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SHINSENGUMI KEPPUROKU
~ Part 2 ~

 


The Chaos of Serizawa Kamo
Back to Serizawa Kamo, well he might be an accomplished swordsman and good at wielding his iron fan, but he was also famous for his "nasty" habits, like frequenting brothels, killing people at whims, get drunk and all the more impertinent deeds, while using his power as the Shinsengumi's Kyokuchou to cover up all his misdeeds all the time (What a nasty old brat!). This caused the birth of their famous nickname, Miburo, which means Wolves from Mibu (the village where they lived at that time). Meanwhile Niimi wasn't much better off (like 'master', like 'student'). Once upon a day in Kyoto, Niimi and Serizawa were demanding some discounts (or other luxurious services) from a certain shop-tender, who declined to obey them as their demands were just too ridiculous. Angered, they fired a cannon at the shop, and then blundered somewhere, however, the inn was plundered in fire (it seems there were many pyromaniacs at that time).

Here is another pyromaniac's incident done by none other lunatic Serizawa Kamo. Since June, a group called Tenchuugumi (the same as Tenchuu in Rurouni Kenshin OVA #1) whose goal was making a coup d'etat, was raising funds by robbing the merchants who worked for the foreigners. They threatened the Yamato store, a fabric dealer. The owner, Yamato Shoubee, was frightened to death and asked for protection to the Kyoto Shugoshoku, who was then sent the Mibumura Roushigumi. But at the meantime, Shoubee also paid 10,000 ryou (Wow, I can buy an island with it!) to a member of Daigo family (a family close to the Emperor) to ask for protection also. When Serizawa heard that, he got enraged and took the only cannon they had, and with 6 men he went to Yamato store in the evening. There he demanded loudly why Shoubee paid such a huge amount of money to others than Shinsengumi, without giving a single ryou to him. The doorkeeper was pale with fear and said that Shoubee was not in the house but Serizawa knew it was a lie. So he ordered a massive attack with the cannon, trying to burn the house (Again?!). Serizawa was on a roof a top of nearby house, laughing cheerfully as the cannon fired (he's kinda pretty nutz, ne?). The attack lasted until next afternoon, and the house was completely ruined and plundered, however, Serizawa seemed to get very contented by this scene.

Birth of Shinsengumi - August 18th, 3rd year of the Bunkyuu (1863)
When the Shogun Tokugawa Iemochi went to Edo, the Choushuu aides strived harder to lay their plans for the Toubaku (that is, Choushuu wanted to end the Bakufu, the govern of the Shogun, and make the Tennou Heika (Emperor) as the true governor of Japan). The Choushuu Ishin Shishi, led by Katsura Kogorou, Takasugi Shinsaku and Kusaka Genzui, managed to infiltrate in the Palace of the Emperor, getting aides as allies, the most proeminent of them being the Sanjou Sanetomi. By then, Choushuu still had the duty to guard the gates of the Imperial Palace, so they didn't have much trouble in getting in and out of the Palace, plotting against the Bakufu, trying to weaken its power.

On August 13th, suddenly it was announced the "Yamato Gyoukou". This was another move of the Choushuu aides of the Emperor, who was to visit the Jinbu Emperor Tomb and after that, go to the Ise Palace. But that was only a pretext for the Choushuu men to virtually imprison the Emperor by burning the city of Kyoto (another pyromaniac's act) and meanwhile marching with their armies to Edo to end with the Bakufu. But this information got quickly into the ears of Matsudaira Katamori. He met with Nakagawanomiya Asahiko, a close man ("Shinnou") to the Emperor, and they realized that, if they were to face the Choushuu army, they were going to need a greater army. So they allied with the Satsuma province, which was governed by Shimazu Hisamitsu, who wasn't then against the Bakufu. The next step was to tell the Emperor the true purposes of the visit to Kyoto. The Emperor, although he was a fervorous Joui (that is, against the foreigners), wasn't thinking of going against the Bakufu. Furthermore, the wife of the Shogun Iemochi (Kazunomiya) was Emperor's younger sister (although they had different mothers), so it wasn't difficult to convince him of delaying the visit.

