Ryomaden Episode 39 (2010.09.26)
Season 1: Ryoma the Dreamer
Episodes 1 ~ 13 - here
Season 2: Ryoma the Adventurer
Episodes 14 ~ 28 - here
Season 3: Ryoma the Navigator
Episodes 29 ~ 38 - here
Season 4: Ryoma the Hope
Episode 39 ==== Episode 40 ==== Episode 41 ==== Episode 42 ==== Episode 43
Episode 44 ==== Episode 45 ==== Episode 46 ==== Episode 47 ==== Episode 48
(A dog barks. Iwasaki Yatarō sits in a lawn outside an enormous mansion, reading a newspaper. Doyō Shimbun reporter, Sakazaki Shiran stands close by.)
Y: ”Kanketsu Senri no Koma”* (lit. The Sweat and Blood of a Genius) This is all wrong, Sakazaki-kun. You’ve turned Ryōma into a hero. (He throws the paper on the ground) You keep making stories up like that, and I’ll say no more on Ryōma.
SS: Please wait, Iwasaki-san! Yes, I may have over-glorified Ryōma in it.
Y: We’re done.
<Meiji Year 16 (1883)>
SS: But, in order to keep the series going, we need to hold onto our readers’ interest.
Y: Go back to Kōchi.
SS: I got this image of Ryōma from what Iwasaki-san told me!
Y: That’s absolute nonsense.
SS: You keep saying you hate him, but the Ryōma described by Iwasaki-san was, I felt truly very appealing!
Man: Mr. President
(A foreigner dressed in hakama, walks down the stairs to the lawn. A dog barks and Yatarō throws his half-eaten tomato to it.)
Y: Hey, Pochi! * Pochi! Catch!
Man: The Takashima Coal Mines * earnings report, sir.
Man: Mr. President should be pleased with our profits.
Y: Very well done Glover.
Y: You finally understand my way of business.
TG: Thank you, sir.
SS: Glover-san is…!
Y: The Glover I’ve mentioned so many times!
(Thomas Glover extends his hand.)
TG: (in English) “Nice to meet you.”
SS: ”Oh, nice to meet you too!” (Yatarō turns to walk towards the house, the 2 men follow.)
Y: Glover’s company went bankrupt in the Meji period. I was the one who picked this fellow off the streets.
Y: (to Glover) This here is Sakazaki-kun who wrote Ryōma’s story in Tosa Doyō Shimbun.
TG: ”Kanketsu Senri no Koma”! That was excellent.
SS: Thank you so much!
Y: (He stops at the stairs of the porch) What?! What’s so good about a fib like that! I’m so disgusted my stomach started to hurt again!
(Yatarō takes some medicine.)
Y: That fellow only ferrets around saying pretty words like, ”The future of Japan should be like this like that.”
SS: If it wasn’t for a man like him, would we have this Japan now?
Y: (Yatarō glares at the reporter.) I am the founder of Mitsubishi. A local rōnini from Tosa, now the leader of Japan’s top corporation! (Thomas Glover walks off silently to one side.) Such a great achievement! Only Toyotomi Hideyoshi* could have done the same! Hahahahaha!
Voice: (woman) Yatarō!
Y: What is it, Mother? (Yatarō’s mother, Iwasaki Miwa walks to the porch.)
IM: Did you say Toyotomi Hideyoshi?
Y: Oh. Yeah I did.
IM: You! (She whacks him on the head.) Who do you think you are!
Y: Ow! (The other 2 men look away.)
IM: As a company president, as a rich man, you mustn’t forget what it was like when we were poor!
Y: I didn’t forget!
IM: You owe an apology to your dead father. (Meanwhile Sakazaki Shiran copies this conversation down.)
Y: Oi! What are you writing!
TG: (in English to Sakazaki) “This is the…matriarch of the family.”
Y: ”Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Glover!” I hate using English!
(Yatarō turns away, his back to the group.)
IM: Sakazaki-san, please don’t mind Yatarō or what he says. (Yatarō starts coughing…..) The greatness of Sakamoto Ryōma from Tosa will be known to the world from now on (……and fresh blood comes out of his mouth) That makes me so happy.
(Yatarō looks at his bloodied hand in shock. He wipes it off quickly just as his mother walks over.)
IM: Yatarō, since you’ve agreed to it, you should tell Ryōma-san’s story to the end. It was because of Ryōma-san that you’re here today.
(Yatarō looks at the article in the newspaper. The drawing of warships in battle reminds him of the war again.)
(1866. On board the Union*, in the straits of Shimonoseki, second-in-command Sawamura Sōnojō issues the orders.)
SS: Men at the bow. Prepare to fire at the Bakufu warships!
MY: Men at the bow. Prepare to attack the Bakufu warships! (Ryōma watches in silence, his arms folded across his chest.)
(Back in 1883….)
