STORY: Ii Naosuke was the head councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan in 1860 when there were pressures from inside and outside the country. Imperial loyalists demanded that the shogun step down and hand over rule to the emperor to resist the foreign barbarians. The United States and other countries insisted that Japan open its doors. On March 3, at the snow-covered gate to the shogun's castle, Ii Naosuke was assassinated by imperial loyalists. This modem play by Hojo Hideji features the last day before the assassination as Naosuke senses that his end is near. The deaths of an old friend and his newbom daughter make Naosuke and his mistress Oshizu think back to simpler times before he was burdened by such responsibilities.
Currently called Sakurada-mon, this gate is officially named Sotosakurada-mon, soto meaning “outer” as opposed to the “Uchisakurada-mon or “inner” Gate (Kikyo Gate) near the citadel. These gates were named Sakurada-mon because the area was called Sakurada-go (town) in the past.
The Sotosakurada-mon Gate has a dual structure consisting of the Korai Gate on the outside and the Watariagura Gate on the inside with a square in-between. It covers an exceptionally large area (approximately 1,056m2) as a highly defensive castle gate for the Nishinomaru (west compound). The Sotosakurada-mon Gate was originally built in the Kanei era (1624 to 1644), while the existing gate is based on a gate reconstructed in 1663. The gate was damaged by the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and repaired soon after.
On March 3, 1860, the Japanese Chief Minister Tairo Il Naosuke was assassinated by a group of samurai who seceded the Mito-han feudal state outside the Sotosakurada-mon Gate in an event known as the Sakuradamon incident.