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PostPosted: Thu Feb 12, 2009 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Shoin was admittedly a brilliant fellow and eccentric without a doubt. He was a starry eyed youth fascinated with the west and it's technology, evidenced by his Perry adventure and previous attempt to travel to Russia. However in my opinion it wasn't so much what Shoin did to promote his beliefs in real terms, but, his role as banner man and disseminater of 'sonno joi'. He was actually unsuccessful in his role as an active participant because he didn't have the support he needed and was rather rash and abrupt. Patience was not in his vocabulary. His school, Shoka Sonjuku, provided him the vehicle by which he made his imprint on the times. It was his students that spread the word, as it were, some becoming active participants of the reforms that took place subsequently. Also, he wasn't the lone reed in the field whistling in the wind, although, perhaps the most shrill. If he had lived to formulate more mature views how would he be remembered? It really seems to be a youth movement with all the brashness found within that type of group. John
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
...who remembers the name of Yamagata Taika today? Very Happy


Well, YOU, for one! ;P Being on the winning side does lend itself to having one’s name remembered and given more weight in the proceedings. If the Bakufu had managed to stay in power, no doubt Yamagata would be portrayed as the stalwart educator installing the correct values in his han while Yoshida would be remembered, if at all, as even more of an ‘extremist crackpot'. As it is, many of his students did become major players in the Meiji era (due not only to ability but by virtue of having been on the winning side). Much as college students today lovingly remember their favorite professor years after they’ve entered the real world, Yoshida’s students never lost the memory of their favored teacher-and were in a position to have their opinions heard.

I find it interesting that Yoshida and his students seemed to have a classic symbiotic relationship that you see in many ‘cult of personality’ style leaders-a relationship that eventually led to his isolation and downfall. Yoshida’s teachings found an extremely receptive audience for a variety of reasons (whether it was ‘sonno’, ‘joi’, economics, or political power), making him a great man in the eyes of his students (since he’s preaching what they want to hear) whose feedback in turn inflated his ego and sense of purpose. This would spur him to greater heights of action with ideas and plans straying even further from what was acceptable in an effort to not only justify their faith in him, but also to ensure the strokes to his greatness kept coming. As his philosophy strayed further from the norm, this would have the opposite effect on his students-alienating many of them who feared the repercussions of acting out these plans. This in turn would spur him on to even more adventurous (or, less kindly, ‘crazy’) schemes in order to win them back-which of course, didn’t work either, further isolating him politically and leaving no one to defend him when he became too much of a nuisance.

He probably served the Loyalist cause better as a martyr. A martyr has the symbolic value of someone willing to die for the cause-and they don’t have that annoying tendency to speak up when the people using them as their symbol diverge from their teachings or get creative in their interpretation of their guiding philosophy. This is something rather common throughout world history. In politics, the idealists are always the first to get kicked to the curb when they’ve outlived their usefulness-similar to Ryoma, whose martyrdom in my opinion has given him an overblown reputation (but that’s probably primarily due to my having read Hillborough’s godawful Ryoma book) but who found greatness as a symbol or martyr.

I agree with some of you that Yoshida seemed to be more of the ‘joi through kaikou’ school more than sakoku and violent expulsion of foreigners-that opening relations with the west was fine, but primarily by Japanese traveling to THEIR country. His trip out to see Admiral Perry’s Minstrel Show points to that being the case.

Onna wrote:
...before Ii Naosuke stomped on everything, that is.


Which of course, Ii was completely justified in doing. The problem was that no matter how he handled the problem, it was a no-win situation.

The more I read about the Bakumatsu era, the more I am impressed with how similar were the views and values held by all the central figures. The only real difference in opinions seemed to be whose group should hold the reins of power-which, of course, would always be the group that particular individual found themselves in. What the Bakumatsu REALLY needed was someone like Ieyasu to pull everything together.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
The more I read about the Bakumatsu era, the more I am impressed with how similar were the views and values held by all the central figures. The only real difference in opinions seemed to be whose group should hold the reins of power-which, of course, would always be the group that particular individual found themselves in. What the Bakumatsu REALLY needed was someone like Ieyasu to pull everything together.


Excellent point. I was reading about this over dinner and I'd like to share a passage that I think illustrates this point very well.

The following passage is from Marius Jansen/ John Whitney Hall's "The Cambridge History of Japan"[p.449]. I think it serves to illustrate Tatsunoshi's point.

Quote:
That this [getting on board an american ship] determination was shared by different sorts of men can be shown by comparing the cases of Yoshida Shoin and Niijima Jo. At first glance they seem an unlikely pair. Yoshida is known to history as a fiery nationalist and exponent of total, unquestioning loyalty to the emperor... His unwavering espousal of the imperial cause as the highest duty made him a rallying point and martyr for later nationalism and nationalists... Niijima, on the other hand, is known to his countrymen as an ardent Christian and Westernizer, a runaway from feudal jurisdiction who found protection, kindness, and Christianity in America... and returned to Japan to found its first Christian university (Doshisha) in Kyoto. Never the less, Yoshida and Niijima shared a basic receptivity and curiosity regarding the West and a great desire to learn in the hope of preparing themselves and their country to accept the challenge posed by that West.


