Tanaka Gentaro (田中源太郎)

Gentaro TANAKA (January 1853-April 3, 1922) was a politician and businessperson who was born at Kameyama Kita-machi, kyu (former) Kuwata Ward, Kyoto Prefecture.

He was born as the second son of Kuraichi TANAKA at Kameyama Kita-machi, Kuwata County (currently, Kameyama City), Kyoto Prefecture, and given special education to take over the head of the Tanaka family because his older brother died young. He studied at Ryusho KITAMURA's private school Gakuhando and with teachings of Tadanao YOKOI and Kakuma YAMAMOTO, and is believed to have achieved excellent results in a wide range of areas including Keiseiron (a political and economic theory talking about countermeasures for actual social issues and problems in the Edo Period) and the Confucianism of Edo Period. Tanaka family continued to serve as goyo-shonin (a chartered merchant) for Kameyama Domain of Tanba Province and became a successful merchant. Since his father, Kuraichi was appointed as Yagura-bugyo-kaku (Marshal of the Watchtowers) and served in the office of accounting in Kameyama Domain, Gentaro was raised in the expectation that he would be active in a business society.

There were more than thirty businesses Gentaro was involved in for establishment, and in particular, the establishment of 'Kameoka Bank (定訳不明)' the forerunner of {The Bank of Kyoto, Ltd}., 'Kyoto Stock Exchange (京都株式取引所)' the forerunner of Kyoto Stock Exchange (京都証券取引所,) 'Kyoto Electric Co., Ltd. (京都電燈株式会社)' and 'Kyoto Railway Co., Ltd. (京都鉄道株式会社) are well known. In the political field, after taking the position of kocho (village officer) for Oiwake-mura, Kuwata County in 1874, he served as a member of Kyoto Prefectural Assembly, the House of Representatives and the House of Peers (Japan) and literally, continued to dominate political and business fields in the Kansai. Also, he was involved in the establishment of 'Kyoto Hosei School (京都法政学校)' the forerunner of Ritsumeikan University as a patronage member with Kotetsu HAMAOKA, etc.

On April 3, 1922, Gentaro was on a train bound for Kyoto from Sonobe on the Sanin Main Line, which he had been president of prior to the enactment of the railway nationalization law and had been owned by the forerunner of Kyoto Railway Co., Ltd. The train derailed near Kiyotaki (an area between present-day Saga Arashiyama Station and Hozukyo Station where the Sagano Sight-seeing Tram Line, which is operated by the Sagano Scenic Railway, runs), and Gentaro was reportedly involved in the accident, dying in the train which fell into the Katsura-gawa river (Yodo-gawa river system). There is other information that says that he was assassinated by local people who became angry over influence peddling related to the ownership of land in the vicinity of Kameoka Station.

A bamboo lancing was found underfloor in Gentaro's house in Kyoto several months before, and Gentaro's body could not be found following the accident (?) in Hozukyo Gorge and a fire fighting team and other in Saga village lit a Taimatsu torch and tried to search for his body along the coastline of Katsura River for consecutive nights, but in vain. Several days later, his body was found on the bottom of Chidorigafuchi moat (currently, the opposite side of Ogurayama Park) with stones in the sleeves of his kimono. According to witnesses, 'white tabi socks were floating below water' and 'his montsuki-hakama (formal kimono with family crest and divided "skirt") was too tightly fit on his body to remove it from his body.' That is, Gentaro's body was once found and again sunk in the water' (Witnessed by a member of Saga firemen team who was serving for Tanaka family). Currently, the house he was born is used for a hotel (Rakuraku-so) with renovations, and was designated 'Country Registration Tangible Cultural Properties' in 1997.

[Original Japanese]