27 ~ 30 (Haruka 5)
180 cm (5'11")
Otome (older sister),
Two other older sisters
Kaishu Katsu's disciple
|Innate Element:|| |
|Dominate Hand:|| |
Placing his hand on his chin when thinking,
muttering to himself,
tilting his head
|Favorite Food(s):|| |
|Unfavored Food(s):|| |
|First Appearance:||Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5|
|Real Name:|| |
|Japanese Name:|| |
January 3, 1836
December 10, 1867
|Real given name argued to be Naokage (直陰) or Naonari (直柔). Also known as Saitani Umetarō (才谷梅太郎).|
Ryōma Sakamoto is the commonly known alias for a patriot who lived during the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. Well liked for his affable charisma and sharp wits, he is best known for mediating the Satchō Alliance and founding and proposing what would later become the Imperial Japanese Navy. During the peak of his political career, however, Ryōma was suddenly assassinated; the perpetrators' identities are unknown and the reasons for the premeditated murder are still argued today.
In Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5, his name is officially spelled as "Ryouma" in English. He acts as the Seiryu of Earth (地の青龍, Chi no Seiryuu) for this continuity's setting. His starting political ideology for this game is open country.
Ryōma is a guest character in the Japan only Power Up Kit version of Nobunaga's Ambition Iron Triangle who can be unlocked by finishing the challenge scenario, Saiin no Kirinji. He has a natural affinity with Motochika as an homage of his family's ancestral roots as farmers-made-warriors for the Chōsokabe clan.
Role in GamesEdit
Ryōma's soul is freed by the protagonist in Toukiden after they defeat Tsuchikazuki. He emerges during his/her dream, initially worried about their wounded state before introducing himself. He remarks that he was eating a meal at Echigo-ya when the demon suddenly attacked. Taken by surprise, Ryōma was devoured in an instant. He can't help the protagonist locate the master demon they are looking for, but he encourages them to keep their spirits high. Even if his history has changed due to the demons, he believes in the new era the protagonist will create.
Harukanaru Toki no Naka deEdit
Ryouma was born into a family of merchants living within Tosa. Since his mother died when he was young, he was mainly raised by his elder sister, Otome. His family heirloom is the Seiryu talisman, which Ryouma believed was a good luck charm. For as long as he remembered, he had Seiryu's scale next to him and he found himself strangely attached to it. He carried the scale and the talisman with him at all times. Unlike other characters within this continuity, he has two different canonical pasts between the original game and its sequel.
In the original timeline, Ryouma lived a carefree childhood and practiced swordplay early in his youth. When he was about seventeen years old, he wanted to see the world beyond his home and decided to train in Edo at Chiba Dojo. During his stay, he met Yuki, who was introduced to him by his master as a nameless amnesic girl resting in his care. At her request, he dropped proper formalities between them and addressed her as "Princess" (お嬢, ojou). Her frank caring for him and her mysterious familiarity with his personality surprised him. As weeks of training passed, Ryouma considered her a curious oddity. His only priority in Edo was his sword training, but Yuki encouraged him to wander the city and take in the sights.
Between his training sessions, Ryouma took her advice was quickly awestruck by Western culture, particularly the "black ships" and guns. Fearing ridicule from his training partners for his beliefs, Ryouma privately confided his various fascinations to Yuki. He expected her to shun him like everyone else, but he was surprised when she warmly suggested for him to pursue his dreams. Invigorated by her kind words, Ryouma confidently sought to learn more about the foreign world and gave up on his fascination with the sword. Moments after he made this proclamation, however, a distortion of time suddenly enveloped Yuki and dragged her away from him. As she vanished, Yuki told him her name and told him to keep a mysterious shard. If he did, they would meet again.
In Kazahanaki, his first meeting with Yuki is reverted. Instead, it is Ryouma who first wandered into a distortion of time. He was seven years old when he spontaneously found the portal through space-time and lands into the modern world of the future. Alone and unaware of his surroundings, he was saved from harm by a present day Yuki and guided to another portal back to his home and time. Following his elder sister's teachings, Ryouma promised to return the favor someday. She responded they would meet again if he went to Edo when he was old enough to travel and gave him a leather armband to remember her. As they shared a pinky swear, the young Ryouma also swore to someday marry Yuki and start a family with her.
Staying true to his word, a seventeen-year old Ryouma met with Yuki multiple times in Edo. He managed to travel to the city through his sword training and patiently waited for her sporadic yet brief visits at the dojo. Each time they met with one another, Yuki would impart helpful advice to him and helped him forge his social connections in the future. Yet he particularly treasured their first reunion during the summer, amazed that she kept her end of the promise. Judging her by her looks and mannerisms, he fondly nicknamed her "Miss" and wanted to tour the town with her. Students from the dojo prevented his plans, the couple running away to the beach.
During their conversation, Yuki told him she was from another country, which caused him to remember his first encounter with the foreign ships at Edo. He wasn't surprised that the world beyond his home province had created the huge vessels. Feeling that their swords had their limits, Ryouma raised concerns to his district's community to build giant ships of their own and sail the world. Publicly mocked by the other members, he was told to focus to sword training for the glory of Tosa and dismiss the "outside world". Yuki consoled him to have faith in his personal beliefs regardless of scorn, for his dreams for the country was what truly linked them together. Her words motivated Ryouma to further study and improve himself for the future. Before she was sucked into another portal, Ryouma gave back the armband from his childhood in hopes that it would protect her in his stead.
Regardless of the timeline, Ryouma returned to his home after he completed his training and joined the Tosa Loyalist Party, an association of revolutionaries who wished to topple the shogunate. Although he agreed with their cries for change, he felt alienated by their violent and narrow-minded methodology. Through word of mouth, Ryouma learned of the scholar Katsu and was impressed by the scholar's worldly view. In order to study under him, Ryouma chose the life of an exile. Katsu eventually accepted him as his student and suggested additional tutorship under another scholar, Shouzan. Ryouma became friendly acquaintances with Takasugi, Katsura, and Komatsu during his apprenticeship to both scholars.
His brief stint as a revolutionary marked him as a wanted criminal by the government; thus he tries to avoid contact with the Shinsengumi throughout the games' timelines.
When Yuki first arrives into the parallel world, she awakens near a forest path at Choushu. Before she can understand her new surroundings, she is assaulted by a vengeful spirit with nothing to defend herself. Ryouma happens to see her plight and defeats the spirit for her. Astonished to be reunited with "Miss" after ten years, he cheerfully greets her and briefly reminiscences about their past. His hopes are deflated when Yuki treats him as a stranger and doesn't recall anything about their past. Though hesitant to associate her as the maiden from his past, Ryouma seeks to help her by informing her of their current surroundings and escorting her to the nearby docks. She regroups with Shun and Miyako, and one of Ryouma's cohorts calls him away for business.
Ryouma arrives in the capital about a year later to visit his friend, Nakaoka. He wished to convince Nakaoka to leave the Tosa Loyalist Party, believing the cycle of bloodshed and revenge the group preaches is futile and impractical. Before meeting Nakaoka, he spots Yuki and company in the streets. He informs them of the parallel world's current events during their absence and briefly accompanies her group; he pardons himself when she goes to meet with the Shinsengumi. While Yuki purifies Suzaku, Ryouma learns of Shouzan's assassination by shogunate supporters. Yuki spots him as he grieves and Ryouma quickly asking her thoughts regarding conflict. Inspired by her pacifistic goal to save the world, he entrusts the Seiryu talisman to her —the first of the four in her possession— before excusing himself to mourn.
He returns to Choushu after the incident to continue his tutorship under Katsu. Two months later, Yuki and company arrive at the same inn he is staying. Katsu gladly permits his student's leave, thus Ryouma travels with Yuki throughout the rest of the timelines. Like the other inhabitants of the parallel world, he accompanies Yuki to the modern world after they obtain the Genbu talisman and learns of the impending doom of both worlds from Sou. Although he wants to help Yuki as her guardian, Ryouma worries for his friends back in his home world and travels back without her. During his absence, he makes peace with Nakaoka and forms a private navy coalition at Nagasaki. He hopes their boats will serve as open-minded explorers and protectors for future Japan.
By the time Yuki and her childhood friends return to the parallel world, a year has passed for Ryouma. From her, he confirms his suspicions of Amami's malevolent intentions and introduces a new place for her group to stay in the capital. He leaves them to finish an urgent errand.
In the original timeline, Ryouma is attacked at the nearby inn, Terada-ya, and suffers grave injuries. Otose, the inn's owner and friendly acquaintance, tries to nurse him back to health but he is incapacitated. He gives a concerned Yuki a snack he had bought for her and regretfully asks her to deliver a letter he had written for Komatsu. When Komatsu receives it, Yuki learns the two men are organizing an alliance to topple the shogunate yet a government spy threatens the chances of its success. Despite their efforts, the talks for the alliance crumbles apart. Mere moments after their failure, Katsura tells them grave news of Ryouma's death to Amami's servants.
During the original game's subsequent timelines, Yuki decides to go with Ryouma on his errand and simultaneously reunites with Ernest. Hoping to cut off the source of the agents hunting Ryouma down, Yuki insists that the group patrol the city whilst regrouping with their separated friends. With no leads in the town, she fears the worst, even hopping back to the modern world to research the event. Before the writing in the textbook disappears, she is given Terada-ya as a clue and rushes to Ryouma's side to prevent his death. She and her companions save him from undead warriors sent by Amami. With Ryouma safe, he agrees to be Yuki's guardian and fights by her side for the rest of the story. He helps her organize the alliance and is one of the prime figures needed for its success.
Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5's various timelines are canonically reverted for its sequel. Ryouma's activities for collecting the Four God talismans are the same, yet Kazahanaki diverges by having Yuki and company return to the parallel world two months after obtaining the Genbu talisman rather than a year. At this time, Ryouma is sharing information with Takasugi at Edo. They are interrupted by Yuki and her companions and immediately chosen as her guardians by the dragon gems in her possession. Accepting his new duty without protest, Ryouma convinces Takasugi to relax and join Yuki's party. He continues to organize peace talks with his friends' factions and stays within the parallel world at the end of each timeline.
In one of the timelines within the original game, Yuki accompanies Ryouma as he tries to convince influential nobles to fund his naval group. He meets with an influential noble-samurai from Echizen yet fails to sell the gentleman on the deal. Dispirited, Ryouma muses he won't be able to sail without the province's funding. Yuki replies that nothing is impossible for a single person and goes on to describe the inventions that took considerable trial and error within her world. She particularly interests him as she describes airplanes, gobsmacked that a man-made vessel could ever achieve flight. With his spirits high, he promises to never give up on his dream and promises to someday fly in an airplane with her.
When Ryouma returns to Choshu, Katsura invites him to meet with an acquaintance of his. The man excuses Yuki from their presence before he admits he is Shouzan's murderer. He apologizes for failing to accept his grave misdeed until after the fact, feeling sympathetic to the revolutionaries' desire for change. When he offers death as atonement, Ryouma spares him. He feels the man has suffered enough from his guilt and takes his leave. Yuki feels he did the right thing, which cheers him up from the despondent news. Ryouma decides to repay her with a boat ride later, sharing with her his dream for seeing the world and sea sailing. He inadvertently speaks his infatuation for her but decides to not force his feelings on her.
Later, the group arrives in the capital to set the stage for the alliance peace talks. Shortly after their arrival, Katsu takes his student and Yuki for an evening meal. As they eat he warns them that the undead are wandering in greater numbers and seem to be controlled by someone. The mentor's words ring true when the group spots an undead warrior attacking innocents. She is panicked when she doesn't see Ryouma after the battle, not realizing that he left to ask Nakaoka several personal favors for the peace talks. When she finds him, she shares her fear of losing him. They both confess their intimacy to one another and promise to never part ways. He gives her the Seiryu scale to express his sincerity in the pledge.
The alliance succeeds and the group prepares to attack Amami at his base of operations, Nikkou. They are sidetracked when a young girl in distress calls for their help. She is actually a vengeful spirit placed there by the Mashira who attacks Yuki when she draws close. Ryouma takes the blow and, though they defeat the spirit and the monkeys, he is unable to recover from the deadly toxin inflicted upon him. Ryouma is brought to a nearby inn to recover and a rumor of the headhunters searching for them draws the other members away. Yuki nurses him the best she can, but Ryoum knows it's hopeless. He asks Yuki to cook shamo chicken for him so she doesn't have to witness his death.
Yuki returns moments after he perishes and contemplates using the magical hourglass in her grief. Amami appears behind her and cautions her to reconsider. The god reveals Ryouma's lifespan is destined to be short, and he will not live long even if she saves him. Sacrificing her life for Ryouma would accomplish nothing. Deciding that the risk is worth it, Yuki travels back to the past before the vengeful spirit reveals itself. This time Yuki flies into harm's way for Ryouma and is poisoned. With the couple switching places, Ryouma watches over her until headhunters find their location. Promising to protect her with his life, he faces the group alone. Weakened and frightened for him, Yuki strains herself by using the hourglass again. This time, however, it shatters and sends her ten years into the past. She then lives in Ryouma's past until a time distortion takes her away.
Before she is lost forever in the Loophole of Time, Yuki clutches the Seiryu scale and prays. It calls her back to the present Ryouma who is glad to see her back beside him. When she disappeared from his sight, Ryouma had defeated the headhunters by himself and pieced together the broken hourglass. The last piece missing is the shard Yuki had given him ten years ago. It confirms for Ryouma that the girl from the past and Yuki are the same person. Further invigorated to fight for their happy future, they defeat Amami and he gladly accompanies her to the modern world. They want to enjoy a world wide trip by air, their first flight being New York.
Kazahanaki stations Yuki and company in Edo, the place of memories for Ryouma and the girl from his past. Wanting to confirm his hunches, he asks Yuki if she remembers anything about the place or the dojo he trained. She honestly answers no, since she hasn't technically experienced any events in this timeline. He is despondent by her response but promises to keep helping her for as long as he is needed.
Chiba Dojo in either world causes Yuki to enter multiple distortions of time for brief intervals. Each time she is sent back to the past, she imparts Ryouma advice which would be helpful to his present self such as befriending Komatsu in Edo and being on friendly terms with the future Shinsengumi by participating in a sword tournament. She sees the immediate effects when she returns to the present and is pleased to be helpful to him. Thanks to her changes in the past, Ryouma is regarded as a trustworthy individual between rival factions who mediates peace and solutions for both sides. He hopes to unite the divided districts so that Japan will one day gain the power to defend itself. Unlike his attempts in previous timelines, Ryouma's proposals are largely successful with his friends' support and becomes a famous figure with the townsfolk in Edo.
Ryouma invites her on a play date the day after the disastrous fire in Edo to cheer her up. She smiles for the first time since the incident, and the couple forget their responsibilities for the day. During their trip, he purchases a pair of leather armbands. As they both strap one on each other's arms, Ryouma feels nostalgic for an event he vaguely remembers from his childhood. For Yuki, however, it happens about a day later when she returns to the modern world. She gives the child Ryouma her armband from the date.
They return to the parallel world to defeat the Four Fiends, but Ryouma is in a peculiar slump. Yuki doesn't remember meeting him in the summer ten years ago, even though she looks exactly like the girl from his past. Accepting that maybe he would never reunite with her, he broods and loses his enthusiasm. He begins to wonder if he hallucinated his first love and becomes disillusioned with his present goals. Wanting to know what Ryouma treasures, Yuki sacrifices her life force to time travel to the exact event important to him ten years ago. Returning to the present, Yuki apologizes to Ryouma for not knowing she is the person so important to him. Ryouma recognizes the worn down armband in her hands and deduces that she is truly the one from his past.
Invigorated once more to work towards his dreams, he authors eight new laws which would benefit the future of Japan. In short, these laws call for a navy, acceptance of European ideals, and tax reform for the people. He presents them to Oguri, who he believes agrees with his plans. Oguri praises Ryouma's document and agrees to give it to the new shogun. In return, Oguri will grant passage into Edo Castle for Yuki's group.
After the final battle to save the three worlds, Yuki chooses to stay in the parallel world with Ryouma. They marry soon afterwards and continue to stay at Ryouma's hideaway in Edo. He is often called away by his friends for political chats, but Ryouma decides to ditch them for the day to spend time with his wife. As he and Yuki take a walk on the beach, he states his devotion to her and promises to start a family with her.
Ishin no ArashiEdit
The Ishin no Arashi series features Ryōma as one of the major figures of the game's setting; he is the main protagonist in both Bakumatsu Shishiden and Shippuu Ryoumaden. Each game introduces Ryōma during his training in the Hokushin-Ittō swordstyle within Edo and roughly follows his historical exploits. Unlike his other Koei appearances, he speaks with the Tosa accent commonly associated with him in fiction.
Bakumatsu Shishiden introduces Ryōma as a daydreamer who is content to spend his days in leisure until he sees the American "black ships" with his friends at Edo. The player can follow his history faithfully or choose to be an aggressive activist who uses his talents to organize an army to topple the shogunate. Within this scenario, he openly joins forces with the revolutionaries to wage war and accepts his status as an enemy to the state, rather than fleeing from the headhunters throughout the country. Ryōma changes into an apathetic warmonger who feels he is participating in a necessary evil for the land's security.
The historical version of his scenario may include minor diverging events to affect Ryōma's personality, but he is overall optimistic in his dreams for protecting Japan and often thinks before he acts. His friends and family may joke about his apparent flakiness, but they earnestly believe in him as a revolutionary hero who thinks beyond the current age. If the player fails to prevent his assassination, they remain ignorant of Ryōma and Shintarō's sudden deaths. If Ryōma wishes to leave Japan after presenting himself before the shogun, he and Shintarō's assassins will be replaced by the Shinsengumi. After he and his friend defend themselves, Ryōma reveals his plans to travel to America in hopes to better his understanding of ship-crafting and the world.
Shippuu Ryoumaden Ryōma spends the majority of his early youth feeling frustrated. Everyone he knows is leaving his home for their dreams, but he has yet to find one himself. Shintarō drags him to the Tosa Loyalist Party, and his friends believe him to be a member. Yet he protests the foolishness of the association, hoping to prevent his friends from being branded as traitors by Tosa's pro-shogunate policies. He confronts his childhood friend, Hanpeita Takechi, to stop their plot to assassinate the shogunate vassal, Tōyō Yoshida. Even if Ryōma succeeds, Hanpeita will ignore him and disassociate himself from Ryōma.
The night before the assassination takes place, Ryōma chooses exile from Tosa in the first playthrough with his older sister's blessings. He hopes to find his own dreams and change the future of Japan without bloodshed. This playthrough roughly follows his historical exploits and death, explaining that the game's namesake is actually his fond epitaph as a man who changed history.
When the player restarts other playthroughs from this key event, they may choose to try to protect Tōyō in Tosa. During the night a few days later his other childhood friend, Yatarō Ooishi, warns Ryōma to leave immediately or he shall join Tōyō's fate. Trusting Yatarō's honesty, Ryōma leaves that same night and arbitrarily flees east towards the capital. Sōji identifies him as a revolutionary and attempts to execute him on the spot. Regardless of whether Ryōma protects himself or not, he is spotted by his friend from his sword training days, Heisuke Tōdō. Heisuke stays Sōji's hand and welcomes Ryōma into the early foundations for the Shinsengumi.
