“Ryoma: Life of a Renaissance Samurai”: The 20th Anniversary (8)

He Called Me an “American Ryoma”

Without this book, Sakamoto Ryoma Zenshu (坂本龍馬全集) (Kōfūsha Shuppan, 1978), by Miyaji Saichiro, my friend and mentor, I could not have written Ryoma. A collection of letters to and from Sakamoto Ryoma, and other important documents related to Ryoma and his history, compiled and meticulously annotated by Miyaji-sensei, Zenshu is a monumental and unsurpassed work of scholarship of Sakamoto Ryoma’s life and times.

I first met Miyaji-sensei around November 1988, while working as a writer for Flash, a popular weekly magazine in Tokyo. The magazine was doing a special feature on Ryoma to commemorate his upcoming birthday. Since I was working on my novel, the editor, Shindo Toshiya, who is still my good friend, asked me to accompany him to Miyaji-sensei’s home in Mitaka, Tokyo, to interview him. I vividly remember Miyaji-sensei greeting us at the front door, dressed in traditional kimono, then bringing us to the living room for the interview. He must have been more than a bit surprised to meet an American who was writing about Sakamoto Ryoma. I remember him saying something to the effect that he thought of me as an “American Ryoma.”

Also see this past post.

[The above photo of Miyaji Saichiro was taken in Tokyo in December 1999.]