Famous Japanese Swordsmen

The Period of Unification

by William de Lange

This third and final volume of the Famous Japanese Swordsmen trilogy presents more thrilling narrative based on solid sword history. The Period of Unification was one of the great turning points in Japan's medieval era. After more than two centuries of civil strife Japan finally found its way back to peace and order under three successive rulers: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. The final drive came in the fall of 1600, when Japan's eastern and western warlords faced each other in the Battle of Sekigahara. It was a decisive battle, in which each and every man who called himself a warrior faced the stark choice between the forces of division and those of unification.

Two such men were Ono Jirôemon Tadaaki and Yagyû Tajima no Kami Munenori. Tadaaki, a swordsman from the Kanto, had lost his family and home to become a ronin, a masterless samurai, forced to lead the life of a wanderer. Munenori hailed from the Home Provinces. His clan had first lost its castle, then its lands, until finally they were thrown upon the mercy of a local temple. Having lost everything, both men staked their lives and futures on the victory of the eastern forces. Their story, told against the greater historical backdrop of ruthless political intrigue and vast military campaigns, is a story of the tragedy of civil war experienced at the personal level—it is a story of loyalty, of betrayal, of seemingly insurmountable setbacks. Their courage in the face of overwhelming odds still stands as moving testimony to a the kind of perseverance and dedication that can have no equal in times of peace.

William de Lange studied Japanese language and culture at the University of Leiden and at Waseda University in Japan. Active as a translator and interpreter, he is also the author of A Dictionary of Japanese Idioms, Iaido, and Pars Japonica: The First Dutch Expedition to Reach the Shores of Japan.

256 pp, 5.25 x 8.25, Soft
200 B&W photos, maps, diagrams, chronology glossary, index
Japanese swords and swordsmanship / Japanese history / Martial arts
ISBN: 978-1891640-54-4