A Samurai is a warrior first and foremost.
However, the samurai too had heart. This edition, focuses on an episode that shows the heart of a samurai. Particularly that of Shimazu Iehisa.
Between 1586 and 1587, Toyotomi (Hashiba) Hideyoshi and the Shimazu Clan clashed as Hideyoshi attempted to annex Kyushu. The island at the time was mostly under the control of the powerful Shimazu Clan, who had already aroused the ire of Hideyoshi, ignoring his earlier letters inviting the Kyushu based clan to submit to his authority, and in a return letter reminded Hideyoshi of their long pedigree, and the fact that 20 years earlier, he had been but a low ranked sandal bearer. This rankled Hideyoshi, who was then even more determined to take Kyushu. Among the many contingents sent by Hideyoshi were the troops under the command of Chosokabe Motochika and Sengoku Hidehisa. Their orders were to cross the strait from their fiefs in Shikoku and attack the castle of Funai. Sengoku chose to ignore those orders and instead rallied to aid the allied attack on nearby Toshimitsu Castle. Chosokabe against his better judgment was pressured into joining Sengoku. The army of the Kyushu lord, Shimazu Iehisa, on hearing of the movements, rallied extra troops for a counter attack and stormed the castle on January 20, 1587.
The battle between the Shimazu samurai and the troops under Chosokabe and Sengoku was a fierce one, and the Shikoku samurai were soon destroyed. Among those killed was Chosokabe’s 22 year old son and heir, Nobuchika. On the advice of his vassals, Chosokabe Motochika hastily retreated from the battle and attempted to flee back to Shikoku, however upon reaching the coast, he found his escape route cut off with his boats stuck in the sands of low tide.
Fearing capture, he was about to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) when a Shimazu samurai arrived with a letter from Lord Shimazu Iehisa. In it, the enemy lord had written;
“We regret very much having killed your son in yesterdays battle. We also note that your ship is stuck in the sands of the low tide. Wait patiently, the tide will rise again tomorrow morning and you shall be able to return. Please have a safe trip home.” The letter was followed with the return of the body of Chosokabe’s dead son.
Samurai were warriors first and foremost, but they also held their own version of what the Knights of Europe would call chivalry.
Shimazu Iehisa combined strength and fighting ferocity with kindness and consideration. That is the way of the Samurai!