Eventually, in the early morning of August 18th, there was an Imperial order, notifying the postponing of the visit. At the same time, several provinces, led by Aizu and Satsuma, were defending the palace of the Emperor, and the seven Sonnou Joui aides, who devised the frustrated plan, were expulsed from the palace, no more allowed to enter. Furthermore, the Choushuu province was forbidden from then on to protect the gates of Kyoto, being obliged to take all its men back to Choushuu. A cunning coup d'etat, known as the "Kinmon no Seihen" ("The Political Upheaval of the Forbidden Gates") or the "Hachigatsu Juuhachinichi no Seihen" ("The Political Upheaval of August 18th"). When the Choushuu Army was informed about what was going on, they hurried to the gates of the palace, but they faced heavy deffense protecting them. They stayed there for a while, and then finally retreated to the Myouhouin, in the east. Eventually, they went back to Choushuu, protecting the seven aides, in what is famed as "Shichigyou Ochi", "The Fly of the Seven Aides".

In this coup d'etat, Nomura Sahyoue, a man from the Public Office of Aizu, went to Mibu and requested the presence of the Mibumura Roushigumi to protect the gates of Emperor's palace. It was the first time that the Mibumura Roushigumi was going in for a fight as a real army, so Serizawa got carried off and he got the Mibumura Roushigumi in two rows of 40 men each, with a big red flag (my fave!) measuring 6ft.x 6ft. and everybody was clad in haori, with the color of Aizu (yellow). Joy was present in every member, and there were people who would be happy to die in the battle. And it was on this day where the Mibumura Roushigumi was officially called as "Shinsengumi", with the permission of the Emperor given through his aides, Nomiya Shunkatsu and Asuka Igaten. This day, Matsubara Chuuji (Tadaji), a bit fattish light-hearted man and Jokin, was with his head shaved, a white bandanna wrapped in the forehead and carrying a BIG naginata. Serizawa Kamo led the Shinsengumi, in the middle of the Shinsengumi was Kondou Isami and in the rear, Niimi Nishiki.

When they got to the Hamaguri gate, there were already Aizu soldiers guarding there. Threateningly, they pointed their swords and spears to the Shinsengumi, shouting, "Who are you?!" Kondou and Niimi were intimidated, but Serizawa drew his iron fan, and he laughed, as he fanned the spears, showing the Aizu soldiers to cool down their heads, "We are the Shinsengumi, working under orders of the Aizu province. Don't misunderstand us, or you'll face the consequences." The soldiers were surprised by the daring of Serizawa -- it's said that the Aizu men changed their views on the Shinsengumi after this day -- but quickly recovered and threatened again. Tempers were heating up and it could have almost begun a quite strange battle among allies, if the Aizu officers didn't rush to clarify all the situation. The Shinsengumi was to protect the Sendou palace and, at night, the southern gate. Unfortunately for the Shinsengumi members, there was no battle and the first official turmoil the Shinsengumi took part ended into nothing (what a plain mission).

The New Shinsengumi - September 16, 1863
Sanada KojiroAs Matsudaira Katamori ordered the death of Serizawa Kamo after the incident at Yamato store (see above story), Kondou Isami and Hijikata Toshizou started the murder plan. But it wasn't that easy to kill Serizawa, since he's a strong man and had some strong comrades i.e. Niimi Nishiki, whose position was the same as Kondou (a Kyokuchou) and also a superb swordsman, Hirayama Gorou. So, they decided to, first, get rid off Serizawa's acolytes, and the first target fell to Niimi Nishiki (poor him -_-). In the beginning of September, 1863, Niimi was sentenced to commit seppuku at Yamano-o, a store at Gion district, he was 28. Th
e alleged reason for his death was that he hadn't complied with two articles of Shinsengumi's Law, that was the first ("Never deviate from the path proper to man") and the third ("It's not allowed to raise money privately). Since he often robbed money from the merchants in order to have much pleasure at the read light district (another nasty brat), ignoring his duty as a Shinsengumi member.