IM: Iwasaki Yatarō has the obligation to tell everything. What Ryōma-san did towards the end. Why did he have to be killed……
(On board the Union…..)
MY: Ready! Fire!
(Yatarō hollers as he thinks of the battle. On the warship, the Bakufu navy counterattacks. Men shout and dodge on the Union.)
R: Men! Stand your ground!!
(Yatarō cries out with the men in his vision.)
SS: Crush the Bakufu!
Episode 39: Bakan no kiseki (馬関の奇跡The Miracle at Bakan)
(On the beaches of Ōshima, shells explode and troops land in small boats.)
<Keiō Year 2 (1866) June 7>
Y: (narration) Keiō Year 2 (1866) June 7. Finally, the war between the Bakufu and Chōshū began.
(Bakufu soldiers swarm the island, killing those in their way. The horizon is lined with battleships firing at the shores.)
Y: (narration) Ryōma and the Kameyama Shachū have joined the Chōshū camp in Bakan* at Shimonoseki.
R: We’re almost there.
(Ryōma carries an injured soldier in. There are other wounded being tended to in the camp, and military arms and supplies being moved.)
R: Sōnojō! Give me a hand!
SS: (takes one side of the injured man) This way, this way! This way, this way!
R: Be careful! (He puts the man down and checks on another nearby.) Did you get shot in the leg?
Man: It’s just a scratch!
Man2: Don’t worry. We’ve stopped the bleeding.
R: What a fighter! What a fighter! Water! We need water! Water! We need water! (to the man) You’ll be fine!
<Nagasaki, Tosa Shōkai*>
Y: (narration) Meanwhile for me, a major battle had started in Nagasaki.
(A traveller reaches the Tosa Shōkai / trading company.)
MH: Excuse me I’m Mizobuchi Hironojō. I’ve been sent here by the Han to help out with the work. (The men inside ignore him.) Excuse me….
Man: Oh? Oh? Oh? (John Manjirō runs out.)
JM: Are you Mizobuchi-dono? (in English) “Welcome!” I’m glad you’re here! We’ve been waiting! We’ve been waiting! Come, come, come!
(John Manjirō leads Mizobuchi to a corner.)
JM: (in a whisper) They’re all Jōshi over there. Not particularly sociable to Kashi.
JM: Have you heard about our work here?
MH: I have. To be a window of trade for the Tosa Han in Nagasaki.
JM: (in English) “Yes!” The Tosa Shōkai carries the Han’s future on its shoulders. (Manjirō leads Mizobuchi into the inner office.)
MH: Is the head of this place a relative of the Great Lord?
JM: (in English) “No.”
MH: Then, a Han Elder?
JM: A gentleman specially selected for the job.
MH: Specially selected? (Manjirō knocks on a door……)
JM: (in English) “Please” (…..and motions Mizobuchi to enter.)
MH: Tosa retainer Mizobuchi Hironojō reporting. I have come to help out at the order of the Han.
Man: It’s been a long time…. (Yatarō turns his head to grin at Mizobuchi) ….Mizobuchi-kun.
MH: Ya…Yatarō?! What are you doing here! (Yatarō laughs.)
JM: Iwasaki Yatarō-dono is the Tosa Shōkai Chief.
Y: I was going to make it big. Surely you knew that all along. (Mizobuchi stares.) The Jōshi you see over there, all work for me. (Mizobuchi looks at the dozen or so Jōshi outside the room.)
Y: And this here is the famous John Manjirō-san.
JM: I am now Iwasaki-dono’s translator.
Y: You must be thinking, “Why must it be that despicable Yatarō! Why must I have to work for a scum like that!”
MH: No No No No!
Y: Hahaha! Alright, time to go sell Tosa specialties.
(John Manjirō helps Mizobuchi lift an enormous load of Tosa products onto his back.)
Y: Hurry up! Come out now!
JM: Careful! Careful! (Mizobuchi has difficulty walking out the door.)
MH: (to the Jōshi who has to make way for him.) I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.
<Alt & Company>
(Yatarō tries to catch British trader William Alt’s attention.)
Y: We’ve brought Washi paper from Tosa today! It’s really good stuff, see!
JM: (in English) “Today I have brought you some Japanese paper from Tosa. It is very very good!”
WA: (in English) “I’ve already refused dozens of times.”
Y: Each and every product of Tosa is first-class quality! Especially this camphor, as an ingredient for medicines, it’s in demand everywhere!
MH: Oh! That’s what Yatarō does.
Y: (pulls Mizobuchi over to John Manjirō….) Come here! Come here! Come here!
MH: What? What? What?
Y: Please! (The 3 Tosa men kneel, bowing their heads) Please! Please, Alt-san!
Y: (narration) This …. was my war.
(At the Chōshū camp in Shimonoseki….. )
TT: My name is Takamatsu Tarō!
Misc: Have a drink, Takamatsu-san!
Misc: Kozone-san have a drink too.
