Samurai Tour

Daisuke came over to visit us all the way from Osaka, he is a huge Samurai fan so he had already looked up all the places he wanted to see in Kyoto that were related to the Satsuma Clan and the Meiji Restoration, I know very little about Japan's History and even less about Samurai so it was very interesting for me to find out about these places.

Our first stop was the Ryozen Gokoku Shrine :

Located at 1 Ryozen-cho, Seikanji, Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto 605-0861, the Gokoku Shrine is right next to the Ryozen "sacred mountain" which is the name of the hill which enshrines the spirits of 3200 participants in the Meiji Restoration movement. Samurai, Soldiers, talented and intelligent minds of that period, 1 Geisha and her Husband, all dead at a young age , mostly late 20's early 30's.

The main attraction at the Ryozen is Ryoma Sakamoto's grave which is the most visited and most advertised attraction, the picture bellow is the entrance to the Ryozen, it's covered with images of Ryoma Sakamoto:

I was very impressed when I found out a Geisha was buried here among all these revolutionaries, her name was Ikumatsu , she gave refuge to Katsura-Kogoro, who was wanted by the Shogunate, love began between them, and they safely entered the Restoration as a married couple, now they are buried next to each other on Ryozen , this is a picture of her grave, it had fresh flowers that day, I guess a lot of people visit her.

After we explored the Cemetery we crossed the street and went to the Ryozen Museum of History. I was able to get an English brochure with my entrance ticket but the information on it is very general, once you enter the museum everything is in Japanese and there was sooooo many interesting things I would have loved to be able to understand but alas I'm just a newbie.

This is a wax life scaled model of Ryoma Sakamoto:

This is the actual blade that killed Ryoma, from what I was told by Daisuke, this blade was specially made to be smaller and therefore faster with the sole purpose of killing Ryoma.

The museum also has a video re-enactment of what happened the night Ryoma died, and how he was killed, and a scaled model of the soy sauce warehouse where it happened.

After the museum we headed to Hamaguri Gomon Gate at the Imperial Park, This is where a memorable event in history happened in 1863. A one day battle between the Shogunate and Choshu took place in Kyoto that was short but very destructive, as the flames of war covered most of the city and lasted for three days. Bullet marks from the conflict remain on the gate to this day. When I saw the bullet marks on the wood I couldn't believe these doors were still intact being outdoors exposed to the elements, it was quite impressive, here are some pics of the bullet marks and the gate:

Afterwords we went to visit the places where the Satsuma clan was based at which is now a days an University , where Ryoma had his import business, the place is still there remarkably enough, and the place where Ryoma was killed at which I was surprised to see is now a conbini, except for Ryoma's import business all that remained from these places are just small stone pillars to commemorate the spots where they once stood.

I learned a lot a yet not enough, it was a really fun day.

Jya ne!

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