Toyotomi Hideyoshi

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Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉?, February 2, 1536 or March 26, 1537 – September 18, 1598) was a daimyo in the Sengoku period who unified the political factions of Japan. He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Sengoku period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle. He is noted for a number of cultural legacies, including the restriction that only members of the samurai class could bear arms. Hideyoshi is regarded as Japan's second "great unifier."[1]

Contents

Early life

Very little is known for certain about Hideyoshi before 1570, when he begins to appear in surviving documents and letters. His autobiography starts in 1577 but in it Hideyoshi spoke very little about his past. By tradition, he was born in what is now Nakamura-ku, Nagoya (situated in contemporary Aichi District, Owari Province), the home of the Oda clan. He was born of no traceable samurai lineage, being the son of a peasant-warrior named Yaemon.[2] He had no surname, and his childhood given name was Hiyoshi-maru (日吉丸?) ("Bounty of the Sun") although variations exist.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi had been given the nickname Kozaru, meaning "little monkey", from his lord Oda Nobunaga because his facial features and skinny form resembled that of a monkey. He was also known as the "bald rat."

Many legends describe Hideyoshi being sent to study at a temple as a young man, but he rejected temple life and went in search of adventure. Under the name Kinoshita Tōkichirō (木下 藤吉郎?), he first joined the Imagawa clan as a servant to a local ruler named Matsushita Yukitsuna. He traveled all the way to the lands of Imagawa Yoshimoto, daimyo of Suruga Province, and served there for a time, only to abscond with a sum of money entrusted to him by Matsushita Yukitsuna.

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