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Katsu Kaishu

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  • Born: 1823
  • Died: 1899
  • Titles:Awa no kami, Gunkan bugyo"
  • Other Name: Katsu Rintaro
  • Japanese: 勝 海舟 (Katsu Kaishuu)


Photograph of Katsu Kaishu.

Born into a Tokugawa hatamoto family, young Kaishu attended classes in Western studies and then studied naval science from the Dutch naval detachment in Nagasaki. Kaishu rose in rank to become commissioner of the Tokugawa navy and captained Japan's first cross-Pacific journey to San Francisco. Kaishu believed that Japan’s future was best served to open itself to the world and this put his life in jeopardy at the hands of Japan’s pro-Imperial, anti-foreign radicals. Originally intent on cutting down Kaishu, Sakamoto Ryoma became hooked on Kaishu's vision for Japan and became his leading disciple. Kaishu protected the outlaw Ryoma and other ronin in a naval academy that Kaishu established in Kobe and installed Ryoma as its head. Kaishu also surrendered Edo to pro-Imperial forces without resistance in order to avoid catastrophic losses of life and property. Kaishu went on to serve as naval commissioner in the Meiji period until his retirement from public life.

References

  • Hillsborough, Romulus. RYOMA- Life of a Renaissance Samurai. Ridgeback Press, 1999
  • Jansen, Marius B. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration. Columbia University Press, 1994.
  • Rekishi Dokuhon 2007/1 issue
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