Yoshimura Torataro (吉村虎太郎)

Torataro YOSHIMURA (May 22, 1837 - November 8, 1863) was a royalist from Tosa Clan who lived around the end of Edo period. His imina (personal name) was Shigesato. Usually, his name is written as "Torataro (寅太郎)."

He was a shoya (village headman) in Tosa Domain, but, he joined Tosa Kinnoto (loyalist clique of Tosa) devoting himself to antiforeign imperialism
He left his clan in order to join a revolt by roshi (masterless samurai) (Fushimi gikyo) prepared by Kuniomi HIRANO and so on, but was arrested in the Teradaya Incident and sent back to Tosa and imprisoned. After being released, he went again to Kyoto and organized Tenchugumi backing up Tadamitsu NAKAYAMA in order to become a vanguard of the imperial visit to Yamato of the Emperor Komei, and raised an army in Yamato Province. However, the situation changed drastically due to the political change that occurred on August 18, they were attacked by the bakufu army (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and Torataro died in battle.
(Tenchu-gumi Incident)

Biography

He was born as the first son of Tahei YOSHIMURA, who was a risei (local governor), so-called shoya (village headman) of Yoshiuno Village, Takaoka County in Tosa Province (Tsuno Town, Takaoka County, Kochi Prefecture). At the age of twelve, he succeeded his father as the shoya for Kitagawamura. Later, he became the shoya of Suzakigoura and married Oaki, a daughter of the Hirota family, which was a shoya transferred from other village. In the above-mentioned place, he learned academics from Tetsuma MAZAKI, who was a kori yakunin (official for county), and, by going out to the castle town, swordplay from Hanpeita TAKECHI and devoted himself to antiforeign imperialism. In 1857, he became angry when a subordinate official called him by name without any honorific title, and caused an incident whereby a written complain was submitted jointly with other big shoya. Because of this incident, he was transferred to Shimobun Village. In 1859, he was transferred to the big shoya of Yusuhara Village and he worked well and achieved a lot.

In 1861, when Hanpeita TAKECHI set up Tosa Kinnoto, he joined it. In February 1862, in accordance with Takechi's order, he visited Choshu Domain and handed over TAKECHI's letter to Genzui KUSAKA. Then, he went to Kyushu and happened to meet Kuniomi HIRANO of Chikuzen Province and heard from Hirano about visit to Kyoto of Hisamitsu SHIMAZU, who was the father of the lord of Satsuma clan, leading an army and a plot, in line with this, to raise an arm by roshi (Fushimi gikyo). YOSHIMURA hastened back to Tosa and tried to convince Tosa Kinnoto to also leave the clan and join the plot, but Takechi's was kyohan-kinno (loyalty to the Emperor by whole clan) and did not to follow Yoshimura. Yoshimura had no choice but to persuade a small number of like-minded people and left the clan. On this occasion, as the check at the border of the domain was strict, Yoshimura prepared donned armour and rode out, passing a sekisho (checking station), and was able to pass by saying that he was an envoy of Satsuma. In the same period as Yoshimura, six persons including Ryoma SAKAMOTO and Gizo MIYAJI also left the clan.

Yoshimura, together with Gizo MIYAJI, counted on Genzui KUSAKA of Choshu and entered Osaka City by sea and joined Seiichiro HONMA, who was a royalist from Echigo Province, in the residence of Choshu Domain. In Kamigata (Kyoto and Osaka area), influential roshi (masterless samurai) such as Kuniomi HIRANO, Izumi MAKI, Hachiro KIYOKAWA and Tesseki FUJIMOTO gathered where they waited for a visit by Hisamitsu SHIMAZU to Kyoto. Hirano and his colleagues thought on their own that Hisamitsu's visit to Kyoto was for the purpose of raising an army to overthrow the bakufu, but Hisamitsu's real intention was completely different, that is, kobu-gattai (integration of the Imperial Court and the shogunate). Knowing roshi's action, Hisamitsu was surprised and ordered to pacify and reassure. However, Shinpachi ARIMA, who was a feudal retainer of Satsuma and dissatisfied with the outcome planned to raise an army comprised of only radical retainers and roshi.

Efforts by Ichizo OKUBO and so on to persuade failed, and, on April 23, Hisamitsu ordered an attack on Teradaya in Fushimi and purged the radical sonjo party (royalists) (Teradaya Incident). Next day, Yoshimura and Miyaji were caught and attracted to the residence of Satsuma Domain. On 30, they were transferred to Tosa clan and sent back to the local domain level. Yoshimura left a transcription created in the ship which tells that the initiative for raising an army at the initial stage should not be taken by daimyo but by roshi. Yoshimura was imprisoned for three months in Tosa. Then, the political situation changed favorably for the sonjo (antiforeign imperialism) group, and as in other clans many persons involved in Ansei no Taigoku (suppression of extremists by the Shogunate) and Teradaya Incident were released, Yoshimura was also released in December of the same year partly due to mediation conducted by Tetsuma MAZAKI and so on.

In February, same year (1863), Yoshimura obtained permission from the clan to travel and study on his own expenses, and travelled to Kyoto. At this time in Kyoto, an incident involving wooden statues of Ashikaga shogun for three generations being beheaded and heads gibbeted had occurred, and disciples of Hirata Kokugaku (the study of Japanese classical literature by the Hirata school) were arrested as offenders. In March, together with Aritomo YAMAGATA and Kuichi IRIE, Yoshimura submitted a petition to release the offenders to Gakushuin.

