“Little Saigo”: The Life and Times of New Haven’s Own Last Samurai

"Little Saigo": The Life and Times of New Haven's Own Last Samurai

William D. Fleming, Assistant Professor of East Asian Languages & Literatures and Theater Studies, Yale University

Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 5:30pm
Peabody Museum See map
170 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Woodblock print depicting the Satsuma Rebellion. National Diet Library, Tokyo

The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877, and the rebels who died in it, have been romanticized in the Japanese imagination almost from the moment of the first battle. On this side of the Pacific, the conflict was freely reimagined on the big screen in The Last Samurai, with Tom Cruise portraying a fictional American veteran who throws in his lot with the cause. But fighting alongside rebel leader Saigō Takamori was a real-life commander fresh from the United States whose forgotten story is every bit as remarkable as the one dreamed up by Hollywood—all the more so for being true. Relying on previously unexplored archival materials from Yale, New Haven, Japan, and elsewhere, this talk will bring to life the forgotten story of New Haven’s own “last samurai,” a teenager whose bravery and determination in battle earned him the nickname “Little Saigō.”

Sponsored by the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History