Yasuda Kunitsugu

安田国継

Yasuda Clan

Yasuda Kunitsugu

Mino Province

Lifespan:  Kōji 2 (1556) to 6/2 of Keichō 2 (1597)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Yasuda

Lord:  Akechi Mitsuhide (Saitō Toshimitsu) → Hashiba Hidekatsu → Hashiba Hidenaga → Gamō Ujisato → Tachibana Muneshige → Terazawa Hirotaka

Siblings:  Kunitsugu, sister (wife of Yoshida Hidetoki)

Yasuda Kunitsugu served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  His common name was Sakubei.  His is known as one of the three famous retainers of Akechi Mitsuhide, a senior retainer of the Oda clan.

In 1556, Kunitsugu was born in the village of Yasuda in Mino Province.  Initially, he served under Saitō Toshimitsu in the command of Mitsuhide.

On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Oda Nobunaga died in a coup d’état launched by Mitsuhide.  This event is known as the Honnō Temple Incident.  During this incident, the Akechi army of 10,000 men surrounded the Honnō Temple in Kyōto.  Kunitsugu served in the vanguard.  During the ensuing battle, Kunitsugu attacked Nobunaga with a spear.  Nobunaga’s attendant, Mori Naritoshi, sought to stop Kunitsugu by stabbing him in the abdomen with a jūmonji spear, but Kunitsugu in turn killed him.

On 6/13 of Tenshō 10 (1582), after the Akechi army was defeated as the Battle of Yamazaki, Kunitsugu fled, changed his name to Amano Genemon Sadanari, and became a rōnin, or wandering samurai.  Kunitsugu served Hashiba Hidekatsu, Hashiba Hidenaga, and Gamō Ujisato, but did not continue in service for long with any of them.

Later, he served Tachibana Muneshige and made contributions during the Kyūshū Pacification by the Toyotomi army.  Additionally, he served in the Bunroku-Keichō Campaign on the Korean Peninsula. 

Finally, he served Terazawa Hirotaka and received a fief of 8,000 koku.  According to one account, in their early days, Kunitsugu and Hirotaka promised one another that whomever was successful later on would offer satisfactory compensation to the other for his services.  In his later years, he changed his surname to Hirano.

In 1597, Kunitsugu died at the age of forty-two.  He is said to have taken his life after suffering from the worsening of a growth on his cheek.  He died on the anniversary of the death of Nobunaga, giving rise to rumors that he was afflicted by a curse from Nobunaga.  His grave is at the Jōdai Temple in the city of Karatsu in Saga Prefecture.

Several accounts attributed to Kunitsugu were actually written by other individuals toward the end of the Edo period and deemed to be fictional works.