Biography01 Sep 2010 02:31 pm
Dubbed the last true samurai by his fellow countrymen, Saigō Takamori (1828-1877) is considered one of the most influential samurais of Japanese history. He lived during the late Edo Period and Early Meiji Era, a time of great political upheaval in Japan. Leader of the Meiji Restoration, Saigō played a key role in overthrowing the Tokugawa shogunate in 1868, an event that many historians consider a watershed moment in Japanese history, as it brought about the end to Japan’s feudal age.
Unusual amongst his isolationist peers, Saigō advocated an aggressive foreign policy that many others deemed both unrealistic and unwise. By 1877, he had grown disillusioned and frustrated with what he considered the weakness of the new government and its lack of honor. He subsequently led a rebellion against the government, knowing he would lose and that it would result in his death.
The combination of his role in the futile Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, as well as the important part he played in the Meiji Restoration, has made him a national hero in Japan. A striking bronze statue of Saigō walking his dog stands in Ueno Park, Tokyo, and serves as an important landmark that Tokyoites use as a meeting point. Designed by famous Japanese sculptor Takamura Koun, it was unveiled to the public in December 1898.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.