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Kuroda Kanbei, also recognized as Kuroda Yoshitaka and later in life as Kuroda Josui, emerged as a military strategist and daimyo during the late Sengoku period. Regarded for his keen strategic mind, courage, and unwavering loyalty, he left an indelible mark as a respected warrior.

Born in Himeji in 1546, Kuroda Kanbei assumed leadership of the Kuroda family at the age of 21 following the passing of his father, Mototaka, who served as a senior retainer to the Kodera clan of Himeji. Recognizing the ascendancy of Oda Nobunaga, Kanbei proposed to his lord, Kodera Masamoto, the idea of aligning with the Oda forces. Despite Kodera's inclination to support the Mori clan, which opposed the Oda, Kanbei, reaching out to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, secured a direct audience with Nobunaga. His strategic counsel contributed to the successful capture of Himeji, leading to the Kodera's surrender. Pledging allegiance to the Oda clan, Kanbei and strategist Takenaka Hanbei served as advisors to Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

In 1577, Kanbei faced accusations of espionage from Nobunaga, resulting in the abduction of his nine-year-old son, Nagamasa, as a hostage. Fortunately, Takenaka Hanbei intervened, rescuing the boy. A year later, during a diplomatic mission to Itami Castle, Kanbei was captured but managed to escape, sustaining an injury that left him with a lasting limp.

Throughout the Sengoku period's later stages, Kuroda Kanbei, along with his son, continued to serve Toyotomi Hideyoshi. They played crucial roles in campaigns, including the invasion of the Chugoku region and the Shikoku Campaign of 1585. During the Kyushu mission, Kanbei, influenced by Christian daimyo Takayama Ukon, briefly embraced Christianity, adopting the name Don Simeon. However, due to rising concerns about foreign influence, he renounced Christianity and assumed the Buddhist name Josui.

As Chief Advisor to Hideyoshi's nephew, Kobayakawa Hideaki, during the Second Korean Campaign, Kanbei developed a close relationship with Hideyoshi. Following Hideyoshi's demise, the Kuroda shifted their allegiance to the Tokugawa camp, aligning against Western loyalist leader Ishida Mitsunari. In 1600, they fought alongside Kato Kiyomasa at the Battle of Sekigahara. Post-Sekigahara, Kanbei declined a position within the Tokugawa government but used his influence to spare the Shimazu clan's lands and Otomo Yoshimune's life.

Kuroda Kanbei's involvement in pivotal Sengoku period events and his strategic acumen significantly influenced Japanese history. His sage advice contributed to Hideyoshi's successes, showcasing not only military prowess but also a potential sense of humor, exemplified by his distinctive choice of wearing an owan bowl as a helmet.


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