Eijanaika (1981) 

 

 

 

Director:    Shohei Imamura.

Starring:     Kaori Momoi (Ine), Shigeru Izumiya (Genji), Ken Ogata (Furukawa), Shigeru Tsuyuguchi (Kinzo), Masao Kusakari (Itoman).

carnival atmosphere in 1867 and 1868 for the approach of the Meiji Restoration

 


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of most of the movie. 

A different warning:   This movie is hard to follow because it does not provide enough character names at the appropriate times in order to keep the action straight.  I am sure I have made some more minor mistakes in the summary below, probably confusing some of the characters at times.  Not my fault.  For instance, the movie talks about Gon but does not show his face and body until the second DVD disc.  I had to use the information on face identification from the second disc to re-watch and better understand the first disc. 

 

There is a carnival atmosphere in Edo (today's Tokyo).  A man wrestles a half-naked woman sumo wrestler.   A "snake woman" only eats live creatures.  Another woman can stretch her neck to an impressive degree.  And then there's the man who can pop out his eyes from their sockets.

Summer 1866.  East Ryogoku, Edo.  A group of men chase and catch a man in order to force him into the Shogun's army to get a commission for every five recruits. 

Yokohama.  An American row boat drops off a Japanese man named Genji who is now an American citizen.  This, however, does not matter to the Japanese and they arrest the guy after the Americans leave.   They throw Genji into jail.  (It was forbidden for foreigners to enter Japan, except for the treaty ports; it was also forbidden for Japanese to travel abroad, even by mishap!) There Genji meets his cellmate, a man named Itoman from the Ryukyus far south.  He was shipwrecked and put in jail.  (The Ryukyu Islands are today's Okinawa then a separate country but taken over by the Japanese.  The Japanese forced the Islanders to grow sugar cane under abominable conditions.)  Genji is from Kawanishi village, Joshu.  His job was to carry silk to Yokohama.  He was shipwrecked but saved by an American ship.  He was away from Japan for six years.  Genji explains that the Americans think he is a Christian.  He asks Itoman:  "Is that still forbidden?"  The prisoners discover a loose board, pry it open and escape.  Genji and Itoman make their way to Genji's village.  There Genji sees his family's two houses.  But when Genji investigates the houses they look as if they were abandoned.  Genji searches for his family and finds his father and Senmatsu, his brother-in-law.  His father explains that mom got sick and died.  And his wife was sold because of the poverty of the family.  Most of the people of the village have sold women.  Dad, however, does apologize.  He says that Ine, his wife, waited for two years and that when she left, she left on her own.  It has been three years now and her contract has expired, but she hasn't come back.  Dad suggests that he go to Edo to find her. 

Ryogoku Bridge, Edo.  Genji looks for a man named Gon.  A pickpocket deliberately runs into Genji and steals his money without Genji realizimg it, at least at first.  He finds out when he goes to pay for something.  A man named Furukawa tells him that he should go ask a Madame named Oko.  And if she is of no help, speak to Kinzo.  Genji talks with the Madame. 

Shogunate Army Training Spot.  The army fires their artillery.  A man is talking to the top officer saying that they will deliver new rifles before they attack Choshu.  Genji and Itoman see the pickpocket and chase him.  They take back the stolen money. 

Genji goes to a side show advertising the Tickle Goddess.  The star is Ine and men tickle her feet.  Genji approaches her and she is absolutely shocked.  She tells him to wait out back.  After her act she comes outside to see him.  She hugs him and won't let go.  She says that she waited for him and that it was hard.  Genji says that he came back from America because he wanted to see her.  She cries. 

At night Genji and Ine talk.  He answers a question from her saying that he has a limp now because he broke his left in the shipwreck.  He wants to go back to America, but Ine says she won't go.  And she won't return to her village:  "The people are too poor."  She tells him that she is selling her art, not her body.  But a man calls on her and she has to tell him:  "Go away!  My husband's back."   Genji hears this and is upset.  She tells him:  "I may have sold my body, but I've never sold my heart." 

