XI Congreso Nacional y II Internacional
de la Asociación de Estudios Japoneses en España

Imagen Fondo AEJE


Date Masamune, Lord of Sendai.

Víctor Valencia Japón. Researcher.

While the major figures of Japan’s Modern History has been studied in several academic researches -above all about the three militar genius that unified the country, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616)- , in Spain there is still not enough information about important “Lords of War” those who endured so many hardships and resisted clan wars during this period in Japan.

One of the most important and iconic feudal lords was, undoubtedly, Date Masamune. He is specially famous among Western world researchers because the sponsorship, in 1613, of an extravagant and curious mission leaded by his vassal, samurai Hasekura Rokuemon, arrived in Europe after crossing the Pacific Ocean and Mexico. Their mission was welcomed by the King of Spain and the Pope.

Date Tojiro Masamune, 17th century Lord of Date’s clan, was born on the 3rd of August, 1567 in the city-fortress of Yonezawa. He was son of Terumune Date and Yosihime, daughter of Mogami Yoshinori, Lord of the Yamagata’s castle. Masamune was ambitious, brave, extremely intelligent and with a keen ingenuity. When he was a child, he lost his right eye because the smallpox, and almost die. His master, the bonze Kosai Sôitsu, in order to help him to overcome that, gave him the nickname of “Dokuganryu” (dragon with only one eye). His nickname, and his ferocity in the battle field, made him famous years after.

Masamune had never a complete submission with Hideyosi or Ieyasu, and he kept as independent as he could, becoming the most powerful yakata in the northeastern of Japan. After the decisive battle of Sekigahara, Ieyasu gave him the large Sendai domain, and Masamune became the 3rd biggest feudal lord in Japan, after Maeda family of Kanagawa and the Shimazu clan of Satsuma.

Although Ieyasu always suspected Masamune’s intentions, he was involved with the Tokugawa family in blockade of Osaka’s castle (1614-1615) where Hideyosi’s son and heir had been taken as refugee. After Ieyasu's death in 1616, he was supposedly involved in a complot to take the power; an episode still considered one of the most dark incidents commented by historians. Date always played with power relationships in order to keep his independence in the north of Japan.