Monday, August 13, 2012

Ryoma’s Dappan – Secession from his Fief

Dappan route in Yusuhara Town
   During the Edo period, a youngman named John Manjiro (1827-1898) was shipwrecked and saved by an American whaling boat. Later, he would become the first Japanese to settle in America and return to Japan to work toward opening up Japan to foreign trade.

   Ryoma had heard about this fantastic tale, and was surprised to learn of the equality of citizens and rapid modernization in America. He had decided then that rather than being just subservient to the emperor it was far more important for Japan to be focusing on production and trade as the foreigners were doing.

   In order to influence that himself he knew he had to do something drastic. On the 24th of March 1862, Ryoma fled the Tosa Domain to act on his political visions.

   Ordinarily, one would have to get permission to leave the Domain for activities such as “Learning Swordsmanship” and “Academic Study” in places such as Edo (old term for Tokyo). Dappan is the crime Ryoma committed when he left his fief without permission. It is a serious crime in those days, affecting penalties upon those related to the perpetrator, and is similar to smuggling oneself out of a country in today’s terms.

Hanpeita Takechi
   In 1861 when he was 27, Ryoma joined the Tosa Loyalist Party formed by Hanpeita Takechi (1829-1865). Its ultimate purpose was to bring down the Bakufu and make a new government for Japan that could stand up to foreign pressure.

   That autumn, Ryoma met a man named Genzui Kusaka (1840-1864) on a secret mission for Takechi. There he was told by Kusaka that it was time for common civilians with courage to stand up and act. He returned to Tosa the next February, and subsequently fled the Domain in March. After he left, Takechi said “Ryoma’s too big a man for Tosa”.

   At the age of 28, Ryoma left Tosa through an unascertained route, but it could be surmised that he had taken the Sakawa-to-Togano route, through the Kuchiki slope to Hayama, then along the Hayama/Higashi-Tsuno/Yusuhara course (the current route 197). Passing through Doi, Shirokawa Town in Ehime Prefecture, he then headed toward Choshu.

Taken from vol.33 PDF

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