Satsuma Clan Residence.  The Ryogoku show tent area boss (who is also influential in the brothels in Fukagawa and is the boss of the beggars) is being taken home.  His aide Kinzo talks with some of his staff.  The news is that the princes are rising wildly and there is a high rate of inflation.  Another topic discussed is if the Shogunate army is going to attack Choshu.  They think so; at the end of next month.  Choshu has joined with the Satsuma Clan and the English are backing both clans. 

At home a woman sumo type wrestler named Ayawaka talks with Genji about Ine.  She says that she knows her really well. 

Ine does her goddess show.  Later with Genji she gets very drunk and tells him again that she is not going to America. 

Genji goes to the United States embassy and learns that it will cost him $50 dollars to take himself and his wife to America.  The agent says they will prepare the passports for them. 

At the bridge Genji is told that Gon is looking for him.  Gon works with a group of criminals that work for Kinzo.  They are going to rob the Yokohama import store.  Genji doesn't want to participate, but Itoman tells him:  "We need the money."  Genji goes with them and at the import store they take the whole safe.  They place it in a small boat and the boat capsizes.  The safe sinks to the bottom of the river.  Later they dive after the safe and use some explosives to try to open it. 

Genji tells Ine that Japanese farmers are just slaves and that he is going back to America even if it is just by himself.  Ine finally tells him that she will go with him.  Genji is very excited over her change of heart.  But when it comes time to walk to the harbor, Ine makes up excuses and then hides in a field of crops.  Genji goes ahead to the ship.  Ine says to herself:  "Sorry Genji for not going.  Sorry for being so selfish."  Genji returns to where he last left Ine but, of course, he cannot find her because she is gone. 

Genji goes to the tickle show.  He starts yelling at Ine and then slaps her.  The men come to her rescue but she tells them to stop it because it was her fault.  Madame Oko talks with Genji and tells him that all the good-looking women belong to Kinzo.  A new girl named Omatsu begins her seven year contract.  She has a debt of 50 gold pieces.  Oko refers to Ine as a stupid woman for not going with Genji.  She aks Genji:  "How about me?"  She seems interested in Genji.  Genji leaves drunk.  He goes into a small hut with a prostitute.  Ine catches him and starts fighting with the other woman.  When they are separated, the prostitute tells Ine that there is another Tickle Goddess, this one in West Ryogoku, and that the other goddess will steal all of Ine's customers.  This makes Ine so angry that she goes to the west side to see this other goddess.  Ine insults the woman who is with her man.  The man tells her that they got permission from Boss Katsugoro.  Ine starts a fight.  For revenge, the couple take Ine to the bridge, strip her, lay her on top of the bridge railing and tie her down with rope.  She is literally covered with rope wrapped around her and the railing.  The next day a man finds and frees Ine.    

Kinzo talks about killing the tickle goddess and her man from the west side.  He gives the job to a man named Sanji.  He is to make it look like a double suicide.  The latest news is that Shogun Iyemonchi is dead so there will be no attack on Choshu.  Then the aide is paid money to cause confusion in Edo.  The other side gives some money to the tent boss himself to cause a peasant riot in exchange for money.  The contact man, Joshuya, is a silk merchant and is very afraid of a possible peasant riot.  The boss and Kinzo talk and agree to play both sides against each other for the money.  The tent boss wants the new woman, Omatsu, brought to him soon.  Kinzo says that she is still being trained.  Genji also has his eye on Omatsu.  In fact, Genji asks her to go with him to America.  Omatsu objects because he is married.  Genji responds by saying that he will get rid of Ine. 

In the river Itoman finds the two dead bodies of the west side tickle goddess and her man. 

Kinzo gets his six crooks together, including Genji.  They are given the job of protecting Joshuya from the rioting peasants.  Some of them are also supposed to agitate the rioters.  Gon notices that these goals are contradictory, but he has to follow orders either way.  Kinzo asks Genji to confirm the talk that he helped Omatsu.  Yes.  (He bought out her contract.)  Kinzo adds that her father will be pleased.

Genji sets out with the crew with Omatsu accompanying them part way.  Along the road Omatsu says good-bye to the men.  She is heading home.  She tells Genji:  "I'll never forget your kindness."  He tells her to never return to Edo.  Following some distance behind Genji comes Ine. 

