Saigō Takamori was one of the most influential samurai in Japanese history and is often referred to as ‘the last true samurai’. Saigō was instrumental in overthrowing the Tokugawa shogunate and establishing the new Meiji government, but his own conservative attitudes soon clashed with the new government’s policy of modernisation and reform. He returned to his native Satsuma province and in 1877 led a rebellion against the new government. After seven months of intense fighting, the revolt was put down. The exact manner of Saigō’s death is unknown. One popular initial account was that he performed ritual suicide after trying to escape by sea.