Photo/IllutrationThe drawing of the Fushimi mansion of the Satsuma Domain. The lower part is the eastern side. (Provided by Jonangu shrine. Photo taken by Kyoto National Museum)

  • Photo/Illustraion

KYOTO--A valuable drawing of a Satsuma Domain (current Kagoshima Prefecture) mansion here, where the famed 19th-century samurai Sakamoto Ryoma took refuge after being attacked, has been found.

The find was announced by Jonangu shrine in Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward on June 3. The shrine bought the drawing from an antiquarian bookstore in Kyoto in May.

The location of the mansion, which was destroyed nearly 150 years ago, had been known, but no drawing of it had been discovered until now.

Ryoma (1836-1867) played a major role in helping end the pre-modern Edo Period (1603-1867) and starting the modern Meiji Era (1868-1912).

“It is a valuable discovery in that it shows the details of a facility that greatly influenced Japanese history,” an expert said.

According to the shrine and other sources, the drawing of the Fushimi mansion measures 99 centimeters by 128.2 cm. Its bottom part is the eastern side. “Tenmei 6-nen,” which means Tenmei’s sixth year, or 1786, is written on it.

The drawing shows the layout and the sizes of rooms. A wooden bridge that allowed entrance to the mansion from a river is also depicted.

The mansion measures up to 99 meters from the south to the north and 64 meters from the east to the west. The size of its compound is estimated to be 4,973 square meters.

Ryoma made concerted efforts to get the conflicting Satsuma Domain and Choshu Domain (current Yamaguchi Prefecture) to cooperate in toppling the Tokugawa government, which constituted the Edo Period.

However, he was attacked by officials of the magistrate’s office of the Tokugawa government in Teradaya inn in Kyoto in 1866. Despite being severely injured, he managed to flee from the inn. After hiding in a lumber hut north of the inn, he was rescued by officials of the Satsuma Domain and brought to the mansion by boat.

The escape has been documented in Ryoma’s letters and remarks by his wife, Oryo.

However, the mansion was burned down in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868 by samurai of the Aizu Domain (current western part of Fukushima Prefecture), which sided with the Tokugawa.

“I think that Ryoma, who was injured, was protected near a janitor’s room, which was located in the northeastern part of the compound of the mansion and was close to the river,” said Teiichi Miyakawa, senior researcher at Kyoto National Museum and an expert on Ryoma, who examined the drawing.

The Fushimi mansion was used by heads of the Satsuma Domain when they made regular “sankin-kotai” travels from their domain to Edo (current Tokyo).

The drawing is scheduled to be exhibited from June 4 to July 2 at the Suisekitei gallery in the Shinen garden of Jonangu shrine. It will also be shown in the Kyoto National Museum from July 25 to Sept. 3.