Horio Yoshiharu, also known as Horio Mosuke, was born in Niwa-gun, Owari (Aichi Prefecture) in 1542. Due to his serene composure and the ability to maintain tranquility even in the most intense situations, he earned the nickname "Hotoke no Mosuke," or "The Buddha Mosuke," after the enlightened deity, Hotoke.

Yoshiharu's father once served as a vassal in the Iwakura Oda clan, rivals of Oda Nobunaga. However, after Nobunaga defeated their clan, Yoshiharu's father became a Ronin, a samurai without a master. The Sengoku period was an era of constant life-or-death struggles for samurai. Remaining composed under pressure and concealing one's thoughts and emotions were crucial skills to avoid betrayal. It was during these early days that Yoshiharu likely honed his Buddha-like calmness and mental fortitude for survival. Fortunately, he would later find employment under Nobunaga, albeit in a modest role as a foot soldier.

The pivotal moment that brought Yoshiharu to Nobunaga's attention happened during a hunting excursion in Owari. A massive wild boar charged the hunting party, causing everyone to scatter—everyone except Yoshiharu. Unarmed, he stood his ground and wrestled with the beast. Nobunaga was greatly impressed by Yoshiharu's calmness, strength, and courage, which led to his promotion. Yoshiharu's blend of bravery and serenity served him well in subsequent battles, earning him widespread admiration.

As the nation was on the brink of the Battle of Sekigahara in the late summer of 1600, and alliances were fracturing into Eastern and Western factions, Yoshiharu attended a drinking gathering in Chiryu, Mikawa Province, with Lord Mizuno Tadashige of Kariya Castle and Kaganoi Shigemochi. The discussion about war and allegiance escalated, culminating in a drunken and enraged Kaganoi killing Lord Mizuno and injuring Yoshiharu. Despite his wounds, Yoshiharu calmly and effectively took control of the situation, demonstrating a Buddha-like composure. He administered justice by confronting Kaganoi and restoring peace. It is said that Yoshiharu sustained seventeen wounds from Kaganoi's spear during the skirmish, rendering him unable to participate in the Battle of Sekigahara. Instead, his son took his place on the battlefield.

Following Sekigahara, the Horio clan was granted land in Izumo Province (Shimane Prefecture) and assumed control of Matsue Castle as Daimyo. Yoshiharu entered retirement at this post. Although his son Tadauji succeeded him, he succumbed to illness in 1604. Tadauji's heir, a nine-year-old named Tadaharu, was considered too young to assume the role, prompting Yoshiharu to once again take on the responsibilities until his grandson was ready to lead.

Horio Yoshiharu embodied both courage and skill in combat, all while exuding the calm and enlightened spirit of a Buddha—an invaluable trait for samurai navigating the razor's edge of the Sengoku period.


See also

  • Yasuke


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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


    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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