Credited as the third and final unifier of Japan during the Sengoku Period, Tokugawa Ieyasu is (naturally) the man who founded the Tokugawa shogunate, a dynasty that would control Japan for over 200 years. The Tokugawa line's control remained firm throughout this period and was not broken until the Meiji restoration in the latter half of the 19th century, and the downfall and abolition of the samurai class altogether.
Tokugawa Ieyasu had been around since the early era of Oda Nobunaga note . Born Matsudaira Takechiyo in January 1543, his first major appearance in history is as the man who stabilized his clan's survival... by being a hostage for the Oda Clan, then the Imagawa Clan. As a hostage, Takechiyo learned quite a lot, particularly about the arts of war. He later changed his name to Matsudaira Motonobu, and later still, Motoyasu.
As Motoyasu, he began his military career in 1558, winning a minor victory over Oda Nobunaga at Terabe. In 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto began marching towards Kyoto but fell victim to a surprise attack by Nobunaga at Okehazama. Motoyasu declared independence from the Imagawa clan soon after, allied himself with Nobunaga, and proceeded to strengthen his home base of Mikawa. He acquired a number of powerful and famous generals, including Hattori Hanzo and Honda Tadakatsu, then in 1566 changed his name to Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Ieyasu proved to be something of a 'Sidekick' or 'rear-guard' for Nobunaga, and key success to his campaign: Since they're allies, Nobunaga could march to the capital with ease when he's assured that Ieyasu would watch his back. Eventually, as Nobunaga was killed by Akechi Mitsuhide, Ieyasu escaped with his life and planned revenge, but he was beaten to a punch by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After a bit of a stalemate, they made peace and Ieyasu once again bid his time, by deciding to just demote himself to become a vassal of Toyotomi.
When Hideyoshi passed away and his reputation broke due to the ill-fated Korean Campaign, Ieyasu rose as one of the main people in the position to rule Japan for several reasons:
- He abstained from the Korean Campaign and continuously bolstered his forces and wealth in Kanto plain, now renamed Edo. So he's considered to possess the wisdom to not send his men to pointlessly die.
- People dissatisfied with Hideyoshi thought that this whole disastrous campaign happened because as someone born commoner, Hideyoshi was not aware of the danger of pointlessly launching campaigns like that, whereas a 'noble' like Ieyasu (the Matsudaira was a clan of nobility, and with the clan name change to Tokugawa, Ieyasu could claim descent from the Minamoto clan) would be aware to not do such a thing, as it's part of the training given to a noble as they grew up.
Still, Ieyasu was not without his opposition; despite all of Hideyoshi's flaws as listed above, some were still adamant in giving him merits for unifying Japan on his own, if it wasn't for Hideyoshi, they'd still be fighting each other instead of being united; Ieyasu was accused as an opportunistic usurper, his wisdom of not sending his men to the Korean Campaign was seen by his opposition as an act of selfish cowardice, ignoring the spirit of 'united Japan' that Hideyoshi fought fornote . The tension accumulated until it reached its climax at Sekigahara, where Ieyasu ultimately won against Ishida Mitsunari with a bit of luck on his side. Thus, he won the land and set up his own dynasty to rule over the land for 200 years or so. He immediately retired after Sekigahara, but continued as advisor for his son (now ruling as shogun) for the next decade, passing away in June 1616.
Tokugawa Ieyasu is perhaps best known for his patience and wisdom in knowing when (and when not) to strike. There is an ironic saying: "Ieyasu won the country by running away".
While Ieyasu did all he could to ensure his legacy would last very long and stabilizing the country, it was also his actions to do so that eventually caused his shogunate's downfall: In order to win Sekigahara, Ieyasu promised those who were loyal to him to be heavily rewarded, and then applied heavy punishment without any deaths towards his defeated opponents; chief amongst these 'losers' were the Western clans: Mōri, Shimazu and Chosokabe. And one of his chief policies after unification of Japan is to close the country from any foreign trades except a few foreign countries, sealing off Japan from outer influences, which worked wonders for Japan's inner growth, but came to bit them in the ass when American fleet under Matthew Perry threatened his descendants to open the borders or else they'll overwhelm Japan with their superior technology. And the Mōri, Shimazu and Chosokabe, unhappy with these changes and still bearing the grudges over their treatment from Ieyasu, decided to strike back, leading to the Meiji Restoration and the end of the Ieyasu's legacy after 200+ years of ruling.
