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SHINSENGUMI KEPPUROKU
~ Part 1 ~

 


Right, there will be dozen of facts, tales and fictions about these adorable dudes ^_~. So take a nice seat and a cup of herbal ocha (tea) or coffee, so you can relax meanwhile reading this bio cause it'll be a long long story. Ja, Here it comes the almighty Wolves from Mibu!

The Former
First of all, Shinsengumi literally means " a Newly Formed Party" (not as cool as you thought, ne?). But it's not the name from the beginning, in fact there were many former names. The first name was Roushigumi, and later was called as Mibumura Roushigumi (The Wanderers of Mibu Village) by the daimyo of Aizu, Matsudaira Higo no Kami (Katamori). At last, by the permission from the Emperor given through his aides, Nomiya Shunkatsu and Asuka Igaten, they were officially called as Shinsengumi. The nickname Miburo (Wolves from Mibu) was given by the Japanese people (esp in Kyoto) because of Serizawa's deranged habits (you'll know about it later). It was said that the Shinsengumi killed more often than ate (what a bad comparison).

Roushigumi
Let me begin in the year 1862, in Tama region of Edo (the present-day capital, Tokyo). There was a kenjutsu dojo named Shieikan, practicing the Tennen Rishin Ryuu. The fourth master was Kondou Isami and among the disciples were Hijikata Toshizou, Okita Souji and Inoue Genzaburou. These four were so close like brothers, with Okita as the youngest and the strongest ^_~. Beside the disciples, there were also many frequenters (who were usually take meals in the dojo, like Sano in the Kamiya dojo), among them were Yamanami Seisuke, Harada Sanosuke, and Nagakura Shinpachi. There was a time when Kondou and Hijikata heard about the formation of roushitai (band of wave samurai) in Kyoto, then they went to Kyoto with a few other disciples of Shieikan (including all the name that mentioned above), and Kondou entrusted Shieikan to Hijikata's elder brother.

Meanwhile in the other place there was a guy from the Tengu Party who's just about to be executed, Serizawa Kamo. But his fate wasn't that ironic (though it'll be, later...) a man named Kiyokawa Hachirou was looking for capable roushi to join his group. Kiyokawa's group was meant to act as "bodyguards" of the Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi when he got in Kyoto, professing a complete allegiance to the Bakufu. Serizawa went with his fellows from the Tengu Party, namely Niimi Nishiki, Noguchi Kenji, Hirayama Gorou, and Hirama Juusuke (or Hirama Kinsuke). Serizawa was a famous man due to the Tengu Party, he was assigned as one of the 23 Torishimaritsuki (director). Later on, they (the Kondou's group and Serizawa's group) formed the Roushigumi, which's divided into seven units and had the board of directors.

At the beginning, Kondou Isami was only an ordinary member of the 6th unit of the Roushigumi. Three days after they left Edo, when he was helping the Director Ikeda Tokutarou to find lodging in the Honshou post town, Kondou accidentally had forgotten Serizawa. Though they had apologized, Serizawa didn't heed them and made a huge fire in the very center of the lodging (no, he's not a pyromaniac! though later he'll make another fire). Eventually Koundou convinced Serizawa to stop the fire, although before, Serizawa had already knocked down the government officer with his famous iron fan (weight of 300 monme, or in modern measurement is about 39,4 oz or 1,12 kg). From the very beginning Serizawa was a mess, that's why Kondou's group didn't really like him.

They finally arrived in Kyoto on February 23, 3rd year of Bunkyuu (1863). Serizawa and his fellows lived in Yagi Gennojou's estate, meanwhile Kondou's group were more often living in Maekawa Shouji's estate (both located in Mibu village). On the next day, they're called by Kiyokawa to assemble in Shintokuji Temple. Kiyokawa was a sly bastard indeed, he might gathered a troupe of roushi in the name of the Bakufu, But he wanted to train them to be Ishin Shishi, professing Sonno Joui ("Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians!"). Few days later, Kiyokawa commanded the Roushigumi to go back to Edo and serve the Emperor, but Serizawa, Kondou and their fellows (13 dudes) refused to go. After a furious argument, the Roushigumi departed from Kyoto without Serizawa, Kondou and their men. Well it's commonly said that there were 13 people stayed in Kyoto, but in Aizu records, there were 24 names came out. Now it's widely accepted that the other men than Serizawa and Kondou's fellows were killed at the moment. Kiyokawa had planned with his new roushigumi, called Shinchougumi, to attack the gaijin settlement at Yokohama, setting fire to the building and killing the foreigners, so that the Bakufu's foreign diplomacy, as well as their image, would plummet as low as it could get. The Bakufu had news of this and then sent assassins. Kiyokawa himself was killed on April 13, 3rd year of Bunkyuu by Sasaki Tadasaburou, a kodachi master (think of Shinomori Aoshi?) who would be the chief of the Kyoto Mimawarigumi (Shinsengumi's comrade ^_~), before he and his Shinchougumi's plan was carried out.

