For those who were born in the 1990s or were parenting young teens in the early 2000 perhaps you will recall one of the most loved science fiction animated television series “Samurai Jack”. Samurai Jack in the animation was a warrior from Feudal Japan era destined to fight dark forces (Aku) with his magic sword. In real life just like in the animation series, Samurai’s were warriors in Japan who hailed from a class of elites. They were the military nobility and very popular for their ferocity and loyalty to their ethic code of bushido (way of the warrior).When fighting and protecting their people, they used to employ various weaponry’s such as arrows, spears, bows but the main weapon was the sword. The samurais have an indelible place in the history of Japan since they helped in shaping up the Japan civilisation. They are today integral symbols of Japanese culture who have actually influenced the modern day Japan and since they were many warriors here is the list of the top 10 most famous Samurai Warriors that ever existed.
- Shimazu Yoshihisa
He was the 16th leader of Shimazu clan, and he is considered to be the most successful wand famous warlords of all time. He is remembered for making an effort to unify Kyūshū a campaign that lasted from 1572 to 1580 which was a success. However he was defeated in 1587 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and he surrendered and shaved his head becoming a Buddhist monk. He died from illness in 1611, but his legacy as a great general who let retainers under him work the best of their abilities still lives today.
- Date Masamune
One of the most feared legendary warrior and a leader in Edo period was Date Masamune. He was an outstanding, great daimyo who won many battles and conquered many territories. He is known for being a remarkable tactician who had one eye and a crescent-moon-bearing helmet. Masamune during his rule built many palaces, encouraged trade with foreigners, had sympathy to Christian’s missionaries, built an exploration ship (San Juan Bautista) and founded Sendai City.
- Uesugi Kenshin
Also referred to as ‘The Dragon of Echigo’ for his remarkable martial arts skills Uesugi Kenshin was one of the most powerful famous Japanese daimyos during the Sengoku period of Japan. He is regarded as the God of war for his prowess on the battleground, his tactics, and the fact that he regularly worshipped the Buddhist god of war. He was a dedicated warrior to the Buddhist religion, and that’s why he didn’t marry nor sire a child. Due to his clever political manoeuvring and his abilities as a skilled administrator, the Uesugi clan still live even today, and he improved the standards of living of Echigo.
- Tokugawa Ieyasu
He is one of the most significant people in the history of Japan as he not only a warrior and a statesman but also first and the founder of the okugawa dynasty of shoguns. He was a very tactical person who used his thoughts more than the sword and as a result, he achieved supremacy in Japan. One of the fierce battles that Ieyasu won was the battle of Sekigahara which made Emperor Go-Yozei name him shogun (military governor) in 1603. During his rule he encouraged foreign trade, Japan was stable, and very united. He died in 1616.
- Hattori Hanzo
Nicknamed “Devil Hanzo” “ Hanzo the Ghost” he was the leader of Iga Ninja clan, and he is regarded in what today’s language would be a badass ninja ever to live. He made a name for himself while at the service of the general Tokugawa Ieyasu by saving his life severally and helping him rise to power. He was very tactical and a master in spear fighting who won many battles and retired as a monk. It is said that Hanzo had supernatural powers such as teleportation and psychokinesis.
- Takeda Shingen
Among the most famous feudal lords and a legendary military leader during the chaotic late stage of the Sengoku period is Takeda Shingen. He is a leader to be remembered not just for his military prowess but also for public works and sound civil administration. He was known by the nickname “the Tiger of Kai” for he was able to defeat Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu combined forces. He died in 1573 from bullet wounds.
- Honda Tadakatsu
He was one of the finest Samurai’s and general who lived in the late Sengoku. He is among the four Heavenly Kings of Tokugawa and served Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was among the most influential figures in the history of Japan and many leaders such as Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Takeda Shingen showered him with praises of his greatness. Other people called him “the warrior who surpassed Death” since despite fighting in over a hundred battles he was never wounded even once. Some of the battles he participated in were Battle of Sekigahara (1600), Battle of Nagashino (1575), Battle of Mikatagahara (1572) among others.
- Miyamoto Musashi
Born in 1584, during the time of war between Japans warlords he was a Ronin and perhaps one of the greatest swordsmen in Japans history. He is famed for having fought over 60 duels and kept a clean record of winning and among them was a win against powerful swordsmen Akiyama of Tajima province, and SakakiKojiro. Sakaki died in in 1645 but left behind various details regarding sword fighting techniques in his book “ The Book of Five Rings”.
- Toyotomi Hideyoshi
One of the most powerful samurais, a warrior, politician and a general to have ever lived is Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Due to his achievements in bringing an end to the warring states period which had lasted over 100 years he is japan’s second Unifier. The most remarkable thing about Toyotomi is that he was born from a poor background and rose to be one of the greatest men in the history of Japan after the death of Oda Nobunaga. During his rule the Samurais used to live in the castles, no civilian was around to be armed, built many castles in Kyoto, and condemned Christianity in Japan and to show how much he disliked Christianity he ordered crucifixion of 26 Christians. It was also during his period that he led two unsuccessful campaigns against Korea with an objective of capturing Korea and changed Japans society in many ways. He died in 1598.
- Oda Nobunaga
He is among the three unifiers of Japan and regarded as the first one. Nobunaga was a very successful warlord and one of the most feared leaders in Japans history as he was ruthless and a brutal. He managed to unify half of Japan when he defeated Akishaga. Although he ruled with dictatorship, he had some good in him as he was a very skilled businessman who knew the principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics. He build roads, created policies that enabled free market system and encouraged international trade. Nobunaga died in 1582 at Honnō Temple in Kyōto by way of committing suicide after he was betrayed by AkechiMitsuhide one of his vassals.