Shimizu Jirocho

What is Shimizu Jirocho (real name: Yamamoto Chogoro)?

For those of us from Shimizu, Jirocho Oyabun of Shimizu is not only a great hero, but also a violent man with a familiar but somewhat scary image.

Jirocho and his friends are portrayed in TV shows, movies, and plays. So, what kind of person was he really?

This is why I looked back on the life of Jirocho-san.


Shimizu Jirocho was born on January 1, 1820, as the second son of Takagi Sanemon, a shipowner and boatman in present-day Shimizu Ward, Shizuoka City.

He was adopted by his maternal uncle, Jirohachi Yamamoto, the owner of Koda-ya, a rice merchant, because he did not have any biological children.

During this childhood at Jirohachi’s place, the people around him began to call him “Jirocho,” Chogoro from Jirohachi’s place.


In 1829, when he was eight years old, he was left in the care of his uncle Hyokichi in Yui-Kurazawa because of his rough character.

In 1834, at the age of 15, he returned to Jirohachi’s adoptive home. He returned to Jirohachi’s adoptive home in 1834 at the age of 15, but ran away with a hundred ryo.

Perhaps he had a talent for gambling from that time, and with the 100 ryo he had stolen, he made a huge profit in the rice market, surprising his family back in Shimizu.

In 1835, his adoptive father Jirohachi died, and Jirocho married his wife and engaged in the family business.

On the other hand, he was still a rambunctious man who spent his days fighting and gambling.

[Adolescence (into chivalry)]

Although he was a violent man from his childhood, there was actually a reason why he went on to become a chivalrous man.

In 1839, when he was 20 years old, a traveling monk told him, “You have five years left to live, and 25 is your life expectancy. He was told, “You have five years left to live.

At that time, he decided that if he was going to die, he would live a short and fat life, and decided to pursue the path of chivalry.

In 1842, on his way back from seeing a play in Ejiri, Jirocho was drunk and was attacked in the dark, seriously injuring himself.

He was so badly injured that he almost lost his life. Taking this opportunity, he vowed to abstain from alcohol for the rest of his life.

In 1843, Jirocho discovered a cheat during a gambling game, and at the end of a quarrel, he cut down a man and threw him into the Tomoe River.

After this incident, he separated from his wife and handed over the family business, Koda-ya, to his sister and her husband.

In Mikawa, he learned swordsmanship in earnest from Buichi of Kira.

After traveling around the country to train and expand his social circle, Jirocho returned to Shimizu and set up his family in Shimizu Minato.

In 1845, a fight broke out between his uncle, Taemon of Wadajima, and Fumikichi Tsumukai of Tsumukai Village in Kamogari, Kai Province (now Ichikawa Misato Town, Nishiyashi-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture), at the Ihara River in Suruga.

However, it was said that the incident was a ruse by Sanbamasa, and Jirocho arbitrated and mediated the dispute.

Through this arbitration, Jirocho became famous as a pincer and joined the ranks of pincer masters, and Fumiyoshi Tsumukai deepened his relationship with Jirocho.

In 1847, at the age of 28, he married Ejiri Okuma’s younger sister, Ocho (the first generation), and they established a household near Myokei-ji Temple in Shimizu Nakamachi.

In December 1858, at the age of 39, a dispute broke out between Yuten of Koshu and Ejiri Okuma.

Jirocho and Ejiri Okuma cut down a retired man in Kofu, who was a close relative of Yuten.

Jirocho is chased by the officials and hides with Ochou and his henchmen at the house of Okaichi in Seto.

However, Ocho fell ill here and moved to Chobei’s house in Nagoya, where he never returned.

In 1859, Kyuroku, who had taken good care of her, betrayed her and tipped off his captor that Jirocho and his friends were hiding at Chobei’s house.

Jirocho escapes, but Chobei is trapped and later dies in prison.

Jirocho immediately went to Konpira with his henchmen, Daimasa and Ishimatsu of Mori, and slayed Kyuroku at Otogawa in Kamesaki, Chita, Owari to avenge Chobei’s death.

