The 5th Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival in 2017


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This year the event is on a somewhat smaller scale, but there will be a museum talk on September 3rd (in Japanese only) and the lantern walk will be held on November 18th.

For more details in Japanese see the Bakumatsu Festival website:

If you don’t speak Japanese you can still enjoy the lantern walk so come along and enjoy the tour!





The 4th Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival



Commemorating some 150 years since the death of Sakamoto Ryoma, the signing of the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance, the ending of the Bakufu government and the beginning of the Meiji era, a huge shift in Japan’s historical narrative, this year the Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival, now in its fourth year, will host a number of events lasting about a month long. In previous years, there has always been one big event held outside the Kyoto City Hall, but this year instead, there will be several individual events spread out from late-October to late-November. Every year the event is organised by the Kyoto Ryoma Society (Kyoto Ryoma-kai) and this year too that organisation will be at the helm. The following is a list of some of the things that will be going on:


1. “Bakumatsu History Talk Show” featuring authors from the Kyoto Ryoma Society newsletter.

A keynote lecture and panel discussion will be held. *Please note that this event will be held in Japanese only. No interpretation services will be provided*.

Themes: One hundred and fifty years since the war between the Bakufu government and the Choshu domain, and the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance

Date & Time: October 29th, 2016, 14:00~17:00
Venue: Ryoshinkan building, Doshisha University
Karasuma-Imadegawa, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto (close to Exit 1 of Imadegawa Station on the subway Karasuma Line)

Fees: 2,000 yen for Kyoto Ryoma Society and members,
3,000 yen for non-society members

In cooperation with the Bocho (Yamaguchi Prefecture) Historical Society


2. A Tour of the Kyoto National Museum “Sakamoto Ryoma Exhibition”

In cooperation with the Osaka Ryoma Society

Date & Time: October 30th, 2016, meet at Keihan Nanajo Station at 14:00
Fees: 3,000 yen for non-society members
2,000 yen for Kyoto and Osaka Ryoma Society members

Tour Route: Shichijo Shinchi (former location of Kyoto’s “yuukaku” brothel area), Hoko-ji Temple, site of the former retirement home of Kawaraya Gorobei (where a number of men from Tosa hid in exile), Chishaku-in temple, Myoho-in temple, Kyoto National Museum tour of the Sakamoto Ryoma exhibition led by museum curator, Miyakawa Teiichi (guided talks given in Japanese only).



3. The 23rd Annual Sakamoto Ryoma Lantern Parade Walk

Date & Time: Saturday, 19th November, 2016; meet at the Kamogawa River Sanjo Bridge riverbank area. Applications to join the parade will begin at 15:30. The parade will set off from Sanjo Bridge riverbank at 16:30; please be on time if you wish to join.
Fees: 3,000 yen for non-society members
Free for Kyoto Ryoma Society members


4. Additional Event: Saturday Lecture at the Kyoto National Museum

Museum curator, Miyakawa Teiichi and chairman of the Kyoto Ryoma Society, Akao Hiroaki will talk about “Hayashi Ichiroemon and Sakamoto Ryoma” 

Venue: Lecture theatre of the Heisei Chishinkan Building within the Kyoto National Museum

Date & Time: 26th November, 2016, 1:30pm-3:00pm, seats are available for 200 people.

It is free to hear the talk but a museum entrance fee will be required.
Numbered tickets will be distributed on a first come, first served basis at the ground floor of the Heisei Chishinkan building from 12pm. Come early to ensure your place.

Please check the official website of the Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival for further details (in Japanese only):

2015 Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival


2015 Bakumatsusai Poster

The Kyoto Bakumatsu Festival will be held again this year from September 14th-20th.

There will be a panel display held at ZEST Oike, the underground shopping mall near Oike Station from September 14th-19th.

The main event with stalls and entertainment will be held outside Kyoto City Hall on Saturday, September 19th.

Then on Sunday September 20th from 1pm there will be a talk (in Japanese only) on Bakumatsu History at Doshisha University of which I will again be a participant. I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it!

  • Eleanor

New Book Chapter Announcement


bpix-cover pic

The Japan Society’s series, Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits, has just been expanded with the publication of Volume IX, and I’m pleased to say that I also have a chapter in there called  Mutô Chôzô (1881-1942), and A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations. Sir Hugh Cortazzi has compiled and edited this work published by Renaissance Books. In all, there are 57 chapters describing the men and women who have worked toward U.K.-Japan relations.

Since coming to work at Aichi Prefectural University I have been following up research on this little known character, Mutô Chôzô. There is a fantastic Collection at Nagasaki University’s Economics Library which belonged to him, and many of the sources can be viewed online. Mutô’s work, A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations, was first published in 1936 at a time when Anglo-Japanese relations where becoming strained in the build-up to World War Two. Nevertheless, the book was a pioneering little work, and although it is somewhat out of date now, it still has some gems of knowledge as an introductory text on the subject.

Another talk on the Nakai diaries coming up!


