Date Masamune (伊達 政宗, September 5, 1567 – June 27, 1636) was a regional ruler of Japan's Azuchi–Momoyama period through early Edo period. Heir to a long line of powerful daimyō in the Tōhoku region, he went on to found the modern-day city of Sendai. An outstanding tactician, he was made all the more iconic for his missing eye, as Masamune was often called dokuganryū (独眼竜), or the "One-Eyed Dragon of Ōshū".[1] As a legendary warrior and leader, Masamune is a character in a number of Japanese period dramas.

Date Masamune
Head of Date clan
In office
Preceded byDate Terumune
Succeeded byDate Tadamune
Daimyō of Sendai Domain
In office
Succeeded byDate Tadamune
Personal details

September 5, 1567
Yonezawa, Yamagata
DiedJune 27, 1636(1636-06-27) (aged 68)
Edo, Japan
Height159.4 cm (5 ft 3 in)
ChildrenDate Hidemune
Date Tadamune
RelativesOnamihime (aunt)
Rusu Masakage (uncle)
Ishikawa Akimitsu (uncle)
Kokubu Morishige (uncle)
Date Shigezane (cousin)
Mogami Yoshiaki (maternal uncle)
One-Eyed Dragon of Ōshū
Military service
Allegiance Date clan
Toyotomi clan
Eastern Army
Tokugawa shogunate
Unit Date clan
CommandsSendai domain
Battles/warsBattle of Hitotoribashi
Battle of Kōriyama
Siege of Kurokawa
Battle of Suriagehara
Siege of Sukagawa
Kunohe Rebellion
Korean Campaign
Sekigahara Campaign
Battle of Matsukawa
Osaka Campaign

Early life and rise edit

Date Masamune was born as Bontenmaru (梵天丸) later Tojirō (藤次郎), as the eldest son of Date Terumune, likely born in Yonezawa Castle (in modern Yamagata Prefecture).[2] At the age of 14 in 1581, Masamune led his first campaign, helping his father fight the Sōma clan. In 1584, at the age of 17, Masamune succeeded his father, Terumune, who chose to retire from his position as daimyō. Masamune's army was recognized by its black armor and golden headgear.

Date Masamune Armour

Masamune is known for a few things that made him stand out from other daimyō of the time. In particular, his famous crescent-moon-bearing helmet won him a fearsome reputation. As a child, smallpox robbed him of sight in his right eye, though it is unclear exactly how he lost the organ entirely.[3] Various theories behind the eye's condition exist. Some sources say he plucked out the eye himself when a senior member of the clan pointed out that an enemy could grab it in a fight. Others say that he had his trusted retainer Katakura Kojūrō gouge out the eye for him, making him the "One-Eyed Dragon" of Ōshu.[4]

The Date clan had built alliances with neighboring clans through marriages over previous generations, but local disputes remained commonplace. Shortly after Masamune's succession in 1584, a Date retainer named Ōuchi Sadatsuna defected to the Ashina clan of the Aizu region. Masamune declared war on Ōuchi and the Ashina for this betrayal, and started a campaign to hunt down Sadatsuna. Formerly amicable alliances were cast aside as he began to attack and conquer the lands of Sadatsuna's allies in pursuit, even those of his kin in Mutsu and Dewa Province.

In the winter of 1585, one of these allies, Nihonmatsu Yoshitsugu felt defeat was approaching and chose to surrender to the Date instead. Masamune agreed to accept the surrender, but on the heavy condition that the Nihonmatsu give up most of their territory to the Date. This resulted in Yoshitsugu kidnapping Masamune's father Terumune during their meeting in Miyamori Castle, where Terumune was staying during the time. The incident ended with Terumune and Yoshitsugu killed as the fleeing Nihonmatsu party clashed with the pursuing Date troops near the Abukuma River.[5]

Due to the death of Date Terumune by the hands of Nihonmatsu Yoshitsugu, Masamune swore vengeance. In January 1586, Masamune had his revenge by launching an attack against the Nihonmatsu at the Battle of Hitotoribashi.[6] The following year, Date Masamune once again attacked Nihonmatsu at Battle of Koriyama in 1588, The son of Hatakeyama Yoshitsugu set the castle on fire and fled to Aizu. Various records of the event exist, although they present different accounts of its circumstances. In 1589, the Date clan fought many battles with their neighbours afterwards, including the Siege of Kurokawa and Battle of Suriagehara against Ashina clan. After defeating the Ashina clan, Masamune made Kurokawa Castle in Aizu domain his base of operations. Later, Masamune fought in the Siege of Sukagawa and defeated Nikaidō clan. In the end 1589, Masamune sealed the Date clan's hegemony over southern Mutsu Province.

