Samurai Files


Akechi mitsuhide

(March 10, 1528 - July 17 1582)

Best remembered as the general who turned on his master, warlord Oda Nobunaga, besieging, and killing him in the Honno-ji Temple in Kyoto. Born in Mino (Gifu Prefecture) Mitsuhide first served the Saito of Mino, later becoming a guardian of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki, before serving Oda Nobunaga. Mitsuhide was a highly trusted vassal, advisor and confidante of Nobunaga, and the reasons for his turning were never fully revealed. Mitsuhide's reign lasted 13 days before he was defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and killed days later.

Ankokuji Ekei

(1539 - November 6, 1600)

A Rinzai sect Buddhist monk, the abbot of the Tofukuji Temple, one of Kyoto’s Five Great Zen temples, and a diplomat serving the powerful Mori clan of southwestern Japan, Ankokuji Ekei meddled in the affairs of the samurai. Politically astute, he was seen as both greedy and cowardly. Ankokuji joined Hideyoshi’s forces sent to Korea, and was subsequently awarded Iyo Province (Ehime, Shikoku). Ankokuji Ekei was decapitated along with Ishida Mitsunari and Konishi Yukinaga following Sekigahara.

Asakura Yoshikage

(October 12, 1533 - September 16, 1573)

Daimyo of Echizen (Fukui Pref.) Asakura Yoshikage was a fine warrior and most able governor who came into conflict with Oda Nobunaga, resulting in the destruction of the Asakura clan and their castle at Ichijodani. Echizen had enjoyed peace, a flourishing culture and stability under the Asakura.

Azai Nagamasa

(August 28,1545 - September 26, 1573)

A most skilled commander of troops, Azai Nagamasa was a Sengoku period daimyo based in Odani, Omi Province (Shiga Prefecture). He was brother-in-law to Oda Nobunaga, however turned against Nobunaga in favor of the Azai’s long-term alliance with the Oda enemy, the Asakura. Having toppled the Asakura, Nobunaga destroyed Nagamasa and his clan in 1573. Nagamasa sent his wife, Nobunaga’s sister and their three girls to safety before committing ritual suicide in Odani Castle.


Chosokabe Motochika

(1539 - July 11, 1599)

Sengoku period daimyo Chosokabe Motochika was the son of the warlord of Tosa (Kochi, Shikoku). His mother was a daughter of the Saito of Mino (Gifu). Having succeeded his father, he expanded his territories taking the wjole of Shikoku. He lost most of the island and submitted to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. His son was killed in the invasion of Kyushu before Motochika took part in the Siege of Odawara and the invasions of Korea.


Fukushima Masanori

(1561 - August 26, 1624)

Born in Ama (Aichi Pref.), Masanori is believed to have been a cousin of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He first saw battle during the Siege of Miki Castle fighting under Hideyoshi, and again at the Battle of Yamazaki. Masanori distinguished himself at the Battle of Shizugatake, taking the first head in battle, that of an enemy general, and becoming famed as one of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake. Masanori followed Hideyoshi through his many campaigns, being made a daimyo for his efforts in the Kyushu Campaign, and receiving Imabari Domain (Ehime, Shikoku). Masanori again proved his worth during Hideyoshi’s ill-fated Korean Campaign. At the Battle of Sekigahara, he joined the Tokugawa Forces.

Furuta Shigenari(Oribe)

(1544 - July 6, 1615)

Furuta Shigenari, also known as Futruta Oribe, was a samurai warrior, tea master, potter, garden designer and artist. Born in Motosu, Mino Province, (Gifu Pref.) Oribe was originally a messenger for Oda Nobunaga, reporting directly to his lord on the progress of battles. He became the leading tea master following Sen no Rikyu’s death, and instructor to the Shogun, Hidetada. Oribe created the Oribe-Ryu style tea ceremony and Oribe-yaki pottery. He fought for the Tokugawa at Sekigahara and the Osaka campaign, where he was accused of communicating with the enemy and ordered to commit seppuku (ritual disembowelment).