Nakai Hiromu's Kokai Shinsetsu

I have very kindly been given another opportunity to talk about translating Nakai Hiromu’s first travel diary, A Travel Sketch of the West – A New Account of Crossing the Seas.

This time the event is organised by JAT (Japan Association of Translators) and SWET (Society of Writers, Editors and Translators) and will be held in Osaka on Sunday, September 21st, 2014.

Please see the website below for details:

I look forward to seeing you there if you can make it!

– Eleanor



Updates, and bits and bobs


Aichi Prefectural University,Nagakute Campus at sundown

Aichi Prefectural University,
Nagakute Campus at sundown

My first year as a lecturer at Aichi Prefectural University (APU) is coming to a close. There have been many challenges for me on the administrative side of the job, this being the first time for me to be in a faculty member position. Getting used to the system, the new classes I’m teaching, and the working styles here has been exciting and a great learning curve.
In addition, getting used to life in Nagoya and Aichi as a whole has also brought with it new challenges and lessons learned. For one thing, I’m now in the process of learning to drive! “Better late than never”, as the saying goes. Aichi is known for being home to one of Japan’s leading car manufacturers, Toyota, so this seems as good a place as any to start learning, although I hope I don’t pick up any of the nasty habits of the well-known “Nagoya-bashiri” while I’m here. I have already witnessed two accidents since I’ve been here, and on several occasions I’ve spotted some car drivers going through red traffic lights (I almost got run over by one of them!) and others not signalling when turning. Not good, Nagoya! Not good. 😦
In terms of research, I have been discovering some interesting new things. I have begun to trace the work of a man called Mutō Chōzō (武藤長蔵, 1881-1942) who wrote “A Short History of Anglo-Japanese Relations” published in 1936.
The reason for following up his work is because I have been looking for a useful basic textbook in English to use with my students at APU on the subject of UK-Japan relations. So far, I have not found one basic text that gives a brief general outline of the subject. I have therefore started to create my own for use in class.

The interesting thing for me about Mutō Chōzō was that he was born here in Aichi. He was born on June 9th, 1881 in Umibe-gun, Tsushima-chō; what is now Tsushima city in Aichi Prefecture. In 1907, Mutō became a professor of Nagasaki Higher Commercial School, which is now the Faculty of Economics at Nagasaki University. The university still houses the vast Mutō Collection, the publications, documents and other sources that Mutō used in his research, as well as some of his own personal items such as photographs, his personal seal and some letters. One of the photographs (believed to have been taken in May 1919) shows Mutō pictured with the famed Japanese novelists Akutagawa Ryūnosuke (1892-1927), Kikuchi Kan (1888-1948) and the playwright, Nagami Tokutarō (1890-1950). This picture can also be seen on a fascinating pamphlet created by the university called CHOHO.

This year, 2013, marks the 400th anniversary of trade relations between Britain and Japan, and means lots of special events will be held in both countries.  There’s a great website with a wealth of information about events that are happening throughout the year: Japan400.

Finally, the new academic year starts in April. Let’s see what new endeavours that will bring…

Lecture on Nakai Hiromu at Sokushu-in Temple


On May 20th, 2012, I had the great honour of giving a talk in Japanese about Nakai Hiromu at the temple where he is buried; Sokushu-in, within the Tofuku-ji Temple complex in the south-east of Kyoto city.

About 20 people came to listen to the talk and I received several questions and comments afterward. One of the listeners was kind enough to send me copies of some photographs he took, and he has given me kind permission to post them here.

Speaking about Nakai at Sokushu-in

Preparing to wash the grave

It was an excellent opportunity to give a talk in Japanese. Earlier in the year, I had been given the wonderful opportunity to talk  to fellow members of the Kyoto Ryoma-kai on the subject of Nakai Hiromu. I’m hoping there will be more such opportunities in the future to introduce the important role that Nakai played in Japanese history.

Sokushu-in itself is a beautiful temple. It is not usually open to the general public, except for a brief time each year during the red leaves season. The main complex of Tofuku-ji Temple is well-known for it’s red leaves and receives thousands of visitors each year.

Sokushu-in is the Shimazu clan (Feudal Lords of Satsuma) temple in Kyoto and it has seen many illustrious guests in its time. The great ‘Saigo-don’ (Saigo Takamori, 1828-1877) is known to have been here for secret meetings. Also, there are several monuments commemorating those who were lost in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. The grave of Narahara Kizaemon (1831-1865) (famous for attacking the British merchant, Charles Lennox Richardson, in the Namamugi Incident of 1862) is also here, near to the Nakai/Yokoyama family grave compound.

The grave of Narahara Kizaemon

I enjoyed this opportunity to again wear the kimono given to me for the occasion of my doctoral graduation ceremony. Here in Aichi, unfortunately I don’t see many people wearing kimono, so coming back from Kyoto on the Shinkansen, I probably stuck out like a sore thumb (even more than I do anyway, I mean). Still, it was all good fun!

Thank you to the organizers, and the most attentive audience, at Sokushu-in. I had a lovely day; albeit a very nervous one!