60 What is the Shinsengumi? Examining the Shogun's Last Samurai Corps w. Romulus Hillsborough


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On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, we learn about one of Japan's most famous and popular group of samurai: the Shinsengumi.

About Romulus Hillsborough

Romulus Hillsborough is a researcher, writer and author of multiple books focusing on late Edo-early Meiji Period history. His books include Samurai Revolution: The Dawn of Modern Japan Seen Through the Eyes of Shogun's Last Samurai, Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai, and The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps: The Bloody Battles and Intrigues of the Shinsengumi.

Topics Discussed
  • What the Shinsengumi was
  • What the Shinsengumi did and why they were created
  • The turmoil of the waning days of the Edo Period
  • When the Shinsengumi was active
  • The brutality of the Shinsengumi
  • The strict code of conduct of the Shinsengumi
  • About Kondo Isami
  • How many of the members of the Shinsengumi were not of the samurai/bushi class
  • About Serizawa Kamo and the mystery of his life before his time in the Shinsengumi
  • Stories of Serizawa Kamo's violent nature
  • Historical sources about the Shinsengumi
  • Kan Shimozawa's writings on the Shinsengumi
  • Some of the problems with sources documenting the history of the Shinsengumi
  • The famous Ikedaya Inn incident
  • The somewhat paradoxical nature of the way that the Shinsengumi is remembered today
  • How the Shinsengumi is remembered
  • Romulus Hillsborough's first trip to Japan in 1978
  • How Romulus Hillsborough became interested in writing historical nonfiction about Sakamoto Ryoma and the Shinsengumi
  • And much more!
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Links, Videos, Etc.

To pick up a copy of The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps: The Bloody Battles and Intrigues of the Shinsengumi, please consider using the Amazon affiliate link below. It will support JapanKyo.com and it won't cost you anything extra.

Here are two other books written by Romulus Hillsborough, including his book on the life of Sakamoto Ryoma, which was mentioned in the episode. These are also Amazon affiliate links.

78 episodes