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Hosokawa Fujitaka, also known as Yusai, stood as a revered daimyo, poet, and scholar, initially serving the 13th Ashikaga Shogun, Yoshiteru, and later the 15th Shogun, Yoshiaki, before aligning with Oda Nobunaga.

Born as the second son of Mitsubichi Harukazu in the tranquil village of Higashiyama, Kyoto, he was adopted by his uncle, Hosokawa Mototsune, at the age of seven. His remarkable intelligence became evident early in life.

Having been a close advisor to the Ashikaga Shogunate, Yusai crossed paths with Oda Nobunaga during the fall of the Ashikaga. He actively participated in Nobunaga's battles across central Japan and Kyoto, contributing significantly to the nation's unification. To strengthen bonds between trusted advisors, Nobunaga orchestrated marriages, such as that of Akechi Mitsuhide's daughter to Yusai's son, Tadaoki.

In 1582, following Akechi Mitsuhide's attack on Honno-ji resulting in Nobunaga's death, Yusai and Tadaoki, appalled by Mitsuhide's actions, refused assistance. With Nobunaga's demise, Yusai became a priest.

Approached by Ishida Mitsunari before the Battle of Sekigahara, Yusai and his son wisely withheld their intentions. Mitsunari's plan to capture daimyo families in Osaka, including Yusai's, led to tragedy. Yusai's daughter-in-law, Gracia, resisted, resulting in her death and influencing many daimyo to join the Eastern forces led by Tokugawa.

In anticipation of the Battle of Sekigahara, Yusai, informed of his daughter-in-law's death and Mitsunari's moves, fortified Tanabe Castle. Defying the odds, the 67-year-old scholar and poet defended the castle with 500 men against 15,000 troops. Former students among the attackers, respecting their teacher, half-heartedly engaged in the siege. Yusai's possession of rare poetry books prompted him to seek their safeguarding, emphasizing his commitment to art and knowledge even in the face of war.

Despite Imperial Court advice to surrender, Yusai, a dignified samurai, refused. The two-month siege diverted 15,000 Western troops from Sekigahara. Meanwhile, his son Tadaoki represented the Hosokawa clan on the battlefield.

Post-Sekigahara, Yusai retired, passing away at 78 and finding his resting place in Kyoto. A master of martial arts, literature, the tea ceremony, and poetry, Yusai left a legacy of profound knowledge in strategic games, cuisine, performing arts, and martial and cultural arts.

 


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