“Expel the barbarians!” The cry rang out. Foreigners had “opened” the closed country, land of the gods. What had the shogun done about it? Nothing. Let the Japanese sword, instrument of Yamato-damashii (Japanese spirit) do its work, then.

Did not the shogun’s full title designate him “barbarian-subduing general”? Had not the incumbent’s remote ancestor, in the 1630s, closed the country to all foreigners, wrapping Japan in a splendid isolation worthy of its divine descent? If the shogun was impotent to fulfill his task, what was his claim to rule, in defiance of the divine emperor, who reigned but did not rule and called with rising stridency for “men of spirit” to rise to the nation’s defense?

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