Two men from very different backgrounds risking life for the same value. This common values/common struggle notion I think this is also one of several important elements that made the Sonno Joi, for the most part, such a tight-nit passionate bunch. An item I think of interest particularly when examined next to the somewhat ruddlerless (pre-Ii Naosuke) Bakufu.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Were the Sonno-Joi activists really that tight-nit? Remember, Choshu and Satsuma were at each others throats until 1866.

They did seem to have the lion's share of the charismatic speakers, and thus could easily rouse the rabble, as it were. The Bakufu wasn't entirely without their own ardent and cohesive supporters, though, but I'd say their problem lay with a lack of leadership at the top.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
They probably were as tight as nits most of the time but I think what you mean is "tight knit" Laughing


Quote:
heron wrote:
...who remembers the name of Yamagata Taika today?


Well, YOU, for one!


haha, me and Thomas Huber. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
They probably were as tight as nits most of the time but I think what you mean is "tight knit"


Indeed that's the ticket! Laughing

Quote:
Were the Sonno-Joi activists really that tight-nit? Remember, Choshu and Satsuma were at each others throats until 1866


I think there was something of a camaraderie in the movement between the "lower samurai". The assasination of Ii Naosuke for instance saw Choshu and a Satsuma individual together. There are other instances of this as well. I'll look for more content to back this up however.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I do agree with Tatsunoshi in his very interesting post. I think Shoin's greatest skills were as a teacher, and he seems to have had an unusual and original approach to his students which made a lasting impression on them, even after they no longer wanted to be identified with his more extreme schemes. As for Ryoma, I imagine we'll be talking about him later. I used to feel rather like you, I was totally turned off by the Ryoma-worship and thought his reputation was indeed overblown, but lately I've changed my mind and think he probably was quite an original thinker, in several different areas.

Of course it's much easier to get a great reputation if you die (or preferably are unjustly executed or assassinated) young. (BTW I thought John made a good point about how young Shoin, and most of the bakumatsu players, were.)
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
He was actually unsuccessful in his role as an active participant because he didn't have the support he needed and was rather rash and abrupt. Patience was not in his vocabulary.
Somehow this sounds a lot like Sakuma Shozan, who said whatever he pleased to officials and earned a 9-year confinement for his troubles. Then, on a sensitive mission, he drew undue attention to himself by virtue of an ostentatious European saddle that led to his downfall. Perhaps the mentor and student were of a kind in temperament? Wink

Tatsunoshi wrote:

He probably served the Loyalist cause better as a martyr. A martyr has the symbolic value of someone willing to die for the cause-and they don’t have that annoying tendency to speak up when the people using them as their symbol diverge from their teachings or get creative in their interpretation of their guiding philosophy. This is something rather common throughout world history. In politics, the idealists are always the first to get kicked to the curb when they’ve outlived their usefulness-similar to Ryoma, whose martyrdom in my opinion has given him an overblown reputation (but that’s probably primarily due to my having read Hillborough’s godawful Ryoma book) but who found greatness as a symbol or martyr.


It does seem that the real action began when the Sonjuku group fell to Kusaka Genzui's leadership, but once the policy of terror in Kyoto distressed the Emperor enough that he ran screaming to Satsuma and Aizu to make it stop, I think it became clear to many parties that there is a limit to the usefulness of extremism. The backlash against extremism not only dislodged Choshu from its comfortable position as Court favorite, it also caused a mass purge of extremists in many han, and they all ran to Choshu, since it was "extremist-friendly!" The legacy of Yoshida's call for grassroots street violence and direct action then gained a critical mass and became a potential danger to Choshu. And I think that, after a certain amount of exposure, age doesn't matter in terms of what one might be swept up into. When one considers the conglomerate force from Choshu, the Yugekitai, in the Hamaguri Gate Incident in 1864, according to Huber’s narrative, it was Maki Izumi, the 50-year-old, who finally swayed the group to attack without waiting for reinforcements, having been piqued by the 47-year-old Kijima Matabei into action. And on the side of “wait ‘til the reinforcements get here,” was 24-year-old Yoshida protege Kusaka Genzui, who was trying to maintain order and prevent a total rout.


Tatsunoshi wrote:

"...before Ii Naosuke stomped on everything, that is"

Which of course, Ii was completely justified in doing. The problem was that no matter how he handled the problem, it was a no-win situation.