KE: Yes sir!
(Ryōma has a flask of sake in his hand. Takasugi Shinsaku walks over, still dressed in his normal yukata.*)
TS: How is it? Have you had a drink?
R: Yes. Thank you, Takasugi-san.
TS: I’d like one please. (Ryōma fills his bowl.) If we had women here as well, that would be perfect. (Ryōma laughs) Please bear with us.
R: Still in casual wear in the midst of a battle. He is as bold as ever. Takasugi-san. (The Chōshū leader sits aside with his shamisen.)
SS: Shouldn’t Takasugi-san have gone to Britain?
MY: Did he give up his overseas study for this war?
Misc: It makes a big difference to our morale, if that gentleman is here.
(Takasugi begins to sing.)
TS: ”You….and I, vines re-growing after the fields are burned…..”
R: (smiles) He sings very well too. By the way, what does everyone here do for a living?
SS: Oh that’s right. Many Kiheitai members are not samurai.
Misc: I am a farmer in the neighbouring village.
Misc: I am a carpenter.
Misc: I am a dry goods seller.
Misc: In the past, whatever happened, we’d bear with it and say, “That’s life!”
Misc: We were pushed to the limit!
Misc: Land taxes, forcing us to do all sorts of works. But then could we take part in building a new world in that way?!
Misc: (looking at Takasugi) “The power of Samurai alone cannot change the world.” This was what Takasugi-san said.
Misc: He said our joining in would give birth to a new world.
Misc: For my family, for my children, we want to fight too!
All: That’s right!
(The Kiheitai members shout passionately, their morale at a peak. Takasugi Shinsaku looks at his men, smiling proudly.)
SS: For the sake of these people, we must change this Japan!
Misc: People, let’s do this together!
R: They are right.
(Ryōma looks at Takasugi Shinsaku with admiration. Suddenly he has a heavy coughing fit and walks off to the back of the house. Ryōma follows quietly. He finds Takasugi washing blood from his hand and mouth.)
R: Takasugi-san…. (The Chōshū man breathes heavily.) You have a lung disease….. ?
R: (shocked) Tuberculosis?! (He catches Takasugi as the sick man walks off.) In your state, you can’t join in the war! The doctor… Have you consulted the doctor?!
TS: (his voice weak as a whisper) My life does not have much longer to go.
TS: (smiles and pats his friend) I don’t have time to rest. For Chōshū… For Japan, I must do my work!
R: So… The reason you didn’t go to Britain….
TS: I’m afraid that….. was my fate. (He smiles sadly.) If I have little time, then that little time, I will use to live with meaning. Give a big bang, explode like fireworks, then disappear. That is the Takasugi Shinsaku way of life. (He walks out to address his men.) An army of a million is nothing to fear. What needs to be feared are us, the small and meek, and each and every one of our hearts!
All: That’s right!
(The men cheer. Takasugi walks down and embraces the men while Ryōma looks on sadly.)
TS: Let’s do it!
(Yatarō and John Manjirō are presented to Thomas Glover.)
Y: I am the Tosa Shōkai Chief, Iwasaki Yatarō. I’m here in name of the Tosa Han Chief Inspector Gotō Shōjirō, to engage into business with you. (Glover gives a strained smile. Yatarō turns to Mizobuchi.) Hey newcomer, bring it out! Quick! (Mizobuchi opens the packet of camphor.) How about it?
MH: This is camphor from Tosa.
Y: The prices for this are bound to shoot up. So now’s the time…..
TG: I do not know you at all.
Y: Well then, we can continue this over some sake…..
TG: I wish all dealings with the Tosa Han to be conducted through Sakamoto-san.
TG: Sakamoto Ryōma-san
(The Tosa men are shocked.)
JM: Sakamoto-dono…. You know him, Glover-san?
TG: (in English) “I like to think of Mr. Sakamoto as a friend, yes.”
JM: (laughs) We’re friends too!
MH: Me too! When Ryōma first went to Edo, I ….
Y: Oh shut up! Why must it be done through Ryōma!
TG: Didn’t you know? The person who brought Sat-Chō together, was Sakamoto-san. I cannot trust the Tosa Han which treats him like a criminal.
(Mizobuchi and Manjirō first look at Thomas Glover, their mouths agape, then they turn to Yatarō, who is seething with anger.)
Y: Who the hell needs Ryōma’s help! (He storms out, amidst Glover’s smirk.)
JM: Iwasaki-dono? Iwasaki-dono!
(Meanwhile Oryō walks the streets of Nagasaki alone. She appears very lonely, gazing at Ryōma’s pendant as she sits by herself on a bench. Back in Shimonoseki, the men are in the middle of a battle meeting.)
TS: Here the Bakufu has war-ships and patrol boats totalling 50,000 in troops. For us, including Sakamoto-san’s “Union”*, we have 5 ships, 50 patrol boats and 1,000 men. The numbers are badly against us.
