Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Hideyoshi (1537-1598) was the second of the three unifiers of Japan in the 16th century [the first was Oda Nobunaga and the 2nd was Tokugawa Ieyasu]. He was born the son of a peasant farmer and rose in power under Oda because of his skills as a general and a politician [and also because he happened to always be in the right places at the right times]. Hideyoshi specialized in gaining the allegiance of his enemies instead of destroying them, with the exception of Buddhist monks who continually opposed him and were put to death. He was also famous for unsuccessfully invading Korea in 1592 to 1598, for emphasizing cultural achievements for the samurai class, and for sporadic suppression of foreign religious powers.

Over my Christmas vacation I read about Hideyoshi in Mary Elizabeth Berry's book, which was ingeniously titled "Hideyoshi". The book reads a lot like a text book, as opposed to a novel, but gives a lot of detail and has some interesting views on who Hideyoshi was. And since there really aren't a lot of books about him in English one can't complain too much.

The Three Unifiers Of Japan

Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) was
the first individual to attempt to
unify Japan at the end of the
Warring States period. He was
a very successful general
with his superior strategy and
western fire arms.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-
1598) is my personal favorite
of the three unifiers. He
was originally a vassal of
Oda and took over his
power after avenging his
masters murder.
Tokugawa Ieyasu
(1542-1616) took the title
of Shogun after defeating
Hideyoshi's weak heir. Ieyasu
was the first Shogun of the Tokugawa Dynasty that
ruled Japan for 250 years.


Another interesting little fact about Hideyoshi (at least interesting in relation to my current residence) is that he built one of his major strongholds right here in Osaka. Osaka Castle was built by Hideyoshi, and although the original has since burnt down after being struck by lightening, a modern version of the castle was rebuilt and is part of todays Osaka skyline.

I have visited this castle (as well as the more famous Himeji Castle, which was also one of Hideyoshi's) and have taken a few photographs of it. If you're interested in reading about that trip and seeing some of those pictures then:



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