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Graveyard of Shinsengumi Soldiers at Koen-ji Temple

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

Have you ever heard of Yamanami Keisuke (山南敬介), a deceased Shinsengumi soldier?

A couple of years ago, I watched the 2004 NHK Taiga drama (大河ドラマ) series, Shinsengumi! (新選組!), and was impressed by the excellent performance by Masato Sakai (堺雅人) as Yamanami Keisuke.

Yamanami Keisuke is 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 was 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 his best friend, Okita Soji (沖田総司).

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 seems to be never fading.

Akane Kibune
Kyoto Expert Certification 1st Grade

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