Yamakawa Hiroshi (山川浩)

Hiroshi YAMAKAWA (December 4, 1845 - February 4, 1898) was a feudal retainer of the Aizu clan and a Daisanji (second to a governor) of the Tonami domain from the end of Edo Period to Meiji Period. A military man of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA). His official rank was Army Major General Baron. He joined the reserve duty after served as a Chief of Regulation Division, Administration Office, Ministry of Army. Afterward, a member of Kizokuin (the House of Peers).

In end of Edo Period

His father was Shigekata YAMAKAWA, a kunigaro (the chief retainer in charge of the fief in the absence of the lord) of the Aizu Domain, his mother was En, a daughter of Chikatoshi SAIGO, a vassal of the Aizu Domain. His siblings include Kenjiro YAMAKAWA, Futaba YAMAKAWA and Sutematsu OYAMA. His original name was Okura, also referred to as Yoshichiro or Tokiwa. His Imina (personal name) was 'Shigeyoshi', Azana (name other than personal name) was 'Morisuke'. Hiroshi' was Kaimyo (changed name) after the Meiji Period.

In 1860, he took over as head of the family due to his father, Shigekata's death. In 1862, he accompanied Katamori MATSUDAIRA, a lord of domain, who was appointed as Kyoto Shugoshoku ((Military governor of Kyoto), to Kyoto. After four years, in 1866, he went to Russia accompanying an envoy of Edo bakufu. Okura who had seen and heard about the countries in Europe recognized the huge power of the world, and is said to have realized the expulsion of foreigners was meaningless.

In Boshin War that broke out in 1868, he successively took part in the battle in Edo and Aizu, after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi. Around this time, he was appointed as Wakadoshiyori (a managerial position in Edo bakufu) of the Aizu Domain and contributed to fund raising for fight and westernization of warriors of the domain. In Aizu War, he brought a dazzling victory by defeating the New government army led by Taisuke ITAGAKI, and on October 7, 1868, informed that Aizu Wakamatsu Castle was surrounded by the enemy, he took such a stupefying strategy as to let their reinforcements enter the castle with performers playing Higan-jishi, a traditional performing art of Aizu Region, put in the head of the procession. Although he was appointed as Governor General of Defense for this achievement, they were obviously outnumbered even with the reinforcements, so his wife was killed by an explosion, then Aizu Wakamatsu Casle fell to the enemy. After that, he was imprisoned without work, then put under house arrest. In 1870, he was appointed as Daisanji (second to a governor) (position of Karo 〔chief retainers〕) of the domain of Tonami, but his real income was small compared to the total number of feudal retainers of domain, so Hiroshi went through a lot and had no other way than putting out his sister Sakiko (later, Sutematsu) for adoption to Hakodate City in almost the same way as reducing the mouths to feed.

Meiji Period

After Haihan-chiken (abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures), he served his hometown Aomori Precture, but by recommendation from Tateki TANI who had been watching his performance in Boshin War, he began to serve the army in 1871. In 1873, he was promoted to Army Major, that moved him to Kumamoto Chinjufu (Pacification and Defense Headquarters in Kumamoto Prefecture), and in the following year, he showed great performance in the suppression of Saga War. In 1877, he showed great performance in the rescue of Tateki TANI who was also one of his sworn allies in Seinan War, and he was promoted to Colonel for this achievement in 1880. However, he later lost the function of his left hand due to a wound made at this time. Hiroshi YAMAKAWA seems to have been considering Seinan War was for the sake of restoring impaired reputation of Aizu Domain, so he left a waka (Japanese poetry) saying, "People in Satsuma, make sure the edge of sword the strong warrior from east holding with is sharp or dull."

In 1885, he was appointed as principal of Tokyo Higher Normal School and Women's Higher Normal School, remaining in the army on instructions of Arinori MORI. After that, he was promoted to shosho (major general). In 1890, he became a member of Kizokuin (the House of Peers), but he was so severe that everybody was afraid of him, and two others; Tateki TANI and Sukenori SOGA who started a parliamentary group called Konwa-kai all together, calling them 'Three generals of Kizokuin'. In his later years, he was given the title of baron for his achievements in army and education.

Despite his promotion, according to a letter sent to Alice BACON by his sister Sutematsu YAMAKAWA and in retrospect by Shibagoro, the persons formerly concerned with Aizu Domain always lodged at this former chief retainer's place, and also some of his relatives pestered him for allowance like a kind of blackmailer, so he was always struggling with financial difficulty until his later years. Although Hiroshi was a person who kept dedicating his loyalty to Aizu Domain until his death, he also had a strong spirit of defiance, and he learned Yomei-gaku (neo-Confuciasnism based on teaching of Wang Yangming) against Neo-Confucianism that was being studied at hangaku (school for samurai children) of Aizu Domain.

Before death, he wrote a first-class historical material of the end of Edo Period called 'Kyoto Shugoshoku Shimatsu', but actually he died while he was writing the draft, so according to a established theory, his younger brother, Kenjiro YAMAKAWA, completed the writing. By this book, something like 'an imperial rescript regarding loyalty to the Emperor that was handed over to Katamori MATSUDAIRA from the Emperor of Komei' was going to be exposed for the first time, but Goro MIURA who had been stupefied looking at this before publishing gave thirty thousands yen, an unheard-of amount in those days, to the Matsudaira Family as hush money. But because of this, publishing 'Kyoto Shugoshoku Shimatsu' itself was postponed until 1911.