Sanada Yukimura, born in 1567, was a highly respected samurai and tactician under the banner of Takeda Shingen. Often referred as the “bravest warrior in Japan” and “crimson war demon,” Yukimura began his quest for recognition following his participation in the Battle of Sekigahara, where he and his father allied with Ishida Mitsunari to fight against Tokugawa Ieyasu. Following Tokugawa’s victory, Yukimura was exiled – barely avoiding execution – and spent the next 14 years in exile, until he regrouped with the remaining Toyotomi allies for their last stand against Tokugawa in the Siege of Osaka. Due to his military prowess and clever strategies, Yukimura managed to accomplish what no other had done: stop Tokugawa Ieyasu’s advances. It is said that, for every soldier that Yukimura lost, Tokugawa lost at least five soldiers and it wasn’t until Tokugawa started using advanced European artillery that he managed to fight on more even grounds. Later during the battle of Tennouji, especially when it became obvious that the Toyotomi allies were not going to win, Yukimura instead opted to charge directly towards Tokugawa’s camp and forced him to disgracefully flee. Unfortunately, he ended up dying shortly after this attack as the Tokugawa forces vastly outnumbered him. His death in 1615 marked the end of the Toyotomi allies’ fight against Tokugawa, as Yukimura and his accomplishments against Tokugawa during the Siege of Osaka represented their last hope for victory.
Yukimura was the model samurai – passionate and fearless
Yukimura’s perseverance and bravery at these battles earned him his enemies’ respect. Later records show that Tokugawa Ieyasu, along with Date Masamune, were so impressed by his skill that they allowed the Katakura vassal clan to shelter Yukimura’s family and children. Yukimura’s amazing skill in battle was so extreme that many people claimed that he only faked his death to escape and fight against Tokugawa in the future. Simply through word of mouth, Yukimura was the model samurai – passionate and fearless – and became a symbol for those who remained opposed to the Tokugawa Shogunate. As a result of his fearfulness, he is often associated with fire and red-attire in contemporary media (as seen in Sengoku Basara, Pokemon Conquest and Prince of Tennis).