Mitford (later to become the first Lord Redesdale) was an urbane aristocrat, had charm, looks and excellent manners. He was always in the right place at the right time, almost drowned, could have burned to death, was shot at, and was nearly cut down by samurai swords. But 'Bertie', as he was known, was never fazed by events. He stood face-to-face with the new, teenage Emperor when almost everybody else, including the Shogun, could only talk to him behind a screen. He became friendly with the last Shogun and witnessed a hara-kiri, his atmospheric account of which is now a classic. An accomplished linguist and writer, Mitford was the outstanding chronicler of the Meiji Restoration, complementing the writings of his contemporary Ernest Satow. This book will be of particular interest to students and readers of Japanese history, as well as readers of nineteenth-century biography in general. It will also have special appeal to those who are familiar with the Mitford family history.
Nowhere has there been a discussion of the confusion necessarily generated by the rapidity of the change or of the agony created in the lives of many whose attitudes, expectations, and even success depended on the continuance of now abolished institutions. Historians have ignored the settled conditions of most samurai and instead concentrated on the study of the minority of activist samurai leaders who, with the backing of only a few Han (feudal domains) sought to overthrow the old order and whose success in doing so has made the study of the modernization of Japan the prime concern of historians. The history of the Meiji period may have been an overall political and industrial success story, but for a fuller understanding of the conditions of that success it is also necessary to understand "what it was really like" for the members of the old elite to be estranged from the proponents of revolution and what many members did to assure their own social and psychological position in a world they had not expected.
In this book the author attempts to show that the impact of the Meiji Restoration destroyed the meaningfulness of the Confucian doctrine for these declasse samurai. Through Christianity, the samurai attempted to revive their status in society by finding a doctrine that offered a meaningful path to power. But in doing so, they had to accept a new theory of social relations. Ultimately, as the convert's understanding of society became totally informed by the Christian doctrine, they accepted a transcendent authority that brought them into conflict with society about them. Therefore, to understand the development of a Christian opposition in Meiji society we must begin with the conversion experience itself. [intro]
This two–volume collection, supported by an in-depth introduction that addresses origins, actuality, endgame and afterlife, brings together for the first time contemporary documentation and more recent scholarship to give a broad picture of Japan’s Treaty Ports and their inhabitants at work and play in the second half of the nineteenth century. The material selected, shows how the ports’ existence and the Japanese struggle to end their special status, impacted on many aspects of modern Japan beyond their primary role as trading stations. Compared with their counterparts in China, the Japanese treaty ports cast a small shadow. They were far fewer – only four really mattered – and lasted for just under fifty years, while the Chinese ports made their centenary. Yet the Japanese ports were important. The thriving modern cities of Yokohama and Kobe had their origins as treaty ports. Nagasaki, a major centre of foreign trade since at least the sixteenth century, may not have owed so much to its treaty-port status, but it was a factor in its modern development.
In 1862, fifty-one-year-old Matsuo Taseko left her old life behind by traveling to Kyoto, the old imperial capital. Peasant, poet, and local political activist, Taseko had come to Kyoto to support the nativist campaign to restore the Japanese emperor and expel Western "barbarians." Although she played a minor role in the events that led to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, her actions were nonetheless astonishing for a woman of her day. Honored as a hero even before her death, Taseko has since been adopted as a patron saint by rightist nationalists.
In telling Taseko's story, Anne Walthall gives us not just the first full biography in English of a peasant woman of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), but also fresh perspectives on the practices and intellectual concerns of rural entrepreneurs and their role in the Meiji Restoration. Writing about Taseko with a depth and complexity that has thus far been accorded only to men of that time, Walthall has uncovered a tale that will captivate anyone concerned with women's lives and with Japan's dramatic transition to modernity.