Akebonotei Jiken (Akebonotei Incident) (明保野亭事件)

Akebonotei Jiken, which occurred in Kyoto at the end of the Edo period, was an incident where a retainer of the Tosa clan was wounded and committed suicide, together with a retainer of the Aizu clan who also committed suicide with his own sword, which resulted from mis-information during an operation to arrest masterless samurai from the Choshu clan.

Details

On July 13, 1864, Shinsengumi (a group who guarded Kyoto during the end of Tokugawa Shogunate) received an order from the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) to arrest the remnants of those at the Ikedaya Incident, and on the same day, Shinsengumi received information that masterless samurai of Choshu clan were hidden in the restaurant Akebono (which was written 明保野 or 曙) in Higashiyama Ward.

Fifteen members of Shinsengumi led by Kanryusai TAKEDA and five out of twenty retainers of Aizu clan who had been dispatched the day before for supporting Shinsengumi went to arrest the masterless samurai. When at the scene, Tsukasa SHIBA, a retainer of Aizu clan, tried to control the samurai in a guest room, the samurai escaped, which prompted SHIBA to pursue and wound the samurai with a spear in an effort to catch the samurai. Soon after, the samurai was found to be Tokitaro ASADA (Tokijiro, in another opinion), a retainer of Tosa clan, and not a masterless samurai; therefore, he was released on the spot.

At first, Shiba's action was passed and the Aizu clan dispatched a doctor and a messenger to apologize to the Tosa clan; the Tosa clan responded by mentioning that Asada was also to blame for not having mentioned his name in the beginning. On June 11 (old calendar), however, ASADA was forced to commit seppuku by the Tosa clan for Shido-fukakugo (disobeying Bushido (the code of the samurai)), which infuriated young retainers of Tosa clan who clamored that the punishment was 'unfair,' their dissent was serious enough to harm the relationship between the Aizu clan and the Tosa clan. At last on June 12 (old calendar), Tsukasa SHIBA committed seppuku as a gesture of apology, preventing the relationship between the Aizu clan and the Tosa clan from being damaged.

Meaning behind the Incident

In those days, under the rule of the lord Yodo YAMAUCHI, the Tosa clan supported kobu-gattai (integration of the imperial court and the shogunate) and kept a good relationship with the Aizu clan, but also had power as Tosa kinnoto (loyalist clique of Tosa) which aimed to overthrow the bakufu; therefore, under those circumstances, the incident cast a shadow over the relationship between the two clans. Although Tsukasa SHIBA merely did his duty, he prevented the relationship between the two clans from being damaged, despite it costing his life.

About the restaurant Akebonotei

Like other restaurants in those days, Akebonotei served as both restaurant and hotel and was also frequently used by royalists who aimed to overthrow the bakufu in their closed sessions, which was the context of the incident. It is also said that Ryoma SAKAMOTO regularly used Akebonotei as his inn. Akebonotei still runs businesses, and a stone monument stands by it in Sannen-zaka Slope (or Sannei-zaka Slope), Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, however, the original site is said to be been located slightly northeast of the current location.