Usually looking back in history is not perceived as forward thinking. In the case of the life of Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本 龍馬, 1836 – 1867) I believe still nowadays we can learn a lot from him. The following quote could be just from a present day business consultant: “Anything can be accomplished if you take responsibility for doing at least 80 percent to 90 percent of it yourself. Pass the remaining 10-20 percent of responsibility on to others and give them all the credit.”
Sakamoto Ryoma was a leader of the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate. He was a visionary, who saw a Japan without any feudal trappings. It seems that he had been inspired by the example of the United States where “all men are created equal.” He realized that in order to compete with an industrially and technologically advanced outside world, the Japanese people must modernize to avoid being colonized or carved up into “spheres of influence” like China. For sure I admire him for his practicality: He combined boots with the traditional samurai dress.
According to the Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute the interest in historical heros has created a business of about US$725 million a year. Video games and television dramas with historical content have increased. Furthermore a pop-cultural phenomenon “rekijo” came into being, which is described as Japanese women in their 20s and 30s with a fetish for Japanese history. These days young women no longer have to conceal their love for historical heros. While I see not myself a “rekijo”, I have to say several quotes from Sakamoto Ryoma have inspired me. Therefore I would like to end with my most favorite quote from Ryoma: “I never do verbal battle with others, since even if I win an argument I can’t change the other person’s way of life.”
Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤).