Toyotomi Hideyoshi, born in 1537, is the second of the unifying warlords of Japan during the Sengoku Period and a prime example of “rags to riches.” Due to not having samurai lineage, Hideyoshi was often discriminated against until he was drafted into Nobunaga’s army and became one of his most trusted generals. After finding out that Nobunaga was betrayed and murdered in 1582 at the hands of Akechi Mitsuhide, Hideyoshi quickly disregarded his successful campaign against the Mori clan and set out to avenge his late lord, crushing Mitsuhide’s army at the Battle of Yamazaki in less than two weeks after Nobunaga perished. Hideyoshi’s quick actions allowed him to gain reign of the Oda clan and continue the campaign for Japanese unification, but only after fighting off Nobunaga’s other top generals: Shibata Katsuie and Tokugawa Ieyasu. After killing off Katsuie, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu formed a new alliance to continue the conquest of Japan.
The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience.
Since Hideyoshi was of lower-class birth, he could not become Shogun, but his ambitions were perhaps much higher than Nobunaga’s. In the later years of his reign, Hideyoshi attempted an invasion of Korea, which ended up becoming a devastating war that negatively impacted Korea, Japan and to a lesser extent, China (China had assisted Korea when Japan invaded). But following Hideyoshi's death in 1598, the Japanese would pull out of Korea and become absorbed once again on the affairs of Japan. Because Hideyoshi had left only five year old heir to take his position, a succession crisis ensued that resulted in a clash between Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Although his reign ended in failure, Hideyoshi brought many social and political reforms to Japanese society that were later adopted by the Tokugawa Shogunate, but perhaps the most important reform was the principle of hope instilled upon all lower-class citizens that, if one works hard enough, then they could become the next Hideyoshi Toyotomi.