Hirayama Goro (平山五郎)

Goro HIRAYAMA (born in 1829 and died on October 30, 1863) was a samurai in the Edo period. He was from the Himeji or Mito domain. He served in Shinsengumi, holding the office of assistant deputy leader (Some say that he was promoted to leader or deputy leader status after the demotion of Nishiki NIIMI).

Goro HIRAYAMA was a disciple of Fukutaro HORIKAWA (堀川福太郎), a former retainer of the feudal lord of the Himeji domain, and a full master in the Shindo-Munen-ryu school of swordsmanship. He lost his sight in one eye (his left eye) in a accident involving fireworks. It is said that he slashed back violently when being attacked from the left, (the side with his impaired eye), and was rather off guard when being attacked from the right (the side that should have functioned normally). There has been a record of his visit to the training hall of Rennosuke HAGIWARA, the master of the Jikishinkage-ryu school of swordsmanship, located in modern day Totsuka Ward, Yokohama City.

In February 1863, he participated in Roshigumi, an organization formed at the suggestion of Hachiro KIYOKAWA. He was assigned to Rokubangumi, to which Kamo SERIZAWA belonged, and moved to Kyoto. When Kiyokawa schemed to have the Roshigumi return to Edo, he stayed in Kyoto with Serizawa, Isamu KONDO among others. Ronin who stayed in Kyoto came to be under the control of the Aizu domain, which was took on the duty of protecting Kyoto, and formed an organization called the Mibu-Roshigumi. Hirayama assumed the position of assistant deputy leader--a leadership role. The Mibu-Roshigumi were divided into two groups: the Mitoha group, to which Kamo SERIZAWA, Nishiki NIIMI, and others belonged; and, the Shieikanha group to which Toshizo HIJIKATA and others belonged. Hirayama belonged to the former and collaborated with Serizawa.

When Mibu-Roshigumi had an audience with Katamori MATSUDAIRA, the lord of the Aizu domain, in May, Hirayama displayed his swordsmanship prowess with Hijikata, Heisuke TODO, and others.

On June 3, 10 ronin (Serizawa, Kondo, Keisuke YAMANAMI, Soji OKITA, Shinpachi NAGAKURA, Hajime SAITO, Kenji NOGUCHI, Genzaburo INOUE, Kai SHIMADA and Hirayama) went down to Osaka City, as it is known today, in order to clamp down on outlaw ronin. Saito became ill while they were sailing on the Yodogawa River, and they left their boat and made their way to the red-light district in Shinchi. On their way, they beat down a sumo wrestler who was rude to them (some say Serizawa used his sword to slay the sumo wrestler without a second thought). After the ronin entered the red-light district, friends of the sumo wrestler came to exact revenge, and a fight broke out. The sumo wrestlers used wooden clubs to attack the ronin, but the ronin drove them back killing and injurying many of the sumo wrestlers in the process. None of the ronin were killed; but Hirayama was injured from a blow to the chest.

On August 12, Serizawa committed an outrageous act of destruction--he set fire to the Yamatoya building, a silk wholesaler.

On the occasion of the August 18 Coup d'etat, the Mibu-Roshigumi was mobilized and renamed the Shinsengumi.

In late August, a burglar carrying a gun broke into a rice store at Shijo-Horikawa, and five members of the Shinsengumi (Nagakura, Saito, Hirayama and Yasohachi YAMANO) were sent after him. When the burglar attempted to shoot them, they drew their swords and killed him. Hirayama was injured.

In September, when a geisha named Kotora did not obey Serizawa, he became angry and rampaged through the Yoshidaya geisha house. Nagakura, Saito, Hijikata and Hirayama who accompanied Serizawa, intimidated the master and insulted Kotora and Oshika, a geisha attending to Kotora, by cutting their hair. Obeying the orders of Serizawa, Hijikata cut Kotora's hair and Hirayama cut Oshika's hair.

Around that time, the Aizu domain secretly ordered Kondo, Hijikata, Yamanami and others to punish Serizawa. This was a response to the Imperial Court's order to arrest Serizawa for his violent behavior.

On September 16 (September 18, according to another account), Serizawa, Hirayama and Jusuke HIRAMA (Serizawa's disciple who held the office of assistant deputy leader) attended a party at Sumiya in Shimabara, and came back to the residence of the Yagi Family, where they quartered. Hirayama was too drunk to standup at the entrance. Their mistresses were waiting for them at the residence of the Yagi Family. Hirayama fell asleep with Kichiei, a geisha who belonged to a geisha house named Kikyoya and had been a long-time intimate partner with Hirayama, in a ten-mat room located in the inner part of the residence. In the same room, but divided by a folding screen, Serizawa and his mistress Oume were sleeping on the other side.

In the middle of the night, several men burst into the room and slashed at Serizawa and Hirayama with swords. Hirayama was killed instantly. Serizawa tried to get up and escape, but he fell and was hacked to death. Oume was also mercilessly killed. Kichiei, who was sleeping with Hirayama, escaped with her life. It is said that she had gone to the toilet when the attack occured. Hirama, who was in another room, escaped.

In the room, after the assassins left, the Yagi family made the grizzly discovery of a bloody pool in which Hirayama's decapitated head and body lied. Hirayama was 35 years old.

Officially, this execution was an act of the Choshu domain, but the assassins are said to have been Toshizo HIJIKATA, Keisuke YAMANAMI, Soji OKITA and Sanosuke HARADA.

[Original Japanese]