Sakamoto Ryoma

Sakamoto Ryōma 坂本 龍馬 (a.k.a. Saitani Umetarō 才谷 梅太郎 - for his work against the Shogunate)

Now is the time for us to act. Soon we must decide on our direction, whether it lead to pandemonium or paradise.
— Sakamoto Ryoma to Hayashi Kenzo
  Sakamoto-san was a political activist just before the Meiji Restoration, one of the most turbulent times in Japanese history--but crucial to modern Japan.   Ranking as one of the top three of Japan's favorite historical figures, he's often referred to in modern politics as a person to emulate. He dreamed of a Japan that had no caste system or feudal structure, where every man was equal.  


(see Timeline below for more details)
  • Negotiated an alliance between Choushuu and Satsuma domains
  • Created an 8 point plan to modernize Japan
    Anything can be accomplished if you take responsibility for doing at least 80 percent to 90 percent of it yourself. Pass the remaining 10-20 percent of responsibility on to others and give them all the credit.

    Why Sakamoto Involved Himself in Politics

    The Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 left lasting dissatisfaction for several clans in the West and set up the Shogunate as the acting government, even over the emperor.


    In the late 1800s, anti-Shogunate sentiment grew fast. While Sakamoto studied swordsmanship in Edo (the old name for Tokyo), Commodore Perry and the black ships forced their way into Japan's ports. The treaties the Shogunate signed were bad for Japan and only increased the people's negative view of the current government.


    Swept up in the time's politics, he desired to make Japan modernized and dreamt of equality for his countrymen. Sakamoto turned out to be one of the most influential political figures, not only in the Meiji Era but the whole history Japan. Despite never holding office, his political actions had lasting ramifications.



    Enrolled in a private school.
    In Edo, Headmaster Chiba Sadakichi Masamichi taught swordsmanship to 14-year-old Sakamoto.
    Head of the Chiba dojo.
    Part of the imperial loyalists, Sonnou Joui. The group followed the ideal "Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians"-to overthrow the Shogunate, and unite the country by restoring the Emperor's power and getting rid of the foreigners who pushed treaties that had no benefit to Japan.

    Sakamoto left and became a ronin before the group assassinated Yoshida Toyo.
    Planned to assassinate Katsu Kaishu, a statesman and vassal of the Shogun. But after meeting Katsu, who knew of his intentions and persuaded him to listen, Sakamoto changed his views. (Katsu worked for the Shogun but was in the anti-Shogun camp.)

    Sakamoto ended up working under Katsu and became his protege. Katsu convinced Sakamoto that Japan needed military might and a long-term plan to deal with the West.
    Katsu created the Kobe Naval Training Center and put Sakamoto in charge. As he saw the tensions escalating between the East (Edo and the Shogunate) and the West (Pro-Emperor supporters and Choushuu/Satsuma), he wrote:
    I want to wash Japan clean.
    The Shogunate stripped Sakamoto of his position, on suspicion of his motives.
    Kobe Naval Training Center was closed by the Shogunate. Also, the Shogunate moved against Choushuu domain. Satsuma domain refused to assist the Shogunate in the campaign and Sakamoto, using his own shipping company, purchased weapons and ships for Satsuma to give to Choushuu for defense.
    Sakamoto negotiated an alliance between Choushuu and Satsuma domains, who were often at odds. He was able to do this because he was a neutral third party-not from or gaining benefit from either region. This alliance allowed Western Japan to fend off a campaign from the Tokugawa Shogunate who wanted to subdue the rebellion. The alliance was key in helping to bring down the Shogunate.
    He created an 8 point plan to modernize Japan. One aspect included the shogunate giving power back to the Emperor. Quick modernization of Japan was essential after Commodore Perry forced his way into Japanese ports and pushed unfair treaties on the weak and slow to act Shogunate, which had been in place since the early 1600s. Sakamoto gave his plan to Gotou Shojirou, who created a petition to urge Tokugawa Yoshinobu to step down and return power to the emperor.
    November 9, 1867
    Tokugawa stepped down.
    December 10, 1867
    Sakamoto and his friend were assassinated while staying at an inn in Kyoto. The murderers were never found. Though, several theories exist. Sakamoto was only 31 when he died.
    January 1868
    Battle of Toba Fushimi - the first battle in the Boshin War that would lead to a new government and the fast paced modernization of the Meiji Era. Sakamoto's plan played an important part.

    Sakamoto's Role in Liminal Chronicles

    Yes, he was a real historical figure. We will get a peek at him in the historical journals of one of the main characters.  

    Personality Characteristics

    Savvies & Ineptitudes

    Master swordsman, artist (he drew illustrations in his letters)

    Likes & Dislikes

    Liked to wear traditional clothing (kimono and hakama) with western style boots

    Virtues & Personality perks

    He was a realist.
    I don't expect that I'll be around too long. But I'm not about to die like any average person either. I'm only prepared to die when big changes finally come, when even if I continue to live I will no longer be of any use to the country. But since I'm fairly shifty, I'm not likely to die so easily.

    But seriously, although I was born a mere potato digger in Tosa, a nobody, I'm destined to bring about great changes in the nation. But I'm definitely not going to get puffed up about it. Quite the contrary! I'm going to keep my nose to the ground, like a clam in the mud. So don't worry about me!

    Vices & Personality flaws

    He could be rather egotistical.
    It's a shame that there aren't more men like me around the country.


    Contacts & Relations

    Chiba Jiitarou Kazutane (from the Chiba Dojo)
    Takechi Hanpeita (from the Tosa domain Sonnou Joui)
    Katsu Kaishuu (his mentor)
    Nakaoka Shintarou (died alongside Sakamoto)

    Facial Features

    small, deep-set
    long and pulled back in the traditional top knot style
    1836 1867
    Circumstances of Birth
    January 3, 1836 - Born 2nd son of a low ranking samurai, in Kochi on the island of Shikoku. He was financially stable due to being part of a large fabric and brewing mercantile family.
    Circumstances of Death
    December 10, 1867 - Assassinated.
    Biological Sex
    170+ cm (tall for the times)

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    Please Login in order to comment!
    25 Sep, 2019 23:02

    I like how you have done this using a timeline. That's a neat way of doing it. Personally, I'd maybe include some pictures, artistic interpretations of events he partook in etc. I'd say the one thing I'd like to see is.... who was he as a person? What led him to take an active role in politics? The lay-out is very neat, but it feels a little impersonal, I'd love to know more about... him. Who and what he was before his achievements, why go through so much?

    26 Sep, 2019 00:47

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback! I'll do what I can to do just that! <3

    Author of Rise: Liminal Chronicles |
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