Graveyard of Shinsengumi Soldiers at Koen-ji Temple

The Mibu district of Kyoto is a place deeply connected with Shinsengumi (新撰組), a special police force organized by the late Tokugawa shogunate in the Edo period. Here at Koenji temple, lie many Shinsengumi soldiers.

Have you ever heard of Yamanami Keisuke, a deceased Shinsengumi soldier?

A couple of years ago, I watched the 2004 NHK Taiga drama series, Shinsengumi! (新選組!), and was impressed by an enthusiastic performance from Masato Sakai as Yamanami Keisuke.

Yamanami Keisuke was said to have been a man of pen and sword who gained enormous popularity among his subordinates, however, he was falsely suspected of desertion and ordered to commit Seppuku (切腹 or Harakiri), Japanese ritual suicide by cutting one's belly. Ironically enough, the kaishakunin (介錯人), the person whose duty is to behead the person performing Seppuku, was Okita Soji, who was the best friend of Yamanami.

Yamanami's body was buried here in Koen-ji temple right after his Seppuku, since the chief priest had a close friendship with Yamanami. Well, it has been a long time, but his popularity is still immense.

Akane Kibune


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