Omura Masujiro

From SamuraiWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
Statue of Ômura at Yasukuni Shrine
  • Born: 1824
  • Died: 1869/11/5
  • Other Names: 村田蔵六 (Murata Zôroku), 永敏 (Nagatoshi)
  • Japanese: 大村益次郎 (Oomura Masujirou)

Ômura Masujirô is considered the "father" or founder of Japan's modern army, and was influential in the establishment of Yasukuni Shrine.

A village doctor from Suzenji village in Suô province, he was originally known as Murata Zôroku or Nagatoshi. In 1855, he designed a functional model Western-style warship for Date Munenari, lord of Uwajima han.[1] The following year, he established a private academy in the Banchô neighborhood of Edo known as the Kyûkyodô, and was subsequently appointed to teach at the Bansho shirabesho.[2]

Masujirô led Imperial military forces as early as the Boshin War (1868), immediately following the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate. He was appointed Vice Minister of Military Affairs within the year, and proposed the establishment of a system of military conscription.[3] He was assassinated, however, on 1869/11/5 by a group of Kyoto samurai displeased with the proposition - which deprived samurai of their identity as the warrior class.[4]

A statue of Ômura erected in 1893 which today stands at Yasukuni is considered the first Western-style bronze statue to be erected in public in Japan.[5] It was actually preceded by a massive bronze statue of Yamato Takeru erected in Kenrokuen in Kanazawa in 1880; however, the statue of Ômura was the first erected in Tokyo, and the first to depict a more contemporary figure more directly associated with the modern state. It is thus considered to also mark the beginning of a new Meiji period / modern phenomenon of designating national heroes and celebrating them with public statuary.[6]


  1. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 112.
  2. Ishin Shiryô Kôyô 維新史料綱要, vol 2 (1937), 269.
  3. Norman, E.H. Soldier and Peasant in Japan: The Origins of Conscription. New York: Institute for Pacific Relations, 1945. pp41-42, 49.; David Lu, Japan: A Documentary History, ME Sharpe (1997), 314.
  4. Andrew Gordon, A Modern History of Japan, Oxford University Press (2013), 66.
  5. Suzuki Eka, "Building Statues of Japanese Governors: Monumental Bronze Sculptures and Colonial Cooperation in Taiwan under Japanese Rule," presentation at 2013 UCSB International Conference on Taiwan Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara, 7 Dec 2013.
  6. Takashi Fujitani, Splendid Monarchy, UC Press (1998), 17.