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Okita Soji

Okita Soji

One of the most distinctive achievements that can be identified with Okita Sojiro would be that he was the the Shinsengumi’s 1st unit captain. Their group was considered as the special police forces during the Bakumatsu period.

Okita Sojiro, or Soji as he was commonly called, was born to a samurai family in Edo. However, they lived in the Shirakawa Domain instead. He was the son of Okita Katsujiro and was the grandson of Okita Kane’emon and Okita Sanshiro. At a very young age, Okita was already training at the Shieikan or Tennen Rishin Ryu Dojo located in Ichigaya, Edo. He was described as being quite handsome but was known more as a man of charisma.

Troops of Masterless Samurai

The dojo where Okita first achieved his training was founded by Kondo Shusuke in 1839. It was dubbed as the Roshi-tai in Japanese which can be literally translated as troops of the masterless samurai. As a student, Okita was a young genius. He was able to master all the techniques to get his license at this dojo. He was also able to achieve the Menkyo Kaiden Scroll at 18 years old.

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Attainment in Life

As a young man, Okita was able to attain a number of things in life. Here is a list of what he has achieved and what he was greatly known for:

  • He was a child genius at the age of 9.
  • Had an extremely charismatic personality
  • Was the Shinsengumi’s special force first unit captain
  • Head coach (Jukutou) at the Shiekan
  • Commander of the Shinchogumi ( this was the brother league of the Shinsegumi in Edo)
  • Shogun vassal as the head of Mimawarigumi
  • One of the members of Serizawa Kamo who was one of the founding members of the Shinsengumi.
  • Highly skilled with different weapons like katana, shinai and bokken.

Ronin Squad

Okita eventually lengthened his name and changed this to Okita Souji Fujiwara-no-Kaneyoshi. This was when he departed with the Roshigumi in 1863. However, the group disbanded upon their arrival in Kyoto on the 10th of April in the year 1863.

Another name given to Roshigumi is Ronin Squad or Kyoto Defenders. Okita Soji belonged to these 234 masterless samurai which was founded by Kiyokawa Hachiro in 1862. His group was loyal to the bakufu. The group was originally established to protect the Tokugawa shogun in Kyoto, yet the main goal of these troops was to prepare for battle against military actions of Western countries.

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Battle of Toba Fushimi

It was in 1886 when Okita Soji organized the Koyo Chinbutai or shogunal loyalist unit. The Battle of Toba Fushimi took place between those who were for the pro-Imperial and Tokugawa forces during Japan’s Boshin War. This battle lasted for approximately four days which ended with a loud sounding defeat for the shogunate. The Allied Forces that were part of the battle include the following: Choshu, Satsuma, and the Tosa Domains.

Mysterious Womanizer

Okita Souji was a highly romanticized figure that he was referred to as a womanizer. He was also claimed to have been in love with a doctor’s daughter in Kyoto. This woman was said to be the adoptive daughter of Kondo Isami, commander of the Shinsengumi.

However, this relationship was not encouraged. There was a theory that he was in for a treatment at the doctor’s office when they met each other. He was also said to have been involved with a woman whose death register states having a relationship with Okita. Later, it was discovered that the woman was the wife of the Shinjo clan’s Gokaijishi. She divorced her husband all because of Okita.

Theories about His Death

One of the theories about his death was that Okita was captured fighting for the government army. He was put to death by beheadment. Another theory states that Okita died because of tuberculosis in 1868 and was buried at Sensho-ji Temple in Azabu Edo. The temple where Okita was buried was opened to the public after the 2004 drama, Shinsengumi, was released. This is one of the reasons why people continue to visit the temple.

Okita in Popular Culture

Okita Soji has drawn several crowds of admirers thanks to the fictionalized account of his life. Dramas, novels, anime and even manga series were produced based on his life. Here are some appearances of Okita in pop culture:

  • Rurouni Kenshin; a popular series with a setting that takes place after Meiji Period in Japan
  • In the drama “Shinsengumi”, he was portrayed by Fujiwara Tatsuya.
  • Okita is embodied in the manga series Peacemaker Kurogane that takes liberties in history
  • Okita is the protagonist of the oneshot manga, “Because Goodbyes are Coming Soon” – Yukimura Makoto
  • Okita Sougo from the anime / manga Gintama, is based loosely on Okita.

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