The peasants hold a huge rally where they present their demands:  abolition of the tax on silk; reduction of the land tax; prohibition of silk monopolies; and nullification of debts.  After the presentation the peasants set out for Joshuya's place.  News arrives that the riots have started at the shrine forest.  The peasant leader speaks to Senmatsu, Genji's brother-in-law.  He asks him how his father is and Senmatsu answers "not so good".  Stopping along the road, Ine asks for Omatsu and Genji.  She learns that they have already left. 

Inside Joshuya's place of business, Genji and crew tie up Joshuya and his workers as the peasants surround the building.  With the peasants Senmatsu kills the rifleman on the roof.  Men get on top of the roof and start throwing down silk and other things to the peasants.  The peasants finally force their way into the building where they find Joshuya and his workers all tied up.  Senmatsu sees Genji in the crowd.  Some members of the crew report to Kinso that the rioting was a success.  But then he pays the crew less money than they expected.  Kinso justifies this by complaining about rising prices.  Gon comments that it seems like the end of the Shogunate has arrived.  Kinzo is told that Genji and Ine got land because Senmatsu helped the rioters.  Kinzo knowingly comments:  "But can Ine stand a farmer's life?"

Four elders approach Senmatsu who is working on the new land with Ine and Genji.  They tell him that he has to go with them to the town hall.  Then armed men appear.  Senmatsu starts to panic and shouts at the four elders:  "You deceived me.  You told me to lead the riots and I would get some land."  He tries to escape but is knocked down and taken away under arrest.  Ine is told that they will display Senmatsu's head publicly for ten days.  Ine tells her husband:  "I want to go home."  Genji stays to work and Ine goes home.  There she is surrounded by a lot of men and raped (probably).  When Genji returns he sees that Ine is very upset, he asks her what happened.  Then he sees his father's dead body hanging from a noose.

Ine leaves the house and returns to her old master Kinzo.  He is very happy that she has returned to him.  At the same time, Genji receives some bad news.  He is told by the elders that he is really an American and the villagers don't want a foreigner working their lands.  In addition, they now know that Genji escaped from jail in Yokohama.  They are going to arrest him, but Genji throws a long log at the elders and they go down in a heap.  Genji escapes. 

Ine is in bed with the master.  She begs him:  "Let me have my show."  He tells her to wait until spring.  She continues to whine about her show.  Ine goes to speak to Itoman.  She tells him that she is bored.  She asks Itoman what the Ryukus are like, but Itoman doesn't really want to talk to her about this.  (He does, however, mention that his family was murdered by the Japanese.)  Itoman asks:  "Ine, do you love Genji or not?"  She answers:  "I love him, but . . . " and then she stops herself. 

Genji arrives and sees Itoman.  He tells Itoman that he does not want to see Ine but he has to give her something.  Meanwhile, a man approaches Ine.  He wants to have sex with her.  He mentions that Genji is not around and that the master is impotent and she is oh so horny.  He forces himself on her but after awhile she stops resisting.  Genji arrives, but she does not yell out (perhaps to save Genji from being caught).  The man finishes and then leaves.  A little later Genji gives Ine her brother's funeral tablets.  Ine tells Genji that she is sorry:  "I forced all this hardship on you."  Geni just says:  "That's all right."  She adds that she is lazy and loose, a fool and a slut, but she loves him.  Genji says that he loves her too. 

Genji visits the American embassy.  The agent tells him that now he cannot go back.  The reason is that he committed a crime in Joshu.  Leaving the embassy, Genji runs into two of his old buddies in crime.  They tell him that they have some juicy work for him. 

Genji seeks comfort with Madame Oko.  But for three days he does not eat at all.  But on that third day he breaks down and starts eating with lightning speed.  Omatsu shows up and Genji is disappointed to see her.  He had told her not to return to Edo.  She tells him that her dad was extremely happy to see her because now he could sell her for a second time.  She laughs.  She then says some rude things to Genji because he was so disappointed in her and he answers by slapping her across the face.  He shouts that she is ungrateful.  Oko intervenes to stop Genji from doing anything else. 

Genji with the crime team rob a place.  After they have taken a lot of belongings, one of the men posts a sign:  "Punished by Heaven." 

Itoman does some diving to retrieve some goods in the river for Kinzo who is accompanied by Furukawa. 

