Mitsunari Ishida, born in 1559, was a famous samurai and loyal supporter of Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Having lived most of his life in the Omi province, he was a vassal of the Azai family but left their service after their defeat at the hands of Oda Nobunaga. He was eventually taken under the wing of Hideyoshi and became one of his most trusted retainers. Mitsunari’s role suddenly became vital to Japan’s future following the demise of his liege. As a faithful servant of the Toyotomi clan, he swore to protect Hideyoshi’s son and fought against Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Battle of Sekigahara. Yet, despite having more troops and initially gaining the upper hand, he was betrayed by some of his followers who sided with Tokugawa and was ultimately defeated. While he managed to escape thanks to the heroic sacrifices of his vassals and bodyguards, he was eventually captured by the Tokugawa forces and decapitated in the year 1600. 

Mitsunari was defeated and beheaded at the Battle of Sekigahara in Kyoto on October 21, 1600. After his execution, his head was placed on a stand for all the people in Kyoto to see. His remains were buried at Sangen-in, a sub-temple of the Daitoku-ji, Kyoto...

Unlike Hideyoshi’s previous retainers, Mitsunari is often portrayed as villainous and blood-thirsty looking throughout contemporary media, perhaps due to his extreme opposition of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Yet, all these mediums share one main quality: Mitsunari’s extreme loyalty towards Hideyoshi. In Sengoku Basara, Mitsunari is a white-haired youth who is utterly obsessed with revenging his liege – his character symbolizing the meaning tragedy and passion.