The suicide of Saigo Takamori
In an open boat on a stormy sea, Saigo Takamori (1827-77), a samurai from Satsuma, is sitting cross-legged. He is accompanied by two retainers.
In 1868 the Tokugawa Shogunate (military government) had been overthrown and power restored to the Emperor. As his own conservative attitude clashed with the new government's policy of modernisation and reform, Saigo withdrew to his native Satusuma. In January of 1877 his supporters started a revolt against the government and Saigo Takamori felt obliged to lead them. After seven months of intense fighting the revolt was put down and Saigo committed ritual suicide (seppuku or disembowelment) on a hill in Kagoshima on 24 September 1877.
This print is based on the first report that he had committed suicide after trying to escape by sea.