“Priest Gessho tsukusu ma de” (Serving Priest Gessho until exhausted), c. 1920.

1930sHistoric EventsReligious
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“Priest Gessho tsukusu ma de” (Serving Priest Gessho until exhausted), c. 1920. The Buddhist monk Gessho (facing) being pursued after fleeing Kyoto, being accompanied by his close friend (and future Meiji army general), Saigo Takamori.

See also:
The Statue of Saigo at Ueno Park, c. 1910.

“Gessho (1813-1858) was a Sonno Joi School Buddhist monk (‘Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians’) who lived at the end of the Edo period. He went by the aliases Sokyu, Ninkai, Ningai and Hisamaru.

“He was born in 1813 as the eldest son of an Osaka physician.

“During the Ansei Purge, the period between 1858-1860 when the Tokugawa shogunate imprisoned, executed, or exiled those who did not support its authority and foreign isolation policies, Gessho became a wanted man as Hikone daimyo and Tokugawa tairo [prime minister] Naosuke Ii viewed him as a dangerous rebel, leading Gessho to flee Kyoto with his close friend Takamori Saigo.

“He escaped to the Satsuma Domain but the domain, which considered him to be a burden, declined to provide protection and ordered that he be sent to nearby Hyuga Province across Kinko-wa bay.

“It was while fleeing across the bay in a small boat that Gessho made the decision to take his own life. He and Takamori attempted to drown themselves. Gessho died but Takamori miraculously survived (and would go on to lead the Emperor’s army against the Tokugawa bakufu). Gessho was 46 years of age at the time.”


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