Feeling responsible for Heisuke's wellbeing and wanting to repay the warm housing of the corps, Ryōma preaches around the country for districts to follow the shogunate. He doesn't particularly agree with the shogunate's policies, but he wishes for the governors around the country to be unified under one ideal so the country can enjoy a wide spread reform. Introducing new changes which are too radical may alienate rather than be accepted by the populace. Once the country is unified, the shogunate introduces the harmonious reform Ryōma proposed to Isami Kondō. Satisfied to see the country banded under one leadership, Ryōma boards a foreign ship to set sail for the world. The Shinsengumi bid him a fond farewell.
Once Ruby Party decided upon the time setting for Haruka 5, Ryouma was considered one of the necessary characters to be included within the game. His wavy hair, his height, and his preference for using pistols are meant to be faithful homages to his historical persona. In their eyes, he is one of the "most manly" characters in the cast. Tohko Mizuno personally requested for him to be portrayed as a fun-loving person with astounding perceptiveness.
When the main planner was overseeing the voice actor auditions for the cast, she and the other developers directed him to not sound too overbearing or too flighty in his deliveries. With a few adjustments, they think Suzumura nailed the bouncy tempo they imagined for Ryouma. Suzumura himself is quite fond of his character and commented that Ryouma is an "awesome historical figure". He even said he would gladly romance and marry Ryouma himself.
Everyone has heard of Ryouma. In the modern world, he is revered as a legendary pioneer and patriot. His acceptance in the parallel world is not as clear. The rumors describe him as a back-water vagabond and outcast. His opponents loathe the renegade's hard-boiled proposals. His acquaintances know him as a clumsy do-gooder and hearty errand boy. His friends think him a reliable ally and naturally born diplomat worthy of their trust. Though everyone has a different interpretation of him, no one can dispute his rare boldness to face any adversity. Ryouma dreams of creating a formidable Japan, one which can stand by its own power against the vengeful spirits within it and have the resources to prosper with any foreign country. In spite of the ridiculing naysayers he regularly faces, the young man is prepared to finish any task which will help him accomplish his dream in a peaceful, constitutional manner.
What truly earns him fame and notoriety as a household name is his inexhaustible charisma. Ryouma's warmhearted smile and companionable chatter opens many doors for him. His natural cheer earns him many acquaintances who will warmly provide him food and housing throughout his travels. Ryouma happily repays their kindness and wants to protect their everyday lives. He defends commoners from the bullying samurai and nobility without a second thought, regardless if they are natives or foreign. As a rarity for his age, Ryouma has no strong bias towards either faction or race and welcomes anyone who can tolerate his company. Since he opens his arms with boyish trust and compassion, people are instinctively drawn to listening to him. His detractors regard him as a living plague to ancient Japan and frequently seek to end him before he can inspire any changes. The youth's sharp intuition and expert sharp-shooting has made him a hard target to keep dead.
Yuki is Ryouma's first and only love who he nicknames "Princess" (お嬢, ojou). The original canon has him attracted to her due to her peculiar familiarity with him. She is a mysterious yet caring maiden who imparts the only support for his dreams. Her undying faith in him keeps him from succumbing to defeat, and increases his love for her. Kazahanaki rewrites his intimacy to begin as a childhood crush and promise which he has cherished his entire life. Appreciating her infrequent visits to him, Ryouma hopes to mature into a man worthy of protecting and providing for her.
Either scenario has Ryouma swear absolute faithfulness to her, keeping his memories of her alive during their time apart by mentioning her to his friends and working towards their dream of a peaceful Japan. Ryouma fervently desires to reunite with his love but holds himself back if Yuki does not remember their past together. Even if he is not certain about Yuki's identity to him, he keeps calling her "Princess" and admires her determination to protect others. He expresses mild jealousy if she becomes intimate with another person but bids her well. If Yuki reveals her personal knowledge of their past together, Ryouma showers her with the years of affection he privately reserved for her. Bashful and considerate to not rush her, he is overjoyed to see his living dreams become a reality.
Ryouma is business acquaintances with Komatsu and Takasugi. He can accurately read and jest about Komatsu's strict calculations and mediates the latter to be open to alternatives. Ouchi and Ernest are intriguing enigmas to him. He may excitedly pursue them during their leisure to learn more about their culture, even if they don't always have the heart to inform him that his own references might be flawed. Shun's coldness towards Yuki initially put Ryouma on edge, but their years of being her guardians convinces him that the older brother must care enough to protect her. Ryouma then warms up to Shun with friendly teasing and jokes, only to be repaid with apparent avoidance and contempt each time.
According to folklore, Ryōma favored firearms once he realized that the sword was an outdated concept. In a famous yet fictional story with his friend, Higaki Seiji, Ryōma left Tosa with a long sword. When Seiji saw his friend at a later date, he traveled with a short sword. Ryōma explained to his curious friend that he wore it only to protect himself and that it enhanced his maneuverability. Their third encounter, however, Ryōma had replaced his sword with a pistol. He uttered simply, "A sword stands no chance before a gun." Since Seiji was an outdated fellow, it also marked the last time he would ever see Ryōma.
Historically, Ryōma owned two known pistols. The first was a Smith & Wesson Model 2 Army 33 diameter that could carry six bullets. It was given to him by Takasugi Shinsaku and was allegedly used by Ryōma to defend himself during one of the attempts on his life, the Terada-ya Incident. He lost the gun during the aforementioned incident and purchased another to replace it: a S&W Model 1/2 32 diameter with five shots. He purchased the same model for his wife to defend themselves on the road. In his letter to his sister, he enjoyed using it to hunt for food. It was believed he had the gun on his person during his assassination. If he did, he was killed before he could fire it.
Ishin no Arashi prefers to mention the sword Ryōma had in his possession, Mutsu-no-Kami Yoshiyuki. Its eponymous namesake is the blacksmith who forged it in Tosa. Mutsu-no-Kami Yoshiyuki was commissioned and treasured by the Sakamoto clan. When Ryōma left Tosa and accepted his banishment from the province, he carried the sword with him. Either his elder sister, Otome, gave it to him when he left, he took it, or it was given to him as a present by his elder brother. In the latter case, it's often stated that his brother entrusted the fate of the Sakamoto clan to him and awaited Ryōma's return home. When Ryōma's corpse was found, it was said that his hand was on the sword's sheath. It is often romanticized that Ryōma was nostalgic for his family in his dying moments and sought to be "reunited" with them by reaching for the blade. Whether the story is true or not is up for debate.
Ryouma's symbolic color is tsuyukusa. It's literally named after the Asiatic dayflower and represents the shade of the flower when it's in bloom. In the Edo period, it was believed to have been an indigo shade. Contemporary media attests that it is a medium blue shade. It is a light blue for his Haruka appearance.
His symbolic item is the flowering quince. It is a Chinese native flower which blooms in the spring and often used as a herbal medicine. Its pear-like fruit is consumed in teas, medicine, or condiments. The flower is fabled in China with varying meanings. A red quince, for instance, is said to bless good fortune for finances or blessings for a healthy child. Dream of the Red Chamber refers to it as an incomplete flower since it has no scent. In Japan it was one of the argued models for several family crests, the most famous being the five petaled quince. The same variation is used to represent the Sakamoto clan. It's due to this association that the quince signifies leaders and pioneers within the country's flower language.
"Kaien", the name of his first weapon, is a tongue-in-cheek shout out to Ryouma's historical naval forces, the Kaientai. His third weapon is a reference to his fame as a historical figure. Wind within Japan is often synonymous in literature as an invisible force that changes the times of an era. If a person is called a whirlwind or a zephyr, it's a honorific metaphor for a revolutionary person who thinks well beyond their time. These individuals are commonly short-lived yet highly influential to those around them.
- Hikaru Midorikawa - Ishin no Arashi Bakumatsu Shishiden
- Kenichi Suzumura - Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5
Live Action PerformerEdit
- Ryohei Shioguchi - Butai Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5, Butai Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5 Kazahanki
- "Princess, it's 'White Day'! And just as I promised, I wanna spend a lot of time doing whatever you like today! Not just because of 'Valentine's Day' either, I wanna do this every day. You hear people say that celebrating every day takes the spark outta things, right? Not me, nuh-uh. Sharing my thoughts with my girl gets me high on cloud nine!"
- "Princess, it's you! I've missed you so much! Oh, I have so much to tell you! A lot has happened since then!"
- "Just a little while ago, there were hundreds maybe thousands of black ships around the bay. The world must be a huge and amazing place if they have so many boats."
- "Never would have guessed there were so many books written about me."
- "The photographs in your world are amazing! They have color and they're in such fine detail. All in a compact device. It blows me away!"
- "I'm Ryouma, and you're the Priestess of the Dragon. Both of 'em got dragons in them. It's like we're tied together by fate."
- "When you vanished, my blood ran cold and the world froze. I was losing it. After I had swore to never let you go again, this happens. If you had disappeared for good, I would've never have forgiven myself."
- "Don't forget. You aren't alone. You have the guardians... your friends are here for you. Whenever you're having a hard time, feel free to rely on one of us, okay? Of course, I'd be really happy if you came to me. I'll be there for you any time."
- "You're not a dream or an illusion, right? You're really here, Princess?"
- "Master Sakamoto, may I ask you something?"
- "Fire away."
- "Are you allies with Choushu?"
- "I'm a friend of Japan."
- "What does that mean?"
- "It means I know my actions are necessary for this country."
- ~~Chinami and Ryouma; Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5
- "Princess, I was too scared to get you involved before because you'd be in danger. But your mind's made up. You sure know how to pluck up a man's courage."
