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Mark Ravina on the death of Saigo Takamori

 
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Graculus
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:23 am    Post subject: Mark Ravina on the death of Saigo Takamori Reply with quote
For those interested in this sort of thing, I noticed that Mark Ravina (who wrote the biography of Saigo, The Last Samurai) has recently published an article on the death of Saigo. Actually, it is really about the way it has been written about and gradually embellished over the years, especially in the first two decades of the 20th century.

He expands what he wrote about in his book, that the wounds Saigo's body showed were not those of seppuku, and a wound to his upper thigh made it extremely unlikely that he would have been able to assume a dignified pose to be beheaded, as is usually assumed. Ravina's main point is that the 'noble death' that is often written about is just another fantasy, like those of him ascending to Mars or sailing to Russia.

Anyway, well worth the read if you can get hold of it.
It's in the August issue of The Journal of Asian Studies.

I have written about it briefly on my blog, if you'd care to look.

As a side note, does anyone know anything about the famous portrait of Saigo being a composite of images taken of him and his brother (left and right sides of his face)? I had always thought it looked a little strange and this might explain it. I saw something about it on(Japanese) TV a couple of years ago, but didn't get any of the details.

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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
They look vaguely similar, but I don't know:

http://wiki.samurai-archives.com/index.php?title=Saigo_Tsugumichi
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Graculus
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Having asked about it, I thought I might check about it myself... and found some information.

The famous picture was painted by Kiyosone (an Italian painter) a year after Saigo's death. As there were no photos of Saigo to go on, he supposedly made a composite of the top half of Saigo's brother, Tsugumichi's face, which was supposed to look very similar, and the bottom half of his cousin Oyama Iwao's face.
There is some more about it here:
http://inforyoma.com/bakumatu/saigo.htm
http://www.geocities.jp/michinokumeet/kikou/kikou11.htm

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http://ichijoji.blogspot.com
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Date Onigiri
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Interesting. Thanks for posting that info about the portrait of Saigo.

Actually, Saigo isn't dead. He's alive and well and seems to have cheated death and time. He was spotted at a Costco in San Diego, California recently with a cart load of beef jerky and Hannah Montana DVDs. He was also seen downing tons of free samples of chicken cooked in Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce. He liked the sauce so much, he bought a case of it. After eating ALL the supplies of free chicken with Yoshida's sauce samples, he hit the trail mix. They always said Saigo was an impulsive guy.
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Tornadoes28
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It has been a while since I read Ravina's biography of Saigo but I seem to recall him talking about the theory that Saigo's wounds would have prevented him from being able to carry out a traditional seppuku contrary to the myth of his heroic death. Of course Saigo's story and his rebellion are an incredibly interesting historical topic but just as with the 47 Ronin, his myth has grown large after his death.
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wicked iemon
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2010 1:25 pm    Post subject: saigo the not so great Reply with quote
I think his achievements as a "great general "are vastly over rated as well ,if you study the Boshin War (Which im sure most of you have )you see this guy turning up at battles after everything is over ,than he starts bellowing demanding the death of all prisoners ,which luckily for them did not happen .

When he rises up in the Senian War with his alleged army of 20,000 he stops to partake in a pointless castle siege which he could have avoided thus delaying his own march and giving the Imperial Army time to catch him .

At no point in his life prior to the Senian War do we see him in the thick of battle directing his troop's .

The only great thing about this man was the size of his testicles which tended to swell up at the worst possible time resulting in Big Man being ferried in a litter .

Augustus Mounsey was in Japan at the time and wrote a really good book that gives a good accounting of Saigo .
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:00 am    Post subject: Re: saigo the not so great Reply with quote
wicked iemon wrote:

Augustus Mounsey was in Japan at the time and wrote a really good book that gives a good accounting of Saigo .
I'll check this out! It's the right price, too--FREE! I found it on Google Books here: http://tinyurl.com/24vplaa
The Satsuma rebellion: an episode of modern Japanese history ; with maps
By Augustus Henry Mounsey, 1879.
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wicked iemon
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:54 pm    Post subject: satcho Reply with quote
Really great book ,I found the original 1895 for a dollar in the bargain bin of the local library about 10 years ago ,that said i have not found diddly since .
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