Captain of the Tenth Unit
Born – 1840 in Iyo Matsuyama on the island of Shikoku.
[Midori-cho, Matsuyama, Ehime]
Died – May 17, 1868 in Honjo, Sarue, Edo at age 29.
[July 6, 1868 in Tokyo at age 28.]
Imina – Tadakazu
Physical Description –
Harada is simply described as a tall, handsome man. He had a seppuku scar that began on his left side and ran across his stomach.
Personality Quirks and Traits –
He was a short-tempered, restless, and rash individual who often disobeyed his superiors. He displayed some cleverness at reading and writing as a youth. When he would get drunk he would show off his seppuku scar and brag about being “indestructible”. Harada also changed his crest to a circle with one line through it to reflect his attempt at seppuku.
He was the only man among the executive officers of the group to marry and was a considerate and devoted husband.
Family History –
Harada was the second son of a lower samurai of the Iyo Matsuyama feudal clan.
In March of 1865 he married a woman named Masa. She was the second daughter of a merchant family named Sugawara. Their first son was born in 1866. Their second son was born in December of 1867, but the child died eight days later.
Before the Shinsengumi –
In 1855 Harada went to Edo in the service of the Naitos family and worked as a “maintenance man” in the daimyo’s second residence in that city. He was about 15 at that time. In 1857 he returned home and became a lesser retainer.
It was during this period that he tried to commit seppuku over a trifle. Apparently he got into an altercation with some men of higher rank who told him that he would not even be able to kill himself correctly. In his anger Harada tried to prove them wrong and cut himself. However the wound was slight and he survived.
Martial Skills –
Spear Ryu – Taneda Houzouin Ryu
Rank – Menkyo Kaiden
Teacher – Tani Sanjuro
Harada apparently trained in the spear under Tani as his dojo in Osaka.
Shinsengumi Years –
Harada was with the group when the Mibu Roshi first formed and became a captain. He maintained this position until after the battle at Kofu, when he left with Nagakura. At the group’s height he was Captain of the Tenth Unit.
Like Nagakura, Harada seems to have butted heads with Kondo on occasion. He was one of the members who filed the petition against the commander. Later he left the group with the second captain in April of 1867.
Shortly after this he parted ways with Nagakura and joined the Shogitai, who were then in Ueno, Edo to guard the Shogun. Harada was shot in the back during their battle with the Meiji government and passed away two days later on May 17, 1867 [July 6, 1867] at the age of 29 .
There are some who believe an alternate story, which claims that Harada became a bandit in Manchuria. According to this theory, he never joined the Shogitai and fled through Niigata to China, where he became the boss of mounted bandits and acted “violently”. This theory seems to be based on an encounter some Japanese soldiers had during the Sino-Japanese War (about 1894) with a man who may have been with the Shinsengumi. This person knew a lot about the group that was not supposed to be generally known, but there is no real proof that he was indeed Harada.