, was the captain of the first unit of the Shinsengumi
The were a special police force of the late shogunate period.-Historical background:After Japan opened up to the West following U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry's visits in 1853, its political situation gradually became more and more chaotic...
, a special police
Special Police does not have a consistent international meaning. In many cases it will describe a police force or a unit within a police force whose duties and responsibilities are significantly different from other forces in the same country or significantly different from other police in the same...
force in Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...
during the late shogunate period. He was one of the best swordsmen of the Shinsengumi, along with Saito Hajime
was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period, who most famously served as the captain of the third unit of the Shinsengumi. He was one of the few core members who survived the numerous wars of the Bakumatsu period.-Early years:...
and Nagakura Shinpachi
was the captain of the 2nd troop of the Shinsengumi.-Background:Nagakura Shinpachi Noriyuki, known as Eikichi or Eiji during his childhood, was born in the Matsumae clan's "kami-yashiki" in Edo on the 11th day of the fourth month of Tenpō 10 His father, Nagakura Kanji, was a retainer of the...
He was born in 1842 or 1844 from a samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...
family in the Shirakawa Domain
The ' was a Japanese domain of the Edo period, located in Mutsu Province. Its most famous ruler was Matsudaira Sadanobu, the architect of the Kansei Reforms.Shirakawa was also the scene of one of the battles of the Boshin War.-List of lords:...
, also romanized as Yedo or Yeddo, is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, and was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868...
mansion. His great-grandfather was Okita Kan'emon (d. 1819) and his grandfather was Okita Sanshiro (d. 1833.) His father, Okita Katsujiro, died in 1845; he had two older sisters, Okita Mitsu (1833–1907) and Okita Kin (1836–1908.) In 1846, in order to marry the adopted son of the Okita family, Okita Rintarō
was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period who was a commander of the Shinchōgumi .-Biography:...
(1826–1883), his oldest sister Okita Mitsu became an adopted daughter of Kondo Shusuke in name. Kondo Shusuke was the third master of the Tennen Rishin Ryu
and Okita started training at the Shieikan
with him around the age of nine. By that time, Kondo Shusuke had already adopted Shimazaki Katsuta (the later Kondo Isami
was a Japanese swordsman and official of the late Edo Period, famed for his role as commander of the Shinsengumi.-Background:Isami, who was first known as Katsugorō, was born to Miyagawa Hisajirō, a farmer residing in Kami-Ishihara village in Musashi Province, now in the city of Chōfu in Western...
), but Hijikata Toshizo
was the vice-commander of Shinsengumi, a great swordsman and a talented Japanese military leader who resisted the Meiji Restoration.-Background:...
had not yet enrolled at the Tennen Rishin-ryu school. Okita proved to be a prodigy
A child prodigy is someone who, at an early age, masters one or more skills far beyond his or her level of maturity. One criterion for classifying prodigies is: a prodigy is a child, typically younger than 18 years old, who is performing at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding...
; he mastered all the techniques and attained the Menkyo Kaiden
scroll (license of total transmission
) in the ryu
A Ryū , or ryūha , is a Japanese word referring to a school of thought in any discipline...
at the age of eighteen or so.
In 1861, Okita became the Head Coach (Jukutou
) at the Shieikan. Even though he was often commented to be honest, polite, and good-natured by those around him, he was also known to be a strict and quick-tempered teacher to his students.
Okita changed his name to Okita Sōji Fujiwara no Kaneyoshi
some time before his departure to Kyoto in 1863. He soon became a founding member of the Shinsengumi and a Fukuchō Jokin
(Vice-Commander's Assistant.) Okita Rintarō, also a practitioner of the Tennen Rishin-ryu, became a commander of the Shinchougumi
(the Shinsengumi's brother league in Edo.)
