Letter Written by Sakamoto Ryōma Found

NHK news online surprised me today with a story about the discovery of a letter written by the nineteenth-century activist named Sakamoto Ryōma 坂本龍馬.

Ryōma addresses the draft letter (sōkō 草稿) shown above to Gotō Shōjirō 後藤象二郎, and in it he names Mitsuoka Hachirō 三岡八郎 as the best person available to deal with government finances after the overthrow of the Tokugawa regime.

With a cameo appearance by historian Miyakawa Teiichi 宮川禎一, the NHK video does a great job of guiding the viewer through the document and it shows some of the things that historians examine when authenticating materials. As the letter is thought to have been written just a few days before Ryōma was assassinated, it has apparently garnered quite a bit of attention from scholars and the general public.

This news item was a nice treat for me and great for sharing in a couple of courses that cover nineteenth-century Japan.