R: The Bakufu should think that we will focus all our defense around here. In that case (he walks over to the Bakufu ships on the map….) here (….. grabs a handful of pebbles) if we attack them from here (….and scatters them around the ships) we’ll have a chance.
SS: A surprise attack!
MY: Straight into ….. the enemy’s camp!
TS: At Moji*, our left flanks will be wide open. To attack here, we can only approach under the cover of night.
Misc: Over there, the currents are too strong!
Misc: It’s too risky for ships in the dark!
R: Leave it to us. The Kameyama Shachū has had the harshest training from the Navy Training Academy.
SS: You just need to follow our ship.
MY: That’s right! Leave it to us!
TT: Don’t worry.
TS: Tomorrow’s battle will determine the outcome of this war. We do not have the strength of the Bakufu army. However, our few will attack the cracks in their forces. We will be elusive, we will sabotage. And we will win through surprise. This is our way of war!
All: That’s right!
(The Chōshū soldiers cheer. Ryōma motions to his own men and draws them together.)
R: Tomorrow before dawn, WE SET SAIL! (They all join in with war cries.)
<Keiō Year 2 (1866) June 17>
(On board the Union, men report on the ship’s status to Ryōma.)
Misc: All sections ready to sail!
Misc: All hands in position.
R: Raise the anchor.
SS: Raise Anchor!
Misc: Raise Anchor!
Misc: Raise Anchor!
Misc: Raise Anchor!
(The Kameyama Shachū members look solemn and determined.)
Misc: Raise Anchor!
(Warships and patrol boats set sail in the mist.)
<Kokura, Ōkubo coast>
(Takasugi lands with the Kiheitai. They steal up the rocky shore. Takasugi himself is still dressed in a yukata and holds a shamisen instead of rifles like his men.)
TS: Spread out.
(In silence the men spread out while Takasugi walks alone straight towards the Kokura camp. Back on the Union, Ryōma stands in his cabin, eyes closed. In deep concentration, he dons his coat and prepares for battle.)
TT: (low voice) This is the sea off the landing point.
MY: All units, load the cannons!
Misc: Load the cannons!
Misc: Load the cannons!
(Ryōma walks on deck.)
Misc: (reports to Ryoma) Cannons loading!
R: Are we ready?
TT: We are at waypoint.* (Ryōma nods.)
SS: Hard to starboard!
Misc: Hard to starboard!
R: Inform the ships behind. (A Shachū member signals the ships at the back.)
(Outside the Kokura camp, sentries hear a lone voice singing on the shamisen. As they look for the source, Kiheitai members sneak up behind and slit their throats. Takasugi Shinsaku walks alone towards them, like a grim reaper singing and playing his song.)
TS: ”You….and I, vines re-growing after the fields are burned. We may grow apart….”
(On the Union….)
SS: All in position!
MY: Get ready!
Misc: Get ready!
MY: Get ready! Fire!
(Cannons fire on the Kokura camp. Takasugi walks fearlessly amidst the shelling. As he draws the Kokura troops towards himself, they become easy target for the Kiheitai marksmen, who have been waiting in ambush. Unafraid of death, Takasugi leads his men forward as their warships continue to bomb from the seas. Suddenly, someone else fires on the Union. The Bakumatsu Navy has arrived.)
R: Ahead to starboard!
SS: Keep enemy ships at bay!
MY: Get ready! Fire!
(The battle at sea is intense, warships fire upon each other. On the shore, Takasugi draws his sword and cuts through enemy lines until they reach the Kokura camp.)
TS: (to the enemy) Stop your attack! We are not here to invade Kokura territory. It is the Bakufu we condemn, for treating Chōshū as traitors, for no reason at all!
Man: We are men of the Kumamoto Han. We have been deployed at the order of the Bakufu. Towards Chōshū, we have no enmity at all!
TS: Then we have no reason to fight! There is no insult whatsoever, if your Han chooses to avoid a war!
(The Kumamoto men look at each other. Takasugi mounts a horse that has been taken from the Kokura camp.)
All: Yes, sir!
Y: (narration) Overwhelmed by the spirit of the Kiheitai, the Bakufu troops set fire to Kokura Castle and fled. This was the moment of victory, for Chōshū over the Bakufu.
(The victors cheer, in celebration of the miracle that had just occurred. )
TS: An army of a million is nothing to fear. What needs to be feared are us, the small and meek, and each and every one of our hearts!
(In the cabin of the Union, Ryōma quietly celebrates for a different reason. His face shows no joy.)
R: (voice over) So now, we can finally move on!
(Reports of the outcome of the war have reached Shōgun’s Guardian, Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu.)
Misc: The Kokura Han could not defend their castle… anymore. It seems they set fire to it themselves!
HY: That is preposterous! How can the Bakufu lose to an outside han! Send reinforcements!
Misc: Yes my Lord!