- "Think about it, Ryouma. This would've happened even if you wanted to avoid it."
- "Oh, really?"
- "Let's face it. You're a person who gets his hands dirty. And you move around everywhere. Anyone living in this age is bound to deal with you eventually. Half of the land likes getting their problems solved by you, and the other half wants to rip your guts out. Always a handful."
- "Did you have to say it like that? You're making me sound like a loose cannon."
- "And you aren't?"
- ~~Ryouma and Nakaoka; Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5
- "Someday, whenever we meet again and whenever can be together for a longer time, I'll replace that trinket and be the one protecting you. Then I can fulfill my promise..."
- "Your promise? You mean about the one repaying me for saving your life? But you will do more than enough for me in the future."
- "Uh, no, not that one. I mean, um... A-anyways! Princess, we'll meet again! Our bonds have reeled us together plenty of times already."
- "Ryouma... I understand. I'll be waiting for you."
- "Right. This isn't our final farewell, understand? I'll be seeing you again."
- "Yes. Let's meet again, Ryouma. Thank you for everything."
- ~~Ryouma and Yuki; Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5 Kazahanaki
- "Two hundred years. No war, no chaos. The Yamauchi clan of Tosa have obeyed the shogunate and it has protected its people. The shogunate's support has ensured our safe passage in this era. And you would propose abandoning it, you ungrateful cur! You would dare to break tradition? Are you saying we should turn our back on everything the Tokugawa has done for Tosa?!"
- "... Oh, is that all you had to say? You're full of it! That's why you reject reform? Because you cling to your so-called tradition for the people? How many more sacrifices do you need to feed it? How many people have suffered, how many dreams were obliterated, how many loved ones were lost, how many have died because of a flimsy excuse as tradition?!"
- "The audacity! You're pushing your limits!"
- "And I'd do it again! I'll do it for my Chōshu comrades who risk life and limb to protect this country! I'll do it for my watchful and reliable friends in Satsuma! I'll do it for those in the dying shogunate and for those who have died for reform! I'll do it for those living in the capital, Edo, Suido, and every other district! I'll do it for every person in Japan! Anything to get you to listen to my words! We must abolish and we shall change!"
- ~~Yōtō Yamauchi and Ryōma; Ishin no Arashi Shippuu Ryoumaden
Unless the player willingly stops their progress in the story to level grind, he is a hard character to use during the first playthrough of the original game. If the player desires, he can replace Miyako's spot as the fighter-healer during this timeline. When he catches up to the rest of the cast, Ryouma has the highest defense rating in the party and is above-average in every other stat. He is a sturdy character to use for bosses. Ryouma's unique weapon seal is extremely useful against Amami and other earth spirits and, if all three attacks connect, it might be the strongest attack in the game.
Kazahanaki keeps his strengths the same yet stresses his accuracy to be one of his flaws, especially on its hard setting. Try using his Aim skill to counter this weakness for him and other characters. His passive ability in battle occurs less frequently in the sequel.
Ryouma can use Wood, Fire, and Water seals for his weapons.
Here are Ryouma's stats at level 50:
- Attack: 79
- Defense: 99
- Magic: 76
- Speed: 73
Here are his stats at level 99:
- Attack: 124
- Defense: 158
- Magic: 123
- Speed: 113
- Heal (回復, kaifuku)
- Unlocked - Level 3
- Cost - 2 Will
- Restores lost health to a single ally. Can be leveled to fully cure characters.
- Aim (必中, hicchu)
- Unlocked - Level 15
- Cost - 2 Will
- Increases party's attack accuracy for the next turn only. Boosts effect with levels.
- Search and Destroy (見敵必殺, kenteki hissatsu)
- Unlocked - Level 18
- Cost - 2 Will (outside battle and events only)
- Casts a destructive barrier around Yuki on the world map. Instantly kills any spirit which comes in contact of it. Negates random encounters.
- Feint (陽動, youdou)
- Cost - none (passive)
- If Ryouma is in the current fighting party, he may randomly cancel and counter enemy attacks for one turn.
- Sealing events
- Yuki's Story (any playthrough but first) - Chapter 9
- Chofu (parallel world), Library (modern world)
- Successfully complete his personal events. Defeat the vengeful spirit twice.
- Yuki's Story or Ryouma's Story - Chapter 5
- Mount Nezumi; Parallel world
- Personal events can be skipped but do not fail his events throughout playthrough. Defeat the Four Fiends in the parallel world. Before heading to Edo Castle, go to the mountain and select Ryouma's name. Defeat Chi You. If the player chooses to quit fighting the beast once the party is defeated, it will not return. The player will need to restart the entire chapter for it to reemerge.
Sakamoto Ryōma was a largely unknown figure to the public during his lifetime. It wasn't until approximately twenty years after his death that he became popular. His persona was used in historical fiction novel, Kanketsusenri no Koma, which was written by the journalist, Sakazaki Shiran. Shiran's work became the inspiration for Ryōtarō Shiba's novel in contemporary times, Ryuma ga Yuku, and was widely received by Japanese readers. Ryōma definitively became a household name prior to the Russo-Japanese War. In 1901, Ichijo Haruko claimed the Japanese navy would be victorious after she purportedly had an extraordinary dream of Ryōma proudly riding a cloud; she even identified his visage in a photograph presented to her —now believed to have been a grievous misidentification. The story and idea that the "man who defeated the shogunate" came to the country's rescue roused the distressed populace and increased his popularity.
It's common for the Japanese public to continue accepting the romanticized Ryōma —an open-minded and brilliant hero who loved his freedom and considered his country's future thoughtfully in the name of patriotism— as truth. For instance, Ryōma is often accredited to have authored a book of inspirational quotes called Keys to Being a Hero. One of these quotes is, "A man's worth is not dictated by his death but by the ideals that moved him", which was supposedly his response to honorable suicides in Japan. Yet historians have discovered during the 1950s that Ryōma's association with the book was an artistic choice done by the author of Ryuma ga Yuku; the quotes' structure bears no semblance to the real Ryōma's writing style and vocabulary. Even today, however, this perception of Ryōma is being used to advocate vocational pursuits for youths and adults.
Unlike other Japanese figures who became famous posthumously due to fiction, the real Ryōma survives today in the letters he wrote to his personal contacts. There are at least 130 discovered and still being analyzed for authenticity. Within them, Ryōma appears as an methodical and observant individual. In his letters to his peers, he expressed confidence in his ambitions and was steadfast in achieving them. In one such letter, Ryōma even compared a person obstructing his path as a stubborn hound who would be tamed by him. He is curt and direct with his orders and requests, rarely mentioning anything beyond their current focus.
Occasionally, he would mention his personal views to someone close to him like Ittō Sukedayū. While Ryōma was not opposed to learning martial arts, he decried the tenets of bushidō as a pretentious excuse to needlessly shed bloodshed and spread riots. He expressed frustration when dealing with the samurai and revolutionaries who clung too closely to it, especially after witnessing its effects firsthand. It's perhaps due to his departure from the ancient custom that he considered and studied the emerging European influences in Japan. At one point, he even thought those were lacking and considered the formalization of an all women unit within his navy group.
At least twenty of his letters were addressed to his elder sister, Otome. His writing style was colloquial and messy in these messages with doodles and additional notes scribbled in between lines of text. These letters are additionally helpful for summarizing his general activities, as he would briefly list the people he had met and his activities at the start of each letter. They provide insight to his uncensored personal views of the time period and the people around him. Often away from his home, he worried for his family in Tosa. He had written one of his letters after witnessing the death of a family's lineage and was moved by the experience. Ryōma sincerely asked Otome to always honor their elder brother and sisters, even going as far to ask her to pay respects to their departed parents and grandparents as soon as possible.
Historically, Ryōma was considered an oddity by his peers. On one hand, he does sound like the tales made in his image. Itagaki Taisuke remarked that he was a lovable person and regretted his sudden death. His mentor, Katsu Kaishu, expressed utmost faith in Ryōma as a masterful visionary and regarded him as a man beyond his time. His friends mentioned that he was a loud and sociable. Seki Yoshiomi stated that Ryōma practiced good humor during his conversations, calmly hearing what the other party has to say before gently saying his piece. Yet Ryōma was also described to be pragmatic and one to be feared. His intelligence surprised many, and his apparent boldness in his negotiations were met with mixed results. Ōe Taku called him a "wild beast".
In modern conversions, he was approximately 182 cm (6') tall. He has been argued to have been shorter at 174 cm (5'9") or 169 cm (5'7"). He had one wife, but they had no children together. He had one elder brother and three elder sisters. His nephew, Nao, inherited his legacy after his death.
"Ryōma" was his alias. Similar to Chinese courtesy names, a person could write their real name but it was considered extremely rude to call someone by their given name. Therefore, it was rare for anyone outside of family to refer to him by anything but Ryōma. Allegedly, the name's origins comes from either his mother or his father who had a dream of a dragon rising to the heavens before his birth. The spelling and pronunciation featured throughout this page is the commonly accepted version of his name since it was what he personally used in his signatures. However, his name has been argued to be "Ryuma" (竜馬) or "Ryōfu" (良馬) due to inconsistencies from Ryōma himself.
