Portrait of Kagoshima’s Hero “Saigo Takamori”




Kagoshima’s Hero

Saigo Takamori is from Kagoshima.  He is a politician in 19th century.

He played a crucial role in Meiji Restoration and modernization of Japan.

All Japanese people learn his achievements in history classes. He is particularly popular among local people in Kagoshima.

Over 100 years have passed after his death, but his popularity has never ceased in Kagoshima.


Famous Portrait

All Japanese people are familiar with the portrait of Saigo Takamori.

I have found the exactly same portraits decorated on the wall when I visited old people’s houses in Kagoshima (particularly in rural areas).

西郷隆盛 saigo takamori kagoshima's hero

How do you think of his portraits. He has a large eyes with thick eyebrows. I think he is very manly and gives you sincere impression.

When I lived in other prefectures, some people gave me a nickname “Saigo” because I am from Kagoshima and I have big eyes and thick eyebrows. But I felt happy, but, at the same time, greatly embarrassed, because Mr.Saigo is too great and honorable for me to be compared with. =


Reality of Portrait

Surprisingly enough, the portrait is not as the same with the real Mr. Saigo.

Italian artist painted the portrait with reference to the face of Mr. Saigo’s brother Tsugumichi.

Even if the Meiji emperor asked Mr. Saigo to take picture together, Mr. Saigo hated the picture and refused the request. Why does he hate the picture? It might be he was afraid of assassination and didn’t want announce his face to public.

After Mr. Saigo’s death, his wife Ito was very disappointed to see the portrait because the portrait was totally different from real one.


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