Saigo experienced two banishments to islands and three marriages during his lifetime and was credited for his part in overthrowing the Tokugawa Bakufu and realising the Meiji Restoration. His last days were spent fighting the new Meiji government. There is a bronze statue of him at Ueno Park in Tokyo but there is no photo or picture of him and little is known about his life.
Rumours have it that Tsutsumi Shinichi was initially selected to play the role of Saigo in this Taiga but rejected the offer in the end. However, NHK has not confirmed nor denied the rumours to date.