The Attempted Assasination of Kondou Isami

The large order of the monarchy restoration was issued on Keio 3 December 9 by the cessation of Tokugawa Yoshinobu. In other words, Yoshinobu became a common man who had no territory nor official rank at that moment. Shogunate troops that was in Nijo Castle, mostly Aizu and Kuwana were furious when they heard this. This indignation of the Shogunate troops was suppressed though since it was Yoshinobu himself who accepted the Royal command. Yoshinobu fearing the collision of the Shogunate troops clashing with the Choshu and Satsuma troops decided to leave for Osaka Castle on the 12th. At this time the Shinsengumi moved to the Fushimi magistrate’s place as their headquarters. According to Nagakura Shinpachi’s “Doushi Renmei Ki”, there were 66 people in the Shinsengumi. The move to the Fushimi magistrate office is the fourth time. Ikeda Saburo who just enlisted at Fudodou village post followed to Fushimi only 40 days after. According to him outside the magistrate place was the signboard “Shinsengumi Base” and that Aizu soldiers were completely getting prepared for war. There was a flag which was a crimson color, measuring six shaku in length and a the middle which had the letters “sincerity” standing in white fabric about five shaku in the middle. It was the emblem of the Shinsengumi and the curtain symbol of Yamagata was put right below.

When the Shinsengumi moved to Fushimi there were a few remnants of the Kodaiji faction from the Aburanokouji event who had managed to survive. They were Suzuki Mikisaburou, Shinohara Tainoshin, Kano Washio, Tomiyama Yahee who had hidden themselves in a Satsuma residence in Fushimi. Abe Juuro and Utsumi Jirou who had both gone through the same difficulty had found their way to the others and joined them upon hearing the opportunity that they might be able to achieve revenge for what happened in Aburanokouji from Kanou Washio who had spied on Okita Souji, who was hiding out in the resting place (house) of Kondou Isami. This might’ve been because of Souji’s chronic disease, which might have worsened and thus he was resting. Abe Juuro took Utsumi Jirou and Sawara Taro and stormed the house on the morning of the 18th. Abe Juuro’s talk about this time on “Shidan Kai Sokkiroku” was “However there was no one there but one woman, who after interrogation admitted that there was an Okita Souji the other night who at 10PM returned to Fushimi. It was really regrettable”

If Okita was slow that morning, it might’ve been dangerous since Okita was sick and there were three people too. However when Abe, Taro Sawara and Utsumi Jirou were shopping in Kyoto Termachi that afternoon, Kondou happened to pass the store riding on a horse. He was returning from Nijo Castle to fushimi. Immediately they went for the perfect opportunity and went to the residence of the Satsuma Domain in Fushimi and invited those who happened to be there, Shinohara, Kano, Toyama and others. Although they had prepared two guns, they did not rely on it so much and thus gave a spear to Shinohara and Kano saying that if Kondou tried to escape that they should “poke” him with the spear.

Abe describes the pattern of attack like this… “There was a vacant house where Yahee, Toyama and I entered. Toyama said ‘It comes. It comes’, while Toyama said that I solved and shot one shot. Kondou was hit between the shoulder and chest, therefore he survived because it was not a vital point. When you shoot a gun you think of smoke and 20 people thus he (Kondou) run away disjointedly as soon as the “crack” from the gun is heard. I threw away the gun and took a sword with me. Taro Sawara suddenly took to cutting Kondo who was shot in the chest and was hanging on to the saddle. Because three people to the sides of the horse, beat it’s rump with their sword the horse galloped. Taro Sawara now in place tries to cut Kondo’s foot but it was now possible for the horse to run away. Kano and Shinohara shoots the spear and stopped it but to our regret since we shot the spear before beginning an attack, it run away and we finally let it go.”

While Kondou escaped two footmen from his party was killed by the Kodaiji party (names omitted as I can’t seem to make sense of them). The feudal lord of the Satsuma residence in Fushimi hid the bodies by running to the feudal lord in Kyoto Imadegawa because it was near and it was dangerous. According to Miburoshi Shimatsuki, Nakamura Hanjirou of the Satsuma domain who receives this report has this to say… “Why did you not shoot the horse if you had a gun? Having tried to shoot the person is a mistake.”

After this wound, Kondou returned to Edo and Matsumoto Ryojuun who treated him said it had pierced through the top of the right hand side of the collarbone and it was a serious injury.

Suzuki Tooru mentions that Abe Juuro’s discourse shows contempt for Shinohara however in Shinohara’s diary it is claimed that they were concealed in the house, from behind the shadow of the shoji he fired and shot Kondou’s shoulder by mistake. So it is unclear who really did shoot Kondou Isami. Abe claims it is him, while Shinohara’s diary records him (Shinohara) as the one who fired.

Conventionally it is thought that the place of the ambush is at Fujimori Shinto Shrine in the vicinity of Fushimi, however Mr. Koichi clarified in the account of “Boshin Eki Jitsuroku” (non-fiction) and others which Takarabe Yuuemon of the Satsuma Domain who wrote “People of the Kodaiji Party”, that the actual place was at the vicinity of Tanba-bashi, 1.5 kilometers south from the Fujimori Shrine.

Kizu’s blab: So who do we believe? Abe Juuro or Shinohara Tainoshin? Abe Juuro has been very vocal about his thoughts on what has happened during his time in the Shinsengumi and in the Kodaiji party. Does that lend more credibility to him? I’ve noticed that one of his accounts is commonly discounted in the fandom, it was his mention that Saitou was not a spy and stole from Ito because Saitou was dirty with women and was seeing some courtesan. This might be because of fan’s preference for a “cleaner” Saitou image. What of Shinohara Tainoshin? Frankly I do not know a lot about him except that he followed the Shinsengumi until the split. I believe it is probable that both men thought they were the one who got the “hit”, there were two guns after all and if both shot at the same time… Hmm… Why is Abe Juuro insisting that he was the one who shot Kondo? I wonder if some sort of argument later on happened between Abe and Shinohara, on who would take credit for injuring Kondou Isami. But then again Abe was one of the gun instructors in the Shinsengumi.

Notes: I am not 100% sure of the name Taro Sawara here is the kanji for his name 佐原太郎. Usual disclaimers apply.