kondō Isami’s Kubizuka Reply with quote


I stumbled across an interesting find while walking down a section of the Tōkaidō that I'd like to share.

Located along the old Tōkaidō road, not too far from the Fujikawa shuku (post town) in what was the province of Mikawa, Hōzō-ji temple is famous for two things. The temple first became famous as it was where a young Matsudaira Takechiyo began his early education. This boy would later become Tokugawa Ieyasu, who unified Japan in 1600, and for this reason, it received special patronage from the Tokugawa Bakufu, which Ieyasu established in 1603. Because of this, plus the fact that many of the things that young Ieyasu used where housed there, the temple was a popular place for people to stop at as they traveled this once great road that connected the imperial capital of Kyoto with shogun’s capital of Edo.

It was during the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate that Hōzō-ji received yet another item of historical importance—except this time, this was an item that wasn’t interred in the temple’s store-house or hall of worship, but rather the cemetery. Hōzō-ji is the final resting spot for the head of Kondō Isami, leader of the Shinsengumi. The Shinsengumi was a crack security unit of gifted but ruthless pro-shogunate swordsmen whose sole purpose was to help keep the peace in Kyoto at a time when it was being infiltrated by equally dangerous pro-imperial ronin. So in order to rid Kyoto of its pro-imperial thug problem, the Shogunate brought in its own group of thugs—the Shinsengumi—who were very effective at killing, drinking and basically living fast and dying young.

In the fighting that marked the collapse of the Shogunate and the ushering in of the Meiji Restoration, Kondō managed to get himself captured. It goes without saying that as leader of the Shinsengumi, he wasn’t the most popular guy with imperial forces, and he was brought to Itabashi in Tokyo, where he was sentenced to death by beheading on April 25, 1868 (lunar calendar; May 17 Gregorian calendar). Call this a coincidence, but as I am posting this on April 25, 2009, today "kind of" marks the 141st anniversary of Kondō’s death. Freaky!

After Kondō’s head was displayed in public for three days, it was salted and sent to Kyoto where it was re-spiked for public viewing at the Sanjō Bridge. As gruesome as this sounds, this was how things were done back then, but how the head wound up at Hōzō-ji is a mystery. Perhaps a Shinsengumi/Bakufu sympathizer tried to return the head to Kondō’s family that lived close to Tokyo, but gave up along the way. As Hōzō-ji is a Shogunate affiliated temple, it’s kind of fitting that it should be the final resting spot for one of its more infamous supporters.

Feel free to check out photos of other historic sites that I've visited at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rekishinotabi/.
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Last edited by Obenjo Kusanosuke on Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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