Kiyokawa Hachiro (清河八郎)

Hachiro KIYOKAWA (October 10th, first year of Tenpo (Lunar Calendar)(November 24, 1830) - April 13th, third year of Bunkyu (Lunar Calendar)(May 30, 1863)) was a Shishi at end of Edo Period, and one of the leaders of the Roshigumi. He was child of Hidetoshi SAITO, a Samurai living in Kiyokawa Village, Shonai-han, Dewa Province (present day Shonai-machi, Higashitagawa District, Yamagata Prefecture). His childhood name was Motoshi. Imina was Masaaki. His real name was Masaaki SAITO.

His Life

In 1843, Hachiro studied hard under Yasuemon HATAKEDA, a public officer of Kiyokawa Barrier. He seems to have been an excellent student. In the third year of Koka, he met Tesseki FUJIMOTO, the leader of Tenchu-gumi, and deepened friendship with him. In 1847, he came to Edo and studied under Ichido TOJO of Kogaku Sect. He was acknowledged for his abilities and was ordered to become the Head of Tojo Juku, but he firmly declined to assume the position. He was transferred to the Juku of Gonzai ASAKA. At the same time, he practiced and mastered swardsmanship at Genbukan under Shusaku CHIBA, the founder of Hokushin Itto Ryu; he also studied at Shoheiko School of Edo Shogunate. Subsequently, he established Kiyokawa juku.
(In the city of Edo, Kiyokawa juku was the only juku where one person taught both academic learning and swordsmanship.)

Between March and September of 1855, he left Kiyokawa Village with his mother. They traveled widely visiting Zenko-ji Temple, Nagoya, Ise, Nara, Kyoto, Omi, Osaka, Miyajima, Iwakuni, Amanohashidate, Kamakura, Edo, Nikko and so on. The record of this trip, "Saiyuso" is a valuable material for learning about travel conditions at the end of Edo period. It mainly describes meetings with noted persons of various provinces, but perhaps because of KIYOKAWA's character, he wrote many bitter and severe criticisms [in the report].

After being deeply shocked by the Sakurada Gate Incident which occurred in 1860 his ideology shifted towards overthrowing of the Tokugawa Shogunate and of Sonno joi. After this incident, many patriots started to gather in Kiyokawa juku.

In 1863, Kobi no Kai was formed, with Hachiro as the Leader. The people who started this gathering were Tesshu YAMAOKA and 15 others. They planned to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate by attacking and setting fire to Yokohama Foreign Settlement, thereby stirring up the spirit of Sonno joi, but this secret plan became known by the Tokuwa Shogunate. Furthermore, as they slashed a person who berated Hachiro, they were now pursued by the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Due to such circumstances, Hachiro lived in hiding in Kyoto, and he also campaigned in various provinces in the east and the west in order to obtain private agreements for Sonno joi and overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate.

He subsequently submitted a letter of his opinion to Shungaku MATSUDAIRA (Leader of Political Affairs of the Tokugawa Shogunate) regarding the Three Urgent Measures to be Taken (1. Carrying out joi, 2. Issuing amnesty, 3. Educating talented persons of the nation.)
The Shogunate, who had problems managing Sonno joi Shishi's, adopted his opinion. The Roshigumi was formed (234 men). Hachiro succeeded in outwitting the Shogunate.

On February 23 1863, when Shogun Iemochi TOKUGAWA traveled to Kyoto Hachiro accompanied him as the leader of Roshigumi who served as the vanguard for the Shogun. On the night they arrived in Kyoto, Hachiro gathered his group of Roshi at Shintoku-ji Temple in Mibu and stated that their real purpose was not to guard the Shogun but to be the vanguard of Sonno joi.
Isami KONDO, Toshizo HIJIKATA, Kamo SERIZAWA and others objected to this (Kyuo UDONO requested two members of the Roshigumi, Yoshio TONOUCHI and Tsuguo IESATO, to coordinate those who desired to remain in Kyoto; Yuzan NEGISHI, Kamo SERIZAWA and Isami KONDO and others remained in Kyoto to take a path separate from that of Hachiro, and they became Mibu warriors who later developed into Shinsengumi.)
Hachiro, who was given his own force of 200 men, requested to the Imperial Government to be allowed to submit a Petition, which was fortunately accepted.

The Shogunate became anxious about such unstable state of affairs of Roshigumi, and made the Roshigumi return to Edo. Hachiro tried to mobilize the Roshigumi after he returned to Edo, but his life was in danger as he had been completely against the Shogunate in Kyoto.

On April 13th of the 3rd Year of Bunkyu, Hachiro was attacked by 6 assassins of the Shogunate, including Tadasaburo SASAKI and Shigeaki KUBOTA, at Azabu Ichinohashi, and was beheaded. He died at the age of 34. According to Joshido, his head was retrieved by Shuzo ISHIZAKA and was kept by Fusako YAMAOKA (the wife of Tesshu YAMAOKA), who returned it to Hachiro's family. After Hachiro's death, the Shogunate changed the name of the Roshigumi to Shinsengumi, and placed it under the supervision of Shonai-han.

Related Works

Saiyuso (written by Hachiro KIYOKAWA)
Kaiten no mon (written by Shuhei FUJISAWA)
Kimyo nari Hachiro (included in the book "Bakumatsu" written by Ryotaro SHIBA).
Ansatsu (Movie)
KIYOKAWA Hachiro (Movie)
Ryuma ga yuku of 1982 (TV drama), Hachiro KIYOKAWA was played by Isao HASHIZUME.