Sakamoto Ryoma: The Indispensable "Nobody"

Written by Romulus Hillsborough

Continued from page 1

While Ryoma was painfully aware ofrepparttar necessity to eliminaterepparttar 125548 shogunate,repparttar 125549 means for revolution eluded him. Having abandoned Tosa, he was a ronin, an outlaw samurai - a status which at once aided and confounded him. Unlike his comrades-in-arms from Choshu, Satsuma and other samurai clans, he was not bound torepparttar 125550 service of feudal lord and clan. Onrepparttar 125551 other hand he did not enjoyrepparttar 125552 financial support and protection of a powerful feudal domain. After much trial and tribulation, and as his first giant step toward realizing his great objective, Ryoma devised a preposterous plan of convincing Satsuma and Choshu to join forces with one another asrepparttar 125553 only means to topplerepparttar 125554 shogunate. But Satsuma and Choshu were bitter enemies whose hate for one another surpassed even that hate which they had historically harbored towardrepparttar 125555 Tokugawa. What's more,repparttar 125556 braggart Ryoma had a reputation for exaggerating. When he told his friends of his plan, some initially dismissed it as so much "hot air," while others simply thought he was crazy. But in addition to many other talents, Ryoma, a truly Renaissance man, was endowed with an uncanny power of persuasion. After a year of planning and negotiation, in January 1866, Ryoma, now an indispensable "nobody," successfully brokered a military alliance between Satsuma and Choshu, which more than anything else hastenedrepparttar 125557 collapse ofrepparttar 125558 Tokugawa Shogunate.

Althoughrepparttar 125559 shogunate had not yet learned ofrepparttar 125560 secret alliance, Tokugawa police agents strongly suspected that Ryoma was up to no good. Onrepparttar 125561 night afterrepparttar 125562 alliance was sealed in Kyoto, Ryoma was ambushed by a Tokugawa police squad, as he and a samurai of Choshu, who had been assigned as Ryoma's bodyguard, celebrated their great success in a second-story room at Ryoma's favorite inn,repparttar 125563 Teradaya, onrepparttar 125564 outskirts ofrepparttar 125565 Imperial capital. A young maidservant atrepparttar 125566 inn, named Oryo, had been soaking in a hot bath when she heardrepparttar 125567 assailants break intorepparttar 125568 house. Oryo immediately ran fromrepparttar 125569 bathroom stark naked uprepparttar 125570 dark staircase to warnrepparttar 125571 two men upstairs. The scene is a very famous one, as isrepparttar 125572 ensuing battle, during which Ryoma wielded a Smith & Wesson revolver, his bodyguard a lethal spear, to fend off their assailants and escape throughrepparttar 125573 backdoor. Equally famous isrepparttar 125574 wedding between Ryoma and Oryo, which took place soon after, and their subsequent trip torepparttar 125575 hot-spring baths inrepparttar 125576 Kirishima mountains of Satsuma, which was supposedlyrepparttar 125577 first honeymoon in Japan.

In spring 1867, Ryoma established his Kaientai, Japan's first modern corporation andrepparttar 125578 precursor torepparttar 125579 Mitsubishi. Based inrepparttar 125580 international port-city of Nagasaki,repparttar 125581 Kaientai was a private navy and shipping firm through which Ryoma and his men ran guns forrepparttar 125582 Choshu and Satsuma revolutionaries.

