In Edo Period, Yamaguchi Prefecture was called Chōshū domain. The domain was founded by Mōri clan. Chōshū domain’s kokudaka (income) was reduced by Tokugawa shogunate (Edo Bakuhu) and had been a long time poor due to their having fought against Tokugawa Ieyasu at Decisive battle, the Battle of Sekigahara. In this background, Chōshū became a hotbed of anti-Tokugawa activities.
In Bakumatsu (the final years of the Edo period) a great thinker Yoshida Shōin appeared. He presided over tiny private school, Shoka Sonjuku, gave advanced international education. Excellent young people such as Takasugi Shinsaku, Kusaka Genzui, Ito Hirobumi (the first Prime Minister of Japan) and Yamagata Aritomo gathered at the Shoka Sonjuku. Later years the Chōshū Five including Ito Hirobumi (*Fig.) studied in England, were surprised by advanced Western civilization. In addition, Kido Takayoshi known as Katsura Kogorō had strengthened cooperation with Satsuma domain (Satsuma-Chōshū Alliance). Finally Tokugawa shogunate was successfully overthrown, and the New Meiji government was established by Chōshū and Satsuma domains. Thereafter Yamaguchi Prefecture has produced many politicians. The current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s family is also originally from Yamaguchi Prefecture.
When you travel in Yamaguchi Prefecture, should visit the places associated with the Meiji Restoration such as Shoka Sonjuku and Hagi museum.
*Prefectures of Japan