Ito Kashitaro (伊東甲子太郎)

Kashitaro ITO (1835 - December 13, 1967) was a staff officer in the Shinsengumi (a police force based in Kyoto during the Edo period). He later became the leader of the Goryo-eiji (Kodai-ji-to Party). His imina (personal name that was generally used posthumously or by one's parents or lord) was Takeaki. His childhood name was Hiroyuki and his original name was Taizo. His Buddhist name was Seisai. He later went under the name of Utabe.


Kashitaro ITO was born as the first son of Senemon Tadaaki SUZUKI, a retainer (Gometsuke) of the Shizuku Domain in Hitachi Province. After his father Tadaaki retired due to a dispute with a chief retainer, Ito inherited the family estate but was expelled because it became known that he was in debt to Tadaaki. Ito left to study in Mito City where he studied swordsmanship (swordplay in Shindo-Munen ryu style) under Kenshiro KANEKO, a retainer of the Mito Domain, learned Mitogaku (the scholarship and academic traditions that arose in the Mito Domain) and devoted himself to imperialism. After his banishment, Tadaaki ran a sonjuku (private village-school) (Shunjuku) in Higashi-ohashi (present Ishioka City) where Ito taught after completing his studies and returning to his hometown. He subsequently became a pupil of the Ito Hokushin-ittoryu fencing school in Saga-cho, Fukagawa (Koto Ward) where his ability was recognized by school master Seiichi ITO who adopted him and named him Taizo ITO.


In October 1864, he joined the Shinsengumi through the agency of his fellow student, Heisuke TODO. In November of the same year, he went to Kyoto with his brother Mikisaburo SUZUKI, his colleagues Tainoshin SHINOHARA, Washio KANO and Takeo HATTORI, and his disciples Jiro UTSUMI and Noboru NAKANISHI. It was at this time that he called himself Kashitaro ITO after the name of the year (Kinoene) in which he traveled to Kyoto. He was appointed a staff officer and literary instructor. It is said that Ito won popularity due to his attractive appearance and eloquence. However, Ito agreed with the Shinsengumi on the expulsion of the foreigners, but since the Shisengumi were Sabaku-ha (supporters of the Shogun), he opposed them regarding the policy of loyalty to the Emperor (overthrow of the shogunate).


On April 24, 1867, after campaigning in Saigoku (western part of Japan (especially Kyushu, but ranging as far east as Kinki)), he separated from the Shinsengumi to investigate the movements of the Satsuma Domain and receive an official appointment as guard of the Emperor's tomb, and formed Goryo-eiji (Kodaiji-to Party) with 14 comrades including Shinohara and Suzuki. However, he rejected requests from Kanryusai TAKEDA and others who were losing their positions within the Shinsengumi to join Goryo-eiji. It was at this time that he named himself Settsu ITO.


On December 13, 1867, Kondo welcomed Ito to house of his mistress where he got him drunk before he was assassinated (Abura-no-koji Incident) on the way home in front of the gate of Honko-ji Temple on Abura-no-koji Street by several Shinsengumi members including Kuwajiro OISHI, and it is said that he died while crying 'you villains.'
He died at the age of 33. It is thought that they planned to get him drunk before assassinating Ito because he was the master of the Hokushin-ittoryu fencing school. The Ito's body was left on the road to lure the Gryo-eiji. The Goryo-eiji members who came to pick up his body were attached by Shinsengumi members, and Todo and others were killed.

His tomb is located at Kaiko-ji Temple in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City. On April 5, 1968, the Goryo-eiji moved the tomb from Koen-ji Temple in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto City.


It is said that the Ito school in Sagacho, Fukagawa flourished, had many students and disciples, and had almost the same size as a small direct retainer of the shogun.

In 1867, four memorials were addressed to the Imperial Court. The third memorial immediately after restoration of imperial rule advocated that a new government centered on court nobles was established, personnel were called in from various parts of the country with a slogan of Ichiwa Doshin (common wishes or cooperative spirit), five territories in the immediate vicinity of Kyoto were put under direct imperial rule of the new government, and universal conscription was performed. The first memorial insisted on opposition to opening of the Kobe port, but the third one advocated 'opening of the country (Japan) to the world and enriching it,' and showed a measure to enrich and strengthen the country by opening it positively (however, it opposed to opening of Kobe port because it was against the will of Emperor Komei). Ito had a draft of the fifth memorial in his inside breast pocket at the time of his assassination, and records of the time state that it was similar to the copy of the third memorial and he wanted to persuade Kondo based on this idea.
The then first-rate document 'Tottori Domain Hinoeushi Nikki' (Notes) says that Kosuke YOSHII of Satsuma told Yukie NAKANE of Echizen that this memorial was 'very reasonable.'

The Japanese kanji for Kashitaro (甲子太郎) can also be read as 'Kinetaro', but the former reading is correct because the first two kanji of his given name were taken from 'Kasshi' (written as '甲子', meaning the first year in the Japanese 60-year calendar cycle, which is a year of 'Kakurei' when the will of heaven is renewed and heaven's decree is revealed to the virtuous); further evidence that Kashitaro is the correct reading is the fact that his name was sometimes written as '樫太郎' (pronounced 'Kashitaro') in historical records of that time.

After separating from the Shinsengumi, Ito advised his comrades to learn English.

In the Meiji period, Kazue SOMA was sentenced to exile to Hachijo Island on the charge of assassinating Ito.

In 1918, he was conferred the posthumous honor of Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank) and was enshrined in Yasukuni Shrine in April, 1932.

Isami KONDO welcomed the participation of Ito, but it is said that Toshizo HIJIKATA took precautions against him, believing him to be a schemer. When Keisuke YAMANAMI committed hara-kiri, Ito composed four waka poems.

[Original Japanese]