Serizawa Kamo was involved in an altercation with the Sumo wrestlers in Osaka. A wrestler who was drunk, was told by Serizawa to get out of the way as they passed, but the wrestler not knowing who he was talking to was said to have acted “rudely” and thus Serizawa Kamo killed him on the spot. This event led to the stablemates of this wrestler to find the inn the Shinsengumi was staying at and a fight ensued, leaving the Osaka wrestlers beaten.
Kondou Isami who was staying in the Kyouya inn after hearing of this decided to report to the Osaka Magistrate office as they could not leave things as it is. There was a man named Uchiyama Hikojirou who was known as a man of principle and was known for undertaking the arrest of Ooishio Heihachirou when he was young. Ooishio was a shogunate official (apparently also working in the Osaka magistrate’s office) who started a revolt due to a rice deficit. Uchiyama before hand had heard of the Miburoshi way of raising money and he hated it. (not my words.. LOL)
Kondou is said to have told the examiner Uchiyama that the Sumo wrestlers were rude which is why the altercation started. Uchiyama asked what kind of rudeness occured. However Kondou declined to be cross-examined saying that he came to report and would just like to tidy up the “cadaver” simply. Uchiyama presses that in the case where a life was lost it is the duty of the Osaka magistrates office to investigate the rights and wrongs of the matter. But Kondou refuses saying that they were under the jurisdiction of Aizu and any inquiries should be directed there and leaves.
In May 20, 1864 Uchiyama Hikojirou was assasinated according to Nagakura’s “Shinsengumi Tenmatsuki”. During the time the price of rice in Osaka skyrocketed and the effects were felt by the residents of Kyoto and Osaka, because of the Shinsengumi sent Yamazaki Susumu to Osaka in disguise as a merchant to investigate the matter. It turns out according to Susumu’s investigation that Uchiyama had his hand in pulling up the market prices of rice, starting the social unrest, under instructions of the anti-shogunate faction. After hearing this, Kondou volunteered (not sure who he would’ve volunteered to, perhaps Aizu) to go to Osaka taking Hijikata, Okita, Nagakura, Harada, Inoue and Shimada to Osaka, lodging at the Kyouya Chuubeehou looking to assasinte Uchiyama. Uchiyama knowing the danger to his life, had his home guarded heavily and made a secret passage at the back side of an alcove to escape if suddenly attacked. Since the Shinsengumi cannot openly break into Uchiyama’s home, they saw that their chance only lied when Uchiyama would make a trip to the Magistrate’s office. Kondou and the others decide that they will wait at Tenjin-bashi bridge. Uchiyama who was riding the palaquin was completely unaware and when Kondou and the others approached, the two men who was accompanying Uchiyama as bodyguards, a sumo wrestler and a swordsman, they ran away. It is said that Hijikata pierced tha palaquin and Uchiyama started “falling”. After this Kondou leaves a note, the same one as the anti-shogunate forces did when they assasinations, “Tenchuu” or Heaven’s Justice/Revenge and the whereabouts were concealed. This event was to be uncovered later as a work of the Shinsengumi but people say that this was done out of virtue. (Not my words).
However there is another account from “Miburoshi Shimatsuki” (Shinsengumi Shimatsuki). The account here is said to be more severe from Nishimura Kanefumi. He is a samurai retainer of the Kyoto Nishihonganji
Kondou who was angry about being talked down upon by Uchiyama, talked to Okita and Nagakura into a secret plot, saying that they could not move freely in Osaka while Uchiyama was there. Uchiyama was buying up the kerosene in the area and was making excessive profits and that they were going to assasinate the man and will camouflage it as a work of the Ishin Shishi. Okita, Harada, Nagakura and Inoue waited for Uchiyama on the Osaka Tenma bridge and murdered him, but no one else knew. It is said that ever since Kondou got rid of the nuisance, it was start of the tyranny and freedom of obtaining/raising money, unimaginable retardation to the townspeople. (I’m unsure whether this last sentence is taken from the book Shimatsuki itself or a quote from Nishimura).
The truth of the assasination is uncertain up to this point. However it can’t be denied that at least four or more people had killed an elderly person. Uchiyama Hikojirou was 68 years old. The Shinsengumi did employ such means of assasinations (by out numbering the enemy). Because of this, it lends to a darker image of the Shinsengumi.
Kizu just blabbing as usual:
Hmmm.. If I were to pick one of these two stories, I’d probably go with Nagakura’s account. Of course perhaps we can say his account is biased… But I think both stories are quite biased. Nishimura Kanefumi who gave the second story was said to have kept close contact with Itou Kashitarou as both were very into anti-foreign sentiments and considering he was a Nishihonganji samurai. I think even Romulus said that the priest there wasn’t too happy with the Shinsengumi keeping part of the estate as their base.. Who knows? But the more telling fact to me is that, if the second story was true, how in the world would Kanefumi know about it? If it was a secret plot just between those four or five people and considering the timeline, the Shinsengumi didn’t move into Nishihonganji temple till much later (although I don’t know the exact date). Was Kondou and company stupid enough to go around Mibu telling they did Uchiyama “in”, when they took pains to camouflage it as anti-shogunate work? I’ll take the first story as it’s more consistant with me, plus Nagakura was a person who participated in the assasination…
Anyway, Nishimura does mention that Yamazaki Susumu’s name was omitted from the merit awards… So Nagakura doesn’t mention Susumu at all with regards to the Ikedaya while Nishimura says otherwise.