Mibumura Roushi
The names of survived people in Roushigumi were (based on Nagakura Shinpachi's report):
Serizawa Kamo, Niimi Nishiki, Noguchi Kenji, Hirayama Gorou, Hirama Juusuke (from Serizawa's group)

Kondou Isami, Hijikata Toshizou, Harada Sanosuke, Nagakura Shinpachi, Okita Souji, Inoue Genzaburou, Toudou Heisuke, Yamanami Keisuke (from Koundou's group)

Washizuka KeiichiroThe reason that Serizawa and Kondou could oppose Kiyokawa was a secret alliance with Matsudaira Katamori from Kyoto Shugoshoku (The Military Commissioner of Kyoto, some sort of Police Department). Since then they worked for Kyoto Shugoshoku, and by the daimyo of Aizu, Matsudaira Higo no Kami, compromised to take care of the group, calling it as Mibumura Roushigumi. Though they have alliance but they were, indeed, quiet poor ;_; (in a manga, Kaze Hikaru by Taeko Watanabe, you could see how poor they were so they should not eat rice since it was only to be eaten in war, and plant veggies for their own food). It is said that they frequently come door-to-door, demanding money(almost look like a beggar if only they had no swords). They also had no money to buy clothes, and even had to debt Kounoike Zen-emon (who later gave Kondou a katana named Nagasone Kotetsu) to order their famous good looking uniform ^_^.

Tokoro de, there is a very interesting record about the uniform. In some novels, dramas, tv series, movies or manga, the uniform was a light blue haori with white-jagged mountain shape on the tip. But another showed a light yellow haori with the same motif. The problem is, in the original, Shinsengumi's uniform is described as being "asagiiro". In Kanji there are 2 asagiiro, one meaning a "light yellow" and the other means a "light blue". Well, it's uncertain which is the right one, but one for sure it's flashy and fearful at the same time (I think both are quite flashy). And my fave, the Flag! It was red (as this page's background) with white-jagged mountain shape stripes. On it was a white Kanji of " Makoto" (it's my name ^_~) means Loyalty or Fidelity, which is the spirit of samurai. Its size was 6 feet x 6 feet (or 1,80 m x 1,80 m) according to Nagakura Shinpachi. However, this flag was more than just a waving flag, since Shinsengumi was loyal to the Bakufu 'til the very end.

Right, after recruiting roushi in Kyoto, Osaka and other neighboring cities, gathering about 70 new members. And as the group became large, they started to organize themselves. Here is the result:

Kyokuchou (Chief or General or Commander):
Serizawa Kamo Mitsumoto (Mito Roushi, Shintou Munen Ryuu Menkyo Kaiden)
Niimi Nishiki Kinzan (Mito Dappan, Shintou Munen Ryuu Menkyo Kaiden, trained in the dojo of Okada Sukezaemon)
Kondou Isami Masanobu (Masayoshi) (Edo Gyofunai Dappan, Tennen Rishin Ryuu Master (Shihan), disciple of Kondou Shuusuke, owner of Shieikan)

Fukuchou (Executive Officer or Vice Commander):
Yamanami Keisuke Tomonobu (Sendai Dappan, Hokushin Ittou Ryuu Menkyo Kaiden at Chiba Shuusaku's dojo, the Genbukan, trained again by Kondou Isami)
Hijikata Toshizou Yoshitoyo (Edo Gyofunai Dappan, Tennen Rishin Ryuu Mokuroku (a status inferior to Menkyo Kaiden), disciple of Kondou Shuusuke)

