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Kondo Isami

Kondo Isami

One of the famous swordsmen during the late Edo period was Kondo Isami. He was popular because of his role as commander of the Shinsengumi. His father was a farmer who resided in a village located in the Musashi Province. This place is now known as Chofu located in Western Tokyo. Kondo Isami was younger than his two older brothers named Otojiro or Otogoro and Kumezo or Sobei.

Kondo Isami At a Young Age

When Kondo Isami was young, he began training at the Shieikan. This was the main dojo of the Tennen Rishin Ryu. He was noticed by Kondo Shusuke, a third generation master of the dojo. As a result, the young Katsugoro in 1849 who first acquired the name of Shimazaki Katsuta. His adoption papers had a common name: Shimazaki Isami Fujiwara no Yoshitake.

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Married Life

Kondo Isami married Matsui Otsune, a rich retainer’s daughter. She was from the Shimizu Tokugawa clan. Because of this union, they had a daughter named Tamako. They had one grandson named Kondo Hisataro who was killed in action during the Russo-Japanese War.

Life at the Kobusho

He was a candidate for the teaching position in 1862. The Kobusho, an exclusive military training school, was used to train Shogun retainers in the art of war. The goal for establishing this military school to reform the system after Commander Matthew Perry’s Black Ships arrived.

The Kobusho was established in the late Edo period. The academy taught Japanese martial arts and various Western combat tactics including the use of artillery.

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Shinsengumi

The Tokugawa shogunate organized a large group of Ronnin. The goal was to protect the Shogun Iemochi while he was in Kyoto. A group was formed that includes Kondo Isami and his close friend Hijikata Toshizo. The group was known as Roshigumi. Other groups are formed as well named Mibu Roshigumi. These groups were acting under the direct orders of the shogunate. Under the leadership of Matsudaira Katamori of Aizu they worked as Protector of Kyoto in the Imperial capital.

Boshin War

After the Battle of Toba Fushimi he suffered from a gunshot wound and Kondo Isami went back to Edo. It is in Edo where he met Katsu Kaishu who was then the military commander. Kondo Isami was promoted to the rank of Wakadoshiyori to stop the fall of the Tokugawa administration. He led the remaining survivors of the Shinsengumi. He used an alias which was Okubo Tsuyoshi. However, he lost at war as he retreated to Edo. From his alias, he changed into another name Okubo Yamato.

Death by Execution

Kondo Isami was caught by Imperial forces during an ongoing training at Nagareyama. There was a bid to stop his death. However, even with a letter arriving at Itabashi from Katsu to spare the life of Kondo Isami, this did not stop his execution. The messenger was even arrested for bringing the letter. Kondo was beheaded and his headless body was taken back to Edo. His head placed on a pike and was displayed in public. This was to warn others who were attempting to do what he had done. Thus, Kondo Isami’s life had ended.