Service under Hideyoshi edit

In 1590, Toyotomi Hideyoshi seized Odawara Castle and compelled the Tōhoku-region daimyō to participate in the campaign. Although Masamune refused Hideyoshi's demands at first, he had no real choice in the matter since Hideyoshi was the virtual ruler of Japan. Masamune still delayed, infuriating Hideyoshi. Expecting to be executed, Masamune, wearing his finest clothes and showing no fear, faced his angry overlord. Not wanting further trouble, Hideyoshi spared his life, saying that "He could be of some use."

Being a major power in northern Japan, Masamune was naturally viewed with suspicion, as any potential rival would be viewed. Toyotomi Hideyoshi reduced the size of his land holdings after his tardiness in coming to the Siege of Odawara against Hōjō Ujimasa.

In 1591, Masamune forfeited the ancestral land of the Date Clan (present day Date City, Kawamata, Koori, and Kunimi) to Hideyoshi, causing widespread riots. He never regained the territory.[7][8]

After he fought against Kunohe Rebellion, he was given Iwatesawa and the surrounding lands as his home domain. Masamune moved there, rebuilt the Iwatesawa Castle, renamed it Iwadeyama, and encouraged the growth of a town at its base.[9] Masamune stayed at Iwadeyama for 13 years and turned the region into a major political and economic center.

He and his men served with distinction in the Hideyoshi Korean invasions In 1592–1598.

Service under Ieyasu edit

In 1598, after Hideyoshi's death, Masamune began to support Tokugawa Ieyasu—apparently at the advice of Katakura Kojūrō. Tokugawa Ieyasu increased the size of his lands again, but was constantly suspicious of Masamune and his policies. Although Tokugawa Ieyasu and other Date allies were always suspicious of him, Date Masamune for the most part served the Tokugawa loyally.

In 1600, under Tokugawa eastern army, he fought in Sekigahara Campaign at Siege of Shiroishi and Siege of Hasedo. Later, Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded Masamune the lordship of the huge and profitable Sendai Domain, which made Masamune one of Japan's most powerful daimyō. Tokugawa had promised Masamune a one-million koku domain, but, even after substantial improvements were made, the land only produced 640,000 koku, most of which was used to feed the Edo region.

In 1604, Masamune, accompanied by 52,000 vassals and their families, moved to what was then the small fishing village of Sendai. He left his fourth son, Date Muneyasu, to rule Iwadeyama. Masamune would turn Sendai into a large and prosperous city.

In 1614 and 1615, he fought in the Osaka campaigns against Toyotomi Clan.

Later in 1616, when Tokugawa Ieyasu was on his deathbed, Masamune visited him and read him a piece of Zen poetry. Masamune was highly respected for his ethics; a still-quoted aphorism is, "Rectitude carried to excess hardens into stiffness; benevolence indulged beyond measure sinks into weakness."

Later years and death edit

Masamune was viewed with caution by Ieyasu and Hidetada, but gained trust during the reign of Iemitsu. As someone who did not experience the Warring States period, Iemitsu had a fondness for hearing stories from the warlords who lived during that time, such as Masamune and Tachibana Muneshige.[10] In 1636, Masamune died of a combination of esophageal cancer and peritonitis at the age of 68 years. He was returned to Sendai in the same daimyō procession as when he was alive. The bakufu gave approval for his eldest legitimate son, Date Tadamune, to inherit the Date clan territory.

Masamune's Grave at Zuihōden mausoleum

Patron of culture and Christianity edit

A letter from Masamune to Pope Paul V

Masamune expanded trade in the northeastern Tōhoku region. Although initially faced with attacks by hostile clans, he managed to overcome them after a few defeats and eventually ruled one of the largest fiefdoms of the later Tokugawa shogunate. He built many palaces and worked on many projects to beautify the region. He is also known to have encouraged foreigners to come to his land. Even though he funded and promoted an envoy to establish relations with the Pope in Rome, he was likely motivated at least in part by a desire for foreign technology, similar to that of other lords, such as Oda Nobunaga. Further, once Tokugawa Ieyasu outlawed Christianity, Masamune reversed his position, and though disliking it, let Ieyasu persecute Christians in his domain. For 270 years, Tōhoku remained a place of tourism, trade, and prosperity. Matsushima, for instance, a series of tiny islands, was praised for its beauty and serenity by the wandering haiku poet Matsuo Bashō.

He showed sympathy for Christian missionaries and traders in Japan. In addition to allowing them to come and preach in his province, he also released the prisoner and missionary Padre Sotelo from the hands of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Date Masamune allowed Sotelo as well as other missionaries to practice their religion and win converts in Tōhoku.

Replica of the galleon Date Maru, or San Juan Bautista, in Ishinomaki, Japan.

