Historians have pondered over the phenomenon of the propitious appearance in Japan of numerous statesmen in the critical mid-nineteenth century. Perhaps more startling is the number of able leaders who came from Kagoshima, a modest-sized city of the Satsuma fief. Men who played a major role in the history of modern Japan such as Saigō Takamori, Ōkubo Toshimichi, Matsukata Masayoshi, and Admiral Tōgo Heihachiro grew up together in Kagoshima almost within a stone's throw of each other.

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