African Samurai: The Legend of Yasuke

Although little is known of the fate of the mysterious Yasuke, there exist references to both his presence in Japan and arrival within historical text.

According to a report from a jesuit mission to Japan in 1582, Yasuke visited in 1579 while in service to Alessandro Valignano, a Jesuit priest from Italy.  Although his heritage is unknown, it is most widely regarded that Yasuke hailed from Mozambique.

  In 1581, while visiting the capital, Yasuke was introduced to the daimyo Oda Nobunaga.  Having never seen or met anyone of African decent, Nobunaga showed immediate interest in the newcomer.

At some point, although no records confirm when, Yasuke entered Nobunaga's service as a kashin, or retainer.  At the Battle of Tenmokuzan, Yasuke accompanied Nobunaga and his forces, including his meeting with the famed and future Shogan - Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Yasuke's time with Nobunaga was short lived, as the latter was forced to commit sepukku (ritual suicide) in June 1582, at the command of Akechi Mitsuhide.  As he was not of Japanese decent, the captured Yasuke was spared by Akechi, and sent away.  Beyond this account, it is unclear what the fate and future of Yasuke beheld.

Due to the vague and sparse documentation of Yasuke, his unique and mysterious time in Japan has inspired numerous fictional and dramatized portrayals.

 As of 2019, a film based on the life of Yasuke was in production, with Chadwick Boseman cast as the protagonist.  Due to the tragic and untimely passing of Boseman, the film's fate is unclear.

In April 2021, an animated series loosely based on Yasuke's life - Yasuke, was released on Netflix.  Written and produced by LeSean Thomas, the series is perhaps the most specific visual telling of the figure's story to date.

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