Gamo Ujisato

(1556 - March 17, 1595)

Married to Oda Nobunaga’s daughter, Fuyuhime, the daimyo Gamo Ujisato hailed from Hino in Omi Province (Shiga Pref.). In 1568, the 13 year old Ujisato was sent to Nobunaga as a peace hostage by his father. Years later, Ujisato would protect Nobunaga at his castle in Hino when the Azai turned against the Oda, and aided Nobunaga’s escape to Gifu. Ujisato’s father was guarding Azuchi Castle at the time of Nobunaga’s assassination, and Ujisato quickly sheltered Nobunaga’s wife and children in Hino Castle. He built Matsusaka Castle, (Mie Pref.) and later Aizu Wakamatsu Castle (Fukushima Pref.). Ujisato died aged 40 of an illness. The Christian daimyo Gamo Ujisato was an apprentice to the tea master Sen no Rikyu, and noted for his fine literary skills.


Honda Tadakatsu

(March 17, 1548 - December 3, 1610)

Honda Tadakatsu was one of the Four Guardians of the Tokugawa clan and regarded as one of the greatest of samurai by many of his peers, including Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Born in Mikawa Province, Tadakatsu was a steadfast and loyal retainer of Tokugawa Ieyasu from childhood. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Anegawa in 1570, and survived the disastrous Battle of Mikatagahara two years later. Naturally he was at Ieyasu’s side at Nagashino, Komaki-Nagakute, and Sekigahara, and despite having taken part in over 50 battles, was never once wounded.

Hosokawa Tadaoki

(November 28, 1563 - January 18, 1646)

Daimyo of the late Sengoku and early Edo periods, Hosokawa Tadaoki was the eldest son of Hosokawa Fujitaka Yusai of Kyoto. Tadaoki fought his first battle aged 15 under Oda Nobunaga. His wife, Hosokawa Gracia was the daughter of Akechi Mitsuhide. Tadaoki served Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the Battle of Komaki Nagakute in 1584, and at the Siege of Odawara in 1590, later becoming friendly with Tokygawa Ieyasu, siding with him in 1600 for the Battle of Sekigahara. He was awarded a fief in Kokura (Fukuoka Pref.) and finally served in the Siege of Osaka, 1615, before retiring.


Ii Naomasa

(March 4, 1560-March 24, 1602)

Along with the generals Honda Tadakatsu, Sakakibara Yasumasa, and Sakai Tadatsugu, Ii Naomasa was regarded as one of the Four Guardians of the Tokugawa. Naomasa was born in Hoda Village, Totomi Province (western Shizuoka Pref.). His family served Imagawa Yoshimoto for many years until Yoshimoto’s death at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560. Naomasa’s father was later falsely accused of treason and executed by Yoshimoto’s son. A small child when his father was killed, he was taken in by the Tokugawa family aged 14. Highly regarded by Ieyasu, he commanded the initial attack at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and was severely wounded in the closing stages of the battle, dying of his injuries two years later.

Ikeda Terumasa

(January 31, 1565 - March 16, 1613)

The Ikeda clan of Owari (Aichi Pref.) were vassals of Oda Nobunaga. Terumasa, second son of Ikeda Tsuneoki, had taken part in Nobunaga’s last campaigns, and fought under Hideyoshi at the Battle of Nagakute in 1584, in which his father was killed. By order of Hideyoshi, Terumasa married Ieyasu’s second daughter in an attempt to strengthen political ties. Due to his services to Ieyasu in 1600 at the Battle of Sekigahara, he was awarded Himeji Castle, which was greatly expanded under his control. By the time of his death, his power and influence was such that he was nicknamed Saigoku no Shogun, or “The Shogun of the West.”

Ikeda Tsuneoki

(1536 - May 18, 1584)

Sixteenth century daimyo and military commander Ikeda Tsuneoki is said to have been born in Owari, (Aichi Pref.), but possibly Mino (Gifu) or Omi (Shiga Pref.). His father was a highly ranked retainer of Oda Nobuhide, and his mother was a wet nurse to Nobunaga. As such, Tsuneoki served Nobunaga as one of his four closest advisors. Tsuneoki served in the Battles of Anegawa and Nagashino, and was killed fighting under Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Battle of Nagakute (Aichi Prefecture).

Imagawa Yoshimoto

(1519 - June 12, 1560)

Brother-in-law to the Tiger of Kai, Takeda Shingen, the ambitious Imagawa Yoshimoto of Suruga (Shizuoka) was one of the most prominent daimyo and politicians of the Sengoku period. Best remembered today for having lost to Oda Nobunaga’s inferior numbers at the Battle of Okehazama.