The peasants attack another building.  They start grabbing various goods.  Some men on the roof tear a hole in it and put a rope through it.  Down below the peasants grab the two ends of the rope and pull the whole building over into a heap.  This makes the crowd wildly happy.  Government troops show up and the peasants shout:  "Government troops. Run!"  The man in charge of the troops stops to see Kinzo who gives the officer his bribe to call off the troops. 

Kinzo tells Furukawa that he wants him to go to Kyoto to kill Hara.  The new Shogun Yoshinobu is an idiot and has reduced their pay.  They lay the blame completely on Hara for influencing the Shogun to make bad decisions.  They want Itoman to do the job because he is a friend of Hara's and can meet with him.  A wrinkle, however, shows up in the plan.  Furukawa says he will not do it. 

Madame Oko insults Genji so he acts as if he is going to rape her.  Kinzo shows up interrupting them. 

Geji speaks with an American merchant.  He says that now that the civil war is over in America, they would like to buy the extra guns for a cheap price.  The merchant, however, says that an Englishman has already bought the weapons for the Choshu people.  The merchant says that he is really a silk dealer and knows little about weapons.  Kinzo says he is still interested and he will be in contact with the merchant at another time.  Kinzo talks with Genji and tells him that he can see Ine.  She is staying with him because she has no other place to go.  Genji says that he is not interested in Ine anymore. 

Kinzo tells Ine that he is going to do business with the Americans, so he would like her to be nice to them.  Ine protests:  "Not me!  Send Oko!"  But Kinzo argues that Oko is not young and she has fallen for Genji. 

A high ranking Shogun official tells Kinzo that the poor are rioting and the show people are leading them.   And he puts the blame for this squarely on Kinzo's shoulders.  Kinzo gets the message and tells his men that it is getting to dangerous and that they should stop fomenting riots and stop stealing.  The criminal group agrees, but goes ahead with their plans anyway.   Kinzo is very angry when he finds out that they went ahead with their planned crime.  And still the gang doesn't get it.  They set a fire at the American legation and get into the building when everyone is distracted with fighting the fire.  Ine is with the group because she wants to get a chance to talk with Genji.  They get the money from the safe, but have a tough time getting out of the building. 

Genji is arrested for injuring the Kawanishi village leader.  Genji blames Ine for betraying him.  She pleadingly shouts:  "You're wrong Genji.  I didn't betray you."  The arrest order was arranged by Kinzo.   Kinzo says the man they really need to get rid of is Magoshichi, Kinzo's childhood friend.   Later Kinzo's men surround Magoshichi, kill him and throw his body into the river.  Furukawa tells Kinzo that they are going to need a loyal man like Genji.  Kinzo says he will try to use his influence to get Genji out of jail.

The high-ranking Shogun official tells Kinzo that the west side boss is old now and he is recommending Kinzo as his successor.  And, he promises, if Kinzo will become even more loyal to the Shogunate, he will be promoted again.  Ine speaks with Kinzo and tells him that she will do anything if Kinzo will help Genji get out of jail.  He asks her if she will go to Yokohama.  She tells him that he is a cruel man.  Ine starts to drown her sorrows in drink when Madame Oko comes to her assistance.  She tells Ine to quickly change clothes with her and she will go to Yokohama in her place.  Ine willingly accepts the deal. 

Gon gets thrown into jail.  There he tells Genji that Magoshichi got killed and that Sanji did it.  Furthermore, Kinzo was the man behind the killing. And Kinzo had Genji thrown into jail   In Yokohama Oko tells Ine that she likes her for being willing to sacrifice to help Genji.  Oko also says:  "I'm giving Genji back to you."  Furukawa and some others come to Yokohama looking for Ine.  Looking in the places of pleasure someone shows Furukawa his wife with a client.  Furukawa gets upset and decides to ask Kinzo for an advance in his wages.  Kinzo refuses to give him any advance and also tells him that there won't  be any jobs coming his way for a while.  He goes on to tell Furukawa that the prostitute with whom he tried to commit double suicide at one time is in town.  Later Furukawa runs into the woman named Yoshino.  She is blind now. 

