Kitakaze Shozo (北風正造)

Shozo KITAKAZE (March 20, 1834 - December 5, 1895) was a Japanese merchant from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period.

He married an heiress of Kitakaze family which was a wealthy merchant of Hyogo Prefecture continuing from the ancient times, and he succeeded to the position of the family head. While he served as Bakufu Goyo-gakari (Shogunate's official business person), he supported Kinno no shishi (patriots with reverence for the Emperor) from the fund side.

After the Meiji Restoration, he contributed to the development of Hyogo Prefecture and Kobe City with Hirobumi ITO who was then the first governor of Hyogo Prefecture and was also his friend. He is also known to have offered for nothing the site (approximately 240,000 square meters) for Kobe Station.

But as soon as the new government began to take on the aspect of a domain clique system, he recognized the gap between the ideal and the reality and declined the government post. He devoted himself to the commerce of the family business, such as launching an enterprise to export tea by employing Hikozo HAMADA (Joseph Heco by a Christian name), but after Obanto (head clerk) Bunshichiro KITA of a branch family died, since misconducts of the employees and failures in speculative buying of commodities arose successively, in the end the family business went bankrupt, and in the depths of despair he died as a stranger in Tokyo.

It is said that he burned up the documents related to the Restoration in person, and Takamori SAIGO, Hirobumi ITO, and others had been his acquaintances since before the Restoration. He and Michitomi HIGASHIKUZE who came dispatched to solve the state of affairs of Kobe Incident knew each other well, because he helped him when Shichikyo-ochi (the exile of the Seven nobles from Kyoto) happened. It is said that he knew many of the other Kinno no shishi personally.


February 11, 1834: Shozo KITAKAZE was born as the second son of Oribe Kagenori HASEGAWA, a goshi (country samurai) at Takeda Village, Kii County, Yamashiro Province (present-day Takeda Uchihata-cho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City). His father Kagenori became the head of the guards of the imperial tomb of Emperor Toba later, and his mother Toshiko MIYAKE served as Rojo (senior lady-in-Waiting) and Yuhitsu (private secretary) of the Arisugawanomiya family. His original name was Shonosuke Norinari. The sixty-fourth generation Soemon Sadatsune KITAKAZE was his grand-uncle.

1842 - 1848: He served directly for Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor) Hisatada KUJO and Michitaka KUJO (the last Toshi choja [head of Fujiwara clan]) who were a father and a son.

1849: He learned military art from Sakuma KAMATA, a feudal retainer of Tottori Domain. About this time Shozo began to use an assumed name Kensuke NAKATANI and act as a Kinno no shishi.

1850: His real older brother Sojiro Sadatoshi KITAKAZE who had been adopted before by Soemon Sadakazu, the sixty-fifth generation head of the Chakuke (main line) of Kitakaze family, died of disease.

1851: Because he was advised to support the Kinno activities (activities based on reverence for the Emperor) from the fund side by Kinno So (Buddhist priest) Gessho, he unwillingly married the heiress as a successor to his older brother, and named himself Soichiro Sadatomo KITAKAZE (later the sixty-sixth generation Soemon Shozo Sadatada).

1859: His first son Hikoichi (later Sadao) was born to Shozo and Uda who was a daughter of Umon Sadanori HASEGAWA (Sozaburo KITAKAZE, an oldest legitimate son of the sixty-fourth generation Soemon Sadatsune).

1863: He was given a gold-sided watch with shu-zu (eagle head, which might be a writing error) or ryu-zu (dragon head, that is a crown) for winding up in person by Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA who was then visiting Hyogo (Yoshinobu came to soothe Shozo, because Shozo rejected the request for a loan by Kishu Domain saying 'Kitakaze is a cargo-vessel trader, not a moneylender.')

1868: he contributed a swift horse (which seemed to be the horse that people sang Miya-san [Imperial Prince] rode in 'Tokotonyare-bushi", and was originally Shozo's favorite horse) and 3000 ryo of gold to the Imperial Prince Taruhito ARISUGAWANOMIYA, Tosei daisotoku (literally, "great general who goes to conquer the east').
He acted as a mediator between Himeji Domain and the Imperial army which were in a touch-and-go situation (he protected Himeji-jo Castle for 150,000 ryo of gold.)
Kobe Incident. He organized Hyogo corps consisting of about 150 members because of the necessity for self-defense and maintenance of security, and trained them in England style. He proposed to found Minatogawa-jinja Shrine. He established Meishin-kan school to encourage the school education. He served as Judge of the Commercial Law Office (working in Hyogo) and Accounts Official of Hyogo Prefecture.

1869: He was appointed to the Commerce Office and as President of Exchange Company. In October, he was appointed as Provisional Senior Clerk of Hyogo Prefecture.

1870: He was appointed as President of Shipping Company.

1872: He was appointed as President of Hyogo Rice Company.

1873: He was appointed as Examiner and Director of Ministry of Religion. He resisted the domain clique government, and resigned the government post against the advise of Hirobumi ITO.

1874: He was appointed as the person in charge of Reclamation Project of Hyogo Shinkawa.

1877: He established Rice Merchant Meeting Place, and assumed the post of Superintendent. He founded the Seventy-third National Bank, and assumed the post of the first President.

1880: When Kojunsha was inaugurated, he became a staff member of it.

1882: He established Kobe Funabashi Company and Exporting Tea Processing Improvement Company.

1883: His achievement in the Restoration being recognized, he was raised to the peerage of Shoshichii (Senior Seventh Rank, and after he died he was promoted to Jugoi [Junior Fifth Rank]).

1884: He became bedridden by brain fever. He proposed to move the mouth of the Minato-gawa River (to improve the Kobe Port).

1885: He contributed the land of 297 square meters to Hyogo Prefecture to build Higashiyama Hibyoin (hospital dedicated to epidemic). In December, the first bankruptcy happened. The business rallied thanks to the support by Hirobumi ITO and Sakai family, the former head of Himeji Domain.

1889: He established Japan Steamer Company (three years later, it collapsed).

1893: In December, Kitakaze Store went bankrupt. It was thrown into the situation out of control.

1894: He entered the Kobe Hospital. While he was in the hospital, all of the houses, the warehouses, and the household goods were attached by the creditors.

1895: On December 5, he died as a stranger in Tokyo (his age at death was 62). He was buried in the grave at Nofuku-ji Temple in Hyogo.

Kitakaze Family

Legend has it that Kitakaze family has regarded Hikoyasu no mikoto who was a great-grandchild of the eighth Emperor Kogen as the founder of the family. It is said that the sixth generation Hikotsura (or Hikomaro) was entrusted with the management of the whole region of Hyogo by Empress Jingu. Later, the family adopted Shirofuji as their family name.

In 1336, the forty-fourth generation Koremura SHIROFUJI set fire to the warships of Takauji ASHIKAGA who was routed from Kyoto on the day when the north wind blew hard and made a great victory, and so he was given the name Sadamura KITAKAZE (喜多風貞村, of which 喜多風 is pronounced in the same way as 北風 [north wind]) by Yoshisada NITTA. Later, they changed their family name to KITAKAZE (北風). After that, the Honke (head family) of Kitakaze family was divided into two, and the head of the Soke (head family) named himself Rokuemon and the head of the Chakuke (main line of the House) named himself Soemon for generations. The Soke mainly sold vinegar and the Chakuke mainly ran the shipping business, and both of the families prospered. In the Edo period, Kitakaze family was divided into the major seven families, and dominated Hyogo Juni-hama (twelve seashore areas).