JapanUp! Magazine

Samurai Legend:

Introducing famous Japanese historical figures

October 2021 (vol. 168)

黒田官兵衛 KURODA Kanbee 1546 – 1604 October 2021 (Vol. 168) Genius Strategies Gained the Trust from Three Greatest Leaders of Japan Kanbee the Strategist A strategist is the brain of the troop who carefully considers strategies and directs battles for victory.  Kuroda Kanbee is recognized as the best strategist among […]

August 2021 (vol. 166)

ITAGAKI Taisuke 1837 – 1919 August 2021 (Vol. 166) The Politician Who Led the Freedom and People’s Rights Movement People Call Him Weirdo Itagaki Taisuke was born in Tosa (Kochi-prefecture) in 1837 as the son of an elite samurai family.  He was a unique kid who was interested in many […]

July 2021 (vol. 165)

IWASAKI Yataro 1835 – 1885 July 2021 (Vol. 165) An entrepreneur who got No.1 in the shipping industry in just a few decades Young Yataro was Mischievous and Intelligent Iwasaki Yataro was born in 1835 in Tosa no Kuni (Kochi Prefecture).  His family was originally a low-ranked samurai and had […]

MAY 2021 (vol. 163)
SHIBUSAWA Eiichi (渋沢栄一)

SHIBUSAWA Eiichi May 2021 (Vol. 163) The Father of Japanese Capitalism Gentle and Genius Kid Eiichi Shibusawa was born in Saitama Prefecture in 1840, during the end of the Edo period when samurais with swords were still common.  His family was a rich farmer, who also runs an indigo dyeing […]

APR 2021 (vol. 162)
SAIGO Takamori (西郷隆盛)

SAIGO Takamori April 2021 (Vol. 162) A Beloved Giant Hero, Born in Satsuma Saigo’s Childhood Saigo Takamori was born in 1827 in the town of Satsuma (Kagoshima Prefecture).  Because Saigo’s family was a low-ranked samurai and was a large family with seven children, Saigo lived in poverty.  However, Saigo’s parents […]

MAR 2021 (vol. 161)
II Naosuke (井伊直弼)

II Naosuke March 2021 (Vol. 161) Know the Other Side of the “Cold-blooded Dictator” Naosuke, a Late Bloomer Naosuke was born in 1815 in Oumi (Shiga Prefecture) as the 14th son, to a father who was the Hikone Domain leader.  When Naosuke was born, his father was already retired, and […]

FEB 2021 (vol. 160)
Hijikata Toshizo (土方歳三)

HIJIKATA Toshizo February 2021 (Vol. 160) The Last Handsome Samurai with Courageous Spirit Medicine Peddler Boy Yearning to become a Samurai Hijikata was born in 1835 in Musashi Province (Tokyo) as the youngest of 10 siblings.  His home was very wealthy with a running drugstore, selling home-recipe-medicines.  His father died […]

JANUARY 2021 (VOL. 159)
Story of
SAKAMOTO Ryoma (坂本龍馬)

SAKAMOTO Ryoma January 2021 (Vol. 159) Born in the Richest Merchant Family in Tosa Sakamoto Ryoma (1835 – 1867) was born in 1835 in Tosa (Kochi prefecture) as the 5th youngest child.  He was a crybaby when he was a child and was very close to his three-year-older sister.  His […]

MAY 2020 (VOL. 152)
Story of
SANADA Yukimura (真田幸村)

SANADA Yukimura MAY 2020 (Vol. 152) The Bravest Samurai to Protect the Toyotomi Family Sanada Yukimura (1567-1615) was born as the second son of Sanada Masayuki (1547-1611), the lord of Ueda-jo castle in the Nagano prefecture.  His actual name was Sanada Nobushige.  But during the battles of the period, the […]

MARCH 2020 (VOL. 151)
Story of
MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune (源義経)

MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune July 2019 (Vol. 143) The Genius Military Commander Yoshitsune Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159-1189) was a military commander of the Minamoto clan who fought against the Taira clan in the latter years of the Heian period and the early years of the Kamakura period.  He appeared in some […]

FEBRUARY 2020 (VOL. 150)
Story of
AKECHI Mitsuhide (明智光秀)

