Women Who Supported Saigo

Saigo Takamori married three times throughout his lifetime. When he was 24 years old, he first married a woman named Suga. The second marriage took place when Saigo’s was in hiding on Amamioshima Island, and this was with a woman named Aikana. His third wife’s name was Ito, and the two married when Saigo was 37 years old. As a genro (elder statesman) during the restoration and a historical figure making great contributions to Japanese history, Saigo’s turbulent life was supported by various Satsuma women.


After Nariakira passed away, Saigo retreated to Amamioshima Island to avoid the eyes of the shogunate. During that time, Saigo was wed to Aikana. After being called back to Satsuma, Saigo left the island giving Aikana the residence and a tan (pre-modern Japanese units of land measurement equivalent to 990m2) of new rice paddy field. Saigo’s marriage with Aikana only lasted for approximately two years. It is said that Aikana carefully kept a lock of Saigo’s hair as a keepsake.


Saigo married his third wife Ito and with her Saigo had three boys. Saigo and Ito also took in Kikujiro and Kikuso, the two children Saigo had with Aikana, and raised them as their own. Later in her life, Ito moved to Tokyo and lived to the age of 79.