BOOK: Saigo Takamori – The Last Samurai – The Life and Battles

BOOK: Saigo Takamori – The Last Samurai – The Life and Battles

Read time: 2 minutes

“The Last Samurai – The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori” by Mark Ravina

This detailed and insightful study of the great Saigo Ichinosuke/Takamori chronicles his beginnings as the eldest sibling of a Samurai family, where he studiously absorbed the writings of Confucius as well as mastered the Samurai martial arts. Possessing a large, well built body, it was believed Saigo would go on to become a great Samurai warrior but due to a an accident in adolescence, his arm was maimed and he could no longer wield a sword.

Undeterred, he instead became a tactical mastermind and through luck and his endearing personality, he rose to become the right hand man of the Daimyo of Satsuma, Shimazu Nariakira. Indeed his exceptional talent for diplomacy and administration eventually led him on to become a statesman within the Meiji government. However his honour and beliefs caused him to lead the ‘Satsuma Rebellion’ which sought to overthrow the Meiji government but this is where he met his death through Seppuku, ritual suicide.

“Saigo Takamori – The Last Samurai” is a wonderful read, with each chapter deftly describing each era of Saigo Takamori’s life. We find out about his childhood, his exile to Amami Oshima, a remote island, where he married a local native with whom he fathered a child, his rise to statesman in the government followed by further exile on the even more remote island of Okinoerabu.

We see photographs of key allies of Saigo, such as the Shogun Hitotsubashi Keiki, Tokugawa Yoshinobu and we see how remote Amami Oshima island is where Saigo was first exiled:

Okubo Toshimichi was a childhood friend of Saigo, and like Saigo, he rose to become instrumental in the Meiji government and we see Saigo’s strategy for the Satsuma Rebellion is outlined:

During Saigo’s second exile to the island of Okinoerabu, he was locked in a cage, and we see photographs of that:

Sign Up

Get notified about new posts


Leave a Reply

Discover more from Japanthusiast

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading