“The Ryoma Phenomenon” – 龍馬現象 (1)

Sakamoto Ryoma: founder of Japan’s first trading company, swaggering swordsman who packed a Smith & Wesson, outlaw, leader in the “samurai revolution” at the dawn of modern Japan – and now, in the 21st century, he’s a superstar.

Sakazaki book cover

Recently I’ve been speaking about “The Ryoma Phenomenon,” which began perhaps with Sakazaki Shiran’s novel, published in 1883, sixteen years after Ryoma’s death.

“The Ryoma Phenomenon” is even bigger today.

But why such fuss over a young man who died nearly 150 years ago? To find out why, read Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai, the only biographical novel about him in English.

Read: Part 2     Part 3



Lessons from Saigo, man of the people, amid travesty of Democracy in USA (Part 2)

Saigo Takamori


Saigo Takamori, the most powerful driving force behind the Meiji Restoration, was one of the great leaders in Japanese history. Saigo’s biographer Kaionji Chogoro wrote that he “was physiologically unable to bear” even being suspected of any sort of underhandedness. And as I wrote in Samurai Revolution, he had a deep-seated repugnance of “self-love,” which he described as “the primary immorality. It precludes one’s ability to train oneself, perform one’s tasks, correct one’s mistakes [and] . . . engenders arrogance and pride.” Would that a moralist of Saigo’s caliber emerge amid the abject corruption of America’s 2016 presidential election.

Part I of this series is here.

Read more about Saigo Takamori in Samurai Revolution.