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Iimori Yama, Aizu Wakamatsu



In 1868, whilst fighting against forces trying to restore the Emperor, nineteen teenage members of the Byakkotai (White Tiger) Brigade committed seppukku (ritual suicide) on Iimori Mountain. Cut off from the main army they looked out across Aizu Wakamatsu and thought, mistakenly as it turned out, that their castle was ablaze. Thinking that all was lost the boys committed seppukku. Of the original number only one survived to tell the tale. Despite being on the losing side against the emperor their tragic deaths are still commemorated as a fine example of the heroic spirit of bushido (the way of the Samurai warrior). Before the 2nd World War monuments were also erected here by the Italian Fascist Party and the German military. They were removed by the Americans at the end of the war but later replaced.


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Looking out across Aizu Wakamtsu

In actual fact it was the town that was ablaze and not the castle (on the horizon, just below the boys right elbow) whose forces held out for weeks

Local tour guide re-enacts the disembowellment

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Close up of the inscription on the Italian monument 

The Italian Monument - a bronze eagle mounted atop a column taken from Pompeii

Monument (black granite with Iron Cross inscription) from the German military

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A crowd of tourists watches the re-enactment. Audience response varies from applause to tears.   

Allo spirito del Bushido

'To the Spirit of the Samurai'

Yasukuni Jinja. the controversial war shrine in Tokyo were the spirits of those who died fighting for the Emperor are believed to rest. Given the postwar constitutional obligation to separate the Shinto church from the State, visits by politicians to the shrine are a sensitive and divisive issue in both Japan and the rest of the Far East.

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             Revised and last updated: November 20th 2013. Links