Friday, June 23, 2017

The ambition of Iwasaki Yataro, the unprecedented eccentric of Tosa

   Iwasaki Yataro was born in Aki City, Inokuchi. He was one of the most prominent businessmen of  he end of the Edo Period and built the foundation for the Mitsubishi Group. It is said that in 1854, in order to let Yataro go study in Edo, his parents raised the necessary funds by selling a mountain that had been passed down for generations. It’s a very brave act even in this day and age, and it became clear why Yataro had developed such a bold personality. In 1855, Yataro returned home because his father had unfortunately gotten hurt. When he went to the magistrate’s office to lodge a complaint against the village headman who had injured his father, he drew graffiti on the walls and was thrown into jail. His experience in jail stirred up his rebellious spirit (perhaps he was hot blooded by nature), and he changed course from studying to be a Confucian scholar. This event made him decide to go into business for the Tosa domain and for the country. Additionally, it is said that he met a merchant and was able to learn sales tactics. This is a perfect example of the saying from the classic Chinese text Tao Te Ching, “Disaster is that upon which good fortune depends, and good fortune is that in which disaster lurks.” After this, Yataro enrolled in Yoshida Toyo※’s Shaolin cram school, became friends with Goto Shojiro※, and was mentored by Yoshida Toyo as he began his new life in business.

Yoshida Toyo (1816-1862): He governed politics under the 15th domain lord of Tosa, and administered various policies. Later on he was assassinated.
※ Goto Shojiro (1838-1897): The nephew of Yoshida Toyo, he was deeply trusted by the 15th domain lord, and appointed to an executive position within the domain at a young age.
 
※ Kawara Neribei – A fence in front of
mansions made from stacking red clay
and kawara tiles, often seen in Aki area.
It is topped with a kawara roof.
They were being made up until recently,
starting from the end of the Edo Period.
Doi Kachu, a timeless town where samurai lived
   This is a residential quarter where samurai who were loyal to the Goto Family (which ruled eastern Kochi and were servants to Yamauchi Kazutoyo, lord of Tosa) stayed. There is a prestigious atmosphere once you step in. Because Aki City was a producer of clay roof tiles called kawara, there are kawara neribei* fences and hedges made out of bamboo. These are said to prevent enemy attacks and minimize the heat during summer and cold during winter. They look artistic and beautiful. It is surprising that people still live in most of these quarters!
It is said that he made it himself while
envisioning huge dreams.

   After entering Doi Kachu, I started wondering, where in this intersection is Iwasaki Yataro’s birthplace? The tour guide gave me a startling explanation. Tosa had a very strict class system, and the Iwasaki family was not allowed to live in the samurai residences. His birthplace is located a short distance away, surviving wind and rain over 220 years. The yard, which features rocks placed in the shape of the Japanese archipelago, is a must-see!
 
Ride a rental bicycle on sunny days!
   Renting a bicycle is one way to visit Aki City’s historic sites from the end of the Edo Period. Bicycles are rented out for free from the Tourism Center inside Aki Station. Cycle at your own pace while enjoying the sights of the season. Furthermore, with registration in advance, a friendly and knowledgeable volunteer served as a guide, so we were able to learn even more! Please experience the ambition of Iwasaki Yataro and the flow of history for yourself. For details on volunteer tour guides, please refer to the Aki City Commerce, Tourism, and Fisheries Division (Tel 0887-35-1011).

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