What sort of Samurai was Masashige Kusunoki?
There is a statue of a Samurai on a horse in a corner of the outer garden of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
That statue depicts the Samurai bravely running around the battlefield.
The model for that statue is Masashige Kusunoki(Nanko).
He was a Samurai from about 700 years ago.
Though many modern Japanese know little or nothing about him, Masashige Kusunoki is a great historical figure.
His way of life had influenced future generations, so he was sometimes worshiped as a god among them.
What’s so great about him?
What sort of Samurai was he?
Since the Kamakura period, the successive Emperors had entrusted politics to the Samurai government.
The Samurai government had effectively controlled Japan.
However, Emperor Godaigo, was the 96th emperor, and he stuck with the emperor’s direct administration.
His anti-Samurai government movement had succeeded with the cooperation of Takauji Ashikaga and Masashige Kusunoki, and he took over the government.
But Emperor Godaigo and Takauji Ashikaga didn’t get along.
A feud between warring factions triggered off a war.
Many Samurai took sides with Takauji Ashikaga.
Though Emperor Godaigo was at a military disadvantage, Masashige Kusunoki sided with him.
Eventually, Emperor Godaigo was defeated, and Masashige Kusunoki committed suicide by Seppuku.
Masashige Kusunoki was a gifted Samurai.
He was excellent in planning strategies as well as war tactics. He was so clever.
Why did he take sides with Emperor Godaigo while knowing the disadvantage of doing so?
For Samurai, unwavering loyalty to the Emperor was one ovirtue.
But, actually, many Samurai were thinking based on profit or loss.
Masashige Kusunoki was a strict Samurai. He had the good grace to die in accordance with his belief.
He went down in Japanese history as the Emperor’s faithful servant or the great Samurai.
So the statue of Masashige Kusunoki is in the site of the Imperial Palace.