Takechi Zuizan was born in 1829, the eldest son of a gōshi in Nagaoka A district in Tosa. By 1856, when he was 27, he had become known as a leading master of fencing (kenjutsu) in Tosa. He then travelled to Edo, where he met and cooperated with fellow spirits from Mito, Chōshū, and Satsuma. H e returned home the undisputed leader of Tosa loyalists. For a brief period in 1862 and 1863 he controlled, as much as any one controlled, the turbulent extremists in Kyoto and Edo. But at the point of his greatest success he overplayed his hand. His lord, Yamauchi Yōdō, proved to be unsympathetic to Takechi’s goals, and on the national scene the excesses of the Chōshū loyalists swung the balance temporarily in the direction of moderation. Takechi was restricted in his movements, imprisoned for his complicity in political assassination and his clear guilt in a presumptuous forgery, and he was finally ordered to commit hara-kiri in the summer of 1865. His career provides a useful close-up for the study of the loyalist movement in Tosa.

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