Y: (narrative) But then, the Bakufu was dealt another blow, by the wrath of the people. Because of the Chōshū expedition, the price of rice skyrocketed and the people’s frustrations with the Bakufu finally boiled over. (Riots occurred around the country.) Furthermore, just before the fall of Kokura Castle, the Tokugawa Shōgun Iemochi died from beriberi in Ōsaka. The Bakufu had no time to be engulfed in war anymore.
(At the Chōshū camp, reports of Tokugawa Iemochi’s death reach Kido Kanji.)
Misc: My Lord!
KK: What is it?
Misc: We’ve just heard that Shōgun Iemochi-kō has passed away! (The Chōshū men cheer in victory.)
KK: Justice lies with Chōshū!
(In Satsuma, Komatsu Tatewaki and Saigō Kichinosuke receive the news….)
KT: The mountain has been shifted……
SK: It’s changing…. It’s changing…. It’s changing! (He cries out triumphantly and Satsuma celebrates.)
Y: (narration) The fact that the Bakufu had really lost to Chōshū, shook up the whole of Japan.
(In Tosa, Yamauchi Yōdō continues with his floral arrangement, appearing to take it all in stride…..)
YY: The Bakufu lost……
<Tosa , Kōchi Castle>
Y: (narration) Is the era of the Tokugawa finally over? Disorder started to reign over the country (Yōdō throws the flower stalks down, his face showing uncharacteristic signs of disquiet.)
(Yatarō dines with Oora Kei while Omoto serves sake.)
Y: This country is getting so noisy but I don’t really care about it. In fact, this is the perfect time for us to make some money.
OK: You know your way, Iwasaki-san.
Y: There is an abacus right here inside my head.
OK: Oh~ That is so scary~
Y: Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid! I won’t have you take it out to eat.
OM: (Omoto pours sake for Yatarō.) Please.
Y: You have such a pretty face.
OK: I asked for the top geiko in Nagasaki specially for Iwasaki-san.
OM: My name is Moto*.
OM: (she leans forward) My name is Moto.
Y: You even have a lovely voice! Hahahaha! But then, you’re just the best in Nagasaki. Compared to my wife in Tosa, you don’t even come close!
OM: (laughs) Is your wife really that pretty?
Y: Not only is she beautiful, she is divine and so dazzling!
(Yatarō holds his hands up in exaggeration as if to shield from light. The women laugh. He suddenly turns serious.)
Y: I didn’t come here to indulge in such small-talk. Ooura-ya*, buy our Tosa camphor! (Ooru Kei opens her eyes wide at the abruptness.)
Y: And other things too. Raw silk, cotton, all the best products there are! What’s more we’re talking big numbers. A 200,000 contract.
Y: Let’s start talking, Ooura-ya.
OK: In that case, can we ask Sakamoto Ryōma-san to oversee this? It’s my first time dealing with Tosa gentlemen. I want someone I can trust involved.
Y: (Yatarō hurls his cup down in anger.) This one that one, always “Ryōma” “Ryōma”! We’re talking business with the Tosa Han!
OK: Even so, it makes no difference.
Y: All of you think much too highly of Ryōma! That fellow is just full of talk! He can’t get anything done in real life!
OK: In this recent war in Bakan, Chōshū was able to defeat the Bakufu troops only because of Sakamoto-san.
OK: I heard he joined the battle himself and took command of the warships.
Y: Ryōma in the war….?!
OK: He’s not just a man of words. Sakamoto-san. (She finishes her sake.) Excuse me now.
(Yatarō stares as Kei leaves the room. He seems shocked. He takes a bottle of sake, pours it down his throat, then throws it down in disgust. Omoto picks the bottle up.)
OM: Would you like to call for more sake?
Y: How much longer are you going to torment me, Ryōma?
OM: Iwasaki-san, you don’t like Sakamoto-san, do you?
Y: ….You know Ryōma too.
OM: (dry laugh) He just had his wedding feast here.
Y: Ryōma got married?!
OM: To a very beautiful lady called Oryō-san.
Y: Oryō?! That woman back in the Teradaya!
OM: Oh, you know about it?
Y: What the hell is he doing! Ferreting about between the Sat-Chō… Getting married, then joining the war… Always in my way!
OM: (to herself) It seems everyone involved with Sakamoto-san, will be emotionally affected by him.
(Yatarō slowly turns to Omoto and grabs her by the face.)
Y: Are you in love with Ryōma too?
(Omoto takes Yatarō’s hand and holds it, giving him her professional smile.)
OM: The one I love is ….. Iwasaki-san.
Y: Don’t give me that bullshit! (Yatarō studies her face closely.) You look so composed but in essence you’re a country girl. I know your kind. (He moves in close) You and I, we have the same scent. (He moves off.) Damn! Why does it have to be Ryōma! That fellow had said to me…”Conflict is not going to change the world!” “Hatred will not bring about anything!” And then he goes and joins the war! He’s nothing but a liar! He’s a fraud!