In the same month, Iemochi TOKUGAWA, who was the Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") visited Kyoto and forced the Imperial Court to promise to carry out joi (expulsion of foreigners) by May 10. On May 10, the Choshu clan executed joi and attacked foreign ships passing Kanmon-kaikyo Strait with gunfire. Tadamitsu NAKAYAMA, who was a jiju (chamberlain) took part in this execution of joi by the Choshu clan, and Nakayama's flight from Kyoto was guided by Yoshimura. In June, the Choshu clan was defeated as U.S. and French fleets conducted an assault. Yoshimura went down to Choshu, together with roshi including Keido MATSUMOTO and Kurata IKE and had an audience with Yoshichika MORI, who was the lord, and Sadahiro MORI, who was the heir, and tried to persuade them to go to Kyoto. After negotiation with various parties, roshi including Yoshimura returned on July 2 to Kyoto by sea.

On August 13, according to a scheme hatched by Joi-ha (supporters of expulsion of the foreigners) nobles such as Sanetomi SANJO, an Imperial Decree was issued stating that the emperor would carry out an imperial visit to Yamato. It was based off a suggestion offered by Izumi MAKI, who was a loyalist from the Kurume clan and it maintained that the Emperor Komei would offer prayer before the Mausoleum of Emperor Jinmu and conduct expulsion of foreigners in person. Yoshimura made a plan to raise an army for overthrowing the Shogunate in Yamato Province together with like-minded people including Keido MATSUMOTO and Tesski FUJIMOTO as a vanguard of the imperial visit to Yamato. On August 14, Yoshimura visited Tadamitsu NAKAYAMA who brought thirty-nine like-minded persons including Yoshimura and Ike, and gathered in Hoko-ji Temple, departing Kyoto having Tadamitsu as the commander. The party headed from Sakai City from Osaka via sea and cut their hairs to show their determination. They ware called Tenchugumi.

From Sakai, Tenchugumi entered Kawachi Province and made the Sayama clan dedicate firearms and armors and then marched to Yamato Province. On August 17, they attacked Gojoshi Daikansho (magistrate's office) and beheaded Gennai SUZUKI, who was the daikan (magistrate), and raised an army to overthrow the bakufu. Tenchugumi announced that Gojo tenryo (territory directly controlled by bakufu) was changed to 'Tencho chokkatsuchi' (territory directly controlled by the Imperial Court) and called themselves 'Goseifu' and established an organization in which Tadamitsu NAKAYAMA was appointed to shusho (chief commander) and Yoshimura, Matsumoto and Fujimoto to sosai (president).

Sanetomi SANJO worried about the extremist behavior of Tenchugumi and sent Kuniomi HIRANO to ask them to be more prudent. Immediately after Tenchugumi's raising of an army, political change occurred on August 18 and the political situations changed drastically. Antiforeign imperialism nobles such as Sanjo fell from power and the Choshu clan was forced to retreat from Kyoto.
The Imperial Decree of the imperial visit to Yamato turned out to be false

Hirano, who just arrived in Gojo, hastened back to Kyoto in order to take countermeasures. The Tenchugumi became entirely isolated as the Imperial Visit to Yamato disappeared, which was the sole purpose behind the raising of an army. In order to cope with the punitive force of the bakufu, Yoshimura and other members recruited totsukawa goshi (country samurai) and gathered one thousand warriors. Tenchugumi became angry with the Takatori clan, which refused to dedicate army provisions, and, on 26, attacked the Takatori-jo Castle. Despite the large number of warriors, it was for the most part a disorderly crowd, and, as soon as they were shot by warriors of the Takatori clan, they immediately took flight. Yoshimura became angry with this defeat and organized a suicide squad of twenty-four (or, thirteen, in another view) members and tried a night attack. The suicide squad proceed through the night having hay on their backs and torches in hand to set fire to the castle, but were spotted by the Takatori clan. Yoshimura attacked an enemy with a sword, but was seriously wounded in the abdomen (or inner thigh) due to friendly fire, and the suicide squad retreated without garnering any results. It is said that on this occasion, Yoshimura conducted a man-to-man fight with Sorosuke SUGINO (杉野素郎助) who was a master swordsman in Yamato Province and slew him, but this is incorrect because, later, Sugino became a teacher of Totsukawa Bunbukan.

In the beginning of September, Tenchugumi was attacked by a large army from surrounding clans and, although they fought bravely, they were defeated. When an Imperial Decree announced that Tadamitsu NAKAYAMA was a gyakuzoku (rebel), totsukawa goshi seceded. Tenchugumi wandered about the mountains in order to escape, but a battle with warriors from the Kishu clan and the Hikone clan occurred in Washiyaguchi (Higashi Yoshino Village, Nara Prefecture) on September 24. Nakayama, who was the captain, narrowly escaped, but almost all members including Matsumoto and Fujimoto, who were director-generals, were either killed in the battle or captured here and Tenchugumi was overthrown. Yoshimura, whose wound was worsened and had difficulties in walking, fell behind the group and was transported by palanquin, but was found by warriors of the Tsu clan on 27 and shot to death. He was twenty-seven years old when he died.

His farewell poem was 'Yoshinoyama kazenimidaruru momijibawa wagautsutachino chikemuritomiyo' (Deem scarlet maple leaves trembling because of wind in Yoshinoyama as splash of blood caused by my sword).

In 1877, his honor was restored, and, in 1881, he was posthumously conferred Shoshii (Senior Forth Rank) together with Hanpeita TAKECHI, Ryoma SAKAMOTO and Shintaro NAKAOKA.