About the Statue of the Last SamuraiThe Saigo Takamori Statue is located near the southern entrance to Ueno Park, features one of the most courageous and mythological samurai in the history of Japan.
Saigo Takamori, a 19th-century samurai, led a huge rebellion in the powerful and ruling Meiji regime, which introduced a "new order" and modernized Japan, hurting the traditional Samurai elite. After a relentless rebellion he was defeated with his samurai followers, and they all committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the Emperor's soldiers. The defeat of Takamori and his men meant the end of the Samurai era in Japan. Sympathy earned him the pardon granted by the Meiji government and the preservation of his memory as the most important and historic Japanese hero and symbol of the last samurai struggle against the modern world.
Takamori is still an admired figure in Japan. Based on the events of the Satsuma rebellion Takamori led, the movie "The Last Samurai" was based about. The movie is about the rebellion that Takamori led, showing his last days and his greatness, a mythological warrior in the history of Japan.
Takamori's StorySaigo Takamori lived in the 19th century, and belonged to the samurai elite, which for centuries had unlimited power. However under the rule of the Meiji Regime the samurai class went and faded. In the 1870's, the new regime enacted laws that deprived the samurai of their power. The powerful and dominant Meiji rule led a group of wealthy citizens to accumulated power and instituted a new order in Japan, in the name of the emperor. "The Cultural Revolution" they called this new order, and it exacted a heavy price from the samurai. The same privileged group that had ruled Japan for hundreds of years was disappearing, crushed, and weakened.
Because he and his samurai brothers were hurt, Takamori rebelled against Meiji. Modernization, he thought, should not harm tradition and its samurai representatives.
Thus Saigo Takamori started a huge rebellion and fought the harsh punishments and economic sanctions imposed on the Japanese. The samurai under his leadership destroyed an imperial force sent to their palace, and the imperial army went to war against the samurai. Unlike the samurai who fought with swords, the Imperial Army used firearms and modern tactics of military warfare. In September 1877, after more than a month of fighting, the Emperor's army attacked Takamori and his men, in the last battle of Shiroyama.
Takamori fought a hopeless battle against them, which ended in a heroic defeat, but left a legacy of sacrifice, resistance to tyranny and a fight for the rights of a ruler, no matter how powerful. Together with Takamori, all loyals to him killed, and other opposers to innovation and modernization.
According to the myth, when Saigo Takamori was injured during the fighting from a bullet, he ordered one of his followers to cut his head off. So did the other leaders of the rebellion- in order not to fall into enemy hands, they killed each other with swords.
The government's attempt to declare him rebellious and traitor was unsuccessful. After his death, Saigo Takamori became a symbol of heroism and sacrifice for samurai values. It aroused waves of popular admiration. In the end, the Meiji government surrendered to the public sympathy. The powerful rebel became a national hero.