Ishida Mitsunari

(1560 - November 6, 1600)

Born in Nagahama, (Shiga Pref.) Ishida Mitsunari came to the attention of Toyotomi Hideyoshi as a 13-year-old tea server. Although he had many friends in the bureaucracy, he was prone to making enemies amongst the leading samurai warriors due to his brash, rigid character, particularly having been appointed to the role of commissioner during Hideyoshi’s Korean Campaign. Considered meddlesome by his contemporaries, Ishida Mitsunari had been the first to accuse Tokugawa Ieyasu of treachery against the infant Hideyori, sparking the conflict that caused the nation to split into two factions, leading to the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Ishida Mitsunari was executed for his role in the battle.

Ishikawa Kazumasa

(1534 - 1609)

Ishikawa Kazumasa of Mikawa (Aichi Pref.) was a close retainer of the Tokugawa Ieyasu, serving him while a hostage of the Imagawa clan. When Imagawa Yoshimoto was killed Okehazama, Ieyasu was free and led by Honda Tadakatsu and Ishikawa Kazumasa, fled to his ancestral lands at Okazaki. As Ieyasu’s wife and son were still held by the Imagawa at Sumpu Castle, the brave Kazumasa volunteered to return to Sumpu and brought them home safely. Believing Ieyasu to be wrong in resisting Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Kazumasa defected in 1585. This sudden move surprised and inconvenienced Ieyasu, who was forced to change all his battle strategies and military policies as Kazumasa was privy to the most intimate details.


Kanamori Nagachika

(1524 - September 20, 1608)

Kanamori Nagachika first served the Saito Clan of Mino (Gifu). At 18, he pledged loyalty to Oda Nobuhide and later his son, Nobunaga, whereby he was made master of Takayama and Matsukura Castles. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575. With Nobunaga’s death in 1582, Nagachika fought under Shibata Katsuie against Toyotomi Hideyoshi at Shizugatake. And having lost, took the tonsure, becoming a priest, before joining Hideyoshi. He became a close follower of the tea master Sen no Rikyu Nagachika, and sheltered the Tea Master’s son following Rikyu’s execution. Nagachika finally served Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Kato Yoshiaki

(1563 - October 7, 1631)

Kato Yoshiaki was a daimyo in the late Sengoku / early Edo eras. Born in Mikawa, (Aichi Pref.) his father was a vassal of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Kato Yoshiaki was sent as a page to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, eventually becoming one of the renowned Seven Spears of Shizugatake in 1582, and one of Hideyoshi’s most highly regarded and trusted generals.

Kikkawa Hiroie

(December 7, 1561 - October 22, 1625)

A master of strategy and diplomacy, Kikkawa Hiroie made his battlefield debut aged nine alongside his father. In 1587 he became head of the Kikkawa clan following the deaths of both his father and brother. He was highly praised by Hideyoshi, particularly for his loyalty to the Mori clan. It was this loyalty that led him to create a secret pact with the Tokugawa prior to Sekigahara, promising that the Mori forces would refrain from entering the battle on either side, providing Ieyasu allowed the clan to retain its land and titles. It was an effort to ensure the survival of the Mori clan.

Kira Yoshihisa(Yoshinaka)

(October 5, 1641 - January 30, 1703)

Despite being remembered as the villain in the 47 Ronin Story, and incorrectly attributed with having bullied Lord Asano of Ako, goading the younger lord into drawing his sword within the confines of Edo Castle, for which he was commanded to commit ritual suicide, Kira Yoshihisa (often mistaken as Yoshinaka) was considered a wise and able ruler of his domain, and a highly trusted vassal of the shogun. As Master of Protocol, he often acted as envoy to the Imperial Court in Kyoto on direct behalf of the shogun and even to this day, is seen as a hero by the people of Kira-cho in Aichi Prefecture. Kira Yoshihisa was killed aged 62 in the revenge raid on his mansion in Edo by the reformed 47 Ronin of Ako Domain.

Kobayakawa Hideaki

(1577 - December 1, 1602)

Born in Omi (Shiga Pref.), Kobayakawa Hideaki was a nephew of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He was adopted by his uncle, Hideyoshi, and a few years later, adopted again by Kobayakawa Takakage. Prior to the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Hideaki positioned himself on the West along with his relatives and associates, but changed sides during the battle, bringing victory to the Tokugawa clan. He died two years after the battle.

