Hi wa kiyurédomo tô-shin wa hiyédzu.


Though the flame be put out, the wick remains… Japanese Buddhist Proverb

saigo005

The last samurai : the life and battles of Saigo Takamori  Mark Ravina  Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons, Inc., c 2004  Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Print shows a group portrait of Meiji, Emperor of Japan and the imperial family.

Print shows a group portrait of Meiji, Emperor of Japan and the imperial family.

The first book in English in 50 years on a revered samurai warrior – the Japanese Robert E. Lee One of Japan’s most renowned samurai, Saigo Takamori (1828-1877) helped pull down the Tokugawa Shogunate and restore the Meiji emperor. He then watched in horror as Meiji, in his drive to modernize the country, stripped the samurai of all that made them samurai – the representatives of Japanese tradition, honor, and glory, if also feudal privilege.

The small landscape depicted celebrates Mukōjima situated on the east bank of the Sumida River. This is still a famous destination for viewing the cherry blossom trees that were first planted there by Shōgun Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684-1751). The fashionable young girl in the foreground is holding what is likely an emperor doll associated with the March 3rd Hinamatsuri or Girls Day festival. Kunikazu was a student of Utagawa Kunimasa and the oldest of three artist brothers. Prints of this type, called kuchi-e or "mouth pictures," were made as frontispiece illustrations for novels and literary journals. They were especially popular during the Meiji era (1868-1912) phenomenon.

The small landscape depicted celebrates Mukōjima situated on the east bank of the Sumida River. This is still a famous destination for viewing the cherry blossom trees that were first planted there by Shōgun Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684-1751). The fashionable young girl in the foreground is holding what is likely an emperor doll associated with the March 3rd Hinamatsuri or Girls Day festival. Kunikazu was a student of Utagawa Kunimasa and the oldest of three artist brothers. Prints of this type, called kuchi-e or “mouth pictures,” were made as frontispiece illustrations for novels and literary journals. They were especially popular during the Meiji era (1868-1912) phenomenon.

The Last Samurai takes a revealing look at Saigo, who is as compelling a character to the Japanese as Robert E. Lee is to Americans – a great and noble warrior who followed the dictates of honor and loyalty, even though it meant civil war in a country he’d devoted himself to.

saigo001

In this dramatic story of politics and rebellion, Mark Ravina follows Saigo as he leads an army of samurai partisans toward Tokyo to fight the imperial conscript army. He examines in gripping detail the clash between Saigo’s samurai ideals and impending Japanese modernity – and the reasons why Saigo has been revered for his courage and integrity until the present day.

Photograph of a cartoon showing Theodore Roosevelt standing between Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Emperor Meiji of Japan, with his hands on their shoulders; a scroll reading "Let us have peace" rests upon a drum in the foreground.

Photograph of a cartoon showing Theodore Roosevelt standing between Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Emperor Meiji of Japan, with his hands on their shoulders; a scroll reading “Let us have peace” rests upon a drum in the foreground.

Advertisements

Comments Off on Hi wa kiyurédomo tô-shin wa hiyédzu.

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments are closed.