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Join date : 2010-04-08
Age : 25
|Subject: Shinsengumi Mon Nov 08, 2010 12:41 am|| |
The Shinsengumi was a special samurai group, started by Toshizo Hijikata. He was born 1835 in Tokyo and was the youngest child of the family. His father was a rich farmer. Hijikata was said to be a bit arrogant personality or perhaps a spoiled child.
However, year 1864 marked a special moment in his life. A famous swordsman from Aizu clan committed seppuku in age of 21. Aizu clan was one of those protesting against the Imperial Loyalists. In his funeral, young Hijikata was told to cry in public. It seems to be that some change happened in Hijikata's life at that time. Maybe he was touched by the death of young swordsman or maybe he felt loyalty to a fellow swordsman.
Or maybe he saw his own destiny in his death.
In the same year, Toshizo Hijikata and Isami Kondo made Shinsengumi - a strike force to maintain peace and protect shoguns and Emperor from revolution. Other leaders were Kamo Serizawa and Nishiki Niimi. Isami Kondo became the commander while Toshizo Hijikata had a rank similar to a captain. Hijikata and Kondo were said to be friends through the times.
At those times, end of 1800 century there were lot of protests against Emperor and Shoguns. Meiji Restoration was near. Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry had opened the trade doors to Japan earlier, year 1854. Japan was taking it's first painfull steps towards westernization.
Shinsengumi was assembled of the best swordsmen. It was a tight pack of skilled samurais with a special code, known as gohatto. This code was more strict and limiting than an actual samurai clans had. Members of shinsengumi ate together, fought together and lived together. And died together. No members of shinsengumi could have an actual wife or family. They needed to be on alert at all times. One of the strict rules of shinsengumi was that once accepted to the group, one could not leave. Loyalty and brotherhood was their motto.
There has been Shinsengumi -boom in Japan. Before NHK's shinsengumi drama there was manga and lots of books of the subject, and video game. Also, there was Nagisa Oshima's movie of the subject, called Gohatto (Taboo). Takeshi Kitano acts Toshizo Hijikata while Yoichi Sai acts as the commander Kondo. This movie suggested that the members of Shinsengumi engaged in sexual relations with each other, going crazy about the newcomer, Sozaburo Kano.
In many ways, Shinsengumi represents national spirit in Japan. Think it as a condensed samurai juice. It represents old Japanese spirit and values. Protecting the purity of emperor. Shinsengumi were those who bravely fought back against the Meiji Restoration in 1868.