Akesato (明里)

Akesato (date of birth and death unknown) was a woman in the end of the Edo period. She was a lover of the head of Shinsengumi, Keisuke YAMANAMI.

Akesato appeared in "Shinsengumi Ibun" (Curious stories about Shinsengumi) that was written based on the stories heard from Tamesaburo YAGI (the son of Yagi family in which Shinsengumi quartered) by Kan SHIMOZAWA, a novelist, in the Showa period

Akesato was a Tenjin; an upper rank prostitute (geigi; a woman who gives fun with a song, a dance or a music instrument at a feast) in Kyoto Shimabara, and was close to the head of Shinsengumi, Keisuke YAMANAMI. She was twenty one or two years old; she was a graceful, and looked like a Samurai's wife. She left Shimabara and lived in the country.

On February 23 in 1865, YAMANAMI was intended to commit Seppuku (suicide by disembowelment) for his crimes. He was standing by in a room of Maekawa Residence, Mibu post where he quartered. Tamesaburo went out of the gate to see what was going on, he saw Akesato passing in front of him in a big rush.
She kept knocking the bay window in the west of Maekawa's house calling out the name of YAMANAMI
When a shoji (a paper sliding door) of the window with bars opened, YAMANAMI's face was out; Akesato collapsed into tears holding the bars of the window. YAMANAMI looked on Akesato with lonely eyes, and they exchanged words for twenty or thirty minutes. After a while, Akesato was forced to leave, but she wouldn't leave, and kept holding the bars. Seeing this, YAMANAMI closed the Shoji quietly.

Tamesaburo saw Akesato leaving in tears. Soon after this, YAMANAMI committed Seppuku.

It was a famous scene of 'Lovers torn apart through the window.'
Some people say that Shinsengumi stories written by SHIMOZAWA contained his creations; the name of Akisato did not appear in the part of YAMANAMI's Seppuku in the record written by Shinpachi NAGAKURA, a top official of Shinsengumi. For this reason, the episode of Akesato was considered to be a creation of SHIMOZAWA.

Sinsengumi Keppuroku (Record of Shinsengumi Bloodshed) (in 1966)
Akesato was played by Mitsuko MORI. She appeared in the final episode. In Hakodate, Toshizo HIJIKATA (Asahi KURIZUKA) who was fighting as a commander of the former army of bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) met a geisha who reached Hakodate from Honshu (main land of Japan). The geisha was Akesato who had been a lover of YAMANAMI who was forced to commit Seppuku by HIJIKATA. Akesato tried to kill him to avenge him for YAMANAMI's death, but she couldn't. When the last minutes of the HAKODATE Government neared, HIJIKATA who was going to launch attacks alone visited Akesato to say goodbye. The episode ended with a scene of Akesato in tears and HIJKATA who was about to leave.

Shinsengumi ! (in 2004, historic drama)
Akesato was played by Sawa SUZUKI. She appeared in the episodes including the thirty third episode, "The death of a friend."
Her real name was 'Osuzu.'
She was born into a poor farmer's house in Tanba province, and was sold to a prostitute house where she met YAMANAMI (Masato SAKAI). YAMANAMI who was losing his influence in Shinsengumi went to the prostitute house where Osuzu was.
The educated YAMANAMI and uneducated Osuzu attracted each other; YAMANAMI named Osuzu 'Akesato.'
After a while, YAMANAMI escaped from Shinsengumi, and went to Edo with Akesato. When YAMANAMI happened to see Soji OKITA (Tatsuya FUJIWARA) who was assigned to pursue him, YAMANAMI identified his name by himself. When the three stayed in Onsen yado (hot-spring hotel), OKITA tried to convince him to forget that they met; YAMANAMI didn't accept his offer. YAMANAMI told Akesato to go back to Tamba as he would go back to the place where he quartered. YAMANAMI paid for miuke (redeem, buy the freedom of a geisha from her employer) for Akesato. YAMANAM pulled Akesato into his arms, and promised to see her again; Akesato didn't know what would happen to him. When YAMANAMI returned to the place where he quartered, YAMANAMI who intended to commit Seppuku was standing by in a white kimono (which a samurai wore to commit harakiri in feudal Japan). Then, somebody knocked the window, and he saw Akesato whom he had told to go back to Tamba when opening the window. Although Akesato bravely pretended to know nothing, she sensed that YAMANAMI who was swathed in a white kimono, would commit Seppuku. She pretended that she didn't know anything and had the last conversation with YAMANAMI saying she would wait for him to come to Tamba. This scene moved the hearts of Shinsengumi fans. This thirty third episode 'The death of a friend' caused such a great sensation that it came back on the air in the end of the year.

Kaze hikaru; Breeze shine (Taeko WATANABE) (from 1997)
Akesato was played by Rei SAKUMA (in voice).
Her real name was 'Sato.'
She was originally a geigi in Gion and was a lover of the elder brother of the central character. For this reason, she knew the background of Seisaburo and cooperated with him.

[Original Japanese]