In the first year of the Man’en Era (1860), he sent Morino-Ishimatsu to Konpira Shrine as a substitute to pay his respects to Hisaroku.

After his visit to Konpira, Ishimatsu visited Kamataro at Mt. Miinokuyama, and Kamataro entrusted him with an incense gift that he could not deliver to Jirocho at Ocho’s funeral.

On his way home, Ishimatsu was tricked and killed by the brothers Kibei and Umekichi of Miyakoda (present-day Miyakoda, Kita-ku, Hamamatsu City), who wanted the incense in his pocket.

In 1861, Kakutaro and Kisaburo were killed by a blowfish served by the priest of Umekage Zen temple.

Jirocho, who was planning to take revenge on Ishimatsu, used this incident to spread the rumor that the entire Shimizu family had been exposed to fugu.

Kibei Miyakoda, who was trying to expand his influence in Shimizu, heard the rumor and rushed to Shimizu with nine of his henchmen.

He fell for Jirocho’s plan.

Jirocho, who had anticipated Kibei’s coming to Shimizu, kept his antennae up and was the first to catch the information about Kibei’s arrival.

Then, together with Omasa, Komasa, Sumojo, Seikichi and others, he made a surprise attack on the Miyakoda family at the Saketei Palagoya to avenge Ishimatsu.

In October of the same year, Katsuzo of Kurokoma attended a meeting with Shimoda Kinpei at Kikugawa-juku on the Tokaido highway and met him.

Around this time in 1862, Katsuzo of Koshu Kurokoma began to grow in power.

After the death in prison of his master, Yasugoro Takei, Katsuzo organized Yasugoro’s men into the Kurokoma family, and based in Togura, Kamikurokoma Village, made a name for himself in the Kanto region as a leading exporter in Koshu.

And this momentum was reaching as far as Shimizu.

The Port of Shimizu had the privilege of transporting annual tribute rice from Shinano and Kai to Edo via the Fuji River Boat Canal.

Katsuzo and other Koshu mobsters attacked the Okitsu inn and the Suruga Iwabuchi riverbank, which were in Shimizu Jirocho’s sphere of influence, over the Fuji River shipping rights.

At this time, Morinosuke of Okitsu, one of the 28 members of the Shimizu family, was also attacked, and Katsuzo, who had done all kinds of evil, was pursued by his captors and fled to Enshu.

In order to capture Katsuzo, who had escaped to Enshu, the Nakazumi bansho asked Tomozo of Owada to capture him, and Jirocho joined him in driving Katsuzo to Koshu.

In the first year of the Genji Era (1864), when he was 45 years old, Sanzo of Katsunuma asked Jirocho for help because he was forced to collect funds for the attack on Shimizu.

He was 47 years old in 1866 (Keio 2). The famous fight (bloody battle) at Aragamiyama in Ise took place in this year.

The area around Aragamiyama was a complex mixture of Kameyama and Kobe domains and tenryos, and if you went out into other domains, it was like a lawless zone where police power could not reach.

Many gambling halls were set up behind the temple on the occasion of the Kannon temple in April, and the bosses who used this area as their territory had a huge income.

Chokichi of Kobe had this area as his territory, but while Chokichi was out of the country, it fell into the hands of Ao Utoku of Kuwana.

This was the beginning of the war between Nagayoshi of Kobe and Anoutoku of Kuwana.

As Chokichi’s territory, which Jirocho and his family had taken care of, was taken away from him, Ninkichi of Kira (now Kira-cho, Nishio City, Aichi Prefecture), who had spent time under Jirocho and had even become friends with him, also made a move.

On April 8, after refusing to be mediated by Anata Toku’s men and Okatsubiki, 22 members of Shimizu Jirocho’s family, joined Chokichi of Kobe in a fight at Aragamiyama.

Chokichi’s side built a camp near the present Kasato Shrine, while Anata Toku’s side took up residence on Takatsuka Mountain, west of Aragamiyama, and the fight began.

