About the book:
A retelling of the history of the famous peasant Sakura Sogoro, who rebelled against the shogun to help ease tax burdens. The first English version we know of, of this famous story.
About Sakura (Kiuchi) Sogoro (from Wikipedia):
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 2 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).
About Viscount Tadasu Hayashi (from Wikipedia):
Count Hayashi Tadasu, GCVO (林 董?, April 11, 1850 – July 10, 1913) was a career diplomat and cabinet minister in Meiji period Japan.
Hayashi was appointed as resident minister to the court of Qing Dynasty China at the Japanese legation in Beijing, then resident minister to Russia in St Petersburg, and finally resident minister to Great Britain. While serving in London from 1900, he worked to successfully conclude the Anglo-Japanese Alliance and signed on behalf of the government of Japan on January 30, 1902 . He was elevated to the title of viscount (shishaku) in 1902.
On December 2, 1905 Hayashi became the first Japanese ambassador to the Court of St. James’s, as diplomatic relations were upgraded between the Empire of Japan and the British Empire . He was accompanied by his wife, Misao Gamo. At that time Sir Claude MacDonald was Hayashi’s opposite number in Tokyo.
On becoming Foreign Minister in the first Saionji cabinet in 1906, Hayashi concluded agreements with France (the Franco-Japanese Agreement of 1907) and Russia (the Russo-Japanese Agreement of 1907 and Russo-Japanese Agreement of 1910). He served as Minister of Communications in the second Saionji cabinet and as interim Foreign Minister (1911–12). He was elevated to the title of count (hakushaku) in 1907 .
Hayashi died in 1913, and his grave is at Aoyama Cemetery in Tokyo.