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Ryōmaden (龍馬伝) /

Introduce "Ryōmaden (龍馬伝)".
"Ryōmaden (龍馬伝)" is the 49th NHK Taiga drama.
It airs on NHK from January 3, 2010 every Sunday from 20:00 to 20:44 JST to November 28, 2010 spanning 48 episodes.
The story centers on the life of the 19th century people Iwasaki Yatarō and Sakamoto Ryōma.

The "Bakumatsu Period" is as follows.
Sakamoto Ryōma (坂本 龍馬, Sakamoto Ryōma, January 3, 1836–10 December 1867) was a leader of the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period in Japan.
Ryōma used the alias Saitani Umetarō (才谷梅太郎, Saitani Umetarō) as a cover name during his work to keep Japan united in the creation of a modern government which would allow his country to join the rest of the world which was in a colonizing mode, while keeping its own sovereignty intact.

Left image: Tomb of Sakamoto Ryoma, in Ryozen Gokoku Jinja (京都霊山護国神社), Kyoto.
Right image: Tomb of Sakamoto Ryoma (detail).

While a ronin, Ryōma decided to assassinate Katsu Kaishū, a high-ranking official in the Tokugawa shogunate and a supporter of both modernization and westernization. However, Katsu Kaishū managed to persuade Ryōma of the futility of fighting the western powers given Japan's present state and of the necessity of a long-term plan to increase Japan’s military strength. Instead of killing Katsu Kaishū, Ryōma ended up working as his assistant and protégé.

File:Smith and Wesson Army No2 of Sakamoto Ryoma.jpg
(Smith and Wesson Army No2 handgun similar to the one that belonged to Sakamoto Ryōma.)

In 1864, as the Tokugawa shogunate started taking a hard line, Ryōma fled to Kagoshima in Satsuma domain, which was developing as a major centre for the anti-Tokugawa movement. Ryōma negotiated the secret alliance between Chōshū and Satsuma provinces. Satsuma and Chōshū historically had been absolute enemies, and Ryōma's position as a ‘neutral outsider’ was critical in bridging the gap in trust.

File:Teradaya fg2.jpg
(Teradaya inn, Kyoto, where Ryōma was attacked and injured)

Ryōma is often regarded as the "father of the Imperial Japanese Navy," as he worked toward creating a modern naval force (with the aid of western powers) to enable Satsuma and Chōshū to hold their own against the naval forces of the Tokugawa shogunate.[citation needed]. Ryōma founded the private navy and trading company Kameyamashachū (亀山社中) in Nagasaki City by the help of Satsuma. Later Kameyamashachū became Kaientai (海援隊).

[Meiji restoration, Japan]Ryoma Sakamoto meets Kaishu Katsu by YouTube

Chōshū’s subsequent victory over the Tokugawa army in 1866 and the impending collapse of the Tokugawa shogunate made Ryōma a valuable commodity to his former masters in Tosa. Ryōma was recalled to Kōchi with honours. The Tosa domain was anxious to obtain a negotiated settlement between the Shogun and the Emperor, which would prevent the powerful Satchō Alliance from overthrowing the Tokugawa by force and thus emerging as a new dominant force in ruling Japan. Ryōma played a crucial role in the subsequent negotiations that led to the voluntary resignation of the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu in 1867, thus bringing about the Meiji Restoration.

Ryōma was assassinated at the age of 33 (according to the old lunar calendar he was born on 15 November 1835 and killed on his birthday in 1867) at the Ōmiya inn in Kyoto, not long before the Meiji Restoration took place. Initial reports accused members of the Shinsengumi for Ryōma and Nakaoka Shintarō (中岡慎太郎)'s deaths (and Shinsengumi leader Kondō Isami was allegedly executed on that pretense), but another pro-Shogun group, the Mimawarigumi's Imai Nobuo confessed to the murder in 1870. Although Sasaki Tadasaburō and Imai Nobuo carry the blame, the true assassin has never been proven in a court of law.

By T.S. on Feb 3, 2010
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Author:T. SATOH