Furutaka Shuntaro (古高俊太郎)

Shuntaro FURUTAKA (1829 - August 21, 1864) was among the patriots of the Joi-ha (supporters of the expulsion of foreigners).

Personal Profile
He was a child from the Goshi hierarchy in Furutaka-mura Village, Kurita County, Omi Province (the present-day Moriyama City). His assumed name was Kiemon YUASA. His real name was Masayori. He called on Unpin UMEDA, advocating Sonno-joi (a slogan advocating reverence for the Emperor and the exclusion of foreigners).

In 1861, he took over the business of Masuya, a purveyor to various domains, at Shijo Agaru Higashi, Kawaramachi-dori Street, Kyoto, in order to handle used articles and harnesses/trappings, but he was also engaged in information activities and the procurement of weapons as the omotojime (chief superintendent) of the Choshu domain's spies, since he had contact with Teizo MIYABE.

The Shinsengumi Masterless Warrior Party
On July 8, 1864, he was suddenly attacked and captured by the Shinsengumi Masterless Warrior Party. Weapons and ammunition were confiscated; additionally, letters exchanged with masterless warriors of various domains and papers sealed with blood were found. He was subjected to harsh interrogations directly from the chief, Isami KONDO, and the vice-chief Toshizo HIJIKATA in a storehouse of the Maekawa residence, Mibu Tamurojo post, which still exists today. FURUTAKA was severely tortured with his body hung upside down from the second floor, gosun-kugi (long nails) hammered into his insteps and Hyakume-rosoku candles placed on the nails penetrating his sole, so that ultimately he confessed.

The content of his confession was that after the coup of August 18, the Choshu-jin (Choshu citizen,) etc. forced out of Kyo would set fire to the Imperial Palace on an certain very windy day in late June, thus confining Crown Prince Asahiko KUNINOMIYA, a Sabaku-ha (a group of feudal government supporters) court noble; and would then kill Katamori MATSUDAIRA and other Sabaku-ha Daimyo (feudal lords who supported the feudal government) and take the Emperor to Choshu. It was figured out that a number of patriots intending to execute the plan had gone to Kyoto and were hiding there, and that such supporters would soon gather in the town. This plot was thwarted by the occurrence of the Ikedaya Incident.

When FURUTAKA was locked up in the Rokkaku prison house, the Dondon-yaki fire--which occurred at the time of Kinmon no Hen (the Conspiracy of Kinmon) on August 21--burned through Kyoto City, and the fire spread close to the prison house. Officials who were frightened about the escape of those incarcerated due to the fire beheaded Furutaka together with other prisoners. He died at the age of 36.

[Original Japanese]