"Ryoma Sakamoto" in chinese characters
"Ryoma Sakamoto" in chinese characters

webmaster's column - Ryoma Sakamoto and Shimonoseki

Ryoma SakamotoDo you know Ryôma Sakamoto [wikipedia] ? Ryôma is a local hero who played a crucial role in the overthrow of Tokugawa shogunate [] during the 19th Century in Japan. Born in 1836 in Tosa [] (or Kôchi), the legendary samurai is known as responsible for Satsuma [] and Chôshû's [] forming of anti-Tokugawa secret alliance []. Ryôma was active in the center of the movement until he was assassinated at Kyôto in 1867, 1 year before the Meiji Restoration [].

Open-heart, offbeat and visionary, he has become very popular after his death. The historical novel "Ryôma ga yuku" written by famous author Ryôtarô Shiba [] is considered as one of Shiba's best known work. Ryôma has inspired many TV drama series too, including "Ryômaden" [], which NHK is airing this year. You may know the airport located at Kôchi city is called Ryôma airport.

To realize his dream, Ryôma travelled a lot, from Yedo (Tokyo) to Satsuma (Kagoshima), and from Nagasaki to Chôshû. He also frequented Shimonoseki, where Kyokuyo Shipyard is located, as it was one of the political and commercial centers of Chôshû domain []. There were many anecdotes told about him and Shinsaku Takasugi [], another leader based on Shimonoseki. It is said that Ryôma could survive the previous (failed) assassination attempt in 1866 thanks to a gun given by Shinsaku.

As a Shimonoseki citizen, I feel happy to know that Ryôma Sakamoto could spend some relaxed time in Shimonoseki with Oryô, his beloved wife, a while before his life came to a sudden end. If you have an oppotunity to come over to our office, it is a good idea to pay a visit to temples and monuments in Shimonoseki, following Ryôma's footsteps ! [2010/08/03]

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[photo above : Ryôma Sakamoto - below : Shinsaku Takasugi]

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