Date-Masamune.jpg

Date Masamune, renowned as the "One Eyed Dragon of the North" or Dokuganryu, was a formidable figure of the Sengoku period. He held the title of lord over Sendai and was distinguished for his tactical brilliance, fearless combat skills, and exceptional leadership. Amongst samurai circles, he was known for his loyalty, ethical conduct, ruthless determination, astute administration, and ambitious pursuits.

Born in Yonezawa Castle, now in Yamagata Prefecture, Masamune was the son of Date Terumune, the lord of Mutsu. Smallpox claimed his right eye during childhood, prompting its removal. This led his mother to deem him unfit to inherit leadership of the clan, advocating for his younger brother Kojiro instead. Matters took a dark turn when she attempted to poison Masamune, compelling him to take drastic measures. He had to end his brother's life to secure his own survival and maintain control.

Following his father's retirement, Masamune ascended to lead the Date clan, expanding its influence by conquering neighboring domains while consolidating his own. When the Hatakeyama clan couldn't resist Masamune's advances into their territory, they appealed to his father for intervention. Unable to rein in his son, Terumune was taken captive. Masamune, upon receiving this grim news during a hunting expedition, pursued the kidnappers and executed his own father on Terumune's orders. As further retribution, he ordered the families of the kidnappers to be tracked down, tortured, and executed.

In 1590, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the nation's ruler, demanded Masamune's participation in the Siege of Odawara. Initially resistant, Masamune's eventual compliance angered Hideyoshi. Expecting execution for his initial defiance, Masamune presented himself before Hideyoshi, displaying no fear. To everyone's surprise, Hideyoshi spared his life, sensing potential use in the future. Masamune went on to demonstrate his loyalty during Hideyoshi's Korean campaigns.

Given lands at Iwadeyama by Hideyoshi, Masamune transformed the area into a thriving economic and political hub over 13 years. His financial acumen later turned Sendai from a modest fishing village into a prosperous city.

After Hideyoshi's passing, Masamune shifted his allegiance to Tokugawa Ieyasu, who granted him the Sendai Domain, purportedly yielding one million koku, though the actual output was 640,000 koku.

In the lead-up to the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Masamune supported the Tokugawa cause by engaging the Uesugi clan in the northern regions, enabling Ieyasu to focus on the growing Western allied forces. Although absent from the battlefield, Masamune's contributions greatly aided the Eastern victory.

After the Battle of Sekigahara, Date Masamune, along with 52,000 of his samurai and their families, moved from Iwadeyama to the village of Sendai.

Here, Masamune launched numerous public projects to enhance the land and embellish the Tohoku region, turning it into a sought-after tourist destination. He fostered trade, permitting foreign missionaries and traders to operate within his domain. He even utilized foreign shipbuilding techniques to construct the Date Maru, which embarked on Japan's inaugural diplomatic mission to the Philippines, Mexico, Spain, and Rome for an audience with the Pope, and to secure trading privileges with various nations along the route.

Masamune fathered 16 children, including two illegitimate ones, with his wife and seven concubines. His attire was characterized by relatively plain black armor and a distinctive helmet crest resembling a large, thin crescent moon. He is often depicted wearing a sword guard in place of an eye patch. Date Masamune passed away at the age of 68 on June 27, 1636.


See also

  • Yasuke

    Yasuke.jpg

    Yasuke, an African page, arrived in Japan in 1579 as the attendant of the Italian Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano. Before the arrival of the Englishman William Adams, it is thought that Yasuke was possibly the inaugural non-Japanese samurai, arriving about twenty years earlier.

    Read more …

  • Yamanami Keisuke

    Yamanami-Keisuke.jpg

    Yamanami Keisuke, the second in command of the Shinsengumi, a special police force during the late Edo period, shocked many when he performed seppuku on March 20, 1865, at the age of 32.

    Read more …

  • Yamamoto Kansuke

     Yamamoto-Kansuke.jpg

    Yamamoto Kansuke, renowned as a samurai strategist and one of Takeda Shingen's esteemed 24 Generals, hailed from the Mikawa region, known for breeding formidable warriors. Despite physical challenges—blindness in one eye, lameness in one leg, and a malformed hand—Kansuke embarked on a warrior's pilgrimage in his twenties. Traveling across the land, he honed his skills in strategy, tactics, castle construction, and warfare, engaging in various swordsmanship schools and forms.

    Read more …

  • Yamaga Soko

    Yamaga-Soko.jpg

    Yamaga Soko was a multifaceted figure in Japanese history, renowned as a strategist, philosopher, and scholar. Later in life, he became a ronin, leaving a significant mark on the understanding of the Tokugawa period samurai.

    Read more …

  • William Adams - Miura Anjin

    William-Adams---Miura-Anjin.jpg

    William Adams, also known as Miura Anjin, holds the distinction of being one of the few non-Japanese individuals granted samurai status. Born in Gillingham, Kent, England in 1564, Adams embarked on a remarkable journey that led him to become an influential figure in Japanese history.

    Read more …

  • Wakisaka Yasuharu

    Wakisaka-Yasuharu.jpg

    Wakisaka Yasuharu held the position of daimyo over Awaji Island before ruling over Ozu in Iyo Province. His significance in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 cannot be overstated.

    Read more …

  • Ukita Hideie

    Ukita-Hideie.jpg

    Ukita Hideie was born as the second son of Ukita Naoie, the ruler of Okayama Castle. Tragically, Hideie's father passed away when he was just nine years old, thrusting him into the responsibilities of leading the castle, clan, and domain. Prior to his father's demise, the Ukita clan had aligned with Oda Nobunaga. After Nobunaga's assassination during the Honno-ji Incident, Hideie remained loyal to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, whose ties were further solidified through marriage.

    Read more …

  • Uesugi Kenshin

    Uesugi-Kenshin.jpg

    Uesugi Kenshin stands out as one of the most formidable daimyo of the Sengoku period, presenting the sole substantial challenge to Oda Nobunaga's quest for dominance.

    Read more …

 

futer.jpg

Contact: samuraiwr22@gmail.com