Kido Takayoshi

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Photograph of Kido Takayoshi
  • Born: 1833
  • Died: 1877
  • Other Names: 桂小五郎 (Katsura Kogorou)
  • Japanese: 木戸考允 (Kido Takayoshi, Kido Kôin)

A pro-Imperial loyalist from Chôshû, Kido Kôin played a major role in shaping the course of the Meiji Restoration as the chief negotiator for Chôshû in the military alliance that was forged with Satsuma with the help of Sakamoto Ryôma. Kido was one of the more prominent radicals who were targeted by the pro-Bakufu forces. Although supposed to be at the Ikedaya the night of the famous raid led by the Shinsengumi, Kido was tipped off by his geisha lover that the Shinsengumi were coming for him and wisely chose not show up for the loyalist meeting on that fateful night. He spent the next few days hiding incognito as a beggar.

Kido went on to serve the Meiji government as education minister, home affairs minister, chairman of the local official council, and as cabinet councillor. Immediately following the Restoration, he assisted Sô Yoshiakira, lord of Tsushima han, in obtaining a new title and enhanced court rank in order to continue to serve as lead intermediary for relations with Korea, under the new Meiji government.[1]

Kido then participated in the Iwakura Mission in 1871, and following his return to Japan, stood opposed to the invasion of Korea proposed in the Seikanron debated in 1873. Though he, along with Ôshima Tomonojô and certain other Tsushima officials, had previously advocated a punitive mission against Korea should the Korean Court refuse to engage in relations with the new government, circumstances had changed by this time, and Kido pressed for the Meiji government to instead focus on "the proper management of domestic affairs."[2] Upset with Ôkubo Toshimichi's politics, which Kido believed would lead Japan into unnecessary wars with China, draining the state's finances, and potentially even leading to economic collapse and general disorder in Japan, Kido resigned from government following the Taiwan Expedition of 1874.

Kido was a pupil of Yoshida Shôin. He learned Shintô Munen-ryû from Saitô Yakurô and became head coach of the dojo "Renpeikan".

Kido Takayoshi in Fiction


  • Katsura Kogoro (桂小五郎) Furukawa Kaoru, Okada Yoshio
  • Sameta Hnoo (醒めた炎) Muramatsu Tsuyoshi

Research Books

  • Kido Takayoshi (木戸孝允) Matsuo Masato
  • Kido Takayoshi Kankei Bunsho (木戸孝允関係文書) Kido Takayoshi Kankei Bunsho Kenkyukai


  1. Robert Hellyer, Defining Engagement, Harvard University Press (2009), 240.
  2. Hellyer, 245.