early fall of 1862, Matsudaira Katamori, the lord of Aizu, was summoned to EdoCastle
for an appointment to a newly created position: Kyoto Shugoshoku, or “Office of the Protector of Kyoto”. For
Katamori and for Aizu, the position was advantageous: he personally received a
promotion to the court rank of Senior 4th, lower grade (sho yon-ige), as well as an office
salary of 50,000 koku, which brought
his domain’s total income from 230,000 koku
(together with the 50,000 koku of private territory he administered on behalf of the Shogunate) to over 320,000 koku. However, his retainers were fully cognizant of the dangers
of such a job, and two of them- SaigoTanomo and Tanaka Tosa, rode
nonstop to Edo from Aizu, to dissuade their
lord from taking the position. Katamori was to ultimately overrule their
dissent, and in late 1862, personally led 1000 of his men to Kyoto, paying his respects to the Imperial Court
before assuming the duties of Protector of Kyoto.
what were arguably the most politically charged years of Aizu’s history under
the Matsudaira house.
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