I received a letter from a Kenshin fan in Hong Kong.
I received the heartful letter and thought.
What is Sekihoutai?
As you know, Sanosuke Sagara belonged to the Troop in his childhood.
At first, Sekihoutai was regarded as an Imperial army. Thereafter Sekihoutai was regarded as the imposter. Sozo Sagara (Souzou Sagara) was killed in 1868.
In Watsuki's Rurouni Kenshin, he had two child followers. They were Sanosuke Sagara and Tsunan Tsukioka. The two saw the death of the leader Sozo Sagara. Since then the two began to hate the Ministry of Home Affairs of Japanese Government (Japanese: Naimushou).
Especially Tsunan Tsukioka worked as a painter. He earned money to make bombs. On the other hand, Sanosuke got a gangster using a large butcher knife (Japanese: Zanba-tou). First, he fought against Kenshin. He was defeated. Since then he got friends with Kenshin.
However Sanosuke met Tsunan Tsukioka again. Mr. Tsukioka tried to break the building of Ministry of Home Affairs. Sanosuke helped Tsunan then. But Kenshin appeared in front of them. Sanosuke had to fight against Kenshin. Sanosuke was defeated. Since then both Sanosuke and Tsunan began to take the side of Kenshin.
As you know, Sanosuke is still single. Megumi Takani likes him a little. But they always quarrel with each other.
Shishio's Ten Swords appeared in front of Kenshin. Kenshin had to go to Kyoto alone. However Kenshin's team also went to Kyoto. Then Sanosuke also went to Kyoto. Sanosuke was so poor that he had to walk.
He met Priest Anji Yukyuzan of Shishio's Ten Sword member. Anji taught Sanosuke his secret art "Futae No Kiwami." Then Sanosuke met Sozo Sagara's ghost. The ghost appeared at Shimo-Suwa. The ghost made Sanosuke use the secret art.
As you know, Sozo Sagara was killed at Shimo-Suwa.
Thereafter he had to fight against Anji. He defeated Anji at last.
Shishio was dead. Since then Yukishiro's Six Revenge appeared.
Sanosuke fought against Kujiranami. Then Kenshin defeated Kujiranami.
Second, Sanosuke fought against Banjin Inui. He used his iron-shell. Banjin used his new matchless iron helmet since he was defeated by Sanosuke once. Moreover he learned his new secret wrestling art, "Roaring Ax Bombing" and a mixed art "Ashura Crush." However Sanosuke defeated Banzin using Anji's secret art "Futae No Kiwami (Double Fist Master)" at last.
In the letter, the Kenshin fan thought that Sekihoutai meant "Red Cloth Troop" or "Red Newspaper Troop."
Modern Chinese regards Chinese letter "bao" as "Report."
But Sekihoutai does not mean "Red Newspaper Troop."
Several USA sites that deal with Japaense history call the "Sekiho-tai" "Sekiho-Troop."
A famous Kenshin site in Hong Kong, "Kenshin's Rurouni Resource Center" calls it "Red Report Army."
However Sekihoutai is an abbreviation.
Mr. Souzou Sagara is still popular among Japanese idealists. He was born in 1839 at Akasaka, Tokyo. He acted as a leader of peasants and anti-Shogunate movement workers. Most of his followers are anti-taxation anarchists. In 1863, he worked as a follower of Mito Clan at Tsukuba-san Mountain Riot. But he had to leave Mito Clan. Thereafter he worked as a follower of Mr. Takamori Saigou from Satsuma Clan.
Under the control of Saigou, he fought against Tokugawa Shogunate at Edo Satsuma Clan Office. In 1868, he received an Imperial Order to reduce taxes. He organized the Sekihou-Troop as an imperial force to spread the order. Just after it, the Tokugawa Shogunate surrendered. The Meiji new government needed any resources to govern Japan. Thus the government regarded Sekihou-Troop as the imposter of Imperial Troopers. In March 1868, Sozo Sagara was arrested and executed at Shimo-suwa. He was 29 years old. Sekihou-Troop also fell. In 1928, the government offered an official apology.
Sekihou is an abbriviation of "Seki Shin" and "Hou Koku" in Japanese. "Seki Shin" means "Magokoro." "Hou Koku" means "Kuni Ni Mukuiru Koto." Therefore Sekihou means "Cordiality" and "Repaying the obligation to Nation" Sekihou-tai means the Troop of Cordiality and Repaying. Sekihou-tai members wore red clothes. So I called it Red Team. But it is not accurate.
Sozo Sagara is still popular. Several Kenshin fans make Sozo Sagara fan sites in Japan.
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