Inrepparttar 125583 previous June, Ryoma had commanded a warship in a sea-battle off Shimonoseki, in which he aided Choshu's Extraordinary Corps, Japan's first modern militia, comprising both samurai and peasants, in a rout of Tokugawa naval forces. While Ryoma's anti-Tokugawa comrades from Satsuma and Choshu prepared to crushrepparttar 125584 shogunate by military might,repparttar 125585 "nobody" from Tosa devised a plan to avoid bloody civil war and foreign intervention. Ryoma's "Great Plan at Sea," an eight-point plan which he wrote aboard ship, called forrepparttar 125586 shogun to returnrepparttar 125587 reins of government torepparttar 125588 Imperial Court; forrepparttar 125589 establishment of Upper and Lower Houses of government; for all government measures to be based on public opinion, and decided by councilors comprised ofrepparttar 125590 most able feudal lords, court nobles andrepparttar 125591 Japanese people at large. Rather than merely saying that Ryoma was once again "blowing hot air," or that he was "crazy," there were now some among his comrades who felt betrayed. These men advocated complete annihilation ofrepparttar 125592 shogunate to assure it would never rise again, and felt that Ryoma was a traitor. But Ryoma convinced one of his more level-headed friends, Goto Shojiro, who was a close aide to Yamanouchi Yodo,repparttar 125593 influential Lord of Tosa, to urge Yodo to endorserepparttar 125594 plan. Meanwhile, Ryoma continued to run guns forrepparttar 125595 revolutionaries, because he knew thatrepparttar 125596 only way to convincerepparttar 125597 shogun to abdicate would be to demonstrate that his only alternative was military annihilation, which, of course, was no alternative at all. Lord Yodo took Goto's advice and sent Ryoma's plan torepparttar 125598 shogun, as if it were his own brainchild. Eleven days later, on October 14, 1867, inrepparttar 125599 Grand Hall of Nijo Castle in Kyoto, as Satsuma and Choshu hastened their final war plans,repparttar 125600 shogun announced his abdication before his adversaries hadrepparttar 125601 chance to strike.

Withrepparttar 125602 overthrow ofrepparttar 125603 corrupt and decrepit Tokugawa regime,repparttar 125604 "nobody" from Tosa had made good on his vow to "clean up Japan" - although, unfortunately for his country, he would pay for it with his life. Sakamoto Ryoma was assassinated one month later, on November 15, his thirty-second birthday, inrepparttar 125605 second-story room inrepparttar 125606 house of a wealthy soy dealer in Kyoto which he used as a hideout.

Equally unfortunate for Ryoma's country was that cleaning up Japan "once and for all" proved to be too long a period of time, even for a genius like Ryoma. This is why, amidstrepparttar 125607 rampant corruption in Japanese business circles today, many people in Japan have expressed their wish that a leader of Ryoma's caliber would somehow miraculously emerge. A couple years ago executives of 200 Japanese corporations were asked by Asahi Shimbun, an national daily newspaper,repparttar 125608 question: "Who fromrepparttar 125609 past millennium of world history would be most useful in overcoming Japan's current financial crisis?" Sakamoto Ryoma received more mention than any other historical figure, topping such giants as Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Saigo Takamori, Oda Nobunaga andrepparttar 125610 founders of NEC and Honda. Evidently many Japanese people today think their country needs a good scrubbing once again.

Copyright(c)2002 Romulus Hillsborough

Romulus Hillsborough is a writer of Japanese historical biography, focusing on the Meiji Restoration. His widely acclaimed RYOMA – Life of a Renaissance Samurai (Ridgeback Press, 1999) is the only biographical novel in English of Sakamoto Ryoma (1835 – 1867), founder of Japan’s first corporation, key player in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate and one of the most revered men in Japanese history. More info:

Pet Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Written by Pet Friendly Canada

Continued from page 1

__What's That? Who's There?

Holidays are often filled with friends and family going in and out ofrepparttar house. If your pet is excitable or tends to get stressed with noise and crowds, consider placing her safely in a crate or a room that's "out-of- bounds" to guests. Give her blankets, food, water, toys ... and check in with her regularly to make sure she's okay. This will help to ensure your pet stays safely with her family, rather than accidentally slipping out repparttar 125547 door.

__Mmm mmm! Extension cords!

With allrepparttar 125548 pretty lights duringrepparttar 125549 holiday season, you probably have a variety of extension cords running every which way. Some pets have a real 'taste' for extension cords -- keep an eye on them to prevent chewing, or they could be in for a real 'shock'! Where possible, tie cords out ofrepparttar 125550 way. Some hardware stores also sell a plastic tubing into which you insert cords to keep your gnawing little pet from hurting herself.

Happy Holidays to you and your family -- both two-legged and four-legged!

_____ features pet-friendly cottages, cabins, B&Bs, hotels, and other lodging from across Canada that welcome pets! Visit them online and subscribe to their free newsletter for pet lovers around the globe!

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