Like many other revolutionaries, Ryōma was known under various pseudonyms to avoid detection from the shogunate's spies. A majority of these names can be found in the letters he wrote to Otome, his friends and his acquaintances. The one he used the most was Saitani Umetarō. In his letters to Otome, he occasionally signed his letters as Saigō Isaburō (西郷 伊三郎). Takasaka Ryūjiro (高坂 龍次郎) and Oohama Tōjirō (大浜 涛次郎) were the names he used to address his samurai cohorts. Ryōma gave himself the self-imposed title, Jinendō (自然堂), in a letter to Mutsu Munemitsu. Following the assault at Terada-ya, he addressed himself as Torimaki no Nukeroku (取巻の抜六). All of these pen-names are code for his identity, many of which are derived from obscure references of his heritage, his origins, or an inside reference only his addressee would know. In the case of the last name, it is literally a wordplay informing his friends that he survived the harrowing experience at Terada-ya and will expect to live past several more. There are many other names believed to have been attributed to Ryōma, but they are difficult to clarify and open to interpretation.
Naokage (直陰) or Naonari (直柔) was his given name in family records, though it's difficult for historians to discern at present which is the "correct" name.
Relations with WomenEdit
Ryōma's wife was Narasaki Ryō who is often called Oryō in contemporary fiction. Oryō came from poor origins as her father was a ronin and perished soon after he rebelled against the shogunate. Running from death threats from his family, she and her mother worked at an inn in the capital sympathetic to revolutionaries. Ryōma happened to stay at the inn and her mother introduced him to Oryō. Folklore often claims he was amused by the coincidence of their names –which are both written with the character for "dragon"– and felt attached to her. According to his letters, they married at her mother's request a year later. She then accompanied him on his travels across the land. Ryōma felt sympathetic to her family as they were "miserably poor, owning nothing save the clothes they wore". He was fond of his wife's humor and reportedly doted on her with random trinkets and gifts. Fiction misleadingly credits them as the first newly weds in Japan to travel together after their marriage ceremony, or the first instance of a contemporary honeymoon.
Four months later, Ryōma met with Satsuma supporter and acquaintance, Miyoshi Shinzō, to negotiate their plans for toppling the shogunate. Ryōma and his wife had booked a room at Terada-ya and Oryō was taking a bath. She overheard a dozen or so men assembling outside her bath and quickly realized they were headhunters for the shogunate. Barely dressing her nude figure, she hurried away from her bath and warned her husband and Shinzō of the incoming attack. Alarmed and readied, the trio narrowly escaped death. Ryōma expressed his gratitude for her in one of his letters.
Though they were homeless during Ryōma's wandering, Oryō remained devoted to him and waited for his return with her sister in Nagasaki. She learned of Ryōma's death a month after it occurred. Oryō tried to enter the Sakamoto clan to honor her husband but was considered an outcast in Tosa. She later remarried to a street peddler, Nishimura Matsubei, and succumbed to alcoholism during her elder years. Ignorant of Ryōma's political activities until after his death, she slumped into depression and was said to have fondly rambled about her departed husband in her drunken stupors. She passed away when she was 66 years old.
Before he met his wife, Ryōma was said to have been intimate with two other women. The other famous maiden with romantic ties to him was Chiba Sana, often named Sanako in fiction. She was the daughter of Ryōma's sword instructor in Edo. By Ryōma's own account, Sana was a stunning beauty who was an exceptionally trained equestrian, polearm user, and swordsman. She could overpower any man with her strength and was said to have even sparred with him. Before he finished his training, his master planned to have Ryōma as his successor for the Hokushin-Ittō style dojo and arranged an engagement with Sana. When Ryōma returned to Tosa, he was estranged from Edo and either forgot or declined the offer. Although they kept out of touch, Sana learned of his death and decided to treasure the wooden shelves he used at their dojo as a memento of their time together. Since she never married, Sana is often romanticized in fiction to have had an unrequited love for Ryōma. Other interpretations state they did have affections for one another, but he drew away from her since she treated him coldly.
Nakayama Kao –the other aforementioned woman– is considered Ryōma's first love in fiction. She was four years younger than him and his childhood friend. Historically, he compared Sana to be a replacement for Kao in Edo, which suggests he considered Kao to be beautiful if nothing else. Once he finished his training in Edo and returned to Tosa, she was ordered to become a servant maiden for Sanjo Kinmutsu's wife in the capital. When Kao's elder brother refused for Ryōma to see her or protest the decision, Ryōma expressed his laments to his older sister in a letter. He called her brother cruel and accused him of being uncaring to Kao's feelings over the forced servitude. Most observers tend to emphasize that Ryōma didn't accept or consider his marriage to Oryō until after he knew he would never see Kao again, although it's debatable if his affections for Kao were romantic or not.
Ryōma was the fourth child of Yamamoto Hachihei (or Naotari), the eldest of a family of wealthy merchants who excelled in brewing liquor. Hachihei was adopted into the Sakamoto clan at least twenty years before Ryōma's birth. His mother –known as either Kō or Yuki– was the eldest daughter of the lower class samurai, Sakamoto Naozumi. His parents' marriage was approved largely due to the Sakamoto clan lacking a male heir to ensure its longevity. It was a controversial yet growing reality for a merchant to marry into the samurai caste, which was a hot topic of debate between lower and richer samurai of the Edo period. Ryōma was born in Kōchi, Tosa (modern day Kōchi, Kōchi Prefecture).
When Ryōma was twelve, his mother lost her life to illness and his father quickly remarried to Kitadai Iyo, a daughter of another lower samurai family who is fabled to have taught the maids in her household to wield naginata. By Ryōma's own account, he considered her to be a fond and loving mother figure for their short time together. Her cooing and consideration didn't help his frail constitution, however, and he struggled to keep up with his father's strict discipline and his mentor's lessons. He took to book quicker than a sword and was bullied by his schoolmates constantly for it, reportedly failing to keep with his studies due to low self-esteem.
To prevent him from losing face, his elder sister by three years, Otome, reared him as though he were her own child and taught him poetry and sword fencing. Her large figure and imposing character were said to have driven away her younger brother's bullies. In 1848, he was enrolled into Hineno Benji's dojo and was taught the Oguri-ryu sword style. By this time, Ryōma was intent on rigorously training himself and stayed at the dojo during his teenage years. According to his mentor's account, Ryōma's behavior changed for his lessons without fail each day. He doggedly requested sparring matches, renounced food and rest, and never complained or slipped into his juvenile antics until sundown.
People are largely divided on who influenced Ryōma to mature during his childhood. Otome is a popular candidate due to her close age and familiarity with Ryōma. Others propose Iyo since she favored him and encouraged him to have pride of his position within their patriarchal society. A few argue that his elder brother, Gonpei, was the one who drove Ryōma to improve himself due to the age difference between them. Gonpei also acted as a father figure for Ryōma. Hachihei was considerably strict and allegedly disfavored his son after his first wife's death. There are several stories which claim he was inspired to change by a boat ride with his mother or stories of Nagasaki, which helped broaden his horizons towards the sea.
Studying in EdoEdit
With his father's permission and influence, Ryōma left Tosa with Mizobuchi Hironojo in 1853. Their goal was to continue their sword training for one year in Edo. They arrived to their destination in April the same year and were taught the Hokushin-Ittō swordstyle. It is generally believed that Ryōma was taught by Chiba Jyutarō, the master of Okemancho-Chiba Dojo, but this is only confirmed in a fictional historical novel. There is nothing which historically notes the particular Chiba dojo he was disciplined within, so it's difficult to verify who trained him. Jyutarō is a popular choice primarily due to Ryōma's familiarity with his younger sister, Sanako.
In June the same year, Ryōma was present to witness the American ships near Edo's shores. He assigned to be a part of Tosa's emergency defense committee assembled within Edo to protect the bay. Fiction often romanticizes his first encounter with the black ships as a life-changing event which inspired him to accept the Western world. According to his letter to his family, however, Ryōma held the common, contemptuous opinion for foreigners at the time. He wrote, "If war shall be had, I shall claim the heads of these outsiders for glory and return home." His service ended without incident.
Aside from training, his activities during his stay in Edo are unclear. By Ryōma's own admission within his letters, he wandered the city to gain a "new social perspective". He was likely following advice from his friend in Tosa, Kawarazuka Motarō. In one of his letters to Ryōma, Motarō encouraged him to "see and learn about the world" with his own eyes to better protect Japan's future. Since Motarō was like a respected brother to Ryōma, it can be assumed that Ryōma sought to immerse himself with any studies dealing with the Western world in between his sword training. Due to his perceived intellectual focus, it is generally believed that Ryōma studied under Sakuma Shōzan, a scholar who was well known for his interests with the Western world.
If he did study under Shōzan, his tutelage was short as his permit for leaving Tosa ran dry in 1854. He returned to Tosa by June the same year. After he paid his respects to his family and friends, Ryōma paid a visit to one of his neighbors, Kawada Shōryu. He learned from his family about the scholar's relationship with John Manjirō, a fisherman who returned from overseas and was interrogated by Shōryu. Both men had experience with foreigners and were interested in studying the "exotic" western islands of Japan.
The elderly painter preached to Ryōma the importance of building a marine corp for the purpose of improving trade and border protection from immigrants. At the same, he held a romantic perception of European culture due to his time spent with John and studied English from sources with highly doubtful Japanese transliterations. Shōryu's informative if limited knowledge of the west was still more than what Ryōma had experienced before, and it motivated him to pursue his own studies of European science and technology. He sought for the sailor, Tokuhiro Tōsai, and learned from the elder gunnery and the Dutch language –the common language of foreign visitors in the past. He kept in touch with Shōryu and, through the painter's connections, he was able to like-minded acquaintances such as Nakajima Nobuyuki and Kondō Chujirō. Ryōma's belief of an organized and advanced navy is argued by historians to have its roots here rather than the black ship incident.
