Some recent events

I’ve only just started this blog and I’m getting lazy with it already! So, here’s a few things that have happened over the last few days.

December 9th, 2008

Today, the copy of Meiji Bunka Zenshu – Gaikoku Bunka-hen [Meiji Culture Collection – Foreign Culture edition] (Vol. 7, 1955 edition) that I had ordered last week finally arrived at my door. I’ve only ever had naff photocopies of the 1992 edition, the pages showing Nakai Hiromu’s travel journals, before now, so I was mighty pleased to at last get my hands on a copy of my own. It’s of a reasonably good quality considering it’s the 1955 edition. It still has its own box, though that has browned tremendously over the years. Still the book itself is properly intact. In fact, it still has the old advertising pamphlets and so on that often come with newly published books in Japan.

I was rather pleased to find in there also, a copy of the No. 5 Monthly Report on Meiji Culture, published on June 25th, 1955. Being from a second hand bookshop I would imagine it is not all that uncommon that such added papers get lost over the years, so I was very fortunate to get a copy of the book with these papers in it still. Why get so excited over such things? Well, this particular report has a short article on Nakai Hiromu at the beginning, and I learnt some things about him from it that I did not know, which I will go into another time.

December 10th, 2008

Today was the anniversary of the death of Sakamoto Ryoma and Nakaoka Shintaro in the western calendar.  In the old Japanese calendar  of course, they were killed on the 15th day of the eleventh month 1867 which was December 10th in the western calendar.  In commemoration of the event Nakamura Takeo gave a guided tour of the route that the killers are said to have taken after they murdered Ryoma and Shintaro. I attended the long walk with the members of the “Ryoma Terakoya” group that is held once a month at the Ryoma Bar in Kiyamachi Street, Kyoto. Off we marched at a fairly speedy pace with Nakamura sensei leading the way, followed by “Ryoma” aka Mr. Akao, leader of the Kyoto Ryoma Club and “Oryo” who both carried chochin lanterns. We first stopped at the site where the Tosa domain house (Tosa yashiki) used to be situated, then going past Tosa Inari Shrine we went to the site of Omiya where Ryoma and Shintaro were murdered. From there we followed the killers’ route, along Kawaramachi Street to Shijo Street, then along Shijo to Senbon Street where we turned to go north up to Marutamachi Street. It took a little over an hour and we were walking at night roughly at the time the actual killing was said to have taken place.

Kyoto is a very different place now, but strangely it was not difficult to imagine what the scenery would have been like in 1867 thanks of course to Nakamura sensei’s excellent commentary along the way.

December 12th, 2008

Today I attended the annual meeting party for the UFJ Mitsubishi Scholarship students in the Kansai area. This was my second time at the meeting so I saw some familiar faces but also was fortunate to make some new acquaintences.  Mitsubishi is of course the company founded originally by Sakamoto Ryoma’s Kaientai member, Iwasaki Yataro (1834-1885), so it is very significant for me that I am currently receiving their kind sponsorship to further my studies.  I am very interested in seeing the diaries and other documents of Yataro maintained at Mitsubishi and hope one day to go to Tokyo to see them for myself. It is my belief that perhaps there is more information available in those documents on Nakai Hiromu that is yet to be discovered. It is fairly common knowledge already that Nakai was very close to Goto Shojiro and other Tosa domain samurai, so I would not be surprised to find something in Yataro’s collection. In Yataro’s already published diaries Nakai Hiromu is mentioned as having attended a meeting with Yataro himself along with Goto Shojiro, Sakamoto Ryoma, the British merchant William Alt and others. Yataro mentions Nakai under one of his aliases, Tanaka Kosuke and Nakai visits on several occasions around the same time period. I am pretty certain there is much more on Nakai in the Iwasaki Yataro documents. It’s just a case of finding them…

Anyway, it was nice to meet so many nice people at the party 🙂

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