The Nagayoshi side challenged with 22 members of the Nagayoshi family of Kobe, the Niyoshi family of Kira, and the Shimizu Jirocho family, while the Anata Tokugawa side challenged with more than 130 members, including the Anata Tokugawa family and the Katsuzo family of Kurokoma, who had been enemies of Jirocho.

Although Anata Tokugata had the advantage in numbers, they were a huddled group, and when their bouncers, Kamei Monnosuke and Ota Saheiji, were killed, the whole group collapsed and they were defeated with more than 10 wounded.

Although Chokichi’s side was victorious, Daigoro of the Jirocho family, who had joined the fight, and Ninkichi of Kira were shot with guns and slashed to death.

Jirocho was so enraged by the deaths of his important henchmen that he mobilized another 480 men, loaded 170 long spears, 40 guns, and 90 bales of rice onto a ship, and headed for Anantoku.

Anata Toku was horrified by this, and apologized earnestly and proposed a peace treaty.

Jirocho forgave him and accepted the peace treaty.

After this incident, the name “Shimizu Jirocho” became known throughout the country and his dignity increased.

Later, on the first anniversary of the death of Ninkichi in Kira, Jirocho and his bereaved family built a tomb for him.

[Turning point]

In March of 1868, the Sunpu domain was established. With the establishment of the Sunpu clan in March 1868, the Sunpu town magistrate was abolished, and Fuseya Nyosui, who had been appointed by the Office of the Governor-General for the Eastern Expedition to Japan as the Sunpu town magistrate, was appointed as the chief of police to protect the roads.

Jirocho refused the appointment, saying that it was unreasonable for someone like him to become a government official.

Fuseya Nyosui, however, refused to back down and negotiated with Jirocho that he would be exonerated of his past crimes if he accepted the position.

Jirocho also refused, saying that if he accepted the role, he would be laughed at for the rest of his life for having become a government official to escape punishment.

Jirocho refused, saying that if he did, he would be laughed at for the rest of his life for having become a government official to escape punishment. Don’t you think that you should abandon yourself and serve the Emperor? Protecting the port of Shimizu and preserving the safety of Sunpu and the Tokaido highway will be of service to the Prince of Heaven. He said to him.

He was struck by Kisarazu’s enthusiasm, and his words, which became the turning point of his rebirth, were deeply engraved in his soul.

He then took on the role of highway guard and worked on the security of the Sunpu Tokaido highway until July of the same year.

From this point on, Jirocho, who had lived his life as a famous chivalrous person, changed his way of life 180 degrees.

In the same year, Katsuzo of Kurokoma used a false name and tried to enter Sunpu as a spearhead of the government forces.

Jirocho immediately saw through this and prevented Katsuzo from passing through Ejiri.

In July of the same year, he and his henchmen sent Fuseya Nyosui back to the Hamamatsu clan.

In addition, a large number of refugees from Edo, former Tokugawa shoguns and their families, landed at Shimizu Port.

The city of Sunpu was in turmoil due to the large number of refugees, as it was a time when housing and accommodation facilities were not as well developed as they are today.

Jirocho rescued the refugees by serving them food and other means, and quickly worked around the city to secure housing for the refugees, thus curbing the chaos.

In August of the same year, Lord Tokugawa Ietatsu entered Sunpu Castle, and Kaishu Katsu and Tessyu Yamaoka became the administrators of the Sunpu domain. At this time, Edo became Tokyo, and Prince Tokugawa Yoshinobu was placed under house arrest at Hodaiin in Sunpu.

Around the middle of August, Enomoto Takeyo, the vice president of the navy of the former Shogunate, led a fleet of seven warships and escaped from off the coast of Shinagawa to Hokkaido with the samurai who refused to go to Sunpu from Edo.

On the way, however, they were hit by a huge storm and drifted in the sea.

One of the ships, the Hamrin Maru, had a broken sail pole and had to enter Shimizu Port for repairs.

