Ōtani Yoshitsugu

Ōtani Yoshitsugu

Ōtani Yoshitsugu (大谷吉継, 1559-October 21, 1600) was a general of the Western Army, grouping the supporters of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's heir, Hideyori, at the Battle of Sekigahara.

Ōtani Yoshitsugu Biography

Ōtani Yoshitsugu was the son of a samurai in the service of the Ōtomo clan. He fights alongside Ishida Mitsunari in the Korean campaign and forms a very friendly bond with him. Yoshitsugu compensates for the leprosy that plagues him with a very strong sense of friendship.

Because of his leprosy, Yoshitsugu found himself in an unseemly position during a tea ceremony held at Osaka Castle in 1587 by high dignitaries who were supporters of the late Toyotomi Hideyoshi: he had to drink the cup in such a way that he did not come into contact with the liquid except with his mouth.

However, a drop of pus fell back into the cup. Paralyzed by shame for a moment, he was released from his ordeal by Ishida Mitsunari who took the cup from him, declaring that he was too thirsty to wait his turn. So Otani Yoshitsugu joined the party of Ishida Mistsunari for whom he was determined to fight to the death.

Before the battle of Sekigahara, Yoshitsugu would have tried several times to persuade Mitsunari of the uselessness of his action. However, seeing the firmness of his friend's convictions, Yoshitsugu joined his cause after much reflection.

At that time, Yoshitsugu's health deteriorated, making him almost blind. He can't stand up, let alone fight. He is taken to the battle in a palanquin. At the time of the battle, Otani Yoshitsugu and his men are positioned precisely in the town of Sekigahara where the right wing of the western army is gathered.

Yoshitsugu is at the head of about 600 men, plus about 4,000 more under the command of Toda Shigemasa, Hiratsuka Tamehiro, Ōtani Yoshikatsu (his son), and Kinoshita Yoritsugu.

As the battle rages, Kobayakawa Hideaki, who is located above Yoshitsugu on Mount Matsuo, does not move, despite Ishida Mitsunari's repeated calls.

Yoshitsugu suspects something: heir robbed by Hideyoshi, Kobayakawa Hideaki was solicited by both parties and his loyalty is far from being unwavering long before the battle. So Yoshitsugu calls his troops to position themselves in order to prepare for a possible attack from their flanks.

His hunch is right, because following a volley of fire from Ieyasu's position, Kobayakawa Hideaki and his troops rush down the mountain towards Yoshitsugu's position. This attack was immediately followed by Akaza Naoyasu, Ogawa Suketada, Kutsuki Mototsuna and Wakizaka Yasuharu, a total of more than 20 000 soldiers.

Yoshitsugu's troops retreat, at one point even pushing Kobayakawa's troops halfway up the mountain, but in the end the numerical superiority of the attackers takes its toll.

Meanwhile, Yoshitsugu, unable to see what's going on, repeatedly asks one of his retainers, Yuasa Gosuke, "Is it lost?" When the latter finally answers in the affirmative, Yoshitsugu asks him to cut off his disfigured head and bury it to prevent it being used as a trophy. After executing himself, Yuasa also commits seppuku.

While the tea ceremony episode was witnessed by people actually alive at the time (Kamiya Sōtan and Tsuda Sōgyū among others), the reality of their friendship is debated. More specifically, Ōtani Yoshitsugu himself is the subject of some skepticism.

Romanticized in poetry and fiction as a heroic and talented friend of Ishida Mitsunari since the Edo period, nothing in the historical record offers details to support this reputation.

His father passes for having been either Ōtani Yoshifusa (a vassal of Hideyoshi) or Ōtani Moriharu (a vassal of the Ōtomo family) since both share the same surname. Both men are of unknown origin and little is known about them other than a few notes and their names. He is said to have been born in the province of Ōmi; his mother is one of Kōdai-In's servants.

He apparently has no official wife but is said to have three sons and a daughter. His second son died with him at Sekigahara while the other two either fell in with the Toyotomi family at Osaka Castle or lived in solitude after the wars.

Yoshitsugu's daughter, Chikurin-in was the first wife of Sanada Nobushige. A tale claims that Yoshitsugu had a concubine before Sekigahara, a concubine who became mad with grief after his death, although it is not known if this story has any value. Tsuda Sutezō of the Byakkotai is rumored to be one of his descendants.

Ōtani Yoshitsugu Video games

He made a late appearance in Capcom's series Sengoku Basara :

  • Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes
  • Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes utage

He also appeared in the series of Koei-Tecmo Samurai Warriors :

  • Samurai Warriors 4
  • Samurai Warriors 4 Empires
  • Samurai Warriors 4-II
  • Samurai Warriors Sanada Maru

He also appears in the video game of Team Ninja Nioh.