Jokin (Warrant Officers):
Okita Souji (Soushi) Kaneyoshi (Fusanaga) (Shirakawa Dappan, Tennen Rishin Ryuu Menkyo Kaiden, disciple of Kondou Shuusuke and Isami) Nagakura Shinpachi Noriyuki (Matsumae Dappan, Shintou Munen Ryuu Menkyo Kaiden at Okada Juumatsu dojo)
Harada Sanosuke (Iyomatsuyama Dappan, Taneda Houzouin Ryuu (a spear style) Menkyo Kaiden at Tani Sanjuurou's dojo)
Toudou Heisuke Nobutora (Edo Gyofunai Dappan, a bastard son of the Isuzu's daimyo, Toudou Izuminokami, Hokushin Ittou Ryuu Mokuroku at Chiba Shuusaku's dojo)
Inoue Genzaburou Kazushige(Edo Gyofunai Dappan, Tennen Rishin Ryuu Mokuroku (some say he reached the Menkyo Kaiden) and disciple of Kondou Shuusuke / Isami)
Hirayama Gorou (Mito Dappan, Shintou Munen Ryuu Menkyo Kaiden at Saitou Yakurouu Tokushinsai dojo, the Renpeikan)
Noguchi Kenji (Mito Dappan, Mokuroku given from Yurimoto Shouzou, a fabulous swordsman of Shintou Munen Ryuu)
Hirama Juusuke (Mito Dappan, Shintou Munen Ryuu Mokuroku at Serizawa Kamo's dojo. A faithful man to Serizawa)
Saitou Hajime (Banshuu Akashi Roushi, master of the Mugai Ryuu)
Ogata Shuntarou (Kumamoto Roushi, a scholar)
Yamazaki Susumu (Osaka Roushi, a master of the Kadori Ryuu of Bo (staff))
Tani Sanjuurou (Osaka Roushi, Harada Sanosuke's master)
Matsubara Chuuji (Tadaji) (Osaka Roushi, Jiu-jutsu master of the Sekiguchi Ryuu)
Andou Soutarou (Kyoto Itsugatsu Temple Dassou )

Chouyaku Narabi Kansatsu Gata(Investigation and Observation Responsibles (Spies)):

Shimada Kai (Oogaki Dappan)
Kawashima Shouji(Katsuji) (Osaka Roushi)
Hayashi Nobutarou (Osaka Roushi)

Kanteiyaku Narabi Konida Gata (Cleanup Operations and Small Baggage/Luggage Responsibles):

Kishima (Kishida) Yutarou
Okan (Oseki) Yabee (Wada Uemura Dassou)
Kawai Kitarou (Osaka Roushi)
Sakai Hyougo (Osaka Roushi)

(Note: Menkyo Kaiden is the highest status a swordsman can achieve in kenjutsu, it means that he had mastered every aspect of his ryuugi (swordstyle), including the "ougi", hidden technique, and thus he can teach it to others. Meanwhile Dassou can be translated as "refugee" or "fugitive")

The Famous Five Dreaded Articles of Shinsengumi Law
Soon after the formation of new Mibumura Roushigumi, they established the law which is quite dreaded one! About the author, there is an ongoing argument about it, in "Shinsengumi Shimatsuki" (by Shimozawa Kan) it's said that it was devised by Kondou Isami, others said Serizawa Kamo, meanwhile in "Moeyo Ken" (a very famous novel by Shiba Ryoutarou) it was Hijikata who devised it. Despite the mysterious author, here are those five articles:

Dai ichijou: Shidou ni somuki majiki koto.
First Article: It's not allowed to deviate from the path proper to man.

Dai nijou: Kyoku wo dassuru kotowo yurusazu.
Second Article: It's not allowed to leave the Shinsengumi.

Dai sanjyou: Katte ni kinsaku itasubekarazu.
Third Article: It's not allowed to raise money privately.

Dai shijou: Katte ni soshou toriatsukaubekarazu.
Fourth Article: It's not allowed to take part in other's (other than Shinsengumi's) litigation.

Dai gojou: Watakushi no tousou wo yurusazu.
Fifth Article: It's not allowed to engage in private fights.

There were another items that were red in the front of every Shinsengumi's members, here some of the most famous ones:
"Kumigashira ga moshi toushi shita baaiwa, kumishuu wa sono ba de toushi subeshi."
"If the leader of a unit is mortally wounded in a fight, all the members of the unit must fight and die on the spot."

"Hageshiki kokou ni oite shishou zokushutsusutomo kumigashira no shitai no hoka wa hikishirizokukotomakarinarazu."
"Even in a fight where the death toll is high, it is not allowed to retrieve the bodies of the dead, except the corpse of the leader of the unit."

        And the most dreaded one was:
"Moshi taishiga koumuni yorazushite machi de taigai no mono to arasoi, teki to yaiba wo kawashi, jibunga kizu wo oite aite wo shitomekirazuni nigashita baai, ushirokizu no baai no gotokimo seppuku wo meizuru."
"If a Shinsengumi member engage in a fight with a stranger, be it on duty or not, if he is wounded and can't kill the enemy, allowing him to run away, even in case of a wound in the back (meaning a treacherous attack), seppuku is ordered."

 

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