The Ikedaya Incident (池田屋事件)

The Ikedaya Incident is the name given to an event that took place on July 8,1864 towards the end of the Edo Period in which the Shinsengumi, who was a peacekeeping organization under the Kyoto protectorate, attacked the imperial loyalist faction from Choshu who were hiding out at the Ikedaya Inn at Kiyamachi (Sanjou-Kobashi Bridge) on Sanjou-Street in Kyoto. It is also known as the Ikedaya Rebellion, the Ikedaya Uprising, or the Sanjou-kobashi Disturbance. Isami KONDO called it the Rakuyo Upheaval in his writings.


Kyoto at the end of the Edo period was the center of political power struggles, and ronins (masterless samurai) from different feudal clans who held such ideas as "revere the emperor, expel foreigners" and imperialists were active behind the scenes. The Choshu clan was overthrown by the Aizu and Satsuma clans in a coup on August 18th, and the Shogunate-Imperial faction became the mainstream in the imperial court. The "revere the emperor, expel foreigners" faction was trying to recover its strength, and the Kyoto protectorate used the Shinsengumi for security and searches in the city.

At around the end of May, moderators and observers including Susumu YAMAZAKI and Kai SHIMADA ascertained the presence of Masuya store (Shuntaro FURUTAKA) that was operating a charcoal business in Shijo-Kobashi-Agaru-Shin-cho, and made a report to the Aizu clan. Weapons and communications with the Choshu clan were found. The Shinsengumi captors requested Toshizo HIJIKATA to torture FURUTAKA, who was coerced into a confession. The plan was to wait for a windy day before the Gion festival and set fire to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and in the ensuing confusion confining Prince Asahiko NAKAGAWANOMIYA (who became Asahiko KUNINOMIYA later), assassinate Yoshinobu HITOTSUBASHI (Yoshinobu TUGAWA) and Katamori MATSUDAIRA of the Aizu clan, and take Emperor Koumyou to Choshu.

Furthermore, the search revealed that the loyalists from the Choshu, Tosa, and Higo clans were planning to hold a meeting at Ikedaya or Shikokuya to discuss whether or not to go forward with the plan of attack after hearing about the arrest of FURUTAKA.


The Shinsengumi had asked for support from the Aizu, Kuwana, and other clans, but their actions were too slow, and they did not move when the time came. That is why the boss, Isami KONDO, knowing that every moment counted, acted alone by splitting their members into two squads under KONDO and HIJIKATA and began the search. At the time, the Shinsengumi was short-handed because many members were sick, so only 34 members took part in the search - 10 in the KONDO squad and 24 in the HIJIKATA squad (There are different views on the number. cf. List of Soldiers Involved). The HIJIKATA squad, a part of the Shinsengumi, searched Nawate Street from Yasaka Shrine, while the KONDO squad searched Kiyamachi Street across the Sanjo Bridge.

The Battle

At the end of the search, the KONDO squad found radical nationalists who were having a meeting at Ikedaya. A few members of the KONDO squad attacked them and got into a battle in the middle of the night. Four of the members - Isami KONDO, Soji OKITA, Shinpachi NAGAKURA, and Heisuke TODO - first attacked the 20-some radical nationalists while the rest shored up the perimeter. Some ronins frantically attacked Hayatarou ANDO, Eisuke OKUZAWA and Kakuzaemon NITTA who guarded the back door, and succeeded to escape. OKUZAWA died in the attack, and ANDO and NITTA died a month later. OKITA went inside the building and fought hard, but collapsed during the battle and withdrew from it. Some accounts say that this was because of a tuberculosis-related blood spitting, but there is a lot of doubt and it is not certain. Then, a sword hit the forehead of TODO on the first floor when sweat caused his helmet to slip out of place, and he withdrew from the battle.

Although there were KONDO and NAGAKURA only at one point, the arrival of the HIJIKATA squad tilted the odds in favor of the Shinsengumi and achieved a result of nine people killed and four arrested. Aizu and Kuwana clans arrived there to support them after the battle. HIJIKATA would not let them anywhere near, to ensure that they could not take credit.

Although some of the radical nationalists escaped from the battle, the next morning more than 20 people were arrested by carrying out clearing operations with Aizu, Kuwana, and other clans. The sweep of the city turned violent, and there were 5 immediate deaths among the Aizu clan, four among the Hikone clan, and two among the Kuwana clan.

At noon of the following day, the Shinsengumi returned to their base in Mibu Village. (If they had returned to their base at night, they might have fallen into an ambush, so they took a rest in the city until dawn.)
It is said that the roadside was crowded with onlookers.


The name of the Shinsengumi, which succeeded in preventing the plot to burn down the imperial palace, became famous throughout the land.
The "revere the emperor, expel foreigners" faction, on the other hand, took a big blow with the deaths of such important activists as Toshimaro YOSHIDA, Kichima KITAZOE, Teizo MIYABE, Matajiro OTAKA, Junjiro ISHIKAWA, Matsusuke SUGIYAMA and Jusuke MATSUDA. (They were later called the "Seven Martyrs" by the new government.)
Kogoro KATSURA (later Takayoshi KIDO) should have been there too, but he arrived earlier and then went back to the base to wait a while. His life had been spared because the incident occurred before he came back.

Beginning with this incident, the Choshu clan fell under the influence of zealots and later came to Kyoto and raised the Kinmon rebellion on July 19 (in the old calendar).

It has been said that the Ikedaya Incident delayed the Meiji Restoration by a year. There is also another opinion that it sped up the Restoration by stirring up the "revere the emperor, expel foreigners" faction. Author Ryotaro SHIBA's interpretation is that the Meiji Restoration led by the four major clans of Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, and Bizen would never have happened without this incident.

List of Soldiers Involved

The following Shinsengumi soldiers fought in the Ikedaya Incident. (There are also other views.)
KONDO Squad (10 people)
Shinpachi NAGAKURA
Heisuke TODO
Kanryusai TAKEDA
Mantaro TANI
Kaoru (or Totaro) ASANO
Hayataro ANDO
Kakuzaemon NITTA

HIJIKATA Squad (12 or 24 people)
Genzaburo INOUE
Sanosuke HARADA
Hajime SAITO
Sanjuro TANI
Shinsengumi).html">Katsuji KAWASHIMA (Shinsengumi)
Takehachiro KAZURAYAMA
Shintaro HAYASHI

MATSUBARA Squad (12 people) - There are different views. It is sometimes called INOUE Squad or HIJIKATA Squad.

Hachiro IKI
Yashiro OZEKI
Kuranosuke SASAKI
Kisaburou KAWAI
Kisaburo KAWAI
Shuhei KONDO

Team guarding the base of the Shinsengumi
Masajiro OZEKI
Shuntarou OGATA
Yasohachi YAMANO

Shinjuro MAZUME, Ryutaro MAZUME, and Hiroto IKEHARA, who were members at the time, fled on that day and did not participate in the battle.

[Original Japanese]