Saigo Takamori's life's achievements and struggles to accept or deny western influences is a perfect vessel in which to display the reforms and their effects on a feudal society now modeling itself after western methods and technologies.
Saigo Takamori is deemed the last of the samurai class. His status is uplifted as a die hard warrior and hero among his people. He is renowned both in Japanese and Western cultures but especially in the south his homeland of Kagoshima the area in which he and his band of warriors made their historical last charge. The last battle is portrayed uniquely across both cultures. Takamori's upbringing was that of the lower class samurai under the Shimazu Nariakira daimyo of Satsuma. The former regime of Hideyoshi had introduced a firmly enforced caste system with the samurai at the top of the hierarchy followed by the farmers, craftsmen and lastly the merchant class. Hideyoshi's method of social classes (shi-no-ko-sho translates exactly this and did not allow any movement in classes due to status by birth and not merit) His transgression through new Meiji era of reforms leads him to both adaptation and later violent rebellion against the new push towards modernity which Japans new nationalist policies desire.
Saigo Takamori was born to live the life of the honourable protector of his lord and his working class people. He embraced this notion but was set apart by his physical characteristics when compared to other samurai. Saigo was a man of great stature which allowed for him to have a great influence over his fellow troops and a sense of superiority over his enemies. Saigo measured at 180cm almost six feet in height and unlike most Japanese he was thick framed with a large head and a neck compared to that of a bear. As pre mentioned Takamori's position was firmly in place due to Hideyoshi's strict regime. During this era of samurai class under the bushido code of honour were given certain class rights unavailable to...
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