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In this Japanese name, the family name is Hijikata.
Hijikata Toshizō
Statue at Takahata Fudo, Hino, Tokyo

Hijikata Toshizō (土方歳三, May 31, 1835 – June 20, 1869) was the deputy leader of Shinsengumi, a small-built and talented Japanese military leader who resisted the Meiji Restoration.



Hijikata Toshizō Yoshitoyo was born on May 31, 1835 in present-day Hino (a suburb of Tokyo, Japan). He was the youngest of six children, and his father, a well-to-do farmer, died shortly before his birth. Hijikata's mother also died when he was a young boy and he was therefore raised by his older brother and sister-in-law.

He was spoiled at an early age and was alleged to be mean to all but his friends and family. This changed when a 21-year-old swordsman from the Aizu clan known for opposing the Reformists was forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide). When Hijikata attended the man's funeral, he apparently cried in public.

Hijikata spent his youth selling his family's Ishida Sanyaku (medicine for treating injures such as bruises and broken bones) while practicing his self-taught kenjutsu. His brother-in-law, Sato Hikogoro, managed a Tennen Rishin-ryu dojo in Hino; through Sato, Hijikata met the later Kondo Isami and was formally enrolled at the Tennen Rishin-ryu's Shieikan in 1859.

Shinsengumi Period

In 1863, he and Kondo Isami formed the Shinsengumi. Kondo and two other men, Serizawa Kamo, Niimi Nishiki became joint leaders of the group, and Hijikata served as one of the deputy leaders. Shinsengumi served as a special police force in Kyoto that fought against the Reformists under Matsudaira Katamori, the Daimyo of Aizu.

However, Serizawa and Niimi began fighting, drinking, and committing extortion in Kyoto, which started to tarnish the reputation of Shinsengumi and earned the group the nickname of "Wolves of Mibu (壬生狼 miburo)." Hijikata found enough proof against Niimi in these matters and ordered him to commit seppuku. Serizawa and his followers, however, were assassinated, and Kondo became the sole leader of Shinsengumi with Yamanami Keisuke and Hijikata as his deputy leaders.

The group grew to 140 men, which included a number of farmers and merchants whose livelihood was threatened if the Tokugawa Shogunate was overthrown. The regulations set up by Shinsengumi within Kyoto were strictly enforced and Hijikata was known to be harsh in enforcing them with his sword, the Kanesada, hence his nickname: "The Demon of the Shinsengumi". Even within the Shinsengumi itself, regulations were strictly enforced by Hijikata. Deserters and traitors were forced to commit seppuku; this happened to Yamanami (one of Hijikata's old friends) when he tried to leave Shinsengumi in 1865.

Together with the rest of the Shinsengumi, Hijikata became a hatamoto in 1867.[1] He was given the rank of yoriai (yoriai-kaku 寄合格) in early 1868.[2]


After Kondo surrendered to the Imperial Loyalist Army and was executed on May 17 (lunar calendar April 25) 1868, Hijikata led Shinsengumi on their final battles against the new government. After a time in Aizu, he went to Sendai, where he joined up with Enomoto Takeaki's fleet.[3] In Hakodate, he was made a vice-minister of the Army in the new Ezo Republic.[4] He knew he was fighting a losing battle, and told the physician Matsumoto Ryojun that "I am not going to battle to win. With the Tokugawa government about to collapse, it would be a disgrace if no one is willing to go down with it. That is why I must go. I will fight the best battle of my life to die for the country".

On June 20 (lunar calendar May 11), 1869, he was killed near Hakodate, while in combat on horseback by a bullet that shattered his lower back. It is unknown where he was buried, but a memorial gravestone stands near Itabashi Station in Tokyo, next to Kondo Isami.

The death poem that was entrusted to Ichimura Tetsunosuke shortly before Hijikata's death read:

Though my body may decay on the island of Ezo, My spirit guards my lord in the east.


He owned a sword made by renowned swordsmith Izumi-no-Kami Kanesada (和泉守兼定) that was forged during the Edo period.

Although Hijikata himself never fully mastered the Tennen Rishin-ryu, it is said that he managed to develop the standard Shinsengumi fighting style, the "Shinsengumi-Kenjutsu," from the Tennen-Rishin Ryu.

Hijikata in Fiction

Hijikata is depicted in the 1999 film Gohatto (played by Takeshi Kitano), the 2004 NHK Taiga drama series Shinsengumi! (including the single-episode sequel Shinsengumi!: Hijikata Toshizo Saigo no Ichinichi), as well as being one of the main characters in Peace Maker Kurogane (anime/manga) and Kaze Hikaru (manga).

Hijikata is the protagonist in Morita Kenji's manga Getsumei Seiki, and in Mibu Robin's Baragaki ("Red Demon").

Hijikata (as well as other members of the Shinsengumi) also appears in the yaoi manga Soshite Haru no Tsuki.

Hijikata appears in the TV series Shinsengumi Keppuroku, and is played by Hiroaki Murakami.

Hijikata is also featured in the anime/manga Shura no Toki and in the short OVA Hijikata Toshizou - Shiro no Kiseki.

He also has a part in the anime Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto.

He is a minor character in anime Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi as well.

Hijikata was also featured prominently in the 2-part anime: Unkai no Meikyuu (Mask of Zeguy)

The short OVA Hijikata Toshizou: Shiro no Kisek attempts a proper portrayal of him.

Hijikata was mentioned in the manga rurouni kenshin as a shinsengumi division leader. He also developed the shinsengumi fighting method which was then modified and used by saitou hajime


Related Work

Hijikata Toshiro, from the anime/manga Gintama, is based on Hijikata Toshizō.


  1. ^ 幕臣取り立て 新選組概史 歴史館-動乱の章
  2. ^ 土方歳三 HIJIKATA
  3. ^ 土方歳三 HIJIKATA
  4. ^ 土方歳三 HIJIKATA

Further reading

  • Hijikata Toshizō and Okita Sōji. Hijikata Toshizō, Okita Sōji zenshokanshū edited by Kikuchi Akira. Tōkyō : Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 1995. ISBN 4404023065.
  • Itō Seirō. Hijikata Toshizō no nikki. Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 2000. ISBN 440402861X
  • Kikuchi Akira, et al. Shashinshū Hijikata Toshizō no shōgai. Tōkyō : Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 2001. ISBN 4404029306
  • Miyoshi Tōru. Senshi no fu: Hijikata Toshizō no sei to shi. Tōkyō: Shueisha, 1993. ISBN 4087480011 ISBN 408748002X.
  • Tanaka Mariko and Matsumoto Naoko. Hijikata Toshizō Boshin senki. Tōkyō : Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 1976.
  • "Moe Yo Ken" by Shiba Ryoutarou ( Entire fictional biography of Toshizo
  • Hillsborough, Romulus. Shinsengumi: The Shōgun's Last Samurai Corps. North Clarendon, Vermont: Tuttle Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0804836272.

External links


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