OM: (tears fill her eyes as she listens) Which person has never lied!! But then, this lie by Sakamoto-san…This lie…. is a lie that lets everyone live in laughter.
Y: (tears stream down Yatarō’s face) …..Oh I see. I see why women love him. Because he can throw these pretty words out anytime!
<Chōshū, Yamaguchi Castle>
(Ryōma is presented to the Chōshū Daimyō Mōri Takachika.)
R: Yes, my Lord.
Voice: This is our Daimyō Lord.
MT: Your actions in Bakan were admirable. We thank you, Sakamoto.
R: Thank you, my Lord.
(Kido Kanji and Takasugi Shinsaku smile. Later, the 3 men return to Kido’s quarters.)
KK: I have to thank you too, Sakamoto-kun.
TS: It was because of the Kameyama Shachū’s help that we could defeat the Bakufu.
R: Chōshū was victorious because of the heroic fighting of the Kiheitai. As well as, Takasugi-san’s fighting spirit, which urged everyone on. (Kido laughs.) Kido-san, war is such….an intricate thing. After defeating the enemy by force, the entire situation changes in an instant.
KK: One fight transcends a hundred debates.
R: You’d probably want to use this momentum, to destroy the Bakufu troops and go straight for Edo.
KK: The tides are in our favour.
R: But then Kido-san, let’s call…. a stop to the war. (The Chōshū men look at him.) Losing to Chōshū has weakened the Bakufu considerably. Now is the time to call on the other Hans and build up our allies (Kido Kanji looks offended.)
TS: I agree. This time, we won because we were in defence. If we were to attack on this impulse….
KK: SILENCE! (to Ryōma, with a condescending look) What are you saying, Sakamoto-kun? The reason we joined forces with Satsuma was because in Satsuma’s name, you obtained warships and weapons for us. In the agreement with Satsuma, we had considered the event of war with the Bakufu. It was you who endorsed on it. Now you say you don’t want a war… (he sneers) Is that a bad joke? In any case, without a war, how will we overthrow the Bakufu?
R: The Bakufu needs to relinquish their power. In the first place, the Shōgun was the Seii-Taishōgun* assigned… by the Emperor to protect the country from barbarians. That means the Tokugawa was just entrusted their power by the Emperor. So we make them step down by themselves. And we don’t need war to overthrow the Bakufu then.
KK: The “Taisei Hōkan” theory…..
R: ”Taisei …. Hōkan” theory? (Kido Kanji writes the words on a piece of paper.)
KK: (Taisei) The country’s ……. political power (Hōkan) to be ……. returned.
TS: The “Taisei Hōkan” theory…. (Kido holds it up for Ryōma.)
KK: This way of thinking had been proposed, in fact, by many people in the past. But, it was always dropped in the end.
KK: (with a straight face) Once you’ve been granted the power, you wouldn’t want to give it up. (He crushes the paper….) The Tokugawa is not as honorable as that (….and throws it down)
R: In that case….In that case, we point our guns at them….. (he picks up a rifle) If they refuse to step down, then we will resort to force. We raise our guns only to make the Bakufu listen.
TS: Yes, I see…! (Takasugi looks at Kido Kanji for his reaction)
KK: Sakamoto-kun……. You worry for the future of Japan. I understand that. However, beliefs which are not realistic or practical, are no different from dreaming. We have no time to waste on that. (Kido walks away.)
KK: To get Taisei Hōkan, you’ll need to have a miracle!!
R: (Ryōma picks up the crushed paper ball, opens it and in a calm voice….) If this miracle doesn’t happen….Japan will be finished.
(He glares at the 2 Chōshū men, then walks away angrily without another word.)
Y: (narration) Sakamoto Ryōma’s bright colourful life ends, in just 1 year.
The Miracle at Bakan
*1. Kanketsu Senri no Koma
In real life, the Kanketsu Senri no Koma 『汗血千里駒』 (literally, The Sweat and Blood of a Winged Steed / Genius) was serialized by the independent newspaper Doyō Shimbun (土陽新聞) in Jan 1883, 16 years after Ryōma died. The newspaper was subsequently renamed the Kōchi Shimbun (高知新聞) in 1904 and remains in circulation todate - homepage
This was the first ever biography of Sakamoto Ryōma, apparently compiled from interviews with Iwasaki Yatarō and his diary. It was novelized that same year. Seen as a political novel, it was said to be a best seller during the Meiji Period. Here is a scan of the book.
Sakazaki Shiran’s Japanese wiki claims that the reporter’s biggest achievement was the discovery and reporting of Ryōma, He had also written about Gotō Shōjirō, Mutsu Yonosuke, Katsu Kaishū’s death, Yamauchi Yōdō and Meiji Restoration patriots like Hirai Shujiro, but his Kanketsu Senri no Koma was credited as being the first to have brought Sakamoto Ryōma to the public eye, without which, some say it would have been unlikely for Ryōma to stand out amongst the many much better known patriots during the Restoration, such as Nakaoka Shintaro, Yoshida Shoin, Kido Kanji etc etc.