Masamune notably funded and backed one of Japan's few journeys of far-flung diplomacy and exploration in this period. He ordered the building of the exploration ship San Juan Bautista, using foreign (European) ship-building techniques. He sent one of his retainers, Hasekura Tsunenaga, Sotelo, and an embassy numbering 180 on a successful voyage to establish relations with the Pope in Rome. This expedition visited such places as the Philippines, Mexico, Spain and Rome. Previously, Japanese lords had never funded this sort of venture, so it was probably the first successful voyage.[11] At least five members of the expedition stayed in Coria (Seville) of Spain to avoid the persecution of Christians in Japan. 600 of their descendants, with the surname Japón (Japan), are now living in Spain.

When the Tokugawa government banned Christianity, Masamune had to obey the law. However, some sources suggest that Masamune's eldest daughter, Irohahime, was a Christian.[12]

Family edit

Statue of Date Masamune in Aobayama Park, Sendai
  • Father: Date Terumune
  • Mother: Yoshihime (1548–1623), daughter of Mogami Yoshimori the daimyō of Dewa Province[13]
  • Wife: Megohime, daughter of Tamura Kiyoaki owner of Miharu Castle in Miharu Domain, Mutsu Province[14]
  • Sibling: Date Kojirō Masamichi
  • Concubines:
    • Īsaka no Tsubone (1569–1634)
    • Shinzō no Kata (d. 1612)
    • Shōkō'in (1583–1656)
    • Oyama no Kata (1587–1668)
    • Shōgo'in (d. 1644)
    • Okachi no Kata (d. 1669)
    • Hosshō'in (1604–1664)
  • Prostitute: Kōnomae (1577–1641)
  • Children:
    • Date Hidemune (1591-1658), by Shinzō no Kata
    • Irohahime (1594-1661), by Megohime, never remarried after the forced divorce with Matsudaira Tadateru
    • Date Tadamune (1600-1658), by Megohime, the second lord of Sendai Domain
    • Date Munekiyo (1600–1634), by Shinzō no Kata, adopted by Iizaka Muneyasu to succeed the Iizaka clan but died childless
    • Date Muneyasu (1602–1639), by Shōkō'in, first head of the Iwadeyama-Date branch family
    • Date Munetsuna (1603–1618), by Megohime, first head of the Iwagasaki Date branch family but died childless
    • Date Munenobu (1603–1627), by Oyama no Kata, was adopted to become the second head of the Iwagasaki Date branch family but also died childless and it became extinct
    • Date Munetaka (1607–1626), by Oyama no Kata, was adopted and became the first head of the Murata Tade family (a Date line offshoot), but caught smallpox and died childless
    • Mūhime (1608-1683), by Oyama no Kata, married Ishikawa Munetaka
    • Takematsumaru (1609-1615), by Megohime
    • Date Munezane (1613–1665), by Shōgo'in, adopted into the Watari family (different from the Watari-Date family)
    • Minehime (1616–1635), by Okachi no Kata, married Date Munezane (1611-1639) of the Watari-Date family
    • Date Munekatsu (1621–1679), by Okachi no Kata
    • Sengikuhime (1626–1655), by Hosso'in, married Kyōgoku Takakuni
    • Tsuta (1598-1671), by Kōnomae, adopted by Oniniwa Tsunamoto, married Harada Munesuke
    • Watari Munemoto (1600–1669), by Kōnomae, initially adopted by Oniniwa Tsunamoto, then adopted by Watari Shigemune

Others edit

"Three Great Men" of Date clan edit

  • Katakura Kagetsuna (片倉 景綱, 1557 – December 4, 1615) was a samurai of the Katakura clan, also known by his court title, Bichū no Kami (備中守), or more commonly, as Katakura Kojūrō.
  • Date Shigezane (伊達 成実, 1568 – July 17, 1646). A senior retainer of the Date clan of Sendai, he was a cousin of Date Masamune and founder of the Watari-Date clan.
  • Oniniwa Tsunamoto (鬼庭 綱元) (1549 – July 13, 1640). Deeply trusted by Masamune, he was made a senior retainer at the young age of 35.

Retainers edit

Date clan's prominent castles edit

Dry moat and earthen wall of Wakabayashi Castle

In popular culture edit

Like many figures of the Sengoku period, Date Masamune has been featured in literature, film, manga, anime, video games, and other media. There are a few prominent and notable examples. In the Iver P. Cooper 1632 series book 1636: Seas of Fortune, Masamune is a prominent character in the short novel Rising Sun which is set in the North Pacific region focusing on Japan's expansion into North America.