When compared to Oda and Toyotomi, Tokugawa is less commonly a victim of Historical Villain Upgrade. However, he is more likely to be upgraded to villainy in works more sympathetic toward either Sanada Yukimura or Ishida Mitsunari. Said villainous upgrade was actually a fairly common practice around the decline of the Tokugawa shogunate, some 200 years after its founding. Present-day opinion on Tokugawa generally portrays him as an honorable if boring (old) man, far more willing to play the long game and concede small losses than either of his predecessors. Slow and Steady Wins the Race is a common theme among Ieyasu portrayals.
Notable people under the rule of Ieyasu
- The Four Guardians of Tokugawa: Or Tokugawa Shi-Tennou (Four Heavenly Kings). These are considered the cream of the crop and most badass of any of Tokugawa's retainers.
- Sakai Tadatsugu: The oldest and leader of the Shi-Tennou.
- Honda Tadakatsu: Arguably the most famous and the most badass, having participated in over 50 battles without major injuries. See his article for more details.
- Sakakibara Yasumasa: Another one of the Shi-Tennou.
- Ii Naomasa: The youngest one and head of the Ii clan after inheriting it from his mother Naotora. Emulated the Takeda general Yamagata Masakage about the psychological combat of wearing red to scare off the enemies, inheriting Masakage's moniker "Red Devil". Scored first blood in Sekigahara.
- Hattori Hanzo: His most trusted ninja from the Iga clan, when Ieyasu was attacked by Akechi Mitsuhide, he helped him cross over the Iga village and ensuring his survival. See his article for more details.
- Torii Mototada: A childhood friend of Ieyasu since his days as a hostage in Imagawa, and also serving him. Most famous for making his Last Stand in Fushimi Castle, stalling the Western Army of 40,000 during the onset of Sekigahara with 2,000 troops. Torii's troops fought over ten days until he and ten other men remained, after which the remainders committed seppuku. This delayed Mitsunari enough that Ieyasu managed to gather the majority of his troops in time for Sekigahara and eventually coming out as the victor.
- Lady Saigo/Masako: Ieyasu's second wife, primary consort, and admittedly the one he favored more. While Masako and Ieyasu met as teenagers, she was still married to another man, and they only became involved in each other around the 1570s. The drama involving Ieyasu's first wife (how they were separated) eventually cleared the path towards Lady Saigo's ascension as Ieyasu's consort, and she would play a role in developing Ieyasu's political alliances up to his involvement with Hideyoshi. She died pretty young (at the age of 37), but her legacy is solidified in providing Ieyasu with an heir...
- Tokugawa Hidetada: Ieyasu's son with Lady Saigo, he became his favorite son and eventual heir and successor (becoming the second Shogun after Ieyasu). Though their relations were kind of strained when he was late to Sekigahara because he was being stalled by the Sanada clan in Ueda Castle. He's another link between Tokugawa and Oda, as he married the youngest daughter of Oichi (Nobunaga's sister), Oeyo/Go—whose elder sister is Chacha/Lady Yodo, Hideyoshi's second wife and the mother of the Tokugawa's final nemesis, Hideyori... who then got married off to Hidetada and Oeyo's daughter Senhime, making the whole Osaka Campaign one big awkward family feud.
- Lady Tsukiyama/Sena & Tokugawa Nobuyasu: Ieyasu's first wife from Imagawa and son (though their marriage wasn't that happy), later linked with marriage via Nobunaga's daughter. Unfortunately, Nobunaga accused them of treason and conspiring with the Takeda, and to clear his name, Ieyasu had them executed, with Tadatsugu as the executioner. And that's how Hidetada, being the third son (the second son, Hideyasu, got adopted to the Toyotomi and became Yuki Hideyasu, a daimyo on his own), becomes the heir. However, Ieyasu seemed to be a lot more tolerant with their daughter born from Sena, Kamehime, who went on to help his father in several ways even as a woman.