Konishi Yukinaga

(1555 - November 6, 1600)

A Christian daimyo, Konishi Yukinaga was the son of a wealthy merchant. His father was in contact with Ukita Naoie, father of Ukita Hideie, and through this connection, Yukinaga’s intelligence and skills were discovered, leading to him being elevated to samurai rank. Under Hideyoshi, he was awarded Higo Province (Kumamoto, Kyushu). In late 1600, following the battle of Sekigahara, he was captured and executed along with Western forces leader, Ishida Mitsunari, and Aknokuji Ekei.

Kuki Yoshitaka

(1542 - November 17, 1600)

Master of Toba Castle, in Shima, (Mie Pref.) Kuki Yoshitaka was the commander of Oda Nobunaga's navy, and created the world’s first ironclad battleships. He was the 9th master of his family founded traditional Kukishin-ryu martial arts school. Following Nobunaga's death, he served Toyotomi Hideyoshi as navy admiral. In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, Yoshitaka supported the West, while his son, Kuki Moritaka, joined Ieyasu’s forces. After the battle, Moritaka begged Ieyasu to spare his father’s life. The request was granted, and a messenger dispatched immediately with the good news, however, Yoshitaka committed ritual suicide hours before news of his pardon arrived.

Kuroda Nagamasa

(December 3, 1568 - August 29, 1623)

Kuroda Nagamasa’s father was a strategist for Toyotomi Hideyoshi. As a child he had been taken hostage and although well treated, was nearly put to death after his father was accused of espionage by Oda Nobunaga.
Nagamasa was a ferocious fighter, and cautioned by his generals for risking his life too many times. Nagamasa was one of the many daimyo accepting the Christian faith, being baptized as Damien. He served in the first Korean Campaign. His loyalties changed to that of the Tokugawa prior to Sekigahara. Nagamasa also took part in both attacks on Osaka Castle in 1614 and 1615.

Kuroda Yoshitaka Kanbei

(December 22, 1546 - April 19, 1604)

Kuroda Kanbei, also known as Yoshitaka, and in later life, Josui, was a military advisor and daimyo of the late Sengoku period, allied with the Kodera clan of Himeji, Oda Nobunaga and more closely with Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A brilliant strategist, he was a highly respected warrior, known for his quick wit, bravery and loyalty. Kuroda Kanbei was involved in some of the most fascinating moments of the Sengoku period. His actions and ideas played a major role in the shaping of Japan’s history and much of Hideyoshi’s successes can be claimed due to the wise advice of Kanbei.


Maeda Keiji(Toshimasu)

(1543 - 1612)

Maeda Keiji was born in Owari (Nagoya City, Aichi Pref.) and adopted by Takigawa Kazumasu, and again by Maeda Toshihisa, the older brother of Maeda Toshiie. His adopted fathers both served Oda Nobunaga. Keiji was recognized as a ferocious, maverick fighter, and highly skilled in the use of the spear. Because of his wild ways, he was not included among the samurai sent to quell Kyushu by Hideyoshi! Interestingly for such a heroic and brave fighter, Maeda Keiji excelled at literature, particularly Waka and Renga poetry.

Maeda Toshiie

(January 15, 1538 - April 27, 1599)

A master of the fighting spear, Maeda Toshiie was one of the most important, influential and successful figures of the Warring States Period. Hailing from Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, Toshiie was a close friend of Oda Nobunaga. Distinguishing himself under Shibata Katsuie in battle against the Asakura clan, he was rewarded with Kaga Province (Kanazawa) worth 1,000,000 koku, the wealthiest domain of the Edo period. Following Nobunaga’s death, Toshiie served Hideyoshi. Appointed to the Council of Five Elders to rule in the stead of Hideyoshi’s infant son, Hideyori. Toshiie took a strong stance against Tokugawa Ieyasu’s actions following Hideyoshi’s passing, but died aged 61 in 1599, the year before the battle at Sekigahara.