Masamune is the protagonist of the anime series Masamune Datenicle, produced by the city of Date in collaboration with Fukushima Gainax in order to promote the city's historic connection to the Date Clan. In this series, he is depicted as a child taking on the role of leader of his clan for the first time. Previous leaders of the Date Clan manifest in order to help him prepare for his first battle.[25]

In the video game series Samurai Warriors (Koei) Masamune Date is featured as a playable character. In his first appearance, he was a very young man and fought with dual wooden swords, later, his appearance was changed to be a bit older and his weapons were switched out for a more European style sword and a pair of pistols. He is also a prominent character in the Sengoku Basara series (Capcom), and has been featured in every major release, portrayed as a reckless, but astute general with a penchant for using humorous English verses, he is also notable for carrying six katanas, which he can equip as "dragon's claws", wielding them between his fingers, three in each hand.

The professional wrestling organization Osaka Pro Wrestling featured two wrestlers using the ring names Masamune and Hideyoshi, who together form the tag team "Sengoku".[26][27]

In Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga, Masamune is reincarnated as a French bulldog nicknamed Boo in modern-day Japan.

In Ginga Densetsu Weed: Orion, Masamune's dog version is the main antagonist. His father, Terumune and Kojuuruu also play roles in the comic.

In the popular Netflix miniseries Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan, Date Masamune is portrayed by actor Hideaki Itō.

In the video game Persona 5 Strikers (known as Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers in Japan), Masamune is referenced multiple times upon the cast arriving in Sendai. The statue at Aobayama Park is visited immediately upon arriving in the city, and a shrine that appears similar to his gravesite also appears.

In the video game AI: The Somnium Files, the protagonist, Kaname Date, has his left eye removed prior to the game's story, which is likely a reference to Masamune, himself.

Ken Watanabe played the role of Date Masamune in the 1987 NHK Taiga drama Dokuganryū Masamune.

Date Masamune is also a route character in the Ikemen Sengoku otome game.

References edit

  1. ^ This name is derived from the nickname of the ancient Chinese general Li Keyong (李克用), who was also one-eyed.[citation needed]
  2. ^ a b "米沢城跡" (in Japanese). 山形県観光. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  3. ^ In 1974, a Japanese research team recovered his body from his mausoleum, called Zuihoden, which was destroyed by the U.S. Army's attacks in 1945. According to the research report, the right orbit retained some soft tissue. There is also a wooden image of Masamune in the temple Zuiganji, Matsushima, made in 1652 at his wife Megohime's instructions. This statue has a right eye, though it is smaller than his left one. [1] Archived 2012-05-30 at
  4. ^ [2] Archived 2014-07-10 at the Wayback Machine Some writers refer to this episode as a turning point for Masamune, such as Masashi Hosaka in Garyu-no-ten, ISBN 978-4-396-63290-8.
  5. ^ Ken-ichi Sato, Date Masamune Nazotoki-sanpo, ISBN 978-4-046-00177-1
  6. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co. pp. 236–237. ISBN 9781854095237.
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-01-04. Retrieved 2019-01-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "高子沼", Wikipedia (in Japanese), 2017-09-12, retrieved 2019-01-04
  9. ^ a b "岩出山城跡" (in Japanese). Osaki city official. Archived from the original on 27 November 2020. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  10. ^ "戦国武将の生き残りで高齢になっても江戸参府を欠かさなかった政宗を伊達のおやじ殿と呼んで慕いまくり、色々な体験談や思い出の昔話をせがんだという。". Study-Z. Retrieved 4 March 2024.
  11. ^ "その時歴史が動いた". Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
  12. ^ ja:五郎八姫. She had to divorce her husband Matsudaira Tadateru, who was exiled for his defiant attitude toward his father Ieyasu Tokugawa. After this separation, Irohahime never remarried though her parents, Masamune and Megohime suggested a remarriage. Some historians thought that her attitude was due to her faith.
  13. ^ "最上義守/もがみよしもり 歴代最長期の山形城主" (in Japanese). Mogami Yoshiaki Historical Museum official. Retrieved 26 October 2021.
  14. ^ "朝日日本歴史人物事典「田村清顕」の解説" (in Japanese). kotobank. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Date Masamune". 米沢観光. Retrieved 16 October 2021.
  16. ^ "小浜城跡" (in Japanese). 二本松観光協会official. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  17. ^ "会津若松城跡" (in Japanese). 一般財団法人 会津若松観光ビューロー. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  18. ^ "若林城跡" (in Japanese). Senfai city official. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  19. ^ "Nihonmatsu Castle". kotobank. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  20. ^ a b "日本の城がわかる事典「大森城」の解説" (in Japanese). kotobank. Retrieved 20 October 2021.
  21. ^ "松森城跡". Sendai city official. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  22. ^ "Fukushima Castle". kotobank. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  23. ^ a b "Watari Castle". kotobank. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  24. ^ "Iwakiri Castle". kotobank. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  25. ^ "YouTube". Retrieved 2019-01-04.
  26. ^ 秀吉. Osaka Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
  27. ^ 政宗. Osaka Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2012-09-08.

Further reading edit

External links edit

Preceded by
Daimyō of Sendai
Succeeded by