Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Visiting Kagoshima City - City walk 1

From Kagoshima-chuo eki, take route 21, Miami Douri southeast about 6 blocks. At route 3, turn left and go 7 short blocks northeast (one block past Nakanohiratori street), then turn right. This will put you in front of Hirata park. Hirata Yukie lived in this area in the early 1700's. Born in 1704, he was first known by the name Munetaka, then as Masasuke, Heizo, Heijiro, Kamon and finally Yukie. Like his father, he worked in the Satsuma office in Tokyo, then held positions in Isaku and Okuchi, Satsuma.

According to the marker: "In 1753 Shimadzu Shigetoshi, the 24th Lord, was ordered by the shogunate to send a thousand men to work on the rivers Kisogawa, Nagaragawa and Ibigawa. Owing to pressure and interference from shogunate officials, inadequate finance, disease, and lack of manpower, large numbers of workers died. In 1755, Hirata, at the age of 51, took responsibility for the loss of men and money by committing suicide. His tomb [is] in Daikokuji Temple, Fushimi, Kyoto."

All information taken from the monument marker in Hirata park.

Going back up to Miami Douri, turn left and follow the street towards the bay. Look for the silvery statues on the left side. There are 7 total, with 4 on this street. #5 is in the Tenmonkan shopping district, where the street car line takes a left turn about a kilometer down. #6 is in Central Park, and #7 is about a kilometer north, near the base of Shiroyama hill, next to the Reimeikan grounds on the east side (across the street from the bullet holes monument mentioned below).

Each set of statues is accompanied by a marker with explanations in several languages, and 2 3-D viewer images of the statues themselves. On the other side of the marker are photos and a longer explanation of the people illustrated in the statues. #1 is labeled "The English Fleet Appears on Kagoshima Bay". The text reads "The Namamugi Incident resulted in British casualties for which the UK in the following year, 1863, dispatched a fleet of seven warships in order to negotiate a settlement with Satsuma. This is known as the Anglo-Satsuma Battle. Here, having heard the news of the coming fleet, Oyama Iwao, Saigo Judo and young Yamamoto Gonnohyoue hurry to the port.

#2 is "Kabayama and Kuroda discuss the future of Japan. Ii Naosuke became the chief minister of the Shogunate in 1858 and strongly opposed the Hitotsubashi faction that included the Satsuma lord Shimadzu Nariakira regarding the issue of the succession of the Shogunate. Here, Kabayama Sukenori, Kuroda Kiyotaka and many young Satsuma samurais discuss the future of Satsuma and Japan."

Prior to 1914, Sakura-jima (Sakura island) was an actual island in the middle of the bay. When the volcano erupted, it spewed enough lava to connect it to the peninsula on the east side. Currently, the cooled lava fields are part of the tourist attractions on the island. #3 - "Kuroda paints pictures of great Sakurajima eruption. In 1914 Kuroda Seiki happened to be in Kagoshima as the great eruption of Sakurajima began. His creativity was stimulated by this geological event resulting in his painting a series of pictures under the theme of the eruption. These pictures are housed in Kagoshima City Museum of Art. Here, Kuroda is heading for the port with his pupil to sketch the volcano in action."

#4 - "Honeymoon of Sakamoto Ryouma and Oryo. Immediately after the conclusion of the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance, Sakamoto Ryouma was injured at Teradaya-inn in Kyoto in 1866. On advice from Komatsu Tatewaki and Saigo Takamori, Ryouma visited Satsuma with his wife Oryo to heal his wound in the local hot springs. They stayed at a Komatsu villa in Kagoshima City and also visited Kirishima on what is believed to be the first honeymoon in Japan." Note that the incident mentioned here refers to government assassins attempting to kill Ryouma at the Teradaya inn. Also, "komatsu" translates as "small pine".

#5 - "Shigehide lays the foundation of Satsuma's scientific technology. In 1799, the 25th lord Shimadzu Shigehide established the astronomical observatory Meijikan (Tenmonkan) and created the Satsuma calendar. He also established the Zoshikan Clan School and Igakuin Medical School. The 28th lord Shimadzu Nariakira inherited his progressive spirit, which laid the ground for the Meiji Restoration. Here, Shigehide is discussing astronomy with his retainer."

(Note that the observatory, Tenmonkan, is the same name as the shopping complex that statue #5 is located in.)

#6 - Ijichi and Yoshii talk about political change. The Sakuradamongai Incident of 1860 was one of the turning points in the tug of war between the Shogunate and reforming forces. The main result of this incident was the assassination of chief minister Ii which led to the Shogunate losing its grip on power. Here, in Satsuma, Ijichi Shoji, Yoshi Tomozane and Okubo Toshimichi discuss various aspects of this political change."

Finally, we wrap things up with #7. "Willis teaches Western medicine to Takaki. William Willis was a medical doctor stationed in Edo. He was invited in 1869 by the Satsuma Clan to become the principal of the Kagoshima medical school. Willis established the Akakura Hospital and provided modern British medical education, which became the center of medicine in western Japan. Here, Willis walks with Takaki Kanehiro, who went on to establish the predecessor to Jikei University School of Medicine after studying with Willis."


Now, right next to statue #7 is another memorial, this one to the battle between Satsuma and the new Meiji government. According to the memorial marker - "The Seinan Civil War was driven by the radical Shigakko School students... During the dispute over the political attitude toward Korea, Saigo Takamori retired into his home country to lead a quiet life as a farmer since his idea of insisting on sending a mission to Korea had been rejected.

However, his young men who still loved and admired Saigo, returned [to] Kagoshima and asked him to establish a private school for Samurai which later [was] called Shigakko School [shigakko means "private school"]. In June of 1874, schools were built for gun squad and cannon squad at the site of the stable of Tsurumaru castle, and, of those two schools, the former was put under the charge of Shinohara Kunimoto and the latter was put under the direction of Murata Shinpachi.

Since then many branch schools were also established, and finally 12 schools were built in the castle town and 136 schools were built in the prefecture. Among these schools a school for children was established by a grant in appreciation of Saigo and his men's services in [the] Bonshin War. At first they invited Dutch and English teachers to the Saigo's private school, Shigakko School, to teach their students because they had the plan of sending the students to study in Europe. All expenses to run the school were covered by the prefecture.

The Shigakko School became more powerful year by year and even showed a strong tendency towards anti-government. At last extremely radical students drove themselves crazy and fired an explosive warehouse of government, which was actually what triggered the Seinan Civil War in 1877. The school was then forced to end its short existence. It had only lasted for 4 years. The stone wall built around the Shigakko School still shows bullet marks left from the Seinan Civil War."

(This memorial seems to be all that remains of the school itself, not including the stone walls. The grounds are now occupied by a medical center.)

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