When Ryōma was twenty-two, his brother granted him permission to leave once more to Edo to complete his sword training. During his training he reunited with friends from his hometown, Ooishi Yatarō and Takechi Hanpeita. After his request for a one year extension to his training was approved in 1857, Yamamoto Takuma, one of Ryōma's cousins, was caught in a scandal affair in the streets of Edo. Takuma and a friend had found a golden pocketwatch lying on the street after a night of drinking. They conspired to sell the watch immediately and brought it to a local jeweler. The drunkards were unaware that their watch was illegal and were reported to authorities. Takuma and his friend fled from the scene and went to Ryōma's friends for help. Despite the danger it posed aiding the fugitives, Ryōma and company allowed and covered for Takuma's escape from Edo. Although Ryōma would not learn of it himself, Takuma fled the country under an alias and later became the first Japanese priest in Russia.
Due to conflicting accounts regarding his second training in Edo, it's unclear what particular dojo or method he was learning in the Hokushin-Ittō style. He could have learned how to wield a naginata or was taught under a different mentor within the eastern Edo districts. Fiction tends to state that Ryōma represented his swordstyle in an annual sword tournament where he first met several influential figures of the era. Ryōma won high honors in the tournament by defeating a renowned swordsman. However, this event is widely considered to be a product of folklore as historical records record no such tournament taking place. Like his last training session, Ryōma's time in Edo ended when his permit for leaving Tosa had expired. He returned home by August 1858.
Tosa Loyalist PartyEdit
By the time Ryōma returned to Tosa, the news of the black ships and notoriety for the shogunate's succession caused by Ii Naosuke had reached it. Tosa's governors bickered over whether they should accept Imperial Edo reform or obey their shogunate law. Its people, especially the younger residents, began to accept the sonnou-joui attitude as mainstream. Ryōma became a part of the movement when Hanpeita invited him to join him. He is the ninth name listed within the member registry for the Tosa Loyalist Party, a group of activists advocating for diminishing the shogunate's influence in Tosa. While Hanpeita formed a secret base of operations in Edo, Ryōma helped the group by traveling westward to convince sympathizers to join or help secure supplies with the official pretense of continuing his sword training. During this time, he became acquainted with many people through his discrete visits.
Ryōma left Tosa in November 1861. As he was heading towards the Marugame Domain, he was intercepted in Chōshū by local rebel Kusaka Genzui about three months later. They shared ideas and perspectives, each coming to the conclusion that Chōshū's nobility and people had the will to revolt but not the brains to initiate it. Genzui gave Ryōma a letter to deliver to Hanpeita. According to the contents within the letter, Ryōma was entrusted to deliver other detailed plans and information to Hanpeita in person; Genzui held Ryōma in high regard by using the "kun" (君) honorific —akin to the contemporary "sama" (様) during this era— next to his name so the information is believed to have been valuable. What exactly these off-the-record plans were remain unknown and debated to this day. The youth returned to Tosa in March 1862.
Many rebels within the Western provinces felt compelled to leave their homes when Satsuma Domain's leading diplomat, Shimazu Hisamitsu, left for the capital within the same year. Hisamitsu was publicly regarded to have held disdain for the shogunate and rumored to have been a rebel sympathizer. Rebels within the Satsuma Domain felt they could sway Hisamitsu to represent their cause directly within political talks. During this era, however, people were expected to present official documents for any leave of absence outside of their domain's region. A domain was their eternal home, and anyone caught being tardy or violating these rules was branded an outlaw. The accused's family members would be labeled as criminals and placed under house arrest, sometimes stripped of their wealth through heavy taxes. Ryōma became an exiled wanderer by April 22, 1862, never expecting to return to his home again. His letters and other stories suggests that he did so with his family's blessings.
After leaving Tosa, Ryōma and fellow rebel, Sawamura Sōnojō, sought to meet their cohort, Yoshimura Toratarō. They visited Shiraishi Shōichirō, the group's acquaintance and merchant, at Shimonoseki to meet him. Toratarō left before they came to join the Tosa Loyalist Party's attempt to appeal to Hisamitsu. Hanpeita and company would assassinate Yoshida Tōyō, the elected head of the Tosa domain, a month later with the hopes of weakening the shogunate, and Hisamitsu would disappoint the rebels with his ineffectual support. While the rebels' momentum fell into decline and no evidence ties Ryōma's involvement with the Tosa Loyalist Party at this point, his membership was enough to make him a wanted man for headhunters and shogunate law enforcement. He was hiding in Osaka by at least August the same year.
Continuing eastward to dodge suspicions of his origins, Ryōma sought refuge at the Chiba dojo in Edo by September 1862. Ryōma reunited with Hanpeita to offer council for the group's ideals. He accompanied Hanpeita's meeting with Takasugi Shinsaku at Mannen-ya in January 1863. Ryōma criticized the Chōshū rebels' plan to assassinate key individuals to be too radical, a sentiment backed by Hanpeita. Due to discrepancies of time between Ryōma and Hanpeita's opinions within Genzui's diary, it's difficult to determine if Ryōma was able to tell his thoughts to Shinsaku personally or not. Shinsaku was convinced to postpone the plot due to their discussion.
During January or February 1863, Ryōma met Katsu Kaishū. Kaishū wrote about their first meeting in Tsuisan Ichiwa that is roughly translated below.
Kaishū was referring to his visit and return from America. The experience broadened his understanding of global travel and led to his promotion of constructing and refining naval operations in Japan, which were still following the unreliable, supernatural methods of Ancient China. Since he was advocating for accepting foreign policies, Kaishū was commonly deemed a dangerous threat to traditional Japanese customs. Ryōma must have been particularly moved by Kaishū, dubbing him "one of the two greatest mentors of Japan" and "Grandmaster" (大先生, daisensei) in his letters to Otome.
Tsuisan Ichiwa and Kaishū's surviving diaries list conflicting dates from one another, but Ryōma became Kaishū's disciple. Due to Kaishū's political connections, Ryōma was pardoned from the crime of banishment by April 12, 1863; he was given an extended deadline to return his to home domain sometime during the year. Ryōma drifted apart from Hanpeita around this time by dedicating himself to studies. He invited other Tosa wanderers to join Kaishū's Kobe Naval Training Center, including other members from the Tosa Loyalist Party. When he wasn't learning under him, Kaishū wrote in Hikawa Seiwa that Ryōma and his cohorts were his bodyguard escorts in the capital. By his personal account, Ryōma and two others had protected him at least once from armed extremists.
Kaishū had convinced shogunate officials and clan lords to support the foundation of naval forces by letting them and his students sail on the warship Jundōmaru. If there were any doubts regarding Ryōma's loyalties to Kaishū, they were dispelled in his enthusiastic personal account aboard the vessel in his letter to Otome. He joined the other recruits in daily navy drills and instructions. Government funding did not provide for their training, so Ryōma left fifty days later to request additional funds. He met Yokoi Shōnan to receive one thousand ryō and returned to the others by July 2 to resume his training. In November 1863, Kaishū entrusted Ryōma to be the headmaster of the Kōbe Naval Training Center. By this time, his friends who remained within the Tosa Loyalist Party were either killed, hunted, or executed. Ryōma received a notice informing him of his delinquency to return to his home domain in March 1864. He placed importance on the naval constructions and stayed, once again accepting the crime of banishment.
Ryōma accompanied Kaishū's orders to inspect Nagasaki on March 14 and conferred with Shōnan in Kumamoto as his master's liaison. He answered the official's questions regarding the navy and presented various proposals for naval construction. The master and disciple continued to convince other samurai lords to support their funding for the next four months. Saigō Takamori was particularly impressed by Ryōma's boldness during their meeting in Satsuma, citing the loudness of his voice as a respectful trait.
In mid August, Ryōma remembered Oryō and, despite the many violent incidents near the capital, reunited with her for a secret wedding. He simultaneously became friendly with Komatsu Kiyokado during this time, many suspecting that the noble samurai had helped Ryōma and Oryō's passage in and out of the capital. The two friends would reunite in Satsuma in December 8, 1564 to inquire about the isolated Kaishū, who had been summoned by his superiors to be relieved from his government post. The students were particularly worried about their mentor's safety; he was surrounded by many who held him in disdain and used his unauthorized private fund raising as a means to incriminate him. Kiyokado granted Ryōma and other students asylum in Nagasaki to await confirmation of their mentor's whereabouts. Kaishū would survive the threat yet the Kobe Naval Training Center was officially abolished by the shogunate on April 5, 1865.
The stranded students sought to keep practicing their craft with the resources available to them. In late May 1865, Ryōma and company started the Shachu delivery service. Shachu's goal was to transport goods by land or sea. They were financial backed by local Satsuma merchants, Takamori, artist-craftsman Kozone Kendō, and many others due to Ryōma's ties to them. While first dedicated to Satsuma deliveries, their business thrived to assist Chōshu's economy.
Their business name is a pun of their group's headquarters, Kameyama, which was meant to symbolize "comrades" (仲間) and "association" (結社). Shachu (社中) combines these characters to represent their business policy of fair fees and services. It was renamed in the Meiji period as Kameyama Shachu (translated in contemporary Japanese as "Kameyama Company") and is often credited to have been the first trading company of its kind in Japan.
During this time, disapproval for the shogunate were beginning to peak within Satsuma. The anti-shogunate rioters from Chōshū had revolted and shared antagonistic relations with the southwestern neighbors in Satsuma and Aizu, yet many samurai clans within Satsuma began to share their discontent for their shogunate masters. Tosa vagabonds Hijikata Kusuzaemon (Hisamoto) and Nakaoka Shintarō sought to take advantage of the situation by appealing to the Satsuma samurai to form an alliance with Chōshū that would topple the shogunate.
Shintarō somehow knew Ryōma. Fiction often insists they were childhood friends who shared similar beliefs. Proponents supporting their friendship argue that the men were acquaintances due to their respective membership in the Tosa Loyalist Party. Shintarō used their past and current ideology to invite himself into Satsuma. Researchers believe Shintarō may have been aware of the Shachu bridging the gap between Satsuma and Chōshū and approached Ryōma simply because he was its leader. Yet there is nothing which supports either theory, as there are no surviving texts or documents which could confirm their relationship.
