水曜日は、Heroes and Giants
Saigo Takamori was a samurai who worked hard to stop the Tokugawa Shogunate and make a new government at the beginning of the Meiji period.
He is very popular even today because he was such a strong leader who was kind and always wanted to help others.
Saigo was born in 1827 in the Satsuma Domain which is today part of Kagoshima prefecture.
His father was a samurai but not a leader.
When Saigo was 13, he was hurt badly, so he couldn’t practice fighting.
He used the time to study and this helped him later.
He was a hard worker and was chosen by the leader of the Satsuma Domain, Shimatsu Nariakira to help change the system of government in Japan.
But the Tokugawa Shogunate did not want to change.
After the sudden death of Shimatsu, Saigo lost power and got into trouble twice.
The first time, he was sent to Amami-Ooshima island because the leader of the Satsuma Domain wanted to hide Saigo from the Tokugawa Shogunate.
They did not want to fight with the Shogunate.
Saigo married a woman from an important family on the island.
After spending two years on Amami Ooshima, he was able to go back to Satsuma because the Satsuma Domain needed more experienced people.
And his friends thought Saigo could help.
After only 4 months in Satsuma, Saigo had problems with the leader of the Satsuma Domain.
This time, he was sent really far away to an island called Okinoirabu-jima.
The situation on this island was so bad that Saigo had a hard time getting food.
Even then, he continued to work hard.
He became friends with the leader of the island and helped make new lords.
After 2 years, again with the help of friends, he was able to go home.
Back in Satsuma, Saigo became powerful again and helped the Satsuma Domain and the Choshu Domain join together.
Then, he took control of Edo castle without hurting anyone.
This helped end Tokugawa Shogunate.
People say that he saved one million people living in Edo by talking and not fighting.
He talked with Katsu Kaisyu, a leader of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
“If I hadn’t talked to Saigo, things might have ended badly.”
Today, if you go to Amami Ooshima, you will meet many people who say nice things about Saigo.
A taxi driver might tell you,
“You know, Mr. Saigo lived here.”
Or if you go to Okinoirabu-jima, you may hear a local folk song about Saigo.
Saigo always listened to people and helped his friends.
So when he was in trouble, his friends helped him.
Saigo’s kindness to both strangers and his friends made him a great leader.