Furukawa talks with Itoman.  The talk is that Satsuma and Choshu will win against the Shogunate.  Itoman says that the samurai think they are great, but they're just a bunch of murderers.  Surprisingly, the ronin (i.e. masterless samurai) Furukawa agrees.  Furukawa also says that he is leaving Edo.  In the next scene Furukawa is talking with a man in a fancy naval uniform.  It is Hara.  Furukawa kills the man with a sword and escapes. 

The cherry blossoms look great on the trees. Suddenly spring amulets start appearing and this starts a wave of excitement amongst the common people.  They think the amulets mean that good fortune will be coming their way. After Genji receives one hundred lashes, he is released.  Ine is there to take him home and help him heal.  Genji tells her that he thought about her all the time while he was in jail.  He also tells her that he is not going to go America.  He is going to stay in Japan.  Ine tells him that she had decided to go with him.  But she is ecstatic to hear that he will stay in Japan to be with her.  She starts to tell Genji about what happened in Yokohama.  Genji tells her that Gon already told him that she was with an American in Yokohama.  Kinzo had made the arrangement for a price.  But since Genji is willing to forget about the incident, Ine jumps on him forcing him to the ground, lays on top of him and starts kissing him again and again.  She is ecstatic. 

Ine returns to the stage.  But now she is accompanied by two other women and they do the Eijanaika version of the can-can dance from Paris.  The men go crazy for the act.  Then the women dance their way off the stage, through the audience and keep dancing when they get to the street.  The common people are having a huge celebration of what they call Eijanaika (meaning who cares).  In fact it has been a solid month of carnival celebrations.  And they all want a new world.  They stir each other up.  There are men who dress like women and some women who dress like men.  In addition, a lot of the women dance and sing topless.  There are also a lot of people wearing all sorts of masks just having a ball. 

The show tent boss of the east side, Kinzo, Furukawa and an officer from the Satsuma clan meet to talk about the mad-cap atmosphere.  They think it has the capacity to bring down the Shogunate.  This makes them unhappy because they feel that they are the ones to bring down the Shogunate, not the commoners.   The show tent boss agrees to lend Furukawa 500,000 ryo.    The Satsuma fellow leaves the meeting.  Itoman takes the man for a ride on a boat.  He suddenly stops and grabs a large knife.  He slashes the man with the weapon and he starts to bleed.  The man starts to fight back, but Itoman still gets the better of him.  He tells the man to recall what he did in the Ryukyus five years ago.  The man says he was just following orders.  Itoman says "Die Satsuma swine", finishes the man off and then they both fall into the river.  Itoman brings the man back into the boat, cuts his throat and lets the blood run into a pottery jar.  Later Furukawa comes to visit Itoman.  Itoman is using the blood of the man he killed to paint his boat sail deep red. 

Kinzo tells Furukawa that they are grateful for his killing Hara.  Now they want him to leave Edo.  He also tells Furukawa that they will take care of his wife and son.  Furukawa tells them to give the gratitude money to his wife.  Then Furukawa meets with Yoshino by the river.  The police come to arrest him for the murder of Hara.  Furukawa is glad to see them for they give him an audience.  He then proceeds to kill Yoshino with a short sword and then himself in a double suicide. 

The carnival continues and gets bigger and bigger.  Kinzo tries to tell the revelers not to cross the bridge to the other side of the river.  There are Shogunate soldiers over there and there will be trouble.  Genji seems to be one of the leaders of the crowd and he thinks that Kinzo is just making an empty threat.  A soldier comes across the bridge to tell Kinzo that if the revelers cross the bridge and storm into town, he will lose face and that Kinzo will be finished.  Kinzo tries harder to convince Genji to prevent the party from crossing over to the other side.  He tells Genji and Ine that he will send them to America.  But Genji doesn't want to hear anything from Kinzo.  He reminds him of all the dirty things he did to Ine and him. 

