Shimpuren-no-ran War (神風連の乱)

The Shimpuren-no-ran War is a revolt by the warrior class against the Meiji Government which took place in Kumamoto City in 1876. The was is also referred to as the Keishin-to-no-ran (Respect-the gods party) War.

A rebellion against the law banning the wearing of swords, started on October 24, 1876 by the "Keishin-to" party, which was formed by about 170 people including Tomoo OTAGURO, Harukata KAYA and Kyuzaburo SAITO from the warrior class in the former Higo Domain. Since this Keishin-to party was commonly called "The Jimpuren (Jimpu Group)," the war is called the Shimpuren-no-ran War. After the restoration of their impaired reputation, that is, after the conferment of a posthumous rank (the Shogoi or senior fifth rank was conferred to ORAGURO and KAYA), the war was referred to as the "Shimpuren-no-hen War."


At midnight, October 24, 1876, the Keishin-to party split into units, then attacked the residence of Masaaki TANEDA, the Kumamoto Chindai Army Commander, and the residence of Ryosuke YASUOKA, the Governor of Kumamoto Prefecture, and killed four prefectural government officials as well as TANEDA AND YASUOKA. After that, all the members attacked the Kumamoto Chindai Army (in Kumamoto Castle) of the government forces, killed soldiers in the castle one after another, and gained control of the artillery barracks. However, the next morning, officers from the government forces including Gentaro KODAMA rushed to the site, restored combat readiness under their command, and started full-scale counterattacks. KAYA, SAITO and others were shot to death, and the ringleader OTAGURO, too, was injured by gunshot, took refuge to a nearby private house and then committed suicide. Having lost their leaders, other members retreated and many of them committed suicide.

The death and suicide toll on the side of the Keishin-to party was 124 in total. The remaining 50 or so members were captured and some of them were beheaded. Of the government forces, about 60 were killed and about 200 were injured.

This rebellion was an incident to start revolts by some members of the warrior class who burst their dissatisfaction against the Meiji Government because of the abolition measure of hereditary stipend and the law banning the wearing of swords, and in response to this incident, the Akizuki-no-ran War and the Hagi-no-ran War occurred, resulting in the Nansei War of the following year.

Keishin-to (Respect-the gods party)

The Keishin-to party was a sect of the Kinno-to party (pro-Imperial party), which was one of the three major factions of the former Higo Domain warrior class.

The Higo Domain was divided into three factions according to their education policies, namely, the Gakko-to party (school party) focusing on education based on the doctrines of Zhu Xi in domain schools, the Jitsugaku-to party (practical learning party) emphasizing the relation between education and politics, advocated by Shonan YOKOI and others, and the Kinno-to party (pro-Imperial party with Gensai KAWAKAMI, Tomoo OGURODA, Harukata KAYA and others) emphasizing education based on the study of Japanese literature and culture and Shintoism, founded by Oen HAYASHI. Members of the Kinno-to party who were deeply dissatisfied with the Meiji Government formed the Keishin-to party.

Since this Keishin-to party was extremely pious about Shintoism, the party was called "The Jimpu Group" by people around them. Many of the constituent members of the Keishin-to party were Shinto priests, and they made a pledge and prayer called "Ukei" at the Shinkaidai-jingu shrine and raised an army as instructed by an oracle.

Yukio MISHIMA is said to have become keenly interested in the Shimpuren-no-ran War and have sympathized for the ideology of the Keishin-to party in his later years.


When TANEDA was killed, his favorite concubine, Kokatsu, who was at the site, rushed to the Kumamoto telegraph office despite her injury and sent a telegram saying, "Master is in danger, I am injured" to her parents in Tokyo. This anecdote was taken up in the "Asano Shinbun" newspaper as a good exemplary literary style of telegram, where being short, concise and to the point is essential. Later, the telegram text adapted by Robun KANAGAKI became widely known to the public, leading to the widespread recognition of how to use telegraph and its usefulness.

[Original Japanese]