Sakuma Shôzan was a scholar of Western learning (Rangaku) and a prominent figure of the Bakumatsu Period. He opened a private school in Edo in 1839, and in 1842 wrote the Kaibô Hassaku (海防八策, "Eight Plans for Naval Defense"). He was imprisoned for a time under suspicion that he was involved in an assassination planned by Yoshida Shôin, but was eventually released as it was determined Shôzan was not involved.
In 1864, Sakuma moved to Kyoto and established a residence in Kiyamachi. He was working for the shogunate at this time, in support of the promotion of the opening of the country. He was killed, however, by sonnô jôi Imperial loyalists (anti-shogunate rebels).
- Plaque on-site at site of Sakuma Shôzan's former residence in Kyoto Kiyamachi.