The Search for Historical Saitou Hajime - Fujita Goro

Fujita Kamon - Family Crest of Saitou


Most commonly accepted picture of Fujita Goro - taken during the Seinan war

Alright I’ve decided to re-write the Saitou History page a bit. I want to take a much more serious tone into this as we all know Saitou Hajime from many different fictional works and the real man in history itself can be similar and at the same time quite different. Let’s start first by saying in fandom, it is best not to compare fiction and history and yet not be afraid to use history to embellish, provide framework and even atmosphere to fictional work. However, the reverse cannot be done. Certainly you cannot take ones own imagination and infuse it to history and call it the –truth-. However we are allowed to speculate in a most –reasonable- manner, through adding up the facts and common sense and arrive at a certain “theory”. This is the reason why history is deemed as a debatable topic and thus the suggestion, that history be treated with the utmost objectivity.

Let me say first that I am not a researcher nor am I a historian. I do these things as a hobby on my free time. And most of what I know, comes from translating Japanese sites, keeping up with the English fandom of the Shinsengumi and yes speaking to dear friends, especially those at SHQ. So if there is anything here that one would find preposterous, unbelievable, stupid and the like, I will not feel offended since I do not know all these things –first- hand, although I certainly won’t put up with personal –attacks-, just because I have different ideas. Everything from the Japanese sites, to friends to anything else have been filtered by the values and preferences of the ones looking at the source. I have however been following the “scene” and Saitou Hajime for a long time even the old Miburo list until we all moved to SHQ and established an identity there. My view on history and what happened is filtered through the lenses of the people that surround me and my own common-sense, my values and the short stay in Japan many years ago. Now that my babble is over… Let’s move on to Saitou.

What's so great and not so great about the real Saitou Hajime?

There's so many things to admire and follow with historical Saitou, but the reverse can also be said, that there are things that I don't admire about him. I'll probably be criticized for passing judgment on Saitou, but in my opinion all of us has opinions about each other, about events and even yes -dead- people. I prefer not to think about it as judging but just think of it as my own set of opinions with what I know to be true. Of course everyone can change their opinions later on with new info on the subject matter or even a shift on one's own perceptions. So with this said, you should already know that everything I know about Saitou will shift eventually and everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt. Actually you should practice that in any form of serious study especially when it comes from online sources and the language barrier. We cannot say definitely what Saitou's personal motivations are, what he thought about life, love, the Shinsengumi and anything in this earth. We can only try to get at the truth and usually the answer to the question, "What's great about him?", "What's important about him?", changes from person to person. I can only answer for myself, so I think without Saitou Hajime there would be no RK Saitou. No matter how different they are, that's a fact. However, this should not be confused with treating one as superior to the other, which is the problem for most people. If you've gone to most other websites and other sources, you'll find out that Saitou Hajime in real life was a hard worker (that's definitely something to admire), just like his RK counterpart. Saitou Hajime was loyal to Aizu and supported his han, just head on over to SHQ and you'll see what I mean. Loyalty in itself is something to be admired, especially in these modern times where "me first" is the popular slogan. What's not to admire? The guy drank too much and although people usually gloss over that and think that life must've been pretty good, common sense tells us that a vice is a vice. Unless of course the "demon" hand that they were talking about is not about drinking but I doubt it. There are accounts that he was dirty with women, whether this is true or not, I'd err on the safe side and not vehemently deny that until a first hand account comes to the surface. I am a fan and being a fan means taking the good with the bad. That's how love works remember? I'd rather know what I'm in for. We should also admire that he was able to raise a family with Tokio, even if there were difficulties and no I'm not saying "noble" difficulties like, not seeing each other because he works a lot but even petty ones. Only a fanatic would say, "All's well in the land of the Fujita's. Great household, great friends and hell great life.". I don't buy that for one minute. Keep the fiction, -in- fiction. But of course, this is not to say that they were a sorry bunch, not at all! Personally, I think they've adjusted very well for people associated to a loser domain and they were able to function in society, get Public jobs, live in Tokyo with all their friends and maintain contact with high Aizu personages. Isn't that a good thing? Admirable in fact with the Meiji era per se and their own possible human flaws. So that's what's great about them.

Now let's get on to the nitty gritty stuff. Go to the speculation document. Yes I know, you were expecting some facts but that's been covered already and I don't really like double work, not to mention I am not a researcher nor am I a historian. This page is purely in my own opinion and does not claim any sort of authority on the historical subject. It's better that way after all I do practice what I preach.

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