Yamanami was Ronin from Sendai han who practiced Onoha Itto Ryu (Menkyo) and Hokushin Itto Ryu (Menkyo). In 1860. He visited Shieikan dojo and had a match with Kondo Isami. He was defeated and was enrolled at the Tennen Rishin Ryu's Shieikan. In 1863, Kondo and other 8 Shieikan members joined the Roshigumi.
Yamanami is believed to have been involved in the assassination of Serizawa Kamo. 1864 January, he captured Futei Roshi at Iwaki Masuya and received prize money from Lord Matsudaira Katamori of Aizu. On the Ikedaya Affair, he stayed in the Mibu Roshigumi headquater.
Later in 1864, according to some sources, Yamanami protested Kondo and Hijikata over moving the headquater to Nishi Hongan-ji. But Kondo and Hijikata completely ignored him which made him feel isolated.
1865 February 21, Yamanami suddenly ran away from Shinsengumi. He was captured next day and ordered to commit Seppuku along the Shinsengumi Regulations (Kyokuchu Hatto). His grave is in Koen-ji, Kyoto.
Yamanami Keisuke's Sword
- Sekishin Okimitsu 赤心沖光
- Shinsengumi Zentaishi Tettei Guide (新選組全隊士徹底ガイド) Maeda Masaki
- Shinsengumi Taishi Den (新選組隊士伝) Gakken
- Shinsengumi (新選組) Sekai Bunkasha
- The Shinsengumi Exhibition catalog 2004