The Battle of Toba-Fushimi (鳥羽・伏見の戦い)

The Battle of Toba-Fushimi from January 27 to 30, 1868 was the beginning of the Boshin War, and was fought in Kamitoba (Minami Ward, Kyoto City) on the outskirts of southern Kyoto, Shimotoba, Takeda, and Fushimi (Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City).

Summary

At the end of 1867, jikan-nochi (resignation from the government post and retrocession of the domain) was ordered against Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA of the former Tokugawa Shogunate family, who had retreated to Osaka due to the restoration of Imperial rule (in Japan), was initiated by Toshimichi OKUBO of the Satsuma domain and the court noble, Tomomi IWAKURA. When the Satsuma domain was engaged provocatively in subversive activities (the Incident of setting fire to the residence in Edo of domain of Satsuma, inflicted by the Shonai domain) in the urban area of Edo, the surroundings of Yoshinobu increasingly voiced the desire to defeat the Satsuma domain and accordingly, Yoshinobu attempted to establish a military blockade of Kyoto. The Shogunate infantry, the main force of the former Shogunate forces, advanced on the Toba-kaido Highway, while the Shinsengumi and the soldiers of the Aizu and Kuwana domains advanced to the urban area of Fushimi.

In the afternoon of January 27, 1868, a quarrel between the inspector general, Tomoaki TAKIGAWA and the soldiers of the Satsuma domain blocking the highway near Shimotoba resulted in a battle, and as soon as gunfire in Toba was heard, the battle in Fushimi began. In Toba (the suburbs of Kyoto), the absence of the supreme commander Shigekata TAKENAKA and the escape of Tomoaki TAKIGAWA threw the former Shogunate forces into disarray, and near the magistrate's office in Fushimi, the former Shogunate infantry led by the commanding officers, Nobuhisa SAKUMA and Shigeaki KUBOTA, the soldiers of the Aizu domain, and the Shinsengumi led by Toshizo HIJIKATA, were defeated by the firepower of the rifles in the new government's forces.

On January 29, the Shogunate forces, which were refused entry to the castle of the Yodo domain (see below), set up camp in Yodo-Senryomatsu, but were severely defeated. Incidentally, Genzaburo INOUE, a ranking officer of the Shinsengumi since its foundation, was killed during the intense battle.

The Shogunate forces were routed repeatedly, but, finally, they were to fight the final, decisive battle fought at two positions: to the east and west of Mt. Otoko-yama in which the Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine was located. The main units of the Shogunate forces, including the main force of the Shinsengumi led by Toshizo HIJIKATA, set up camp in Hashimoto, a posting station with a red-light district, to the west of the mountain. In Hashimoto, where Mt. Otoko-yama lay to the east and the Yodo-gawa River to the west, the Shogunate forces had a geographical advantage against counter attacks. However, betrayed by the Tsu domain guarding Oyamazaki across the river (see below) and consequently subjected to unexpected heavy fire from the west, the Shogunate forces collapsed and fled to Osaka down the Yodo-gawa River. During the battle Tadasaburo SASAKI, the head of the Kyoto-Mimawarigumi (a special police force), was badly wounded (and later died); Susumu YAMAZAKI, an internal affairs officer and secret agent of the Shinsengumi, was badly wounded (and later died off the coast of Kishu Bay); and Kanichiro YOSHIMURA, who had the same position as Yamazaki, went missing (and later killed himself in the Nanbu domain residence in Osaka). The amount of damage sustained by each of the opposing forces is said to be unknown.

The former Shogunate forces requested the lord of the Yodo domain (Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City), Masakuni INABA (a close aide to Yoshinobu and an incumbent senior councilor) to open Yodo Castle to them so they could regroup their forces. The Yodo domain, however, did not want to fight the new government's forces, and secured the castle gate, refusing the former Shogunate forces entry to the castle. As a result, the former Shogunate forces of 15,000 soldiers were defeated by the new government's forces of only 5,000 soldiers early in the battle. The battle continued on the following day (January 28), and on January 29, Emperor Meiji granted the Imperial standard to Imperial Prince Komatsunomiya Akihito (some believe Tomomi IWAKURA forged it); consequently, the new government's forces became the Imperial forces. For this reason, several domains such as the opportunistic Tottori domain and the soldiers of the Tsu domain (the spearhead of the former Shogunate forces) in Yamazaki sided with the new government's forces. This definitely placed the former Shogunate forces on a losing course.

