Sakamoto Ryoma

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  • Born:1835/11/15
  • Died:1867/12/10
  • Other name: Saitani Umetarô
  • Japanese: 坂本龍馬直柔 (Sakamoto Ryôma Naonari)
Photograph of Sakamoto Ryoma

Sakamoto Ryôma Timeline

  • 1835 Born on November 15 in Tosa as the second son into the Gôshi (low ranking samurai) household of Sakamoto Hachihei Naotari
  • 1848 Started studying swordsmanship at the local dôjô and quickly became one of the dôjô’s most gifted students.
  • 1853 Completed his training in swordsmanship and received his certificate
    • Began advanced training in swordsmanship at the famed Chiba dôjô in Edo.
    • Saw the U.S. Navy “black ships” under the command of Commodore Matthew Perry, rousing feelings of both curiosity and a strong anti-foreign zeal
  • 1854 Completed his training at the Chiba dôjô and returned to Tosa where he learned more about the West from scholar Kawada Shoryo
  • 1858 Returned to Edo to receive his license in swordsmanship from the Chiba dojo
  • 1861 Joined the Tosa Loyalist Party, led by longtime friend, Takechi Zuizan (Hanpeita), with the aim of expelling the foreigners and restoring power to the emperor
  • 1862 Fled Tosa without han permission to become a ronin in Edo to work with other loyalists to push their Sonnô Jôi agenda
    • Sets out to assassinate Katsu Kaishu, commissioner of the Tokugawa navy, due to his calls for opening up the country to foreign trade. Instead of killing him, Ryoma becomes one of Katsu’s disciples
  • 1863 Katsu secures a pardon for Ryoma for leaving Tosa, but he refuses han orders to return, remaining an “outlaw” Rônin
    • Put in charge of the Kaientai, in Kobe, an auxiliary naval training unit established by Katsu Kaishu
    • Introduced to Yokoi Shonan, an influential loyalist from Fukui, who advocated opening the country
  • 1864 Met Saigô Takamori, a Satsuma loyalist leader, one of the future masterminds behind the future overthrow of the Tokugawa bakufu
  • 1865 Established Japan’s first foreign trading company, the Kameyama-shachu in Nagasaki, with the help of Saigo, to run supplies to loyalists in Choshu.
    • Met Chôshu loyalist leader Katsura Kogorô and begins to push longtime enemies, Satsuma and Choshu to form an anti-Tokugawa alliance
  • 1866 Successfully brokered the secret military alliance between Satsuma and Choshu that will seal the fate of the Tokugawa Bakufu.
    • One night after the conclusion of the Satsuma-Choshu alliance, Ryoma fights his way out of the Teradaya using a Smith & Wesson revolver during a raid by pro-bakufu police forces.
    • On the advice of Komatsu Tatewaki and Saigô Takamori, travels to Satsuma province with his wife Oryô, to spend time in the onsen recovering from his wounds. They stay for a time at Komatsu's home, and later visit Kirishima as well.[1]
  • 1867 Received a second pardon from Tosa
    • Reorganized the Kameyama-shachu into the Tosa-Kaientai, and is appointed its head.
    • While running guns, the Kaintai vessel lroha is struck by a vessel belonging to Kii. Ryoma files a law suit under the premise that the Kii ship violated the laws of the sea as stipulated under international law. Receives an out-of-court settlement.
    • Formulated his Eight-Point Program, calling for a new government structure to replace the Tokugawa baku-han system.
    • Gotô Shojirô, head of the Tosa bureaucracy, passes a written memorial calling for the immediate restoration of imperial rule and a new government based on Ryoma’s Eight-Point Program to the leader of Tosa, Yamauchi Yôdô, who passes the document to the bakufu.
    • Tokugawa Yoshinobu, accepts the memorial from Tosa and resigns as Shogun, returning political power to the imperial court.
    • Assassinated with fellow Tosa loyalist, Nakaoka Shintarô by pro-bakufu forces on December 10

Sakamoto's 8 Point Plan for Imperial Restoration and Governance

  • Japanese:船中八策(Senchû Hassaku)

