Behind the Story of Blood and Tears — The End of Shogun Tokugawa’s Rule

Behind the Story of Blood and Tears — The End of Shogun Tokugawa’s Rule

October 2, 2018 Behind the Story Blog Blood and Tears Graphic Design History Japan 0

This animation symbolizes the government changeover that followed the Boshin War. The first crest (3 leaves) belongs to Shogun Tokugawa, the subsequent crest (chrysanthemum) belongs to Crown Prince Mutsuhito who would later become Emperor Meiji.

The Boshin War began with the Battle of Toba Fushimi, January 27-30, 1868 (lunar date). After the pro-Tokugawa army’s disastrous defeat, it became increasingly evident the shogunate government was ripe for overthrow. After Tokugawa Yoshinobu surrendered Edo Castle to pro-imperial forces on April 11, he initially stayed at Kaneiji Temple in Ueno. Sometime before the Battle of Ueno on May 15, the former shogun permanently retired to his home province of Mito where he remained for the rest of his life.

Meanwhile, Imperial Prince Abbot Rinnoji went to Sendai, prompting the newly formed Oushuu Alliance to claim a competing right to imperial rule. After the Battle of Ueno, former Tokugawa naval commander Enomoto Takeaki fled Edo with eight warships. He briefly stopped in Sendai, where he picked up Shinsengumi Vice-Commander Hijikata Toshizo, before continuing to Ezo (Hokkaido). On July 17, 1868, Edo was renamed Tokyo, and later that year the crown prince was enthroned as Emperor Meiji.

The Oushuu Alliance fell in autumn of that year, leaving only the Republic of Ezo as the sole holdout against the new imperial government. The Battle of Hakodate, April 09-May18, 1869, signaled the end of the Boshin War. Hijikata was killed in battle. Enomoto surrendered and after a brief jail sentence became Minister of Communication and later, Minister of Education in the new Meiji government.