Okita was the second youngest among the Shieikan members, most likely with Todo Heisuke
Tōdō Heisuke Tōdō Heisuke Tōdō Heisuke (藤堂 平助 1844 – December 13, 1867）was a samurai of Japan's late Edo period who served as the eighth unit captain of the Shinsengumi. His full name was Tōdō Heisuke Fujiwara no Yoshitora.-Background:...
being the youngest. He was one of the Shieikan members involved in the Serizawa Kamo
Serizawa Kamo was a samurai known for being the original lead commander of the Shinsengumi. He trained in and received a licence in the Shindō Munen-ryū. "Kamo" means goose or duck in Japanese which was an odd name to call oneself at the time...
(one of the original commanders of the Shinsengumi) and the Uchiyama Hikojiro assassinations in 1863.
Equally skilled with shinai
is a weapon used for practice and competition in kendo representing a Japanese sword. Shinai are also used in other martial arts, but may be styled differently from kendo shinai, and represented with different characters....
A bokken , "wood", and ken, "sword") , is a Japanese wooden sword used for training. It is usually the size and shape of a katana, but is sometimes shaped like other swords, such as the wakizashi and tantō...
, and katana
A Japanese sword, or , is one of the traditional bladed weapons of Japan. There are several types of Japanese swords, according to size, field of application and method of manufacture.-Description:...
, his signature technique was named the Mumyo-ken
(which roughly translates as "no light blade" or "unenlightened blade") or Sandanzuki
(which translates as "Three Piece Thrust"), a technique that could attack one's neck, left shoulder, and right shoulder with one strike. (the Mumyo-ken supposedly could hit all three points simultaneously, but this is an embellishment.) The Mumyo-ken was his own invention and may have been derived from an invention of Hijikata's, the Hirazuki.
It is a popular conception by the public that his tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...
was first discovered when he fainted during the Ikedaya Affair, mostly due to the depiction appearing in a famous work chronicling the Shinsengumi as well as a number of period dramas based upon it. Some sources on the other hand say that he contracted the disease after that. Both theories are fairly reasonable, as tuberculosis can kill quickly (in weeks), or very slowly (many years). However, one should note that people rarely survived the disease longer than a year once it progressed to the point that they would collapse, and Okita didn't die until 4 years after the affair. Some researchers now believe he instead collapsed due some other ailment, such as anemia
Anemia is a decrease in number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. However, it can include decreased oxygen-binding ability of each hemoglobin molecule due to deformity or lack in numerical development as in some other types of hemoglobin...
or heat stroke. While many of the Shinsengumi fans believe that Yoshida Toshimaru was killed by Okita during the Ikedaya Affair (based on Shimosawa Kan and Shiba Ryoutarou's fiction), it is in fact historically inaccurate.
Based on Shiba Ryoutarou's fiction, many also believe that Okita and Hijikata were like brothers. In history, Yamanami Keisuke
was a Japanese samurai. He was the General Secretary of the Shinsengumi, a special police force in Kyoto during the late Edo period.-Background:...
was the vice-commander Okita shared a brotherly relationship with. Yamanami's seppuku
is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was either used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies , or as a form of capital punishment...
(with Okita as his second) in 1865 was an extremely painful incident in Okita's short life. There is no record showing that Hijikata and Okita were close; it is debatable whether Okita even got along with Hijikata.
In 1865, Okita became the captain of the first unit of the Shinsengumi and also served as a kenjutsu instructor; later that year, he was appointed by Kondo Isami to be the fifth master of the Tennen Rishin-ryu after him.
Although highly unlikely, it was rumored that he wielded a famous katana called Kikuichi-monji
. However, he surely owned a set of Kaga Kiyomitsu
(a katana and a wakizashi) and his so-called "Kikuichimonji Norimune" was likely a Yamasiro Kunikiyo
During the Boshin War
The was a civil war in Japan, fought from 1868 to 1869 between forces of the ruling Tokugawa shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the imperial court....
, after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi
The occurred between pro-Imperial and Tokugawa shogunate forces during the Boshin War in Japan. The battle started on 27 January 1868 , when the forces of the Tokugawa shogunate and the allied forces of Chōshū, Satsuma and Tosa domains clashed near Fushimi...
in January of Keiō
was a after Genji and before Meiji. The period spanned the years from April 1865 to September 1868. The reigning emperors were and .-Change of era:...
