This book is about the "losers" of the Meiji Restoration and the supporters who promoted their legacy. Although the violence of the Meiji Restoration is typically downplayed, the trauma was real, and those who felt marginalized from the mainstream throughout modern Japan looked to these losers as models of action.
Using a wide range of sources, from essays by former Tokugawa supporters like Fukuzawa Yukichi to postwar film and "lost decade" manga, Michael Wert traces the shifting portrayals of Restoration losers. By highlighting the overlooked sites of memory such as legends about buried gold, the awarding of posthumous court rank, or fighting over a disembodied head, Wert illustrates how the process of commemoration and rehabilitation allows individuals a voice in the formation of national history. He argues that the commingling of local memory activists with nationally known politicians, academics, writers, and treasure hunters formed interconnecting memory landscapes that promoted local figures as potential heroes in modern Japan.
About the Author
Michael Wert is Assistant Professor of History at Marquette University.
Table of Contents
Figures and Maps xi
Introduction: Remembering Losers 1
1 The Last Bannerman 10
2 Creating Tokugawa Heroes in Meiji Japan 42
3 Redeeming Villains 74
4 Re-creating Restoration Losers in Postwar Japan 108
5 Oguri and Japan's New Heroes during the "Lost Decade" 38
Conclusion: Meaningful Landscapes 163