My article, Kyoto Samurai, is now up on Chris Rowthorn’s Inside Kyoto website. For this piece I took a tour of sites around Kyoto associated with legendary samurai of the Bakumatsu era, like Sakamoto Ryōma and the Shinsengumi. I must say, once I got into this topic I found it quite fascinating, and I even started watching that old NHK Shinsengumi! drama series!
The Bakumatsu was a time of profound turmoil and change that saw the end of the old feudal Shogunate, and the start of a new modern era with the Meiji Restoration. During this time, some swordsmen fought for tradition and others for change. Among them Sakamoto Ryōma was a lone wolf figure, working behind the scenes to realise his vision of a modern Japan. When I visited his grave and saw other visitors pray at his tomb I felt profoundly moved by the high esteem in which he is held even now among modern Japanese.
One major site of interest that isn’t mentioned in the article is the Teradaya in Fushimi. This was the location of Sakamoto Ryōma’s famous escape from a Shinsengumi attack, and today it is a museum dedicated to his memory. It seemed better to include that site though, in a more general article on Fushimi, so look out for that one in the coming months.
Here is the link: Kyoto Samurai!
See also: Toka Ebisu on Inside Kyoto