4, Okita went into Matsumoto Ryōjun
' was a Japanese physician who served as the personal physician to the last Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu. He also studied photography with J. L. C...
's hospital in Edo. He then moved to a guesthouse with Okita Rintarou, Okita Mitsu, and their children. When the shogunate forces (including the Shinsengumi and the Shinchōgumi) retreated to the Tohoku region
The is a geographical area of Japan. The region occupies the northeastern portion of Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The region consists of six prefectures : Akita, Aomori, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Yamagata....
, Okita remained in Edo alone. He died from tuberculosis on July 19 (lunar calendar
A lunar calendar is a calendar that is based on cycles of the lunar phase. A common purely lunar calendar is the Islamic calendar or Hijri calendar. A feature of the Islamic calendar is that a year is always 12 months, so the months are not linked with the seasons and drift each solar year by 11 to...
May 30), 1868. Later that night, he was buried at Sensō-ji Temple in Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...
, under his birth name (with Okita Sōji listed in the death records.) Today, Okita's grave is not open to the public, except for one day each year in June
The claim that Okita died when he was 25 is based on the theory that he was born in 1844 and therefore was 25 by East Asian age reckoning
East Asian age reckoning is a concept and practice that originated in China and is widely used by other cultures in East Asia, which share this traditional way of counting a person's age. Newborns start at one year old, and each passing of a Lunar New Year, rather than the birthday, adds one year...
when he died in 1868.
"Okita" (沖田) was his family name
A family name is a type of surname and part of a person's name indicating the family to which the person belongs. The use of family names is widespread in cultures around the world...
; "Sōji" (総司) was his given name
A given name, in Western contexts often referred to as a first name, is a personal name that specifies and differentiates between members of a group of individuals, especially in a family, all of whose members usually share the same family name...
; "Fujiwara" (藤原) was his family clan
A clan is a group of people united by actual or perceived kinship and descent. Even if lineage details are unknown, clan members may be organized around a founding member or apical ancestor. The kinship-based bonds may be symbolical, whereby the clan shares a "stipulated" common ancestor that is a...
(the surname of his ancestors); "Kaneyoshi" (房良) was his formal given name (like a middle name equivalent). It is unclear whether Okita changed his name to Okita Sōji Fujiwara no Kaneyoshi
in 1863 or in 1862 (or less likely, in 1861.) There's a theory that he changed his name to Sōji because some people around him called him "Sō-Ji" (short for Sōjirō.) Other than his full name, he could be referred as Okita Sōji
or Okita Sōji Kaneyoshi
. In writing, he was sometimes referred as Fujiwara no Kaneyoshi
(formal name used in writing) or Okita Kaneyoshi
(like the "initials" for his full name.)
Okita in Fiction
Like the other members of the Shinsengumi, fictionalized accounts of Okita's life and actions appear in novels, period dramas and anime/manga series. Although his given name is sometimes pronounced as "Soushi" in the fictional world, it is actually "Sōji."
On the 2004 jdorama Shinsengumi!
, actor Tatsuya Fujiwara
is a Japanese television and film actor.-Biography:Born in Saitama, Fujiwara has had an interest in acting from a young age.He is famous for acting the part of Shuya Nanahara in the controversial 2000 film Battle Royale and continues the character as a leader of the Wild Seven in the sequel, Battle...
Okita is a main character in the anime/manga Peacemaker Kurogane
is a historical fiction manga series written and illustrated created by . It is unrelated to the Peace Maker manga by Ryōji Minagawa. The story begins in 19th century Japan before the Meiji Restoration, a chain of events that led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure while...
, which takes more liberties with history.
He is the protagonist of the manga oneshot Because Goodbyes are Coming Soon
, by Yukimura Makoto.
Okita is mentioned in the anime/manga series Rurouni Kenshin
, also known as Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai X, is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki. The fictional setting takes place during the early Meiji period in Japan. The story is about a fictional assassin named Himura Kenshin, from the Bakumatsu who becomes a wanderer to...