AKECHI Mitsuhide MARCH 2020 (Vol. 151) Mitsuhide: The Fallen Rebel Akechi Mitsuhide, who is famous for being the leader at the ‘Honnouji Rebellion’ has been told that he was born near Mino (Gifu prefecture) in 1528 (there are possibilities that he was born in 1516 or 1540).  When Mitsuhide got […]

JANUARY 2020 (VOL. 149)
Story of
KATSU Kaishu (勝海舟)

KATSU Kaishu JANUARY 2020 (Vol. 149) The Shadow Samurai Leader for Meiji Restoration Born in Edo, as a Son of Hatamoto, a Direct Retainer of the Shogun Katsu Kaishu was born in 1823, at Ryogoku, Tokyo.  Shokichi, his father was in charge of Hatamoto, one of the important positions that […]

DECEMBER 2019 (VOL. 148)
Story of
MINAMOTONO Yoritomo (源頼朝)

MINAMOTONO Yoritomo DECEMBER 2019 (Vol. 148) The Very First “Samurai Administration” in Japan This time we will talk about Yoritomo’s life, who established the very first “Samurai Administration” in Japan during the Kamakura era.  Let’s focus on his personality and life, much more than just the ‘Kamakura Shogunate’. Born as […]

NOVEMBER 2019 (VOL. 147)
Story of
DATE Masamune (伊達政宗)

DATE Masamune NOVEMBER 2019 (Vol. 147) Masamune The One-Eyed Dragon The popular warlord from Azuchi-Momoyama (last part of the Sengoku period) through early Edo period, Date Masamune was made all the more iconic for his missing eye, called “One-Eyed Dragon (独眼竜, Dokuganryu)”.  Masamune has significantly influenced the History of Japan, […]

OCTOBER 2019 (VOL. 146)
Story of
MIYAMOTO Musashi (宮本武蔵)

MIYAMOTO Musashi OCTOBER 2019 (Vol. 146) The Legend of Dual Wielding Sword Divinity What samurai does the question, “who is the best known and the most famous swordsman in Japanese history?” remind you of? – The answer may be Miyamoto Musashi.  He might have had more than 60 fights, but […]

SEPTEMBER 2019 (VOL. 145)
Story of
UESUGI Kenshin (上杉謙信 )

UESUGI Kenshin September 2019 (Vol. 145) Kenshin: “The Dragon of Echigo” Uesugi Kenshin (上杉謙信) was a powerful warlord, a brilliant strategist, and a wise administrator.  He was born on February 18, 1530 at Kasugayama in Echigo province as the fourth son of the noted warrior Nagao Tamekage (長尾為景), who was […]

JULY 2019 (VOL. 144)
Story of
TAKEDA Shingen (武田信玄)

Takeda Shingen July 2019 (Vol. 144) Shingen: “The Tiger of Kai” Following the three greatest Samurai – Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Oda Nobunaga, and Tokugawa Ieyasu – Takeda Shingen is one of the most popular warlords as is his rival, Uesugi Kenshin.  Shingen was called “the Tiger of Kai”, and Kenshin “the […]

JULY 2019 (VOL. 143)
Story of
TOKUGAWA Ieyasu (徳川家康)

TOKUGAWA Ieyasu July 2019 (Vol. 143) IEYASU: The 3rd of 3 Great Unifiers of Japan Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) is the third of the three great unifiers of Japan who completed the unification of Japan begun by Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  He became shogun in 1603 after the victory at […]

JUNE 2019 (VOL. 142)
Story of
TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉)

TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi June 2019 (Vol. 142) HIDEYOSHI: Successor of Oda Nobunaga Rise Up From a Farmer to Samurai Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) is one of the most remarkable commanders of samurai army in Japanese history, the ruler of Japan who ended Japan’s most violent period of political and social upheaval, the […]

MAY 2019 (VOL. 141)
Story of
ODA Nobunaga (織田信長)

ODA Nobunaga May 2019 (Vol. 141) NOBUNAGA: The Unifier “BIG FOOL” from Owari Increasing interest in historical persons Who is your most favorite samurai?  Who do you know at all?  Recently, Japanese historical topics such as samurai, the history itself and/or swords have been drawing increasing attention both nationwide and […]