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Satsuma is the old Japanese name for the area around Kagoshima, at the southern tip of Japan's mainland. During the Edo period, Satsuma was never fully under the shogun's control, owing to its geographic isolation and its strong daimyo lords.

Following the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1854, which opened up Japanese ports to foreign trade, Satsuma became the hub of the sonno joi movement that sought to "revere the emperor and expel the barbarians." In 1863, Satsuma went to war with Britain after several of its samurai killed a British trader on the Tokaido Road at Kanagawa. When the British failed to receive an apology from the bakufu in Edo, they sailed to Satsuma and let their cannon loose, which more or less quelled the sonno-joi movement. These incidents are fairly well-documented, albeit with names and serial numbers filed off, in James Clavell's historical fantasy novel Gai-Jin.

Satsuma officially ceased to be in the late 1800's, when old feudal fiefs were replaced by prefectures (but the name is still in use, especially in tourist publications). Several of Satsuma's sonno-joi fighters went on to become the country's first prime ministers.