Although Sakamoto Ryoma brokered the military alliance between Choshu and Satsuma, he hoped that force would be a last resort. To help try to bring about the Imperial restoration by peaceful means, Sakamoto drafted an eight point plan that he shared with Gotô Shôjirô who then presented it in a memorial to Yôdô, leader of Tosa han. Sakamoto’s plan was as follows:

  1. Political power should be restored to the Imperial Court and all decrees should be issued by the Court.
  2. Both upper and lower legislative houses should be created and government policies should be decided by this legislative body.
  3. "Men of ability" from the former daimyô, nobles and general population should be appointed councilors. Traditional posts of power that existed under the baku-han system should be abolished.
  4. Foreign affairs should be conducted in accordance with regulations agreed upon on the basis of general consensus.
  5. Rules and regulations created during Japan’s feudal days should be abolished and a new, modern legal code should be created.
  6. Naval forces should be enlarged.
  7. An Imperial Guard should be established for the purpose of defending the capital.
  8. The value of goods and silver should be aligned with the going rates in foreign countries.


Sakamoto Ryoma in Fiction


  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1911 Yokota Shokai
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1914
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1911 Yoshizawa Shokai
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1921
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1924
  • Ryoma Ansatsu (竜馬暗殺) 1927
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1928
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1928
  • Kaien Taicho Sakamoto Ryoma (海援隊長 坂本龍馬) 1931
  • Kaien Taicho Sakamoto Ryoma Kyoraku-hen(海援隊長 阪本竜馬 京洛篇) 1931
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1932
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1936
  • Bakumatsu (幕末) 1970 (Director:Ito Daisuke)
  • Ryoma Ansatsu (竜馬暗殺) 1974 (Director:Kuroki Kazuo)
  • Bakumatsu Seishun Grafiti Ronin Sakamoto Ryoma (幕末青春グラフィティ Ronin 坂本龍馬) 1986 (Director:Kawai Yoshitaka)


  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1958 NTV
  • Bakumatsu Monogatari Sakamoto Ryoma-hen (幕末物語 坂本龍馬編) 1959 MBS
  • Ryoma ga Yuku (竜馬がゆく) 1965 MBS
  • Ryoma ga Yuku (竜馬がゆく) 6th NHK Taiga Drama 1968
  • Ryoma ga Yuku (竜馬がゆく) 1982 TX
  • Bakumatsu Seishun Grafiti Sakamoto Ryoma (幕末青春グラフィティ 坂本竜馬) 1982 NTV
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) 1989 TBS
  • Ryoma ni omakase (竜馬におまかせ) 1996 NTV
  • Ryoma ga yuku (竜馬がゆく) 1997 TBS
  • Ryoma ga Yuku (竜馬がゆく) 2004 TX
  • Yukuna! Ryoma (ゆくな!龍馬) 2005 CX
  • Ryôma den (龍馬伝) 2010 NHK Taiga Drama


  • Ryoma ga yuku (龍馬がゆく) Shiba Ryotaro
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) Yamaoka Sohachi
  • Ryoma no Meiji (龍馬の明治) Nakatsu Fumihiko
  • Ryoma (龍馬) Tsumoto Yo
  • Toshizo to Ryoma (歳三と龍馬)
  • Ryoma den (龍馬伝) Tsuka Kohei
  • Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) Kunimitsu Shiro
  • Kawaracho Sanjo Kudaru Ryoma Ansatsu(河原町三条下ル、龍馬暗殺) Hirose Niki
  • Ryoma Zanei (龍馬残影) Tsumoto Yo
  • Ryoma Ansatsu (龍馬暗殺) Saotome Mitsugu
  • Kagemusha Ryoma (影武者龍馬) Kaku Kozo
  • Sakamoto Ryoma no Shogai (坂本龍馬の生涯) Shimaoka Akira


  • Ryôma ga yuku (竜馬がゆく) - adaptation of the Shiba Ryôtarô novel


  1. Historical plaques at corner of Miami and Izuro-dôri in Kagoshima.
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