4 of the Most Legendary Samurai in History

  • Japanese history is full of a military tactics, great samurai and shoguns, but these few are exceptional. They are the most famous soldiers and samurai in Japanese history and will always be remembered for their bravery.

    Taira no Kiyomori 1118-1181

    Often called the first true samurai. He was the head of the Taira clan and controlled the country during the Heian period. He was a good fighter and also an intelligent general. He as well as his father, Taira no Tadamori, established a position for samurai in the Imperial court. Before that, the samurai were regarded only as mercenaries who did ” dirty” jobs for the aristocrats. He was greatly admired even by his enemies.

    Minamoto no Yoritomo 1147-1199

    He was the first shogun who established his base away from Kyoto in Kamakura. He is often called the first shogun. Although there were others before him who were called shogun, he was the first to control the whole country. He was a great general, wise politician and a good fighter. And the first actual shogun with power.

    Minamoto no Yoshitsune 1159-1189
    Statue of Minamoto no Yoshitsune

    Yoshitune was Minamoto no Yoritomo’s younger brother and a legendary fighter. There are even tales of how he managed to defeat devils and other mythical creatures. Of course, those are only legends but in a way they show how famous he was. He died at the age of 30 because he went against the orders of his brother Yoritomo. He was forced to commit seppuku for his actions. However, it was rumored that he escaped up north to Hokkaido after faking his death. He is often remembered as a tragic hero in Japanese history.

    Oda Nobunaga 1534-1582
    Statue of Oda Nobunaga


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    He was the lord of a small territory called Owari no kuni (today’s Nagoya area), yet he managed to defeat far more powerful lords and get to Kyoto. He was an amazing fighter but more than that, he was a skilled general. Just before he could use his power to unify Japan, he was either forced to commit seppuku or assassinated by his follower Akechi Mitsuhide. He was a curious man who found a tea ceremony to be a calming. He was also open to meeting missionaries from foreign countries, and if he had managed to live little longer, Japan might have opened itself up to foreigners earlier on.

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