Matsudaira Tadayoshi

(October 18, 1580 - April 1, 1607)

Fourth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu by his second and favorite wife, Lady Saigo, and born in modern-day Shizuoka. With his father-in-law, Ii Naomasa, the 20-year-old Tadayoshi was one of the first into battle at Sekigahara, and wounded during the melee. After the battle, he was awarded a 570,000 koku fief and Kiyosu Castle, but died heirless at 27.

Minamoto no Yoritomo

(May 9, 1147 - February 9, 1199)

First of the Kamakura Shogun, Yoritomo was born in modern-day Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Divisions within the Imperial court set his family, the Minamoto clan against the equally powerful Taira clan in a series of battles that would eventuate in the Minamoto victory in 1185 with the naval battle of Dan-no-Ura. Yoritomo was invested as Sei-i Tai Shogun, by which he established his government at Kamakura, and a feudal society ruled by the warrior caste that would last until the late 19th century.

Minamoto no Yoshitomo

(1123 - February 11, 1160)

Father of the future Shogun, Yoritomo, and the warrior Yoshitsune, Minamoto Yoritomo was a late Heian period military commander and head of the Minamoto clan. Due to a succession dispute within the Imperial court, the Minamoto and the Taira clans were divided and battled. Defeated by Taira no Kiyomori in the Heiji Rebellion, Yoshitomo fled to Noma, Aichi Prefecture, where he was betrayed by the family member of a vassal, attacked and killed while in the bath.

Minamoto no Yoshitsune

(1159 - June 15, 1189)

A brave and skilled swordsman, considered one of the greatest and most popular warriors of the late Heian period. Yoshitsune defeated the rival Taira clan in a number of key battles, including the decisive Battle of Dan-no-Ura. Yoshitsune greatly assisted his half brother, Yoritomo, in consolidating political control, but was dismissed for having made pacts behind his brother’s back and overstepping his position, for which his wife and children were executed, and he was forced to commit ritual suicide.

Miyamoto Musashi

(1584 - June 13, 1645)

One of Japan’s most famous samurai, Miyamoto Musashi was a master swordsman, strategist, calligrapher, painter, and writer. He fought his first duel at the age of 13, and at 17 joined the fighting at Sekigahara. He then roamed Japan perfecting his fighting skills, enduring hardships and duels in an effort to better himself. By the age of 29, he had fought over 60 duels and battles. His greatest duel took place in 1612 against Sasaki Kojiro. In the 1620’s he stayed in Owari, (Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture), teaching his two sword style Enmei Ryu to the samurai of Nagoya Castle. From 1640 he was employed by the Hosokawa clan of Kumamoto as a sword instructor and advisor. Musashi wrote the famed treatise on strategy known as the Go-Rin-no-Sho, or the Book Of Five Rings.


Naoe Kanatsugu

(1559 - January 23, 1620)

Senior minister to the Uesugi clan, Nao Kanetsugu was highly respected for his political astuteness, maintaining relations with many of the leading warlords of the day and for his fine tactical abilities and well thought out advice. The letter he penned to Ieyasu regarding the Uesugi’s castle construction plans in 1600 is said to have triggered the battle of Sekigahara.

Niwa Nagahide

(October 16, 1535 - May 15, 1585)

Born in modern day Nagoya City, Niwa Nagahide was a highly trusted senior retainer of Oda Nobunaga. He was given Wakasa Province (southern Fukui Pref.) and Sawayama Castle in Omi (Shiga Pref.). Nobunaga recognized his leadership abilities, and entrusted him with the construction of Azuchi Castle. After Nobunaga’s death, Nagahide supported Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and fought against Shibata Katsuie at Shizugatake. For this he was awarded Echizen and Kaga Provinces (Fukui and Ishikawa Prefs.).


Oda Hidenobu

(1580 - July 24, 1605)

The son of Oda Nobutada and grandson of Nobunaga, Oda Hidenobu. known by the infant name of Samboshi, was two years old when they were killed, causing a dispute as to the Oda clan leadership. Toyotomi Hideyoshi supported Hidenobu, while his rival and uncle, Nobutaka, was supported by Shibata Katsuie. Eventually, Hidenobu would become the head, under the close watch of Hideyoshi. Prior to Sekigahara, Hidenobu held the strategically important Gifu Castle, however, Gifu was taken by Fukushima Masanori and Ikeda Terumasa before the battle. Hidenobu later renounced the world and became a priest, but died five years after Sekigahara.

