Wednesday, May 15, 2019

(1844) And back to the samurai


After akabeko, the second thing you see outside the Aizu-Wakamatsu station is a monument to the Byakotai (白虎隊) or "White Tiger Unit", a reserve group of 350 sons of samurai, aged 16-17 who fought in the Battle of Aizu (会津戦争) in October-November 1868. The battle was part of the Boshin War (戊辰戦争) that marked the end of the Tokugawa Period and with it the end of the feudal era in Japan; the two belligerent sides were some feudal lords supporting the last shogun, Tokougawa Yoshinobu (徳川慶喜) and some supporting Emperor Meiji. Byakotai was immortalized because 19 of its members committed suicide (in the famous samurai way) when at some point during the battle they thought that their side, that of the shogun had lost. Although at that particular time they were wrong, in the end the shogun side did indeed lose and the restoration of Emperor Meiji was officially completed. 

(For a bigger version of this picture both in color and black and white, check my "Japan Arekore" set on Flickr)

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