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Unpei Kameyama (1821-1899)

A view of black (American) ships in the bay of Uraga Senminato, Miura district, June 1853


The Japanese text reads: ‘The seventy-six old men for the Kitamura-clan, drawn in 1897 on request of Yoshisada Kitamura, Himeji, the black ships which so much changed the fate of Japan, enjoy please this masterpiece by Harima Shonin Bisei who brings back memories of his young days.’


Watercolour on paper, laid down on cardboard, H. 44.5 x W. 115.5 cm

Collection of Yoshisada Kitamura, Himeji

Yoshisada Kitamura (1838-1899), the son of a farmer in the village of Ogawa, in the district of Harimakashikihigashi, studied under Matajiro Otaka and got heavily involved in the anti-Shogunate movement. He was active in several military incidents against the Shogunate. After the Meiji restoration, he served the Meiji government as a local official in the Himeji domain.

Kameyama Unpei was a Confucian scholar, a Shinto priest, an educator, and a feudal vassal of the Himeji-clan. As a young man, he was a student at Shoheizaka Gakumonjo in Edo, where he was instructed by Shoheiko. After that, he served the Tokugawa Shogunate, and after the Meiji restoration, he was called 'Harima-saint' for teaching young men at Kankai Kodo in Nada, Himeji City.

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