, which takes place during and after the Meiji Revolution in Japan. He makes a major appearance in the OVA and is briefly shown during the Kyoto Arc (before the character based on the Okita Sōji from novel Shinsengumi Keppuroku
is a novel by Ryōtarō Shiba and a television series which aired in 1998.-Details:Television series:* Title: Shinsengumi keppuroku* Genre: Chanbara* Episodes: 11* Broadcast network: TV Asahi* Broadcast period: 1998* Theme Song: "Sayonara" by Chiharu Matsuyama...
, Seta Sōjirō
, addressed as Sojiro Seta in the English-language dubs, is a fictional character from the Rurouni Kenshin universe created by Nobuhiro Watsuki for the series and developed into a media franchise, which consists of a series of manga, anime, OVAs, movies, soundtracks, video games, and other...
, makes his appearance); in the manga, Okita is also shown during the Jinchū Arc. However, some of the translations of the English dub are incorrect. In the OVA English dub, Okita is portrayed as a subordinate of Saitoh Hajime, when in fact he was his equal or superior in rank and kenjutsu skills. At the end of the OVA when he finally confronts Kenshin, another Shinsengumi member called Okita a lieutenant in the English dubbed track, when in fact he was the captain of the first troop. In the Japanese dub the unknown Shinsengumi member correctly refers to him as:
During his brief appearance in the anime, he is shown coughing and having pain in his chest, a reference to his death by tuberculosis.
In the anime series, Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
is a Japanese anime series, created by Ryōsuke Takahashi and Sunrise. It was broadcast between October 6, 2006 and April 6, 2007 on the Japanese internet streaming channel, GyaO.-Story:...
, Okita is depicted as an old acquaintace of the protagonist, Akizuki Yōjirō.
Okita is also one of the main playable characters in the X Box video game Kengo: The legend of the 9 samurai
In an episode of the anime Ghost Sweeper Mikami
is a Japanese comedic horror manga series written and illustrated by Takashi Shiina. It was published by the weekly manga magazine Shōnen Sunday from 1991 to 1999. In 1993, it won the Shogakukan Manga Award for best shōnen manga...
, ghost-hunter Mikami Reiko gets inside of a haunted movie about the Bakumatsu and meets Okita, who is depicted as a crazy guy who thinks only of killing people (obvious pun on his usual portrayal, which also is a foil to the show's rendition of Hijikata.) In the anime/manga series Shura no Toki
, Okita's (fictional) last battle before succumbing to his sickness is with Mutsu Izumi from the Mutsu Enmei Ryuu
, an unarmed martial art. Their duel was a request from Okita himself from years before. Okita appears during a flashback
Flashback is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened before the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory...
in Kido Shinsengumi: Moeyo Ken
(which features Okita's fictional daughter Kaoru as one of the three main characters of the series.) He also appears in the short OVA Hijikata Toshizou: Shiro no Kiseki, which attempts a proper portrayal of the Shinsengumi.
Okita is the male protagonist in the manga Kaze Hikaru
is a Japanese manga series by Taeko Watanabe.Kaze Hikaru is set in the bakumatsu. After her father and older brother are murdered, Tominaga Sei decides to pose as a boy named so that she can join the Mibu-Roshigumi and avenge their deaths...
, a fictional story about the Shinsengumi during the late Tokugawa shogunate, in which Okita trains a young girl to be one of the Shinsengumi in order to avenge her father and older brother. He is also featured in the manga Getsumei Seiki
He also appears in the H-manga Femme Kabuki after his fault name Soji.
In addition, he is depicted in the 1999 live-action film Gohatto
(sometimes known as Taboo
), the 2003 Japanese film When the Last Sword Is Drawn
is a 2003 Japanese movie directed by Yōjirō Takita loosely based on real historical events. When the Last Sword Is Drawn won the Best Film award at the 2004 Japanese Academy Awards, as well as the prizes for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor . It received a further eight...
