Shiba Gorō

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Shiba Gorō
Shiba goro 2.jpg
Shiba Gorō
Born June 21, 1860
Aizuwakamatsu, Mutsu Province, Japan
Died December 13, 1945(1945-12-13) (aged 85)
Tokyo, Japan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army.svg Imperial Japanese Army
Rank General
Commands held IJA 12th Division, Taiwan Army of Japan
Awards Order of the Golden Kite (2nd class)
Order of the Sacred Treasure (1st class)
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (United Kingdom)

Shiba Gorō (柴 五郎, 21 June 1860 – 13 December 1945) was a samurai and later a general in the Imperial Japanese Army.


Early life[edit]

Born as the 5th son of Aizu domain samurai Shiba Satazō, Shiba Gorō witnessed the events of the Boshin War as a child when Aizu was attacked by the imperial forces in 1868. During the siege of Aizu castle, his grandmother, mother, and two sisters committed suicide so that the men in the family could do battle without distractions. Aizu Castle fell to the forces of the new Meiji government and the domain surrendered.[1]

He joined the new Meiji government and after working for a short time for the Aomori Prefecture government, he attended the Imperial Japanese Army Academy.[2] In his same class were a number of men who later rose to considerable prominence, including Uehara Yūsaku, Akiyama Yoshifuru, and Hongo Fusataro. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the artillery in 1879, and first lieutenant in 1884.

Military career[edit]

After serving with the Osaka Armory, Shiba was later assigned to the Imperial Guards unit. In 1895, he served in the First Sino-Japanese War.

As a colonel in 1900, Shiba was military attaché at the Japanese legation during the Boxer Rebellion. There his small force fought tenaciously and suffered over 100% casualties. He served with distinction during that campaign, including the siege of Beijing, and was awarded decorations by many of the western nations in the Eight-Nation Alliance participating in the combat. His name was also mentioned in The Times.

He subsequently served in an artillery regiment in the Russo-Japanese War, and was awarded the Order of the Golden Kite (2nd class), for bravery in battle. He was later sent as military attaché to Great Britain.

Later, after becoming a general, Shiba returned to Japan to take command of the newly formed IJA 12th Division and was also awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure (1st class). He was chosen to accompany Prince Higashifushimi Yorihito on an official visit to England in 1918. After his return to Japan, he was briefly placed in charge of the Taiwan Army before retirement.

Death and legacy[edit]

Following the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Shiba attempted suicide. He died of his wounds four months later.

Shiba's role in the Boxer Rebellion is often highlighted in Western accounts of the conflict. In the 1963 film 55 Days at Peking about the siege of international legations he is a supporting character, played by future director Juzo Itami.

Literary career[edit]

Shiba is also the author of his memoirs "Remembering Aizu" (Boshin Junnan Kaikoroku, "A Record of the Sacrifices of the Boshin War" in Japanese). The book portrays his childhood years and family life, as well as an insider's view of the Meiji Restoration in Japan. This view includes a description of the difficulties faced by the Aizu daimyō Matsudaira Katamori and the rest of the domain's population, wrapping up with Shiba's return to Aizu in the 1870s. He also wrote an account of the siege of Beijing, titled Pekin rōjō (北京篭城).

His brother, Shiba Shirō, under the pen name Tokai Sanshi, was also famous during the mid-Meiji period, as the author of "Chance Encounters with Beautiful Women" (Kajin no Kigu), a fictionalized account of his time as a student at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.


See also[edit]



  • Edgerton, Robert (1999). Warriors of the Rising Sun: A History of the Japanese Military. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-3600-7. 
  • Ishimitsu, Mahito (2000). Remembering Aizu: The Testament of Shiba Goro. Teruko Craig (trans.). Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2130-0. 

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Sakaki, Atsuko. "Kajin no Kigū: The Meiji Political Novel and the Boundaries of Literature". Monumenta Nipponica. Vol. 55, No.1, 2000, pp. 83–108, p. 99. JSTOR 2668387
  2. ^ National Diet Library, Portraits of Modern Historical Figures
  3. ^ "Central Chancery of The Orders of Knighthood, Lord Chamberlains Office, St. James's Palace" (pdf). The London Gazette (11932). 7 May 1907. p. 493. Retrieved 15 February 2014. To be Honorary Commanders: Colonel Goro Shiba, Military Attaché to the Japanese Embassy