2. Pochi ポチ is a very common name for a pet dog in Japanese stories (apparently, for a cat, it’s Tama タマ)
3. Takashima Coal Mines
The Takashima Coal Mines 高島炭坑 were located on Takashima Island, one of the 505 islands off the coast of Nagasaki. For centuries, inhabitants were said to have collected coal from exposed beds for use as a household fuel. Although the trading posts in Nagasaki were overseen by the Bakufu, Nagasaki lies in the Saga Han, and when Nagasaki became the window to foreign trade during the Tokugawa (Edo) period, the Saga Han took over the coal trade in Takashima in 1695.
The arrival of foreign steamships in Nagasaki called for greater coal production. So in 1867, Nabeshima Naomasa, Daimyō of the Saga Han, approached Thomas Glover to develop Japan’s first coal mine. Glover brought in modern mining equipment and knowhow, and commissioned research to support the viability of the Takashima coal. But already heavily in debt, he went bankrupt in 1870, selling his interest in the venture to the Netherlands Trading Society (NTS), but staying on to manage the mines. With the abolition of the Hans in 1871, the Saga Daimyō surrendered his estate to the Meiji government the next year, including his part of the Takashima Coal Mines. The Meiji Government, represented by Gotō Shōjirō, purchased the rest of the ownership from the NTS in 1874.
By this time, the Takashima Coal Mines were producing most of the coal used by Japanese steamships. After labour problems, explosions, fires, collapses and flooding, the mines were finally sold to Iwasaki Yatarō under the Mitsubushi Zaibatsu (financial group) in 1881. From there, Mitsubishi went on to buy the entire Hashima Island nearby (better known as the ghost island Gunkanjima, check it out here) in 1890 converting it into a full scale coal mining facility.
As petroleum replaced coal as the main energy resource in the late 1960’s, Hashima Island closed down in 1974. The Takashima coal mines continued until a gas explosion terminated its operation on 1985.04.25
4. Toyotomi Hideyoshi - more info here
5. The Bakan Straits (馬関海峡) is the old name for the Straits of Shimonoseki, now most commonly called the Kanmon Straits (関門海峡) - more info here
6. Miyoshi (舳, ミヨシ-) this is the fisherman’s term for the bow of a ship, described as where the fishing seat is located. It can also be read as Jiku or Hesaki.
7. The warship “Union” was purchased from Thomas Glover in the name of Satsuma for Chōshū. (This was the purchase negotiated by Kondō Chōjirō in Episode 34.) It was subsequently named the “Sakurajima Maru” while under the Satsuma flag. According to Maurius B. Jensen in “Sakamoto Ryōma and the Meiji Restoration”, it was then renamed the Otchō Maru after formal ownership passed to Chōshū. In this drama, the ship is still being called the “Union” to avoid confusion.
8. Second Choshu Expedition (1866)
A brief description of real events in the 2nd Chōshū Expedition in 1866 (Keiō Year 2):
- The land frontiers of Hiroshima (Geishū / Ozegawa points)and Shimane (Sekishū point) would be attacked by the principal armies from Hiroshima, Hikone, Takada, Fukuyama and Kishū (Kii)
- The Shikoku troops (Matsuyama, Uwajima, Tokushima etc.) would invade the south-east Kaminoseki islands (Suo-Ōshima point).
- Shimonoseki would be entered from Kyushu (Kokura frontier) by troops from Kumamoto, Yanagawa, Kokura etc.
- Satsuma and Kurume would attack Hagi.
- A few days after the Ōshima fall, Takasugi Shinsaku’s Kiheitai successfully landed ashore. Takasugi himself commanded a small vessel (Heitora Maru) and through bold night attacks on the Bakufu warships, disrupted their sea front operations, causing them to withdraw. At the same time, Uwajima Han refused to deploy their troops and Takasugi’s men were able to recapture the islands.
- At the Hiroshima borders, Hikone and Takada troops were defeated at Ozegawa. The victorious Chōshū troops joined the on-going battle at the Geishū front against Kishū where the Bakufu’s best forces were deployed. The battle turned into a stalemate. Hiroshima refused to send in their troops, and finally ended the hostilities there in a private truce with Chōshū.
- At the Seikishū front, Chōshū troops advanced through the neutral Tsuwano Han and attacked the Hamada Han, whose Lord Matsudaira Takeakira was Itotsubashi Yoshinobu’s younger brother by birth. Hamada Castle fell in 2 days on June 18. Hamada and it’s silver mines remained under Chōshū rule until the Meiji period.