Oda Nagamasu(Urakusai)

(1548 - January 24, 1622)

Known as Oda Urakusai, Nagamasu was the younger brother of Oda Nobunaga and, as a disciple of Sen no Rikyu, an accomplished practitioner of the tea ceremony, founder of the extant Uraku-Ryu Tea Ceremony. Nagamasu was born in Owari (Aichi Pref.) and was viewed as a weak man with effeminate airs. However, fighting for the Eastern Forces, his efforts at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 would improve his standing among the samurai. His tea room, known as Joa-an, is designated a National Treasure.

Oda Nobuhide

(1510 - April 8, 1551)

Known as the Tiger of Owari, Oda Nobuhide was born in Owari (Western Aichi Pref.). He was a warlord, magistrate and Buddhist monk, head of the powerful Oda clan that ruled much of Owari Province, and father of the great Oda Nobunaga. He died aged just 41 of a short illness.

Oda Nobukatsu

(1558 - June 10, 1630)

Oda Nobukatsu was the second son of the great warlord of Owari (Aichi Pref.) Oda Nobunaga. Nobukatsu later married into the rival Kitabatake clan of Ise (Mie Pref.) in order to strengthen ties between the two clans. Nobukatsu joined Toyotomi Hideyoshi following his father’s death, expecting to be made head of the Oda clan, however in falling out with Hideyoshi, and losing the position to Nobunaga’s grandson, Samboshi, became a vassal of Hideyoshi. Despite this, he did not participate in the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, but supported the Tokugawa cause in 1614 against the Toyotomi in the Siege of Osaka.

Oda Nobutada

(1557 - June 21, 1582)

The eldest son of Oda Nobunaga, and son-in-law of Takeda Shingen, Oda Nobutada was born in Owari, (Aichi Pref.) and commanded his father’s forces well during a number of Sengoku period battles, including the 1575 Battle of Nagashino. Nobutada was in Kyoto in 1582 at the time of the Honno-ji Incident. Hearing that his father had been assassinated, Nobutada led an attack on the traitorous Akechi forces, and was forced to commit suicide in the subsequent battle.

Otani Yoshitsugu

(1559 - October 21, 1600)

Hailing from Omi, (Modern-day Shige Pref.), and allied with the Toyotomi clan, Otani Yoshitsugu is remembered today for two main aspects, his leprosy and his loyalty, particularly his friendship with Ishida Mitsunari. Yoshitsugu is said to have been inclined to support the Eastern forces at Sekigahara, but joined his friend Mitsunari out of loyalty. Otani Yoshitsugu was the only daimyo to have committed seppuku on the battlefield at Sekigahara.


Saito Dosan

(1494 - May 28, 1556 )

The Viper of Mino, Saito Dosan, was originally a monk who became a wealthy oil merchant, later serving a local warlord before overthrowing them and assuming power of Mino (Gifu Prefecture). Defeating Oda Nobuhide (father of Nobunaga) in the Battle of Kanoguchi enhanced Dosan’s national standing, and led to the marriage between his daughter, Nohime, and Nobuhide’s son, Nobunaga, as a peace accord. Known for his ruthless tactics, he was ousted and killed by his own son, Yoshitatsu.

Saito Tatsuoki

(1548 - August 14, 1573)

Saito Tatsuoki was the daimyo of Mino (Gifu Prefecture), following his grandfather, Saito Dosan, and father, Yoshitasu. He was also a nephew of Oda Nobunaga. Tatsuoki was made clan head aged just 14, but despite his father and grandfather’s reputations was seen as a weak and ineffective leader. Nobunaga later conquered the Saito taking their castle at Gifu. Saito Tatsuoki would remain in exile, occasionally battling against Nobunaga until Tatsuoki’s death aged just 26, when he was cut down during a preliminary battle in the Siege of Ichijodani Castle.

Sanada Nobushige(Yukimura)

(1567 - June 3, 1615.)

