Japanese great thinker booming again: Sakamoto Ryouma

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 Video games and television dramas with historical content have increased.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).

4 thoughts on “Japanese great thinker booming again: Sakamoto Ryouma

  1. Thank you for this. When I was in Kyoto 1 1/2 weeks ago the posters advertising the NHK special were ubiquitous. I had *heard* his name way, way, way back in college days, in sort of a passing manner and, admittedly, had forgotten about Sakamoto. I’m eager to begin re-studying his life and pivotal role in modern Japanese history.

    And maybe someday I’ll get to see that NHK special.

    All kind things,


    • Dear Richard,

      thanks for taking time to comment.
      Honestly by accident I stumpled upon Sakamoto Ryoma. The more I hear about him, the more impressed I am.
      Same for me, not yet seen the NHK special…

      All the best to you,


  2. I’ve learned a lot from your explanation of our history.You’ve already read the novel “Sakamoto Ryoma”in Japanes or English,haven’t you. Anyway, thank you so much for explaining things interesting I don’t know well. catch you soon! from Ninjyahattri

    • 恥ずかしい。。。Honestly I have not read yet a book about Sakamoto san. I just heard a couple of things about him and got interested. I have researched some quotes and a basic overview, but I do not know enough about him yet… For sure now on my study list.

      Thank you so much for always coming back to the blog and commenting. I hope you will enjoy the next few articles too.

      All the best,


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