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The African Samurai

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okamido View Drop Down

Joined: 11 Nov 2009
Location: San Francisco
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    Posted: 28 May 2012 at 12:15
In 1579, the Jesuit Alessandro Valignano traveled to Japan accompanied by his African page. Upon hearing of his skin color, Nobunaga ordered him to be brought before him as an intriguiging novelty. One anecdotal story says that Nobunaga had his men scrub the man vigouroulsy with soap and water to see if his skin color was paint.

When Valignano prepared to leave Japan, Nobunaga requested that the slave, now called Yasuke, be left behind for a time. He apparently spent much time with the Daimyo and was even present at Honno-ji where Nobunaga met his end at the hands of Akechi Mitsuhide. From there, Yasuke retired to the service of Nobunaga's heir, Nobutada. When Akechi's forces attacked Nobutada, Yasuke was said to have fought side by side with the Oda until overwhelming odds forced a surrender.

With his surrender, Yasuke was brought before Akechi who thought him nothing more than a beast and decide that since he was not Japanese, he should be returned to the Jesuits, who were apparently relieved to see him safe.

The Shincho koki, known as the Lord Nobunaga Chronicle, states that Yasuke was," On the 23rd of the 2nd month [March 23, 1581], a black page (黒坊主 "kuro-bōzu") came from the Christian countries. He looked about 26 [24 or 25 by Western count] or 27 years old; his entire body was black like that of an ox. The man was healthy and good-looking. Moreover, his strength was greater than that of 10 men."
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