There is a new painting of Saigō Takamori in the Dōjō from the Edo period. (1) (2)
Saigo Takamori helped to replace the Bakufu to install the Meiji restoration.
During the Boshin war (1868-1869), Saigō Takamori led the Meiji army. Disagreeing on the reforms put in place by the new power, he left the court and went back to Kagoshima in Satsuma. As a clan leader, he was right to his people, he rebelled to the Meiji power and went to war against troops of the emperor. These events are called the Satsuma rebellion.
In the end, surrounded by the imperial troops, injured, he committed seppuku in 1877. He was 49-year-old.
Sensei explained that Saigō was unlucky.
These were difficult times of change. The official start of the Meiji restoration is 1868, but this didn’t happen overnight. In fact, the end of the Satsuma rebellion of 1877 is the real beginning of the Meiji era.
He was pardoned in 1889, and he is considered today a significant historical figure of Japan. Today you can see his statue facing the parliament in Tōkyō.
Considered “the last Samurai” by many, his luck left him. As Hatsumi sensei often repeats, “to succeed, you need to be lucky. Create your chance.”
For Western minds, it is strange to consider that chance can be created. But when I look at my life in the Bujinkan for the last 33 years, I understand what sensei means. Last Sunday, Sensei added that “if you want to live a long time you need to have luck!”
Train sincerely and the Bujinkan arts will help you to get lucky, unlike Saigō Takamori.
1. Saigō Takamori: (西郷 隆盛 (隆永), January 23, 1828 – September 24, 1877)
3. Boshin wars; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boshin_War
4. Wikipedia: “…Unable to overcome the affection that the people had for this paragon of traditional samurai virtues, the Meiji Era government pardoned him posthumously on February 22, 1889.”