The carnival people start getting into the river boats along the shore to be poled to the other side.  Then more people cross the river via the bridge.  They push back the troops on the bridge.  The soldiers fire into the air and Genji just sees this again as "only a threat".   The throng starts shouting "Shoot us!  Shoot us! Eijanaika (who cares?)."   Then Kinzo tells the soldiers to point their weapons at Genji and shoot him first.  Ine breaks the tension by rushing up to the troops and "mooning" them.  Many more women join her to "moon" the troops.  The crowd starts pushing forward again.  The show tent boss of the east side says:  "Kinzo is powerless so he is finished."  But then Kinzo is able to have some success with his efforts and the crowd slowly turns around and starts moving back over the bridge.  But another official is not satisfied with this.  He tells the soldiers to fire on the crowd.  The soldiers fire a volley killing and wounding many of those in the front ranks.  Kinzo is one of the wounded because he was pushing the people back.  Kinzo is angry that the soldiers fired and he stands up.  But with this the order to fire is given again and Kinzo goes down in a hail of bullets.  Genji and Gon are also badly wounded.  The tent boss comments:  "The world's cruel when it's changing."   Ine accompanies the dead bodies of Genji and Gon back to the other side of the river. 

Ine goes to see Itoman to give him Genji's hat.  Itoman has finished his boat and is ready to sail back to the future Okinawa.  Before leaving he cuts off a lock of Ine's hair as a remembrance.  He leaves.  Ine returns to the spot where Genji was shot.  She lays down and puts her head and upper body on top of the blood spot and then starts pushing the blood-soaked soil towards her face and upper body. 

 

I liked the movie.  I liked it because I liked the love story between the two main characters Genji and Ine.  (And Kaori Momoi  as Ine was very endearing.))  Ine was a very weak-willed person and did some very morally questionable things, but then there was always that true love she always felt for her husband Genji.  So through all the ups and down and all the bad spells, I still held out hope for Ine and Genji.  On the other hand, the movie is very confusing as noted in my warning at the top of the summary of the film.   I was often confused about who was who among the more minor characters and this was a bit irritating.  But the love story kept me going.  It was also interesting to see how a carnival type celebration became a political tool against the Shogunate.   The Shogunate was falling apart and it was increasingly harder to control the "common" people in their carnival demonstrations. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

Ee ja nai ka consisted of carnivalesque religious celebrations and communal activities which occurred in many parts of Japan, June 1867 to May 1868.  It was a reaction to the decline and instability of the Tokugawa Shogunate and helped lead to the Meiji Restoration.  It was used as a rallying cry which means roughly "Why not?" or "What the hell!"

 

1600-1868  --  the Tokugawa Shogunate. 

Founded by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun, who seized power in 1600, was appointed shogun in 1603 and abdicated in 1605 (but remained in power until his death in 1616).

 

 

Late Tokugawa Shogunate

1853-1858 -- Tokugawa Iesada is the 13th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan. He was mentally unfit for the job. He was responsible for the Unequal Treaties which broke the sakoku (i.e., the policy that no foreigner or Japanese could enter or leave the country on penalty of death) and opened the Japanese frontiers to foreign influences, leading to the Bakumatsu (the Late Tokugawa Shogunate, 1853 to 1867). 

1853 (July) -- Commodore Matthew C. Perry with his four-ship squadron appeared in Edo Bay (now Tokyo Bay). The bakufu (shogunate) was thrown into turmoil. The different groups in Japan wanted different ways to handle the threat: the senior councilors wanted compromise; the emperor wanted to keep the foreigners out; and the feudal daimyo wanted to go to war.

Abe Masahiro, chairman of the senior councilors, compromised. He decided to accept Perry's demands for opening Japan, while at the same time also making military preparations.

1854 (March) -- the Treaty of Peace and Amity (or Treaty of Kanagawa) made three exceptions to the prohibition on trade rule: the three ports of Nagasaki, Shimoda and Hakodate were open to American whaling ships. The Treaty also guaranteed good treatment of shipwrecked American. Also a United States consul stayed in Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula, southwest of Edo.

The compromise led to public criticism of the shogunate. Abe consulted with the shinpan and tozama daimyo. This move was disapproved of by the fudai and further weakened the shogunate.

1854-1856 -- in the Ansei Reform, Abe ordered Dutch warships and armaments from the Netherlands. He also built new port defenses.

1854 -- head of the dissidents and in charge of national defense was Tokugawa Nariaki who pushed the idea of militant loyalty to the emperor. With this went a lot of antiforeign sentiment.

1855 -- their first steam warship, Kanko Maru, was used for training. The Nagasaki Naval Training Center opened with Dutch instructors. A Western-style military school was established at Edo.

