ascension to power
late 1850s, power in the Choshu domain was primarily held by
those in the upper feudal class (with 200 koku serving as a
dividing line), led by Nagai Uta. Kido was associated with the
Sufu Masanosuke faction, which consisted of those in the lower
class of samurai. In 1858, he was appointed to the domain office,
largely in part due to Murata Seifu.
Kido joined the inner circle of Choshu officials who guided
the domain to a loyalist-exclusion policy favored by the radical
as the chief diplomat for negotiations with the Imperial Court
and other domains in Kyoto.
travails included the failure to detect the Satsuma-Aizu coup
which drove the Choshu out of Kyoto and being on duty in Kyoto
when the Choshu attempted to capture the Emperor at Hamaguri
Gate on August 20th, 1864. He was not in battle and was forced
to go into hiding after the Choshu coup failed. (Kusaka Gensui,
a noteworthy radical Choshu loyalist, committed seppuku at this
of his escape is one already known in history. Kido hid under
the Nijo Bridge along the Kamo River posing as a beggar. His
geisha lover Ikumatsu brought riceballs from the shop of Imai
Taroemon, the official Choshu merchant. She aided in his escape
after 5 days. (And in 1868, following her adoption into a samurai
family, became Kido’s wife, Matsuko.)
to remote Izushi in Taguma province, northwest of Kyoto, pretending
he belonged to a branch family of local shopkeeper Hirado Jinsuke.
For half a year, his whereabouts were unknown to Choshu loyalists
and he tended a shop under the pseudonym Hiroe Kosuke.
Shinsaku sent the summons to Kido to come home to Choshu to
take charge of the government in 1865 after Shinsaku's successful
Takasugi built up an autonomous military base under the slogans
“full independence of central control” and “reliance
on arms.” They successfully battled in the War of Four
Borders against the Bakufu in 1865-6.
in the great military reformer Omina Masujiro from Tosa to develop
Western rifle units. (Access to 8000 English rifles were obtained
through an English trader in Nagasaki. Note that Kido had negotiated
with Saigo under the secret Satsuma-Choshu Alliance the means
to purchase weapons under Satsuma’s name. In turn, the
Satsuma could use Shimonoseki as a staging base.)