- At Kokura, it became a battle of the navy on the Shimonoseki Straits. The Kaientai arrived on the Otchō Maru (Sakurajima Maru) commanded by Ryōma just in time for the battle. The Bakufu Navy was markedly stronger in terms of armament and skill. However, the Kumamoto forces withdrew their support. At the same time, news of Shōgun Iemochi’s fatal illness in Ōsaka reached the Tokugawa troops and the overall commander Ogasawara Nagamichi fled, leaving the Kokura troops to continue the hopeless battle alone. On August 1, totally isolated, the Kokura Han set fire to their own castle and retreated. Although Kokura continued to fight thereafter, in reality the Bakufu was completely defeated.
Although referred to as the “4-frontier war”, the Bakufu’s original plans was to advance on Chōshū simultaneously on 5 fronts. (This was mentioned briefly in Episode 35.)
Following the Sat-Chō Alliance, Satsuma refused to join and the Hagi front was dropped. 32 Hans remained “most of them anxious to lose as few of their effectives as possible and determined not to do more than their share” (Jansen). On June 7, the Bakufu attacked the Suo-Ōshima point, successfully capturing the islands of Ōshima and Kaminoseki. This was followed on June 13 at the Geishū / Ozegawa front; June 16 at Sekishū; June 17 at Kokura.
This link shows the Operation Map of the Bakan battle drawn by Sakamoto Ryoma.
July 20 - 14th Shōgun Tokugawa Iemochi passed away at 20 years old.
Sept 2 - Katsu Kaishū, newly released from house arrest and reinstated as Navy Commissioner, travelled alone into Miyajima, Hiroshima to meet with Chōshū representatives, and successfully negotiated a cease-fire agreement. He retired from his post soon thereafter.
Source: Japanese & English wiki, Maurius B. Jensen’s “Sakamoto Ryōma and the Meiji restoration” (p.232~240)
9. Shōkai (商会) means trading company.
10. It was said that before a battle, Takasugi Shinsaku would bolster his men’s morale with sake. (Jansen)
11. A well-known song by Takasugi Shinsaku:
「わしと お前は 焼山葛 うらは切れても 根は切れぬ」
“You….and I, like vines re-growing after the fields are burned, we may grow apart, but we cannot cut our roots”
It is said to be a song about him and Yamagata Aritomo, a fellow student of Yoshida Shoin and commander of the Kiheitai which was founded by Takasugi. (Yamagata is said to be the father of Japanese militarism, contributing directly to WWII) Takasugi is referring to the 2 of them as焼山葛, weeds which re-grow even after burning because their roots are connected. He is saying that even when they seem to work apart, they are closely connected.
12. Moji is the city facing Shimonoseki on the opposite side of the straits - more info here
13. A waypoint (変針点) is a term in navigation to identify a specific point in physical space by co-ordinates.
14. Moto is Omoto’s name. She is being called Omoto out of courtesy and respect, just as Sana is referred to as “O’Sana-sama”; Ryōma’s sister Tome as “Otome”; his wife Ryo as “Oryō”; the merchant Kei as “O’Kei”.
15. Ooura-ya - a way of addressing merchants is to call them by the name of their business. In this case, “Oomura-ya” means the House of Ooura.
16. Seii-Taishōgun - more info here
17. Taisei Hōkan means to “Restore Imperial Rule”
Timeline for this Episode:
- To be updated
The biggest battle in the Chōshū War unfolded over the Kanmon Straits. Surrounded by the great Bakufu army, the Chōshū troops were trapped. But then, they crossed the seas in a surprise attack on the Bakufu and captured Kokura Castle.
[Kokura Castle / Fukuoka Prefecture, Kitakyūshū City]
To the east of Kokura Castle in Akasaka, lies many Kiheitai and other victims of war.
[Gravesite of the Chōshū Kiheitai / Kokurakita-ku, Akasaka]
Joining the war, Ryōma was believed to have drawn a picture of the sea battle from Hinoyama.
[Hinoyama Park / Yamaguchi Prefecture, Shimonoseki City]
The paper was filled with writing, giving us an indication of Ryōma’s excitement.
“Sounds of gunfire clearly heard, like sesame seeds being fried.”
[Taiko Drum from Kokura Castle / Itsukushima Jinja (shrine)]
In Shimonoseki, is a token of Chōshū’s victory, the Taiko drum from Kokura Castle. This battle marked the beginning of the Bakufu’s eventual slide into decline.
[Kiheitai Related Places]
[Itsukushima Jinja (shrine)]
Take bus from JR “Shimonoseki” Station
And get off at “Itsukushima Jinja-mae”
15 mins walk from JR “Kokura” Station
Episode 39 ==== Episode 40 ==== Episode 41 ==== Episode 42 ==== Episode 43
Episode 44 ==== Episode 45 ==== Episode 46 ==== Episode 47 ==== Episode 48
Translated from the Chinese and Japanese subtitles on the episode. Many many thanks to the hard work of all these fans, without which this would not have been possible!!