Sakura Sōgorō by Yamamoto Goi

Sakura Sōgorō or better known as Sōgo-sama (1605 – September 1653), was a legendary Japanese farmer whose real family name was Kiuchi. He is said to have appealed directly to the shogun in 1652 when he was serving as a headman of one of the villages in the Sakura Domain. In the appeal he requested the shogun to help ease the peasants’ burden of heavy taxes and bad crops. But since direct appeals were illegal in those days, he was arrested. It is widely believed that he was executed (crucified) along with his sons (and some sources claim also his wife) in 1653 by the daimyo of his feudal domain. However, no evidence for the existence of the incident has been found. The legend of Sakura Sōgorō has been made into numerous stories and plays (a.o. a play called “Self-Sacrificing Man Sakura Sogo”). He is enshrined in Sōgo-reidō of Tōshōji temple in Narita city. He is still admired by many as gimin (martyr, in the non-religious sense). To honour him, he is called Sōgo-sama (the honourable Mr. Sogo), which is a higher title than the common Sogo-san (Mr. Sogo). Every year on the 2nd of September (it is said that it is the day before his execution, but other sources say he was executed on the 24th), there are all-night gatherings in memory of Sōgo-sama at the Sōgo Reidō Sanctuary (Tōshōji Temple) in Narita (Chiba prefecture). (Source)

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