Nakajima Nobori (中島登)

Nobori NAKAJIMA (February 25, 1838 - April 2, 1887) was a lowly member of the Shinsengumi (a special force that guarded Kyoto during the end of Tokugawa Shogunate). Later, he became a Shinsengumi corporal. He fought in many battles up to the Hakodate War with other members, such as Toshizo HIJIKATA, Kai SHIMADA, and Kazue SOMA.

Brief personal history

He was born on February 25, 1838 in Ono, Tama Country, Musashi Province (present Nishiderakata-machi, Hachioji, Tokyo) as the first son of a farm family. His childhood name was Minekichi. His father was Matakichi NAKAJIMA and his mother was Ichi NAKAJIMA.

Around September or October 1856 when he was 19, he became a discipline of a master of swordplay in Tennenshinri-ryu school, Manjiro YAMAMOTO. In 1857, he got married with Masu ANDO of the same village. His first son Utakichi (later called Toichiro)was born. Afterwards, he belonged to Hachioji Sennin Doshin (junior officials in Hachioji), but as he put one of his colleagues of Sennin Doshin to the edge of the sword, having a conflict with him, he ran away to his relative's house (Masugoro INOUE's family), leaving the Sennin Doshin.

In 1864, he joined the Shinsengumi. It is said that under the orders of the Shinsengumi's Head, Isami KONDO, he was carring out confidential duties such as topographical surveys in Kai Province and Sagami Province. In 1867, he was appointed as a Shinsengumi corporal.

On April 25, 1868, when Isami Kondo surrendered to the New government army, he tried to tail the movement of a feudal retainer of Satsuma Domain, Tota ARIMA, but he could not keep tailing owing to Satsuma's severe vigilance, and returned in vain.

He was incorporated in the former Edo bakufu army (the army of Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), together with several Shinsengumi members, such as Toshizo HIJIKATA and Kai SHIMADA, and fought in a series of battles, from the Battle of Utsunomiya and Battle of Nikkoguchi to the Aizu War (it is said that Nakajima carried Seishin OSHIMA, a member of Shogitai (a group of former Tokugawa retainers opposed to the Meiji government who fought in the Battle of Ueno) who was seriously injured in the Aizu War, to an aid station). Afterwards, he joined the former Edo bakufu army with Takeaki ENOMOTO in Sendai and others and went over to Ezo (present Hokkaido).

During the Hakodate War, he took the charge of the leader for the second squad of Benten Daiba. On June 24, 1869, he surrendered. He was ordered to put a reign on his behavior at Benten Daiba. Later, he was transferred to Aomori and on July 17, 1869 he was moved to the Hirosaki Domain, and after returning to Aomori on August 28, he was obliged to behave himself for three months. On November 27, 1869, he returned to Benten Daiba and he was obliged to behave himself for five months there.

In early June 1870, he was placed under the custody of Sunpu Domain, and in the middle of the same month, he was definitively released. He returned home in Tama district. He dedicated himself to develop rural lands in the Shizuoka Domain. He ceded the arable lands he developed to the people.

In Hamamatsu he reunited with Seishin Oshima, who was a former colleague of the Shogitai and a scrivener of the register office affiliated to Hamamatsu Court at that time. He was settled in Hamamatsu. On February 19 1879, he invited his first son Toichiro to live in Hamamatsu. He jointly ran a business of pawnbroking with a former shogunate retainer, but failed.

In 1881, by chance he developed a new breed of the aspidistra (Aspidistra elatior) from those he was cultivating. This new breed, which was named 'Kingyokuren' (literally, golden bead curtain) in a fair, brought him a burst of sales. However, one day a horse ate up the parent stocks and he had to close the business.

In 1882, he got remarried with Yone, the first daughter of a fish merchant, Hanbei SAWAKI. On April 20, 1882, Toichiro got married with the third daughter of Hanbei SAWAKI.

In 1884, he was licensed as a "gun and gunpowder trader."
He opened his own shop, 'Nakajima Gun and Gunpowder.'

On April 2, 1887 he died in Hamamatsu City. He was 50 years old. His grave is in Tenrin-ji Temple in Yamashita-cho, Hamamatsu City. His posthumous Buddhist name is Ryukeiin Koan Gichu-koji.

Death haiku (Japanese poem)

Nakajima left the following death poem on January 1, 1887.

Although the pass of 50 seemed to me very high, once easily getting over, the peaceful spring reigns over the world.

Kakun (family percept) of the Nakajima family

Nakajima left the following principles as the family percept.

a) Don't express your preference about what you eat.

b) Never play games of chance like Igo or Shogi.

c) Never ever pawn your article nor lend money for generations.


He left "Senyu Esugata" (Drawings of my fellow soldiers) and "Nakajima Nobori Oboegaki" (A memorandum by Nobori NAKAJIMA) as Shinsengumi-related references.