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Honda Masashige, the second son of Tokugawa Ieyasu's trusted advisor Honda Masanobu, began his service alongside his father under Tokugawa Ieyasu and later his son, the future second Shogun, Hidetada. At the age of 18 in 1597, Masashige was involved in a fatal dispute with Okabe Souhachi, leading him to flee. He then served daimyo Otani Yoshitsugu for two years, followed by two years under Ukita Hideie. Despite his unconventional path, his esteemed family name and warrior reputation opened doors to various positions.

Over the next 14 years, Masashige served different lords in seven regions, ultimately establishing the Kaga Honda branch in present-day Ishikawa Prefecture. The Battle of Sekigahara in late 1600 divided the nation into two factions, East led by Tokugawa Ieyasu, and West led by Ishida Mitsunari. Despite fighting for the opposition, Masashige's exceptional performance caught the attention of Ieyasu.

The Western forces were defeated, and Lord Ukita Hideie fled to safety, while Masashige sought refuge in Omi Province (now Shiga Prefecture). He received offers from Lord Kobayakawa Hideaki and Lord Maeda Toshinaga before joining Lord Fukushima Masanori. Two years later, he accepted a significant position with Maeda Toshinaga, bridging the Maeda and Tokugawa houses.

In 1604, Masashige left the Maeda clan to become Chief Retainer to the daimyo of Echigo, Uesugi Kagekatsu. He married the daughter of Uesugi's top general Naoe Kanetsugu, aiming to strengthen relations between the Uesugi and Tokugawa clans. After rebuilding trust, he amicably parted ways with the Uesugi and returned to the Maeda clan in 1611, becoming the first head of the Kaga Honda clan.

In 1614, he participated in the Winter Siege of Osaka, facing off against and ultimately losing to Sanada Nobushige (Yukimura) near the Sanada Maru complex south of Osaka Castle.

The unconventional samurai, Honda Masashige, passed away at the age of 68 in 1647. He bore witness to the final major battles of the late Sengoku period, the end of Japan's civil war era, and served as a peacemaker between some of the most significant clans in Japanese history.


See also

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    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.

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  • Yamanami Keisuke

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    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.

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  • Yamamoto Kansuke

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    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.

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  • Yamaga Soko

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    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.

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  • William Adams - Miura Anjin

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    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.

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  • Wakisaka Yasuharu

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    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.

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  • Ukita Hideie

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    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.

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  • Uesugi Kenshin

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    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.

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