1921 (Taisho 10) On Friday, July 22, Kiyonari Kurasawa, a scholar of Japanese classical history (Koku-Gaku), died at the age of 88. His other names were Kurasawa Yoshiyuki. If you have read “Yoake-mae (Before the Dawn)” by Toson Shimazaki, you may be more impressed by the name “Yoshiyuki.” Kiyonari or Yoshiyuki Kurazawa was born at Ono, Shinshu in 1832, in present-day Tatsuno-machi, Kamiina-gun, Nagano Prefecture. He devoted himself to Atsutane HIRATA and became a scholar of Japanese classical literature in his hometown of Shinshu. He went to Edo in 1854 and met famous Toko Fujita who was a scholar of Mito Domain.
Exactly 10 years after Kurasawa’s encounter with Fujita Toko in 1864, the Mito Tengu Party War erupted. As you know, it was Koshiro Fujita, the son of Toko Fujita, who became the leader of Tenguto War with Kounsai Takeda. The Mito Domain was opposed to the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan by the Edo Shogunate in the first place, but the extremists in the domain insisted on the closure of Yokohama, and they raised an army and took a hard-line measure. This is Mito Tenguto. Tenguto advanced toward Kyoto, and they fought fiercely and repeatedly such as the Shimonita War with the soldiers of Takasaki Domain and the Battle of Wada-toge with the soldiers of Takashima Domain and Matsumoto Domain.
In the Iida Domain, Shinshu Province, Kiyoyo KURASAWA’s hometown, it seemed inevitable that they would fight against the group of Tenguto members who were passing by, but Kurasawa appeared and guided the group from the Inadani to the Kisodani (Kiso Valley). The conflict in Iida Domain was avoided, and as a result, Tenguto helped Tenguto reach Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, which had already been exhausted by the battle against the punitive force of the Shogunate.
Unfortunately, this situation was omitted in NHK’s drama “Seiten wo Tsuke (Shock the blue sky)” In any case, Tenguto failed to raise an army, and 352 major members of Tenguto, including Kounsai TAKEDA, Koshiro FUJITA, a son of and Toko FUJITA, were beheaded in the precincts of Raikoji Temple in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture in 1865.
Kiyonari Kurasawa remained at his hometown of Ono, Shinshu, and served for about half a century as a Shinto priest of the Ono-jinja Shrine and Yahiko-jinja Shrine, which are the second biggest shrine in the area. In Toson SHIMAZAKI’s novel “Yoake-mae(Before the Dawn)”, he appears as Yoshiyuki KURASAWA, and is described as a person who denies Buddhist funerals and insists that they should be changed to ancient Japanese Shinto style funerals and works hard.