The Saigo Takamori I was exposed to as a child was the one shown in this statue. It’s located at the foot of Shiroyama on the way up to the small cave where he supposedly played a game of go before his “last stand,” whatever that really was. I think how he died is still a mystery although legend says he committed seppuku. That was the story my father told, so our Sunday drives that took us near those caves held a kind of fascination. Then, when we got to the top of that small mountain we could look and see Kagoshima spread out before us with Sakurajima sitting out in the bay. Sometimes it would spew ash, sometimes not. For a while, there was an old storyteller, dressed in a blue and white yukata, who would come out and tell the story of the 1916 eruption that buried the city in ash (not nearly as bad as Pompeii). Today Kagoshima has Naples as a sister city.
So, the story of Atsuhime fascinates me because I’ve never heard of her until this year. Then again, her story and Saigo’s are intertwined. Another thing that’s been fun about this taiga is that after each episode there is added footage about the various related historical spots in Kagoshima as they are today. Not to mention that there are many fantastic shots of Sakurajima and Kaimondake. I’m also very briefly back to my ふるさと・furusato.