‘Date Masamune’, the first feudal lord of the Sendai domain, was called one-eyed hero as he had lost the sight of his right eye in his childhood because of smallpox.
Date Masamune, one of the powerful warlords, entered ‘Sekigahara no kassen’ in 1600, the greatest civil war in Japan, on the ‘Tokugawa’ side. Thanks to this achievement among many other things, he started castle construction while building a castle town, present ‘Sendai’ City in Miyagi Prefecture. His stipend assessed in terms of rice production was the third largest after the ‘Maeda’ clan in Kanazawa and the ‘Shimazu’ clan in Kagoshima. He was also known as an enterprising man who dispatched some 180 envoys led by ‘Hasekura Tsunenaga’ to Mexico, Spain and Rome, what is called ‘Keicho Kenou Shisetsu’.
Late in his life, when Japan’s politics was stabilized, he focused his effort to the development of his domain, building many stately Buddhist temples and Shito shrines, as well as new rice fields. His domain, present Miyagi Prefecture, became Japan’s largest rice-producing district in those days.
The third ‘Shogun’ ‘Tokugawa Iemitsu’ was said to pay the highest respect to him, in that Date Masamune was well-experienced in actual battles. On the other hand, Tokugawa Iemitsu had never commanded real ones.
The picture shows his statue on the horseback standing in the Sendai Castle grounds.
In this connection, the Japanese term ‘date mono’ or ‘date otoko’, meaning a dandy、 stems from the fact that the Date corps wore magnificent costume when they stage a march.
[posted by Masahisa Takaki]
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