Oishi Kuwajiro (大石鍬次郎)

Kuwajiro OISHI (1838 - November 3, 1870) was a Shoshi shirabeyaku ken kansatsu (Shinsengumi's organizational post for investigating movements of the opponents and keeping the Shinsengumi members under control). His given name was Morichika.

Oishi was born the eldest son of Sutejiro OISHI who was the kinjubanshu for the Hitotsubashi family, one of the gosankyo (three privileged branches of Tokugawa family). He was originally referred to as Kinnosuke. Upon his joining Shinsengumi, Oishi was fearfully referred to as 'Kuwajiro the assassin' with his main duty being to assassinate adversaries. It seems that Oishi frequently wielded his sword on duty. He was also assigned the post of a superintendent officer.

Due to some circumstances, Oishi ran away from home and was working for a carpenter as a live-in help in Hinojuku, Bushuhino City. Since that carpenter regularly worked for the village headman Hikogoro SATO, Oishi began to attend Hikogoro's dojo (training hall). It seems that Oishi became a good swordsman at this training hall.

After the Ikedaya Incident in July 1864, Isami KONDO returned to Edo to recruit new members between October and November of that year. It was when Oishi joined Shinsengumi.

When Shinsengumi members were made the Shogun's retainers in July 1867, Oishi was assigned the responsibility for investigating the adversary movements and keeping the Shinsengumi members under surveillance.

During the Abura-no-koji Incident in November 1867, Oishi assassinated Kashitaro ITO.

During the fierce sword fighting in the Tenmaya Incident of December 1867, along with other members including Hajime SAITO, Oishi was assigned as a bodyguard for a feudal retainer of Kishu Domain Kyutaro MIURA.

In January 1868, being defeated in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, Oishi retreated to Edo with his Shinsengumi comrades.

When Kondo organized Koyo Chinbutai, Oishi went on a business trip to Kai Province ahead of the new army.

When Koyo Chinbutai retreated in March 1868, Oishi went missing. Oishi subsequently was in hiding with his family in Edo but, around January of the next year, was deceived by the former Shinsengumi member Ushinosuke MITSUI who was a friend of Oishi's and was captured. Some say that the destitute Oishi visited Washio KANO, then a member of the pro-Imperial troops and a former member of the faction under Kashitaro ITO who Oishi had killed, begging for a job which Kano rejected when Oishi was captured but there are no records to substantiate this theory. Since the foregoing story contradicts the testimony given by Kano's comrade Juro ABE, it is highly likely that it was a fictional account created by the novelist Kan SHIMOZAWA.

Being accused of assassinating Ryoma SAKAMOTO, Oishi was subjected to violent interrogation and, at one point, admitted guilt unable to bear the pain any longer, but subsequently retracted his earlier testimony insisting that the assassination was carried out by Mimawarigumi.

Oishi was beheaded on November 3, 1870. (On a charge of murder of Kashitaro ITO) Died at the age of 32.

According to the testimony of Juro ABE included in "Shidankaisokkiroku" (stenographic records of recollections of historical events) a compilation of stories told by old people during the Taisho era, Oishi, along with Soji OKITA and the like, was mentioned numerous times suggesting that he was among the most formidable swordsmen in Shinsengumi.

It is said that, to circumvent investigation, Oishi's son Raitaro changed his name to Utakichi HONMA and opened a shop to make and sell goods made of turtle-shell in Inari-cho, Shitaya.