1855 -- Abe replaced as chairman. He was opposed within fudai circles who did not want to open shogunate councils to tozama daimyo. Hotta Masayoshi (18101864) replaced him.

1856-1860 -- Second Opium War. Townsend Harris, U.S. Consul, praised the actions of France and Great Britain against China in the Second Opium War. He even said that these countries would not hesitate to go to war against Japan as well. Then he offered the United States as a friend of Japan who could seek a peaceful alternative.

Tokugawa Nariaki opposed the new treaty, so Hotta sought imperial sanction. The court officials rejected Hotta's request.

the shogun died without an heir. Nariaki asked the court for support for his own son, Tokugawa Yoshinobu (or Keiki), for shogun. The son was favored by the shinpan and Tozama daimyo.

The man actually installed as shogun was the fudai supported Naosuke Ii. Nariaki and Keiki were arrested. Yoshida Shoin (18301859), a leading sonno-joi intellectual who had opposed the American treaty and plotted a revolution against the shogunate, was executed. And treaties with the United States and five other nations were signed. More than 200 years of seclusion came to an end.

The diplomatic and other changes left Japan's economy in shambles: bankruptcies, rising unemployment, inflation and devaluation of the currency. This was made worse by major famines and cholera epidemics (brought by the foreigners).

1858-1866 -- reign of Tokugawa Iemochi, the 14th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan.

the 1860s -- peasant uprisings and urban disturbances increased. A almost hysterical movement came with the Eejanaika ("Ain't it great!") movement.

1860 (March) -- murder of Li Naosuke, who signed the Harris Treaty and eliminated opposition to Westernization in the Ansei Purge, at Sakuradamon.

1860 -- opening of the Japanese Embassy to the United States.

1861 (January) -- Harris' Dutch translator was killed by swordsmen.

1861 -- two deaths occurred with the attack on the British legation in Edo.

1861-1865 -- the American Civil War led to US influence waning in Japan. British, Dutch and French influences increase in Japan.

1862 -- opening of the First Japanese Embassy to Europe.

1862 (September 14) -- the Kanagawa Incident , a.k.a. the Richardson Affair, (a samurai attack on foreigners, including the murder of Richardson led by ringleader Satsuma) sends foreign nations scrambling to protect their citizens in Japan and to guarantee the Treaty provisions implementation.

1863 (March 11 to April 11) -- Emperor Komei issued his "Order to expel barbarians".

1863 (May) -- the US legation in Edo torched.

1863 -- Lord Mori Takachika (with support of Choshu), openly defied the shogunate and ordered his forces to fire without warning on all foreign ships traversing Shimonoseki Strait.

1863 (June 24) -- the Emperor forces the shogun to issue an order to end relations with foreigners. The order was forwarded to foreign legations on June 24. The foreigners refuse to end relations with Japan.

Allied forces decide to mount direct military expeditions against Japan.

1863 (July) -- responding to an attack on the Pembroke, the U.S. frigate USS Wyoming under Captain McDougal sails into the strait and sinks one enemy vessel and severely damaging the other two.

1863 (August) -- two French warships sweep into Shimonoseki and destroy a small town and at least one artillery emplacement.

1863 (August) -- in the Bombardment of Kagoshima the British bombard the town and destroy several ships. This actually starts a close relation between Satsuma and Great Britain.

1864 (September) -- a combined naval force from Great Britain, the Netherlands, France and the USA bombards Shimonoseki. The action was taken against the powerful feudal Japanese warlord Lord Mori Takachika of the Choshu clan based in Shimonoseki.

1865 (November) -- Hyogo naval expedition. The Emperor formally has to allow the Shogun to handle negotiations with foreign powers.

1866 -- A bakufu army is defeated when it tries to crush dissent in the han of Satsuma and Choshu.

1866-1868 -- Tokugawa Yoshinobu becomes the 15th and last shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan.  He tried but failed to reform the aging shogunate. After resigning in late 1867, he went into retirement, and largely avoided the public eye for the rest of his life.

1868 -- end of the Tokugawa shogunate. Emperor Komei dies and is succeeded by his second son, Mutsuhito, as Emperor Meiji.

1868-1912  --  the Meiji period or Meiji era is the 45-year period of the reign of Emperor Meiji. 

 

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