Yasuke the black samurai

1 25
Avatar for Abyss_of_death
3 years ago

Yasuke was an African man and a samurai in the service of Daimyō Oda Nobunaga, during the Japanese Sengoku era.

Yasuke arrived Japan in 1579, he was in the service of the Italian Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano, his arrival in Kyoto caused such a sensation that people climbed over one another to get a glimpse of him with some being crushed to death, according to historian Lawrence Winkler. Within a year, Yasuke had joined the upper echelons of Japan's warrior class, the samurai. Before long, he was speaking Japanese fluently and riding alongside Nobunaga in battle.

"His height was 6 shaku 2 sun (roughly 6 feet, 2 inches (1.88m)... he was black and his skin was like charcoal," a fellow samurai, Matsudaira Ietada, described him in his diary in 1579.

The average height of a Japanese man in 1900 was 157.9m (5 feet 2 inches) so Yasuke would have towered over most Japanese people in the 16th Century, when people were generally shorter due to poor nutrition.

There are no records of Yasuke's date or country of birth but most historians say he's either from Mozambique, Ethiopia or Nigeria.

What is known however, is that Yasuke came to Japan with an Italian Jesuit, recorded history of Yasuke in Japan is from between 1579 and 1582.

Yasuke met Nobunaga shortly after his arrival and was viewed favourably, when he piqued his interest by being a talented conversationalist. Yasuke already spoke some Japanese and the two men got on well, according to academic Thomas Lockley, who's written a book on Yasuke, he entertained Nobunaga with tales from Africa and India, where it is believed that he had spent some time before going to Japan.

"He was also unlike the Jesuits, who had a religious agenda for the soul of Japan,"

There are reports that Nobunaga even instructed his nephew to give Yasuke a sum of money at their very first meeting.

French-Ivorian writer Serge Bile was so intrigued by Yasuke's extraordinary rise that he wrote a book about the warrior.

"It's part of the mystery surrounding this character. That's why he fascinates me," he told the BBC.

The African warrior and the Japanese warlord had a lot in common. Nobunaga was a great fan of the martial arts and spent a lot of time practising them. He was also an eccentric person, who often dressed in Western-style clothes and sought the company of highly disciplined and intelligent people.

Yasuke carried the warrior spirit, he understood the cultural language of Japan and loved to dance and perform Utenzi - a historic form of Swahili narrative poetry celebrating heroic deeds, this suggests Yasuke could have come from Mozambique, as some historians believe, given that Swahili is still spoken in some northern parts of the country.

Similarly, Nobunaga was a lover of Noh Drama - a form of classical Japanese musical drama - and it is widely reported that he was a patron of the arts.

Nobunaga grew fond of Yasuke and treated him like family - the African was among a select group of people allowed to dine with him.

"Nobunaga praised Yasuke's strength and stature, describing his might as that of 10 men,"

When Nobunaga bestowed the rank of samurai on Yasuke the idea of a non-Japanese samurai was something unheard of. Later, other foreigners would also obtain the title. Yasuke fought many important battles alongside Oda Nobunaga.

He was also there that fateful night, when one of Nobunaga's generals, Akechi Mitsuhide, turned against him and set the warlord's palace alight, trapping Nobunaga in one of the rooms. Nobunaga ended his own life by performing seppuku, a ritual suicide.

Before he killed himself, he asked Yasuke to decapitate him and take his head and sword to his son, according to historian Thomas Lockley. It was a sign of great trust.

The legend of Yasuke comes to an end shortly after this, in 1582. The fall of Nobunaga at the hands of a treacherous general resulted in the exile of the first black samurai, possibly back to a Jesuit mission in Kyoto.

Though his fate and the last years of his life remain unknown, Yasuke has lived on in the imaginations of many Japanese who grew up with the award-winning children's book Kuro-suke (kuro meaning "black" in Japanese) by Kurusu Yoshio.

The book, which dramatises Yasuke's life, ends with a bittersweet note: after Nobunaga kills himself, Kuro-suke (Yasuke) is taken to a temple where he dreams of his parents in Africa and weeps.

Entertainment industry newspaper Variety reported in May that Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman is set to play Yasuke in a forthcoming feature film. It will be the second Hollywood film being developed on the life of Yasuke.

In 2017, Hollywood studio Lionsgate announced it was developing a film on the life of the black samurai. Nearly 500 years later, his unusual life continues to awe and inspire people.


[1][Joy Alari](https://www.facebook.com/joy.alari?fref=gs&__tn__=%2Cd*F*F-R&eid=ARC1IoGMvLKOLeuDzXF3Xy_dRfRW9QOHnyy4_2PxwFGJVuqyv3nVTK5xOPEDsPN5O6MtB2RqOxZmxdtS&tn-str=*F&dti=1972504372839262&hc_location=group_dialog)‎

[2][FactAttack ](https://www.facebook.com/groups/1972504372839262/?ref=gs&tn-str=*F&fref=gs&dti=1972504372839262&hc_location=group_dialog)

[3] Wikipedia


$ 0.00
Avatar for Abyss_of_death
3 years ago


Nice article very informative, keep it up bro.

$ 0.00
3 years ago