Nagakura Shimpachi (jap. 永倉 新八; b. May 11, 1839 in Edo; January 5, 1915 in Otaru) was the captain of the second corps of the Japanese police unit Shinsengumi and fought in Kyōto to maintain the power of the Shōgunate.
Nagakura Shimpachi was born in Edo (Tōkyō) into the better-off branch of the Matsumae clan, the son of Nagakura Kanji. In his childhood he was called Eikichi or Eiji.
He received training in kenjutsu at the age of 8 and began training in the Shintō Munen Ryū style, also called Gekikenkan, in Kanda Sarugaku-chō in the Dōjō of Okada Jūsuke Toshisada.
At the age of 18 he achieved mokuroku, 6th dan, and at 22 he received the menkyo kaiden degree. He then left the Dōjō and service in the Matsumae clan to travel and improve his technique.
He then spent some time in Yurimoto Shuuzō's Shintō Munen Ryu Dōjō and in the Shingyoto Ryu Dōjō led by Tsubōchi Shume, where he met Shimada Kai, who later became vice commander of the 2nd unit of the Shinsengumi. During this time, he occasionally met with Kondō Isami in his Dōjō Shieikan.
In 1863, he joined Kondō with other students and joined the Rōshitai samurai group, which later became the Shinsengumi. He was later appointed corps commander of the 2nd unit of the Shinsengumi and deputy vice commander (fukuchō jōkin).
As such, he was present at the Ikedaya incident. After tuberculosis disease broke out in corps commander Okita Sōji, he also temporarily took charge of the first division and remained with the Shinsengumi until January 1868.
In the Boshin War, which marked the end of the Shinsengumi, Nagakura, along with Harada Sanosuke, left the Shinsengumi in a dispute with Kondō to form the Seikeitai and continue fighting as well.
He survived the war and took his wife's name in the Meiji period after being adopted by her family. From then on, he called himself Sugimura Yoshiei (杉村 義衛). Among other things, he taught kendo in a prison.
Nagakura died of natural causes in 1915 and lived to be 76 years old. He erected the memorial stones for Kondō and Hijikata Toshizō near JR Itabashi Tōkyō Station and spent his retirement in Otaru. Nagakura's burial sites include a temple (寿徳寺) in the Kita-ku of Tōkyō and a cemetery (里塚霊園) in the Kiyota-ku of Sapporo, and others.
He was the only one of the Shinsengumi to record the history of the group. However, he had reported his experiences to a reporter long after the actual events, and so it is believed that the account is not entirely truthful. It later appeared in book form under the title Jitsureki-dan and Shinsengumi Temmatsu Ki.