In any case, Ryōma at least supported their cause and sought the help of former Chōshū swordsmaster Watanabe Nobori. He invited Nobori to Nagasaki and convinced him to assist the alliance's formation. Ryōma entrusted Nobori to gather Chōshū support by appealing to his familiarity with Katsura Kogorō. While balancing his Shachu business affairs in 1865, Ryōma and Kusuzaemon met Kogorō at Shimonoseki. Both parties agreed to meet in the city to formalize their alliance so Ryōma and Kogorō stayed in the city to await news of Takamori's arrival. They were disappointed when Shintarō delivered Takamori's refusal on June 14. According to Shintarō, the Satsuma lord was interrupted midway when he learned government subjugation was planned for Chōshū. He promptly canceled his trip to make haste to the capital to stop it.
The first attempt at mediation ended in failure but opened a loose gateway between the two factions. Chōshū required military arms to repel the shogunate subjugation forces, and Satsuma provided the supply with an outlet to resist and a scapegoat to avoid accusations of treason. Acting as a representative of Satsuma through his Shachu business, Ryōma purchased multiple artillery and firearms from Thomas Blake Glover's trading company for the Chōshū extremists. It is often romanticized within fiction that Ryōma personally boarded the European ship, the Union, to support Chōshū side of the domain's fight against the shogunate, but historians are mixed on its authenticity. Ryōma describes his knowledge of the military conflict passively within his letters instead focusing on his negotiations with Kondō Chōjirō (Uesugi Sōjirō), Chōshū captain of the Union, regarding the shipment of supplies. When disputes over using the Union arose, Ryōma defended Chōjirō and secured a solid trade route. The Shachu's ships were eventually purchased by Chōshū by late 1865. Ryōma decided to leave Shachu operations within the west to Chōjirō.
Ryōma is believed to have stayed within Shimonoseki throughout these exchanges until he left for the capital in late February 1866. Kogorō and Takamori went to Kiyokado's Kyoto manor yet neither had wanted to open discussions with one another. Ryōma arrived by March 7 to see them. According to the popularly known account of events, Ryōma first inquired to Kogorō to learn that the man was still sore from the previous hang-up, swearing on pride to never again be the one to humble himself for Takamori. Later during the night, Ryōma visited Takamori and heard the lord's lingering hesitation to bet his properties and reputation to support traitors to the shogunate. Two days later, Ryōma convinced both men to lay aside their pride for the good of the country and oversaw negotiations for the alliance. He was one of the witnesses of the treaty's signing, earning the irreplaceable trust and admiration of both representatives. This agreement was called the Satchō Alliance by later generations.
Modern historians remark that the heroic implications of Ryōma's actions ties in with the propaganda version of him. Ryōma may have been present and part of the negotiations, but the depth of his involvement varies with each journal entry and written account from those involved. His sudden interest for establishing the alliance seems at odd with his previous activities that had him invested in business and trading affairs. Shintarō, with his many established political negotiations and arrangements to this point, seems like the stronger candidate for the position Ryōma is famously credited to have achieved. There is also the issue of the alliance's dubious importance in the era, which has been acknowledged to have been exaggerated by Meiji folklore due to the multiple figures involved. A rising theory is that Ryōma's importance for these talks could have been retroactively fabricated based on surviving commentary from the same time frame about him.
Regardless of how much or how little he accomplished, Ryōma was in the capital during this time and, after the alliance was established, rested at Terada-ya on March 9, 1866. His wife and his Chōshū sympathizer and bodyguard, Miyoshi Shinzō, accompanied him to the inn. Ryōma and Shinzō were chatting about the finer points of the alliance when his barely clothed wife barged in to warn them of the danger around them. Ryōma armed himself with his pistol and Shinzō fought with his spear against the dozens of headhunters. Ryōma's fingers were slashed and injured, but the trio somehow survived and fled outside the capital. Ryōma hid in an outside thicket and Shinzō posed as a traveler to smuggle them back into Satsuma. His whereabouts were unknown for approximately two months so his cohorts assumed the worst. Chōjirō committed suicide to join him in the afterlife, a death that Ryōma would later reflect, "I should've been there to have prevented it".
Since his injuries were not yet healed, Takamori granted Ryōma 83 days of leave to recuperate. Ryōma and his wife left Satsuma to be rejuvenated at various hot springs, such as Kirishima Hot Springs, Hinatayama Hot Springs, and so on. The couple rarely stayed in one spot for too long and survived their trips on the road within the wild. His letters to Otome states they traveled by foot for the vast majority of the journey. Stories often state that their trip was a romantic getaway, although one conflicting diary account from Kiyokado states that Oryō was entrusted to his care for a time while Ryōma traveled. Many researchers believe that Ryōma would never fully recover from his injury to explain his reasons for covering his left hand in photographs.
In August 1866, Ryōma was summoned by Shinsaku to serve as Chōshū's naval reinforcements. The Union was planned to be used to bombard shogunate forces along the bay. The ship itself was reported to be found either within the thick of the fray or too far away to be of use to the defenders. It is debated if Ryōma was personally aboard the vessel during the conflict since he is not mentioned by name to be present. If he was, it would have been his first and last experience in battle. Aggressions ended when the shogunate forces withdrew upon the shogun's death, subsequently ending Ryōma's involvement with the central conflict.
The fighting in Chōshū sunk the Shachu's transportation and livelihood. Sailors were given a reprieve from their duties, but Ryōma considered laziness to be their greatest enemy to their teachings and made immediate arrangements to secure a new vessel and port of operations. He made arrangements to lease Daikyokumaru, a Satsuma ship, to substitute for one of their lost ships, Wild Wave, in August 1866. Ryōma spent the rest of the year trying to rebuild the Shachu's profits in order to purchase another ship for the company. When Tosa samurai politician Gotō Shōjirō received orders to study Western naval operations, he was stationed within Nagasaki and came into contact with Ryōma due to his ties to Kiyokado. Both men learned from one another and became good friends. A majority of Ryōma's personal rationale for politics and warfare can be found in his surviving letters to Shōjirō.
Among Shōjirō's acquaintances was Iwasaki Yatarō, a former samurai who survived as a clerk and merchant in Tosa. Like Shōjirō, Yatarō was a part of the extremist movement in Tosa and was the financial provider for the Tosa Loyalist Party. Fictional accounts —especially Ryuma ga Yuku— paints Yatarō to be Ryōma's greatest nemesis during his youth. Back in 1862, Yatarō had the power to dissuade Hanpeita from assassinating Tōyō but ignored them to indulge in petty luxuries. He stayed in hiding and nearly died during his escape back to Tosa. When they met in Nagasaki in 1866, Ryōma was aware of his cowardice to the party's cause and silently accused him to have abandoned his friends in Osaka and Edo. Although he wished to avenge them upon seeing Yatarō, Ryōma realized Yatarō had been just as victimized by the era and decided to work with him towards a better future. Both gentlemen confessed their malice for one another yet agreed to put aside their differences in a calm, almost ceremonial manner. A similar antagonistic stance may be conceived for Shōjirō for similar reasons. Historically, Ryōma first met Yatarō in 1866. The two men quickly became good friends and shared many drinking nights together. Ryōma is believed to have relied on him for supporting the Shachu.
Shōjirō used his political connections to wipe Ryōma's criminal record of banishment clean in January 1867. With Shōjirō and Fukuoka Takachika's permission, Ryōma became the leader and founder of a new affiliate organization to protect Tosa by sea, the Kaientai (loosely: "Navy Defense Squad"). He accepted any applicant —be they exiled criminals, employed locals, old, young, rich, or poor— as long as they had a passion for sailing. Their goal was to provide transportation, education, free market, and any necessary protection for Tosa by sea. Its numbers were small with approximately 50 members known to have been affiliated with it. He advised Shintarō to support him by forming and leading the local land protection, the Rikuentai (loosely: "Land Infantry Squad"). Ryōma stressed in his letters to Shōjirō that he did not want to create an organization promoting military reform or vigilante law enforcement. His goal for the group was to make an orderly, self-sufficient provider for naval protection. Ryōma was vexed by his inability to describe his concept with justice, but he was touching upon the idea of a military-industrial complex and one of Japan's earliest known formations of a contemporary marine academy.
After processing the formalizations and making comfortable living arrangements for his wife in Nagasaki, Ryōma gathered donations for the Kaientai's authorization in April 1867. The Kaientai's first official assignment was to transport firearms, ammunition, rice, sugar, and other goods to Osaka using the English steamboat Irohamaru. On April 19, Ryōma and company left Nagasaki Bay.
Four days later in the Seto Inland Sea, the Meikōmaru, a larger steamship of the Kishū Domain, collided into the Irohamaru. Ryōma and company were knocked off course and immediately sought to stabilize their ship. According to the Kaientai's testimonies they had hollered to the Meikōmaru crew to change their trajectory before the inevitable collusion, but no one was topside or posted as lookout. The men aboard Irohamaru fought against the opposing currents to the best of their ability while the Meikōmaru drifted and slammed back into Irohamaru, this time breaching the ship's hull. The second impact alarmed the Meikōmaru crew and only then did they acknowledge the situation. Irohamaru's entire crew were able to safely evacuate aboard the Meikōmaru. Attempts to salvage Irohamaru were made, but the ship and its goods were irrecoverable.
