Okada Izo, the Notorious Assassin

Druing the Bakumatsu (1853-1867) Kyoto became a place of constant violence and fear mongering. Many non-xenophobic or pragmatic Japanese were killed for not supporting the radical and inpossible agenda of being able to get rid of any foreign influence. Takechi Hanpeita created the Tosa Loyalist party, which Sakamoto Ryoma was a part of. Whereas Ryoma adopted a more sensible ideal, most of the Tosa loyalists did not and were even being encouraged by their lord who was actually trying to push them into a buerecratic corner.

Okada Izo served under Takechi Hanpeita as an assassin and was sent to kill any that Takechi wanted. The portrayals of Izo are really interesting, because while some portray him as a zealous madman, Ryomaden in particular tried to portray him as a mostly immature man suffering from inferiority complexes who’s need for approval is being severly exploited.

Takechi Hanpeita was actually promoted in rank but later arrested for the murder of Yoshida Toyo, the regent of Tosa who he killed before his rise to power. Okada Izo was caught in Kyoto and brought back to Tosa for extensive questioning, aka torture. Takechi Hanpeita was forced to commit seppuku, which was thought of as a great thing, whereas Okada Izo was beheaded. A great deal of this happened because of the Daimyo, Yamanōchi Yōdō’s plan to let the loyalists run rampant until the movement loses steam and they would be easier to pick off. Perhaps if it was dealt with differently, a lot less people would have died.

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