Takasugi Shinsaku

Photograph of Takasugi Shinsaku.
  • Born: 1839
  • Died: 1867
  • Japanese: 高杉晋作 (Takasugi Shinsaku)

A militant Chôshû loyalist, Takasugi is credited with forming the first modern non-samurai fighting force in Japanese history, allowing commoners to bear arms. This militia unit was known as the Kihetai, and under Takasugi's leadership, the unit played a pivotal role in defeating the Bakufu-sponsored expedition to punish Chôshû for its part in attacking the Imperial Palace's Hamaguri Gate. Neither blade nor bullet brought Takasugi down, but rather it was illness that ended his short life before he could see his goal of the Imperial Restoration realized.


  • Hillsborough, Romulus. RYOMA- Life of a Renaissance Samurai. Ridgeback Press, 1999
  • Jansen, Marius B. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration. Columbia University Press, 1994.