Of course, the more I read about the Ansei Purge, the more I think that Ii had no choice but to pursue this course or else lose all face and effective power for the Bakufu. The mistake, I am beginning to feel, was going to ask the Court in the first place, which gave them the "in" they craved and caused such a large stir that the Court made an effort to utilize Nariaki to bypass the Bakufu after Ii snubbed them by signing the Harris treaty against their expressed wishes. The version of the events immediately preceding the signing of the Harris treaty that is recounted in Satow's translation of the "Genji Yume Monogatari" is quite colorful and seems to paint Ii into a corner where repression and subjugation is the only way to survive. Ii must have known he was fighting a losing battle. If I may quote evil Spock from an old Star Trek episode: "Terror must be maintained or the Empire is doomed." So I wouldn't perhaps go as far as saying Ii was "justified" in what he did, but I will say that Ii had no choice and pretty much had to lay down what folks in Tennessee call a "tall boy can of whoopass." (pardon my colloquialism!) Very Happy The one thing I wonder is what sort of negotiation might have taken place between Harris and the Bakufu concerning terms. That part I'm not really clear on. Certainly there must have been some sort of "back and forth" or latitude that might have given the Bakufu room to move in the negotiations. But, of course, here I go getting off topic.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Harris teaty would have to be considered a boon to the bakufu. It provided monies in the form of tariffs. That was certainly needed. It allowed control of exactly who could reside in Edo or Osaka and Kanagawa. A big one is the right to hire or build American ships. For an island nation that was critical especially after seeing how naval power was such a formidable one. I think a sticking point was crimes committed by Americans were to be adjudicated by American process and this was viewed as corrupt. These were favourable in any light and afforded the bakufu badly needed resources. However another point of contention would have been that it was an agreement between the Shogun and America directly in perpetuity ignoring the Emperor and making him and his court redundant once again. John
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2009 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
I think a sticking point was crimes committed by Americans were to be adjudicated by American process and this was viewed as corrupt.
Actually, it seems this was not considered much of a problem at the time. In Statler's Shimoda Story (p.276), which is a blow-by-blow account of Harris's first year in Japan, using tons of Japanese material, the Japanese immediately agreed to Harris's demand for extraterritoriality. They had yielded it already to the Russians and Dutch in 1855. "The system no doubt seemed the simplest solution to a sticky problem." It is also similar to the han-bakufu relation--a samurai like Yoshida who ran into trouble with the bakufu was often turned over to his own han to be published. Of course, extraterritoriality caused many problems later.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I was just reading some info about the Tosa Kinno To and Takechi Hanpeita's trip to meet Shoin in Edo. He also notably met Katsura Kogoro (Kido) and Takasugi Shinsaku in 1856. Apparently he had been preaching the Mitogaku doctrine to his students. The predominate representation in his school was young men of 'goshi' and 'shoya' status. These were the disaffected young men of the Tosa domain that had no chance of advancement, especially of the Chosokabe clan. This explains in one case, at least, why it was the young who flocked to the rebels banner later, such as the 'Tosa Roshi Gumi'. Sonno activists and extremely tobaku. Interestingly it was Takechi's lieutenant Sakamoto Ryoma that survived the Hamaguri Gate incident and had impact later on. John
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
shin no sen wrote:
I was just reading some info about the Tosa Kinno To and Takechi Hanpeita's trip to meet Shoin in Edo. He also notably met Katsura Kogoro (Kido) and Takasugi Shinsaku in 1856. Apparently he had been preaching the Mitogaku doctrine to his students. The predominate representation in his school was young men of 'goshi' and 'shoya' status. These were the disaffected young men of the Tosa domain that had no chance of advancement, especially of the Chosokabe clan. This explains in one case, at least, why it was the young who flocked to the rebels banner later, such as the 'Tosa Roshi Gumi'. Sonno activists and extremely tobaku. Interestingly it was Takechi's lieutenant Sakamoto Ryoma that survived the Hamaguri Gate incident and had impact later on. John
John, keep your powder dry. Just Kidding We’re eventually going to get to the rise of sonnō jōi activism in some of the key han. At least I hope we’ll get there. Laughing Well at least it’s in the outline I previously posted in the announcement thread about this group.

Also about Sakamoto Ryoma—I think I’d just like to point out that the Hamaguri Gate Incident happened in August 1864. By this time, Ryoma had long parted ways with Hanpeita and was under Katsu Kaishu’s nurturing wing. Ryoma became a disciple of Kaishu's in 1862, when he left Tosa to go back to Edo.
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Last edited by Obenjo Kusanosuke on Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I was tying in the youthfulness of the activists and Shoin. Not trying to jump ahead, sorry. Oh, I meant Ryoma survived whereas the majority of the kinno did not. Bad context there. As I believe, his Edo trip caused him to be outlawed by Tosa and Akechi had declared him a traitor to their/his cause. John
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I founds it. Bump!
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