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Originally samurai from the Chosu Clan of Japan, the shishi, or "men of spirit", were a faction who wanted to restore Emperor rule and break the Tokugawa Shogunate. [1] They espoused the political philosophy of Sonnō jōi (尊皇攘夷, "Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians") originated by Seisisai Aizawa. [2]

Their view of "spirit" was complex, but certainly included the concept of kokutai, or the Japanese national polity for which the Emperor was father figure, and sometimes a deity. As such, the shishi were predecessors of the Japanese militarism of the 20th century.[3]

A similar faction in the Satsuma Clan eventually joined the Chosu rebels. [4]


  1. Merion and Susie Harris (1991), Soldiers of the Sun: the Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Army, Random House, pp. 12-14
  2. William Theodore De Bary, Sources of Japanese tradition: From earliest times to 1600, Volume 1, Columbia University Press, p. 618
  3. Mikiso Hane (1990), Premodern Japan: a historical survey, Westview Press, ISBN 978-0813380650, pp. 214-217
  4. Marcel Thach, Sonno-Joi, Samurai Archives