Yoshinobu, who is said to have not actively supported starting a war, stayed at Osaka Castle when the defeat of the former Shogunate forces was imminent and he was informed of the issuing of the punitive order against him on February 7; that night Yoshinobu secretly escaped from the castle and retreated to Edo on the Shogunate warship Kaiyo Maru on February 8, which had been anchored at Osaka Bay, along with a few of his close aides as well as Katsukiyo ITAKURA (a senior councilor), Tadato SAKAI (a senior councilor), Katamori MATSUDAIRA (the lord of the Aizu domain) and Sadaki MATSUDAIRA (the lord of the Kuwana domain). The former Shogunate forces were completely defeated due to the retreat of the Commander in Chief of the former Tokugawa Shogunate, Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA, the strong artillery of the new government's forces, and the abandonment of the former Shogunate forces by an increasing number of domains due to the superiority of the new government's forces. Afterwards, the staging of the Boshin War led to the Ueno War in the urban area of Edo, the Hokuetsu War in the Hokuriku and Tohoku regions, the Aizu War, and then the Hakodate War.

Historic sites

Site of the Fushimi magistrate's office(伏見奉行所跡)
It is located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City. The Shogunate forces including the Shinsengumi were stationed here. It is a seven-minute walk from Momoyamagoryo-mae Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line. It is a ten-minute walk from Fushimi-Momoyama Station on the Keihan Main Line. Only the stone monument remains.

Gokonomiya-jinja Shrine
It is located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City. The new government's forces set up camp here and attacked the Fushimi magistrate's office that it overlooked. It is a four-minute walk from Momoyamagoryo-mae Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line. It is a seven-minute walk from Fushimi-Momoyama Station on the Keihan Main Line. The shrine still remains today.

Fushimi Betsu-in of Higashi Hongan-ji Temple
It is located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City. It was the camp of the Aizu domain. It is a ten-minute walk from Fushimi-Momoyama Station on the Keihan Main Line. It is a thirteen-minute walk from Momoyamagoryo-mae Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line. Only the stone monument remains today.

Teradaya, or Teradaya Inn (not directly connected to the Battle of Toba-Fushimi)
It is located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City.
It is the site of the Teradaya Incident
It is the inn where Ryoma SAKAMOTO made his narrow escape. It is a ten-minute walk from Fushimi-Momoyama Station on the Keihan Main Line. It is a thirteen-minute walk from Momoyamagoryo-mae Station on the Kintetsu Kyoto Line. The existing building itself was not created in the Edo period (see the section on the Teradaya Incident). Sightseeing is possible.

Bunso-ji Temple(文相寺)
It is located in Fushimi ward, Kyoto City.
There is a monument inscribed as follows: 'The graveyard for the fallen soldiers of the eastern forces in the Boshin War.'
It is a fifteen-minute walk from Yodo Station on the Keihan Main Line. The temple still remains today. Sightseeing is possible.

Choen-ji Temple
It is located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City.
In front of the main gate there is a monument inscribed with 'The monument for the fallen soldiers of the eastern forces in the Boshin War,' and on the grounds there is a monument inscribed with 'The graveyard for the fallen soldiers of the eastern forces in the Boshin War.'
It is a fifteen-minute walk from Yodo Station on the Keihan Main Line. The temple still remains today. Sightseeing is possible.

Yodo Castle
It is located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City. It was the castle of the hereditary feudal lord of the Inaba clan. The Inaba family, which was trusted by Tokugawa, set up a camp as a strategic point on the waterway where the three rivers of Katsura-gawa River (Yodo-gawa River system), Yodo-gawa River and Kizu-gawa River (Kyoto Prefecture) met. In the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, the castellan Masakuni INABA and some other people refused the request of the Shogunate forces to allow them entry the castle since they had decided to side with the new government. It is a one-minute walk from Yodo Station on the Keihan Main Line. Now, only the castle wall, the monument of 'The Site of Yodo Castle,' and the 'monument for Harunosuke TANABE' remain. The grounds are used as a park now. Sightseeing is possible.

Myokyo-ji Temple
It is located in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City. It is the site where the keep of the Yodo Castle previously existed.
On the grounds of the temple remain the monuments 'The site of bullet holes in the historic site of Yodo Castle in the Boshin War,' and 'The monument for the fallen soldiers of the eastern forces in the Boshin War,' and inside the main building there is the 'memorial tablet for the fallen soldiers of the eastern forces.'
The wall which was penetrated by bullets still remains. It is a twenty-minute walk from Yodo Station on the Keihan Main Line. The items listed previously still remain. Sightseeing is possible.

Monument for the site of the fierce battle between the eastern and western forces in the Boshin War
It is located near the parking lot of the Kyoto Race Course.
The monument for the burial and the memorial monument voluntarily created still remain, and the surface of the stone is inscribed as follows:
There is nothing more tragic than the battles at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate
The battles were waged between the Japanese people. The Shogunate forces and the Imperial forces each believed in themselves, and swore allegiance to their respective causes. Thus, their destiny led them to become either members of the Imperial forces or the Shogunate forces, and to die for the samurai code. 100 hundred years have since passed. So we build this memorial monument on this site for the proud people who unfortunately passed away with the stigma of being enemies of the Imperial Court.
May the souls of the deceased rest in peace
Katsugoro NAKAMURA, 1969