Takasugi was known for being quite fond of sake and women. :) The two main women in his life, however, appear to have been his wife and his geisha lover. This is actually an issue that bothered me for the longest time -- when I first began researching Takasugi, I couldn't find any references to Uno (who had been mentioned in passing in the the RK OVA Tsuiokuhen), and it was a while before I even came upon a mention that he was married. This is in contrast to say, Ryoma and Oryo, or Katsura and Ikumatsu -- couples pretty much everyone knows about. (The significance of these two women's names also amuses me in that 'Ryo'='ryo'=dragon and 'matsu'=pine=a prefectural symbol of Yamaguchi, as well as a recurring symbol in Choshu matters: Shoin's school under the pines
, 'Sho'=same kanji as matsu, etc.)
Anyway, I'm blabbing. The following is what I've managed to dig up on Uno and Masako.O-Uno and Masako
O-Uno (1843-1909), a shamisen-playing Shimonoseki geisha, was Takasugi's lover. Her geisha name was Konoito ("This thread"), and she was known for her gentle and obedient nature. After the Meiji era, her name was listed as Tani Baisho in the family register; Tani being one of Takasugi's main aliases, and plum blossoms being his favorite flowers (bai=ume=plum).
Uno's personal history is not clear. One theory is that she was an oil merchant's daughter in the Hagi castletown, and became a prostitute after her parents' business collapsed. Others believe she was born in Osaka. Yet another theory states that her father was a (former) retainer of the Mito han, and her mother some woman from Kyoto.
Takasugi first encountered her around June 1863, about the same time he founded the Kiheitai, in the backstreets of the red-light district in Akamaseki (part of present-day Shimonoseki), in the brothel Sakaiya. The story goes that Takasugi, hiding from assassins, was posing as an Osakan gambler. Kusanagi Enseki was watching over him when he ran away and happened upon Uno, clutching a shamisen in her arms. Following that incident, they were separated for a while, during which Takasugi entrusted her to the wealthy merchant Shiraishi Shouichirou. Takasugi, worried and deeply in love with Uno's quiet ways, even sent her a letter warning her to be careful, sometime during this period of separation.
So deep was the love between Takasugi and Uno that when Takasugi went into (temporary) exile to Shikoku, escaping pursuit from the bakufu, he took her with him. Later, when Takasugi's condition from his ongoing tuberculosis worsened in October 1866 while in Shimonoseki, Uno stayed at his side, nursing him, but removed herself from the way when his offical wife Masako and their two year old son came from Hagi to visit. Eventually, she did meet Masako with Takasugi (around February 1867), after which Uno shaved her head and became a nun (renamed Baisho-ni), despite there apparently having been talk of recommending marriage (between Takasugi and Uno)*, presumably because she did not wish to sully Takasugi's name. In March 1867, Takasugi worsened yet again despite Uno's care, and Masako was summoned back to Hagi. Uno stayed with him until his death in April, and performed the memorial service for him.
Uno and Masako continued their correspondence after Takasugi's death, with Uno apparently providing various assistance and support to Masako and her son during this time. Uno herself dwelled by Takasugi's grave (see Tougyouan
below) for the rest of her life, supported by several of Takasugi's former comrades and friends, including Kido Takayoshi, Itou Hirobumi, and Inoue Kaoru. When she died, at the age of 66, she was buried there together with Takasugi.
(A letter addressed to Uno from Takasugi, sent from Nagasaki in 1866, dated April 5th: http://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/t/syo/ouno.html
Masako, born in 1845, was a well-known beauty in Hagi and the second daughter of high-ranking Choshu retainer Inoue Heiuemon, a "co-worker" and friend of Takasugi's father. She married Takasugi in January 1860 (lunar calendar) -- a marriage arranged by Takasugi's parents presumably in hopes that it would take his mind off of Yoshida Shoin's recent death in 1859 and let him settle down -- and gave birth to their son Umenoshin (Touichi, also known under various other names) in October (lunar calendar) of 1864. In the first three years of their marriage they spent only about one year together; the total time they spent together in the seven years they were married barely amounted to two. Masako ultimately outlived her son, who appears to have passed away from disease in 1915.
, reminiscences of 71 year old Masako** at http://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/t/syo/masako.html
(A letter addressed to Masako from Takasugi, sent sometime in 1864/5, dated February 18th: http://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/t/syo/masakoate.html
Katsura/Kido Takayoshi took him under his wing, presumably, from various diary entries. (red-bird.org) I have yet to get more detailed information on him (there seem to be some things of interest in Masako's Reminiscences).Tougyou-an (Tougyou Hermitage/Shrine)
The area around Mt. Kiyomizu, located in the outskirts of Shimonoseki, was known as the base of the Kiheitai during the time of the last days of the shogunate. Yamagata Kyousuke (Aritomo) had a thatched hut named Murin-an built at the foot of the mountain. Takasugi was buried there according to his will, near the headquarters of the Kiheitai. In 1869 Yamagata presented the place to Uno, now Baisho-ni the nun, before leaving on a trip to Europe. The present day hermitage, called Tougyou-an after Takasugi's favorite pseudonym, was built by contributions from several well-known personages, including Yamagata, Ito Hirobumi, Inoue Kaoru, and others. Uno lived there until her death in 1909. A great stone monument
was erected there within the year.
* Takasugi in fact wrote a comic tanka afterwards that I wish I could translate commenting on his dilemma in having both a wife and a lover:
In reality, he was not so flippant about the situation -- he appears to have also written a letter to Katsura Kogoro in which he described his conflicted feelings and tumultuous state of mind.
** This appears to be an interview/article conducted and written in 1916 (Taisho 5), entitled "Reminiscences of the Lady Takasugi Masako". I cannot make much sense of it, unfortunately.
Random: Why on earth is a Takasugi/Yoshida Shoin/Sakamoto Ryoma/misc bakumatsu stuff site
hosted on a Coco Lee fansite
? *scratches head*http://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/t/phot/index.html
-- Takasugi photos like whoa (click the links on the left)http://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/t/kazoku/index.html
-- more photos like whoa (father Kochuuta, mother Michi, little sister Mitsu, Masako, Touichi, Uno)http://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/s/phot/index.html
-- Yoshida Shoin photos like whoahttp://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/s/kazoku/index.html
-- Shoin family like whoa (mother Taki, big bro Sugi Umetarou, little sister Chiyo, little brother Sugi Toshisaburou)http://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/s/monkasei/index.html
-- Sonjuku studentshttp://www.cocolee-jp.com/togyo/ryoma/index.html