On September 18, the first year of the Meiji Era (1868), the sound of cannons suddenly echoed through the streets of Shimizu.

Jirocho ran out of his house and saw a terrible scene.

The government troops found the Hamrin Maru, which had escaped as a part of the former Shogunate’s army, and mercilessly attacked the ship one after another even though it was flying a white flag.

Immediately after the attack, a high sign was put up saying, “Do not touch or bury the bodies of the crew of the Hamrin Maru, who were bandits, and anyone who breaks this rule will be punished severely as a traitor.

Because of this warning and strict guards, no one could bury the bodies floating in the sea, and the smell of death and the landscape was terrible.

The fishermen asked Jirocho and his family for advice on how to deal with the situation.

At first, the fishermen’s henchmen stop him, saying that they can’t let their master, who is working hard to change his way of life, do such an illegal thing, but Jirocho makes a move.

But Jirocho made a move: “Even if you don’t know the person, if he becomes a Buddha there, it doesn’t matter whether he is a bandit or a government official. In the end, he defied his superiors and moved his henchmen to collect the bodies and make offerings in the middle of the night when there were no guards.

However, at the end of September, he was immediately ordered to appear before the Sunpu clan office.

It was rumored that no one else but Jirocho could do such a thing, and he was found out.

Jirocho did not lie or run away, but admitted what he had done and claimed that he had only done what was natural for a human being to do.

Matsuoka, who listened to Jirocho’s argument and was once a vassal of the Tokugawa Shogunate, was deeply moved and decided not to blame him.

In 1869, when he was 50 years old, Ocho II was killed by Kogure Hanjiro of the Kuno Shinkai program while he was on a trip to Mikawa.

His henchman Tanaka Keijiro immediately chased after him and killed him.

At that time, an old shogunal retainer, Tesshu Yamaoka, who had been appointed as the Grand Councilor of the Shizuoka Domain, heard about Jirocho’s work and words during the Hamrin Maru Incident and was deeply grateful to him.

Tesshu named the grave Jirocho built “Tomb of a Brave Warrior”.

In the same year, an old shogunal retainer, Sugi Hengji (later the first Director General of the Statistics Bureau), met Jirocho and explored ways for the emigrant samurai to survive, such as cultivating the salt fields in Miho and Mt.

In December of the same year, Shinmon Tatsugoro met Jirocho and asked him to serve as a guard for Prince Tokugawa Yoshinobu.

In the same year, he married Ocho III, the daughter of a samurai in Nishio, Sanshu.

The time as a social entrepreneur <Land reclamation in Ohbuchi, Fuji City>

In 1874, when he was 55 years old, at the suggestion of Sadakiyo Osako, the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture at the time, he received a grant of 2,000 yen and gathered prisoners from Mukojima to start cultivating the land at the foot of Fuji (Ohbuchi).

However, in 1878, when Jirocho was 62 years old, Goro Amada, who was adopted by Jirocho and was brought in by Tesshu Yamaoka, succeeded in cultivating 76 hectares of land.

The unpacked land was named “Jirocho” and still remains today.

Goro Amada, who was adopted by the family, wrote a book titled “Tokaido Yugyoden: Ichina Jirocho Monogatari” and published it by Tokyo Yoron-sha in 1884.

Jirocho also helped to open Nakaizumi Cash Store, a liquor store owned by Nakano-Morita Joint Venture, which moved from Handa Port to Shimizu Port in the same year.

<Development of Shimizu Port>

In the 8th year of Meiji (1875), the port of Shimizu was originally an estuary port of the Tomoe River.

Jirocho, who was the first to sense the dawn of a new era after the change from Edo to Meiji era, thought it was necessary to expand the sales channel of tea for the development of Shimizu port.

In order to do so, he persuaded the managers of shipping wholesalers that larger steamships should be able to enter the port and trade heavily.

In 1880, at the age of 61, he was involved in the establishment of Seiryu-sha, and traveled back and forth between Yokohama and Shimizu many times with three steamships.