After disposing of Niimi Nishiki, the next target of Kondo Isami and Hijikata Toshizo was obviously Serizawa Kamo. And as the Shinsengumi had a meeting on September 18th, they set this day as the day of Serizawa's death. After the meeting, a party was held, as usual. And Serizawa Kamo got quite drunken. In fact, he was so drunken that he couldn't stand on his feet, being carried by his two acolytes, Hirayama Gorou and Hirama Juusuke. They went back to the Shinsengumi headquarters in Mibu, together with three women: Ume (a woman from Hishi-ya, Serizawa's mistress), Kichiei (or Koei) from Kikyou-ya, Hirayama's mistress, and Itosato from Wachigai-ya, Hirama's mistress. They took three chambers of the headquarters in the Mibu (the Yagi Gennojou's house) and "slept" there ^_~. And they would face the sneak attack of the Kondou party. According to the monk Nishimura Kanefumi, "Kichiei went out the chamber, heading for the restroom, when she faced Kondou, who let her escape unharmed. Okita Souji entered the chamber where Serizawa was sleeping, and attacked him without warning. Surprised, Serizawa woke up, and realizing everything, he drawed his wakizashi and charged against Okita. Although Serizawa injured Okita slightly on the nose (Yea, viva la Sou-san!), he was also attacked by Hijikata Toshizou and, unable to resist to his wounds, finally died. His mistress (Ume) was murdered also on the spot. Hirayama Gorou was killed by Yamanami Keisuke and Harada Sanosuke, and Hirama Juusuke fled alone and naked (umm...he must'd run in pretty haste ^_^).

The day when Serizawa Kamo was murdered is usually accepted to be September 18th, but new sources revealed that the correct date was September 16th (My Birthday ^_~). There's been some controversy about the men who killed Serizawa Kamo. Yagi Tamesaburou (son of Yagi Gennojou) says they were four or five men, including Okita, Harada and Yamanami, whereas Nishimura Kanefumi says they were Hijikata, Okita, Harada and Yamanami. Nagakura Shinpachi wrote that they were Hijikata, Okita, Toudou and Mikura Isetake, but it's hard to believe this hypothesis, since Mikura was discovered as a Choushuu spy. Nagakura himself admitted he didn't know a thing about the Serizawa Kamo's murder, and he said that probably the murderers were Hijikata, Okita, Inoue and Harada. But an author said that he had received some letters from Hirama Juusuke, and he assured that the murderers were Hijikata Toshizou, Okita Souji, Inoue Genzaburou and Toudou Heisuke. To put things in a nutshell, it looks like four people were the assassins: Hijikata, Okita, and two among Yamanami, Harada, Inoue and Toudou.

And why did I set September 16, 1863 as the birthday of the new Shinsengumi? That's because since Serizawa's death, Shinsengumi was on the hands of proper men, Kondou Isami and Co. These men are the ones who would be the loyal members of Shinsegumi 'til their very last breath ^o^. In the following day after Serizawa's death, Kondou Isami addressed letters on the subject of the death, stating that Serizawa Kamo had fallen in the hands of bandits during his sleep. And on September 20th, 1863, a huge burial ceremony was held in the Maekawa Shouji's estate, attended by many high officials of Aizu and even by two officials of Mito, said to be Serizawa Kamo's elder brothers. Kondou delivered a speech as the leader of the Shinsengumi and every member of the Shinsengumi stood carrying spears, swords or guns while the coffins of Serizawa Kamo and Hirayama Gorou were buried in the Mibu temple. Serizawa's body was buried with his head north and his feet south. Even now, if you visit the Mibu temple, in the right wing of the temple there's the Shinsengumi graveyard, including Serizawa and Hirayama's graves.

 

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