The Meikōmaru docked at the Kishū Domain's harbor. Both leaders of the respective crews called for a meeting with overseer of the port to determine the repercussions of the encounter. The Meikōmaru's crew insisted that the matter should be left to shogunate authorities and offered 10,000 ryou to compensate for expenses. Ryōma was unsatisfied; the amount offered was a meager offering for the disappointment suffered for the merchandise lost at sea and an insult to the sunken steamship's value. He insisted that the Meikōmaru crew should be held accountable for their incompetence with a proper civil hearing, citing International Law as his source for the justification.
After four days of negotiations and discussions, the hearings were held at Nagasaki in May and the Kaientai, Shōjirō, and Meikōmaru crew conducted a trial. When the three parties could not find reconciliation, Satsuma representative Godai Tomoatsu was sent to investigate the Tosa-Kishū disagreement. His findings within Kishū Domain and his observations led to the Meikōmaru being at fault for the ruined firearms and ammunition. The Kishū Domain were initially charged to pay 83,526 ryou but expenses were knocked down to 70,000 ryou after another investigation (equivalent to 16.4 billion yen). This dispute was later called the Irohamaru Incident and is regarded as the first marine accident investigation in Japan. In 2006, the Irohamaru wreckage was salvaged. The purported firearms and ammunition which were used to incriminate the Meikōmaru were reported to have not been found.
Ryōma bounced back and forth between Nagasaki and the Kishū Domain for the two months spent for the hearings, catching up with his friends and family in letters and personal meetings. Managing the Kaientai's expenses was becoming stressful on him due to the incident. He mentions to multiple figures of its stress, confessing to Yatarō that it was becoming bothersome to him to be the one who had to be responsible for it. His group would experience trouble again when an English man and sailor was found dead in the Daikyokumaru after it had docked in Satsuma sometime in July. Ryōma was made aware of the murder after the fact and had to report it to Takamori and Kiyokado. The Satsuma officials remarked that the Kaientai was not held responsible for the incident yet criticized Ryōma's tardiness. Their investigation for the deaths was nearly fruitless as a result.
While Ryōma was dealing with the Irohamaru investigations, Shōjirō sought for the Tosa Domain to publicly support the budding interest for the Emperor's restoration of political power. Yet Yamauchi Yodo, the former daimyou and influential figure of the Tosa Domain, desired to remain loyal to the crippling shogunate. Frustration with Yodo's stubbornness led to Shōjirō appealing his ideas to Ryōma. His friend agreed with him, perhaps due to his first-hand experience dealing with the dated shogunate practices throughout his life. Ryōma composed his political manifesto while on board the Yūgaomaru with Shōjirō to the capital in mid June. He proposed focusing on eight major changes:
- Restoration of political power to the Emperor.
- Bicameral legislature with an established congress.
- Appointment individuals based on talent into political office.
- Revise the unequal treaty.
- Establish a constitution.
- Augment a navy.
- Form an imperial guard for the Emperor.
- Change the relative value of silver and gold.
According to Nakaoka Kenkichi, the proposal was called Senchu Hassaku (loosely: "Eight Measures Composed While Sailing") and was revised for the Shin Seifu Kōryō Hassaku ("Eight Measures for a New Government"). There are no surviving historical records which currently support Kenkichi's claim causing many researchers to question Ryōma's famous association with the Senchu Hassaku. He may have not authored it. Whether he presented the first set of proposals or not is also debated.
Nevertheless, Ryōma was in the capital with Shōjirō by late June 1867. He reunited with Shintarō who informed him of his secret toubaku pact with Satsuma and Tosa individuals. Ryōma became a supporter of the ideology and met with key individuals of the pact in the capital and Osaka. According to surviving diaries, Ryōma wanted to become an influential member and was considered a high candidate for joining. He worked with Sasaki Takayuki to propose the toubaku practices to local Christians and other parties discriminated by the current shogunate throughout July and early August.
However, Ryōma was soon bogged down by the Daikyokumaru murder case and another murder incident with the English owned ship, the Icarus, in Nagasaki. The Kaientai were accused of being responsible in both cases. While the Satsuma case was officially dismissed by late August, acrimony from the Icarus crew persisted. Ryōma tried to meet with Harry Smith Parkes on multiple occasions to negotiate a settlement. In the end, regardless of whether the Kaientai was responsible or not, the grudge towards the group failed to lift and stayed within the minds of those involved. By October 10, Ryōma took Takayuki's advice to admit defeat and accept responsibility for the foreigner's rights. He purchased 1,000 rifles and sold them to purchase a ferry back to Nagasaki. He used the next three weeks making arrangements with local merchants and politicians who could provide compensation for them. On October 25, he and Toda Uta (Ozaki Saburō) decided to visit his home in Tosa for the first time in five years.
By November 3, weather conditions allowed for Ryōma to return to Osaka and once again talk with his toubaku cohorts from Satsuma. Ryōma received word that the restoration of the Emperor's political power were underway on November 8, which led to his multiple appeals to Shōjirō to consider his political proposals. After he oversaw the compensation measures and received the investigation results for the Irohamaru Incident in Nagasaki on November 14, Ryōma sought to talk to any politician he could reach within Osaka or the capital, even going as far as to send an imploring letter to the Date family for their attention. With the new shogun and current political state, Ryōma sought to capitalize on their openness to change. According to his letter to his wife, Ryōma had the lofty dream "to speak out to the world".
On November 27, Mitsuoka Hachirō (Yuri Kimimasa) agreed to provide food and housing for him. Ryōma began drafting his Shin Seifu Kōryō Hassaku proposal in the morning and well into the night. These eight points call for the following changes:
- Shogunate should permit the imperial court to have power, and the imperial court should make decrees.
- All lawmakers should be included in political discussions. Decisions pertaining to the public should include public discussion and debate before being made.
- Imperial court should appoint ranks and titles based on individual talent and capability. Officials who seldom worked and traditionally obtained rank through family name alone should be dismissed from post.
- Foreign trade and relations should be made with open discussions with the public. New terms with foreigners are extremely important.
- Ancient eclectic practices should be adopted as a base constitution for creating a new government.
- Expand navy.
- Form an imperial guard for the Emperor.
- Change the relative value of silver and gold.
Ryōma ended his document by proposing for an alliance to be made which would please the public and aristocracy. Yet his writing naming the individuals involved for the union are illegible. There are many theories of who could fit the unknown area, such as Tokugawa Yoshinobu, Yamauchi Toyoshige, or Matsudaira Yoshinaga. Since there is nothing to suggest or specify an individual, this section will remain unknown until supplemental material is found to help fill in the gap. Whether by chance or foresight, many of these same changes were later implemented in the Meiji government.
By November 30, Ryōma came into contact with someone who knew Nagai Naoyuki, an advisor of the shogunate. He sought multiple audiences with him and was refused at least once. Ryōma refused to leave the capital and sent several passionate letters informing his wishes to change political policies during his wait.
On December 9, Ryōma finally got to speak with Naoyuki. He was excused by midday and was advised by Otose to rest at Ohmi-ya rather than another person's residence. During the early hours of December 10, he was visited by Fukuoka Takachika's servant twice to arrange a meeting with him. His appointment with him leads many to presume that Ryōma was able to present Shin Seifu Kōryō Hassaku to Naoyuki, although researchers dispute the bold claim.
Ryōma arranged a later meeting with Oumi Kaidō and reunited with Shintarō by sundown. Both he and Shintarō visited Kikuya Kichi and Okamoto Kenzaburō. While walking back to Ohmi-ya with these men, Ryōma spoke with a passing Miyaji Hikosanburō and gave his departing regards to him. Ryōma and company retired to the same second floor room. Later in the evening, Ryōma asked Kichi to get him Shamo chicken and Kenzaburō excused himself for the day. While they were away, Ryōma and Shintarō discussed the controversial arrest of eight Tosa samurai which had occurred the year prior. At around 8 PM, their conversation was interrupted by Yamada Tōkichi's scream. Tōkichi had simply wished to escort the ten or so men claiming themselves to be Totsukawa Gōshi (a place not a person's name) who wished to see Ryōma but was cut from behind.
Ryōma hollered for Yamada to quiet himself in his distinct Tosa dialect, revealing his location to the thugs. They crept to the room and ambushed Ryōma and Shintarō. One assailant slashed Ryōma from the front across his forehead. To conceal his friend's identity, Ryōma said, "Ishikawa, my sword!" His head was cut down from behind and Shintarō suffered grievous injuries. The attackers saw the injuries were fatal and withdrew immediately. As he lay dying, Ryōma reportedly lamented to his friend, "Shinta, they bashed my brain in. It's over." Shintarō tried to seek help but he fell unconscious from his wounds. Ryōma died soon after. He was 33 years old (31 years old in modern conversions).
Yatarō regretfully told Oryō the news of her husband and tried his best to support the Kaientai. Without Ryōma's influence and its glaringly negative reputation looming with the locals, the Kaientai disbanded six months later. Ryōma's remains are honored at Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine. The calligraphy for his grave was written by Kogorō. Another monument dedicated to Ryōma stands at Yasukuni Shrine.
Since the assassins were practically nameless, there are several theories of who could have been responsible for orchestrating his demise. Here is a short list of the popular candidates:
- Shinsengumi - theorized by Ryōma's associates during their lifetimes. Held inexplicable hunts for Tosa renegades in the past and had connections with Ryōma's detractors.
- Miura Yasushi - Kishū politician who held a grudge for the Irohamaru Incident. Accused to have been orchestrating a Kaientai massacre a few days later.
- Takamori and Kiyokado - orchestrated death to increase chances for raising military arms against shogunate. Rumored to have held a grudge against Ryōma for his recklessness.
- Foreign detractors - never forgave Ryōma for his passive dealings with the Icarus murder and could have wanted to have had payback.
So far, any theories or conspiracies regarding his death have not been historically verified.