He also established a regular service between the ports of Shimizu and Yokohama by connecting tea exporters, Shizuoka tea merchants, and shipping wholesalers in the port of Shimizu.

As a result of Jirocho’s efforts, the Port of Shimizu became more open to the outside world, and Shizuoka tea was exported to the United States, making it the largest tea exporting port in Japan.

The year after the establishment of Seiryu-sha (1881), Masagoro Yamamoto, known as Omasa, passed away.

<Opening of the English School>

In 1876, at the age of 57, he opened an English language school in a room of Meitokukan, a private school opened by Kan Arai, a former vassal of the shogunate.

Jirocho, who felt the need for English language firsthand due to the export of tea to foreign countries, gathered young people in his neighborhood and said, “Young people from now on must know English!

He gathered young people from the neighborhood and invited a young lecturer from the Shizuoka Academy as an instructor to start an English school.

One day, Genkichi Kawaguchi of Miho, one of the students of the English school, sneaked onto a cargo ship from Yokohama and smuggled himself to Hawaii.

He became a huge success in Hawaii and is known as “Mr. Hawaii” in his hometown.

The English school played a solid role in internationalization.

There is an exhibition of this English school in Suehiro, a facility that recreates the boathouse that Jirocho ran in his later years.

<Opening of "Suehiro" boat house.>

He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and a fine of 400 yen, but thanks to the efforts of Takayoshi Sekiguchi and others, he was released the following year.

He was sentenced to seven years imprisonment and a fine of 400 yen.

The port of Shimizu had grown so large that warships came and went, and many soldiers came and went.

That’s when he opened his own inn, Suehiro.

One of the soldiers who came and went at Shimizu Port was Takeo Hirose, who later became known as the “God of War” and played an active role in the Russo-Japanese War.

When Hirose entered Shimizu Port, about fifty naval soldiers visited Jirocho.

Jirocho looked around and said, “I don’t see any manly men among them.” Hirose said, “Well, if you say so, I’ll show you how I do it, so don’t be surprised.

Lord Tokugawa Yoshinobu often visited this Suehiro to visit Jirocho.

<Establishment of Jishu Clinic>

In 1886, Jirocho met Shigetoshi Ueki, a graduate of the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Medicine, on a ship from Yokohama to Tosa, and invited him and Ryozo Watanabe, who was also from Tosa-Suzaki Kaji-machi, to Shimizu to establish the Jishu Clinic in Shimizu-cho, Yudo-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture.

[Last period]

In 1887 (age 69), a ceremony was held to unveil a monument to the martyrs of the Hamrin Maru at Seimiji Temple in Okitsu.

The inscription “Shokunin no shokunin no koto” was written by Takeaki Enomoto.

In the 21st year of Meiji (1888, age 70), Tesshu Yamaoka died. Jirocho attends the funeral.

In 1889 (age 71), Navy Ensign Chosei Ogasawara boards the warship Amagi and goes to Shimizu Port. He visits Jirocho at Suehiro.

In 1892 (age 73), he held a sumo tournament in Sunpu Castle to erect a monument in honor of Yamada Nagamasa.

Since the beginning of the Meiji era, Shizuoka people had been trying to make a bronze statue of Nagamasa Yamada, a local hero, but had not been able to achieve it.

Jirocho also respected Nagamasa Yamada, so he took it upon himself to build the statue.

In addition to the sumo tournament, Jirocho took his son Iwakichi to Tokyo and met with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Takeyoshi Enomoto, to explain the purpose of erecting the statue, and received a donation of a gold envelope.

In 1893, at the age of 74, Jirocho died of a bad cold while being cared for by Ochou III.

He lived a very long life for a chivalrous man.

More than 3,000 people attended his funeral and he was buried at Umeiinji Temple.

Jirocho, along with Ocho I, II, III, Oomasa, Komasa, Mori no Ishimatsu and others, still rests at Umeiin-ji Temple.