, video game series Shinsengumi Gunrou-den
(as the protagonist), video game series Fu-un Shinsengumi
is a PlayStation 2 action game published by Genki featuring artwork by Yoji Shinkawa. The game revolves around the historical military group Shinsengumi during the Edo Period of Japan's history. A PlayStation Portable version was released by From Software in December 2009....
video game series Bakumatsu Renka Shinsengumi,
and video game Chaos Wars
is a tactical role-playing game released by Idea Factory for the PlayStation 2 in Japan on September 21, 2006. Promotional art for the game is by Nishimura Kinu. The game's opening theme Shūtan no Ou to Isekai no Kishi ~The Endia&The Knights~ was done by Sound Horizon...
The popular Japanese conception of Okita is that his character and his swordsmanship were of the highest purity. In Shiba Ryotaro's novels, he joined the Shinsengumi not because of his political beliefs but rather out of his loyalty for Kondo Isami and his (fictional) friendship with Hijikata Toshizo.
His anime, manga, and TV depictions tend to be as a handsome young man, sometimes a bishōnen
is a Japanese term literally meaning "beautiful youth ". The equivalent English concept is a "pretty boy".The term describes an aesthetic that can be found in disparate areas in East Asia: a young man whose beauty transcends the boundary of gender or sexual orientation...
. The Latin American dub of Rurouni Kenshin
, even mistook Okita for a woman. In fact, in a 1991 movie, Bakumatsu Jūnjōden
(幕末純情伝), he is portrayed as a boyish woman. In a 2003 theatrical production of the same name, (s)he's portrayed by actress Ryoko Hirosue
is a Japanese actress and pop star, best known in the West for her roles in the Luc Besson-produced Wasabi and the Academy Award-winning Japanese film Departures. She also starred in a comedy series Yasuko to Kenji in 2008.- Early life :...
Okita Sougo, from the anime/manga Gintama
, also known as Gintama, is a Japanese manga written and illustrated by Hideaki Sorachi and serialized, beginning on December 8, 2003, in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump...
, is loosely based on Okita Sōji.
Okita is loosely portrayed in the Japanese-only otome PS2 game, Hakuouki (薄桜鬼), along with other Shinsengumi members. They are samurai who develop vampiristic qualities as the game progresses. He is portrayed more prominently in the 2010 anime adaptation of the game Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan
is a video game series by Idea Factory, first designed for the Playstation 2 and then later ported to Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, and Nintendo DS. A Nintendo 3DS version is soon to be released as well. It has been adapted into two 12/10-episode anime series animated by Studio DEEN; the...
. In this anime, Okita is a skilled warrior who develops a case of tuberculosis. He drinks the Ochimizu which transforms him into a vampire.
In the Japanese video game Sengoku Rance by Alicesoft
was established in 1989, as an eroge publisher for the computer market, first for the PC-88 and PC-98, and later for PCs running Microsoft Windows platforms. Its first titles were Rance and Intruder, released simultaneously in July 1989. It has continued to release several titles each year,...
, a female version of Okita plays a minor role, Okita Nozomi. Okita Nozomi can be recruited from the Shinsengumi in the game as a commander, and is one of the best swordsmen in the game. She is also seen constantly coughing up blood and is later diagnosed with the "Cough-Cough Disease".
The digital comic "Okita and the Cat" deals with the anecdotal last days of Okita Sōji. The former swordsman is depicted as a pleasant raconteur despite his disease, though he's secretly frustrated at his inability to stand by his comrades. The comic, by Josh Hechinger and mpMann, was released for Apple mobile devices in August 2010 through Arrow Publications.
- Hijikata Toshizō and Okita Sōji. Hijikata Toshizō, Okita Sōji zenshokanshū edited by Kikuchi Akira. Tōkyō: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 1995. ISBN 4404023065.
- Imagawa, Tokuzo. Okita Soji to Shinsengumi. Tokyo: PHP Interface, 2004. ISBN 4569661211
- Kimura, Sachihiko. Shinsengumi to Okita Souji. Tokyo: PHP Interface, 2002. ISBN 4569625738
- Mori, Makiko. Okita Soji Feature. Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha, 1999. ISBN 4404028075
- Oji, Kazuko. Okita Soji wo Aruku. Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha, 1989. ISBN 4404016212
- Okita Rintaro
was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period who was a commander of the Shinchōgumi .-Biography:...