Nationalistic Imperialists Tragically Executed at the End of the Samurai Period

Graves of Takeda Kounsai and Followers


Nationalistic Imperialists Tragically Executed at the End of the Samurai Period

Takeda Kounsai led the Mito Rebellion of 1864 under the banner of restoring the emperor to power and closing Japan off to foreigners. During their trip to Kyoto to appeal to the imperial court, they were captured in Shimbo, Tsuruga. They were punished harshly by the shogunate government, and the following year, 353 of them were executed at Raikoji temple (Matsubara). The graves of Takeda Kounsai and his followers, a national historic site, is where they were buried after their executions. Within Matsubara Shrine, across the street, the herring storehouse that the party was confined in has been preserved as a museum.

Herring Storehouse (Mito Rebellion Patriots’ Museum)

823 people, including Takeda Kounsai, were held within the 16 herring storehouses of Funamachi. The storehouses had a poor environment, and during Tsuruga’s cold and snowy winter, the people were forced inside with minimal straw mats, as good as naked. With the powerful stenches of the herring and of the buckets used for excrement, alongside the cold, quite a few of them are said to have died.In fall of 1954, in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Mito Rebellion, one of the storehouses was moved to the grounds of Matsubara Shrine on the occasion of the construction of Tsuruga Port. Today, it stands as a memorial museum to the patriots of the Mito Rebellion, and Matsubara Shrine enshrines the spirits of 411 people, including Takeda Kounsai.
Takeda Kounsai’s last words came in the form of a poem: “The plum blossoms bloom for only a moment; when they scatter, their fragrance will cling to your sleeves,” suggesting that his ideals would survive even after his death. There are a number of plum trees in one corner of the precincts, transplanted here from Kairakuen garden as a donation from Mito, where the rebellion originated; today, the cities of Mito and Tsuruga are sister cities.
Traffic access
By car: Approx. 13 min. from Tsuruga IC on the Hokuriku Expressway
By bus: Take the Matsubara-sen line Community Bus from JR Tsuruga Station to Matsubara Koen-guchi Bus Stop (approx. 10–16 min.)
By bus: Take the Tsuruga Excursion Line Bus (Tourism Route) from JR Tsuruga Station to Matsubara Shine Bus Stop (approx. 17 min.)
Matsushima-cho, Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture
No parking available