Yoshida Shōin and his Disciples

This year, NHK’s popular historical taiga drama serial focuses on the samurai Yoshida Shōin (1830–1859), as well as the students he taught at his private school, from the perspective of his younger sister. Despite his early death, Shōin played a significant role in the leadup to the Meiji Restoration, which transformed Japan.

Yoshida Shōin: The Revolutionary and Teacher Who Helped Bring Down the Shogunate

The brief life of Yoshida Shōin (1830–59) was packed with incident, from an attempt to win passage to the United States on the ship of Commodore Matthew Perry to his execution at the age of 29 following a failed assassination attempt. However, his teaching of local boys at a small private school ultimately became his most significant achievement as they grew up to reshape Japan. This article looks back on Shōin’s life and an early biographical sketch by Robert Louis Stevenson.
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