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  1. Genro

    History Genro

    Genrō (元老, lit. the original elders”) was the unofficial designation given to the “founding fathers” or elder statesmen of Meiji Japan (1868-1912) who became chief advisers to the emperor with the right to select and recommend prime ministers to the emperor for an appointment. Historians agree...
  2. Komatsu Tatewaki

    Biographies Komatsu Tatewaki

    Also known under the name Komatsu Kiyokado (小松清廉), Tatewaki (小松帯刀, 1835-1870) was born as the third son to Kimotsuki Kiire (肝付兼善), a high-ranking retainer of the Satsuma domain with an annual rice stipend of 5,500 koku (石), and was later adopted by Komatsu Kiyoshi (小松清), another retainer of the...
  3. Terashima Munenori

    Biographies Terashima Munenori

    Born into a samurai family from Akune City, Satsuma domain (modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture), Terashima (寺島宗則, 1832-1893) studied rangaku (蘭学, “Dutch studies” consisting of Dutch language and European sciences) in Edo and specialised in Western medicine. In 1856, he was appointed a personal...
  4. Godai Tomoatsu

    Biographies Godai Tomoatsu

    Godai Tomoatsu (五代友厚, 1836-1885), also known as Godai Saisuke, was born in the castle town of Kagoshima, Satsuma domain (modern-day Kagoshima Prefecture), as the second son of Takashi Shigeru Saemon (左衛門秀尭), a local magistrate holding the hereditary title of atai (直, regional administrator) and...
  5. Kojima Iken

    Biographies Kojima Iken

    Kojima Iken (児島惟謙, 1837-1908), also known as Kojima Korekata (児島惟謙), was born in the Uwajima Domain (宇和島藩 Uwajima-han), Iyo Province (伊予国 iyo-no-kuni, modern-day Ehime Prefecture), into a family of samurai of the Uwajima clan. Separated from his biological mother at an early age, it is said that...
  6. Enomoto Takeaki

    Biographies Enomoto Takeaki

    Tokugawa admiral and Meiji statesman Enomoto Takeaki (榎本武揚, 1836-1908) was born in Edo into a family of gokenin, direct vassals of the Tokugawa shogun, and attended the prestigious Shōheikō (昌平校と藩学 Shōheizaka School and Domain Studies) academy. In 1853, he went to study rangaku (蘭学, “Dutch...
  7. Katsu Kaishu

    Biographies Katsu Kaishu

    Tokugawa retainer, Meiji politician and naval engineer Katsu Kaishū (勝海舟, 1823-1899) was born in Edo (江戸, in modern-day Sumida-ku, Tokyo). Throughout his life he used a lot of aliases and was also known as Katsu Rintarō (勝麟太郎), Katsu Yoshikuni (勝義邦), Awa (安房) from his title Awa-no-kami (安房守) and...
  8. Meiji Period

    History Meiji Period

    The Meiji Era (明治時代 1868-1912) designates the reign of the Meiji Emperor. During this time, Japan started its modernisation and rose to world power status. In 1867, 15-year old Mutsuhito succeeded his father, the Emperor Komei (孝明天皇, Kōmei-tennō), taking the title Meiji, meaning “enlightened...
  9. Kido Takayoshi

    Biographies Kido Takayoshi

    A Chōshū samurai and Meiji statesman Born in Hagi in the Chōshū Domain in 1833 to the samurai physician Wada Masakage (和田 昌景), who served the Hagi clan, Kido Takayoshi (木戸孝允, 1833-1877) was adopted into the Katsura family in 1840 and known as Katsura Kogorō (桂小五郎) until 1865. In Hagi, he...
  10. Kuroda Kiyotaka

    Biographies Kuroda Kiyotaka

    Satsuma samurai and Meiji statesman Born into a samurai family from Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima Prefecture) in the service of the Shimazu daimyō of Kagoshima, Kuroda (黑田清隆, 1840-1900) was one of the retainers involved in the Nagamugi Incident in Yokohama (see text box below). Kuroda also...
  11. Matsukata Masayoshi

    Biographies Matsukata Masayoshi

    Satsuma samurai and Meiji politician Matsukata (松方正義, 1835-1924) was born into a samurai family from Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima Prefecture), started to work as a bureaucrat in the domain administration and then studied western science and surveying in Nagasaki. Ōkubo Toshimichi and Saigō...
  12. Yamagata Aritomo

    Biographies Yamagata Aritomo

    Yamagata Aritomo (山県有朋, 1838-1922) was one of the seven members of the genrō, the group of senior statesmen who shaped modern Japan in and after the Meiji period. He is considered the father of the modern Japanese army and served twice as prime minister. His authoritarian views and autarchic...
  13. Okuma Shigenobu

    Biographies Okuma Shigenobu

    The founding father of Waseda University Ōkuma Shigenobu (大隈重信, 1838-1922) was a statesman of the Meiji Restoration, the 8th and 17th Prime Minister of Japan and the founder of Waseda University. In contrast to most other important Meiji figures, Ōkuma did not hail from either Satsuma or...
  14. Okubo Toshimichi

    Biographies Okubo Toshimichi

    Satsuma samurai and Meiji politician Okubo Toshimichi (大久保利通 (1830-1878) was a Japanese statesman and one of the Satsuma samurai who supported the Meiji Restoration. He is commonly regarded as the progressive driving force behind the new Meiji state, despite his authoritarian and often...
  15. Saigo Takamori

    Biographies Saigo Takamori

    The Last Samurai: an unswerving rebel Born in Kagoshima in the Satsuma Domain (present-day Kagoshima Prefecture), Saigō Takamori (西郷隆盛, 1828-1877) was one of the pro-imperial samurai supporting the Meiji Restoration. He has often been called the “last true samurai”. Saigō was the eldest of...
  16. Inoue Kaoru

    Biographies Inoue Kaoru

    Chōshū samurai and senior Meiji politician Inoue Kaoru (井上薫, 1836-1915) was a senior member of the genrō, the political oligarchy of the Meiji period and yielded significant influence over the policies and political decisions of Meiji-era Japan. He was born into a gōshi (郷士, lower-ranking...
  17. Katsura Taro

    Biographies Katsura Taro

    Born into a samurai family from Choshu (present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture) in 1848, Katsura Tarō (桂太郎, 1848-1913) fought along his clansmen during the Bakumatsu period. He was quickly recognised by Yamagata Aritomo, who later assisted his political rise. Katsura was sent twice to Germany...
  18. Emperor Meiji

    Biographies Emperor Meiji

    Emperor Meiji (明治天皇 Meiji-tennō, born Mutsuhito, 3 November 1852 – 30 July 1912) or Meiji the Great was the 122nd emperor of Japan according to the traditional order of succession, reigning from 3 February 1867 until his death. He presided over a time of rapid change in Japan, as the nation...
  19. Pilgrimage Signpost

    Pilgrimage Signpost

    This trail marker is on the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage route between temples 38 and 39 in Kochi Prefecture. This marker was placed in Meiji 36 (1904)
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