Known as the “Hero Who Appears Once in A Hundred Years”, and the “Number One Warrior of Japan”, Sanada Nobushige “Yukimura”, the second son of Takeda Shingen’s general, Sanada Masayuki, was one of the greatest warriors of the Sengoku period. A brilliant tactician, he and his father twice repealed attacks on Ueda Castle by the Tokugawa. Following the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, he was sent into exile at Kudoyama below holy Mt. Koya. At the 1614 and 1615 Sieges of Osaka, Nobushige built a small fortress just south of Osaka Castle where 7,000 samurai held out against some 30,000 Tokugawa troops. Wounded and over exhausted in battle, he was overrun and killed aged 47.

Sassa Narimasa

(February 6, 1536 - July 7, 1588)

Sassa Narimasa was born in Owari, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Under Oda Nobunaga he fought against the Asai and Asakura, and assisted Shibata Katsuie against the Uesugi clan, distinguishing himself in these battles. He was awarded Etchu Province (Toyama Pref.) for his services. After Nobunaga’s death, Narimasa joined Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute against Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Upon Ieyasu’s orders, Narimasa and 15,000 samurai attacked Narimasa’s close friend, the Toyotomi allied Maeda Toshiie’s Suemori Castle in Noto (Ishikawa Pref.), but Toshiie arrived with reinforcements and defeated Narimasa’s troops. The loss forced him into Hideyoshi’s submission.

Sengoku Hidehisa

(February 20, 1552 - June 13, 1614)

Born in Mino (Gifu) Hidehisa was employed by Oda Nobunaga, under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, becoming the first of the Oda vassals to obtain daimyop status. He later worked for the Tokugawa clan, serving under Tokugawa Hidetada at the time of the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and taking part in the attack on Ueda Castle that prevented them from arriving at the battle site in time. Ieyasu was furious at his son’s tardiness, and it was Hidehisa’s intervention that reconciled father and son, leading to Hidetada being eternally grateful.

Shibata Katsuie

(1522 - June 14, 1583)

Born in modern-day Nagoya City, Aichi Pref., Shibata Katsuie was a military commander under Oda Nobunaga. He found himself at odds with Toyotomi Hideyoshi regarding the Oda clan’s succession following Nobunaga’s death, leading to the 1583 Battle of Shizugatake. Defeated by the Toyotomi armies, Shibata Katsuie was forced to commit seppuku in the burning keep of his Kitanosho Castle in Fukui.

Shimazu Yoshihiro

(August 21, 1535 - August 30, 1619)

A skilled general from Satsuma, now Kagoshima in Kyushu. Although a loyal general of the Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Hideyori, Yoshihiro decided to ally himself with the Tokugawa forces at the Battle of Sekigahara. However, slighted during the rescue of Fushimi Castle prior to the main battle, he again changed allegiances, siding with the Western forces. He would prove to be pivotal to the outcome at Sekigahara.


Takayama Ukon

(1552 - February 5, 1615)

Daimyo Takayama Shigetomo Ukon was the son of a Christian convert, baptized at the age of 12 as Justo. Together they served Oda Nobunaga, and later, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The father and son converted many fellow samurai into accepting the Christian faith. Concerned about the growing influence of the religion and the foreign missionaries, Toyotomi Hideyoshi banned it in 1587, expelled the priests and forbid his samurai to follow it. Ukon refused to abandon his beliefs, under the protection of Konishi Yukinaga Maeda Toshiie and other friends until 1614 when Tokugawa Ieyasu outlawed Christianity and Ukon was expelled from Japan. He sailed to Manila but died of illness 40 days after arriving.

Takeda Katsuyori

(1546 - April 3, 1582)

Son and heir of the great Takeda Shingen, Takeda Katsuyori’s first wife was an adopted daughter of Oda Nobunaga, who died during childbirth. His second wife was Hojo Masako, daughter of Hoko Ujimasa. He participated in his father’s Battle of Mikatagahara against the Tokugawa in 1573, and after his father’s death, would suffer great defeat at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino, against the joint Tokugawa and Oda forces from which the Takeda clan would never fully recover. The Takeda clan became extinct in 1582.

Takeda Shingen

(December 1, 1521 - May 13, 1573)

The Tiger of Kai, Takeda Harunobu, better known by his Buddhist name of Shingen, was a renowned warrior and statesman of the Sengoku Period. He was a highly skilled tactician and warfare innovator. Shingen was active in expanding his territories, conquering much of Shinano Province (Nagano Pref.) bringing him into conflict with the warlord Uesugi Kenshin. The two rivals fought five Battles at Kawanakajima.