- Komatsuhime: Actually Honda Tadakatsu's daughter, but Tadakatsu agreed to make Ieyasu being her second father, so she can be married to Sanada Nobuyuki and eventually binding the two clans together. Kind of intimidating, inheriting her father's martial prowess, but also very loyal.
- Nankobou Tenkai: An influential monk that became Ieyasu's trusted personal advisor in the late stage of the Sengoku Period, bridging communication between the Shogunate and the Imperial Court, restoring several ruined temples and advising Ieyasu's successors too. His past is completely shrouded with mystery, with some rumors saying that he's actually Akechi Mitsuhide, having been humbled after his disastrous defeat at Yamazaki (and disregarding the other most popular theory that he was killed by peasants during his escape), deciding to discard his old identity and starting anew, even serving the man he tried to kill before.note
- Lady Kasuga/Kasuga no Tsubone: Born Saitou Fuku, the daughter of Saitou Toshimitsu, advisor of Akechi Mitsuhide, spared from execution because she's a woman and then married off to a daimyo allied with Kobayakawa Hideaki, then after Sekigahara, she got divorced and picked up by Ieyasu because she was apparently a factor of why Hideaki defected and bringing victory for the Eastern army. She's appointed as the wet nurse of Hidetada's son Iemitsu, established the 'women's quarter' in Edo known as Ooku, and generally serving as the shogun family's advisor, gaining influence in the court and occasionally advising the future shoguns.
- William Adams/Miura Anjin: An Englishman and member of the Dutch East India Company who got shipwrecked into Japan, taken in as an advisor of Ieyasu and then made a Samurai, making him one of Japan's foreign Samurai (he was preceded by Yasuke during the era of Oda Nobunaga). Afterward, he became an advisor of Ieyasu and the reason why despite barring almost all foreigners from Japan during his isolationist policy, Ieyasu actually made the Dutch as the one exception, as he felt indebted to William's advice.
- Yagyu Jubei: All three famous generations of Yagyus (Muneyoshi, Munenori and Mitsuyoshi) served the Tokugawa at one point, although Ieyasu would be more directly involved with the first two; Muneyoshi being his sword instructor, Munenori serving as his retainer in his latter days and guided his descendants through the world of politics. Mitsuyoshi also served the Tokugawa, but at one point was thought to be unfitting in the world of politics that he had to be kicked out, only to be reinstated back in the office on a later date.
- Sengo Muramasa lived during Tokugawa's reign and though they never interacted Tokugawa grew to hate Muramasa by proxy because many of his friends were killed by Muramasa's weapons. After severely cutting himself on one by accident, Tokugawa banned the smith's swords in his territories outright, which reinforced the common superstitions around Muramasa blades and made Muramasa himself undergo a Historical Villain Upgrade. Meanwhile, Ieyasu formed a good relationship with Gorō Nyūdō Masamune, who continued to make swords for him and his family, thus inversely becoming the reason why he has a Historical Hero Upgrade most of the time.
- Date Masamune: One of his chief allies during the Sekigahara. Ieyasu somehow managed to see through Masamune's rambunctious Wild Card nature and distrusted him less than the rest and won the One-Eyed Dragon's favor so much that he helped with him not only in Sekigahara (where he staved off the Uesugi in Hasedo so Ieyasu could participate in the main battle), but also in the Sieges of Osaka, and even reading him a poem when Ieyasu was about to pass away. See his article for more details and exploits unrelated to Ieyasu.
Notable Campaigns of Ieyasu
Ieyasu is mostly independent from Nobunaga's conquest, but there are times their paths collide.
- Okehazama (vs. Oda): Technically, Ieyasu, when he was still known as Matsudaira Motoyasu, was not present during Okehazama, but as a vassal of Imagawa back then, he had orders to take the fortress of Marune. With his forces, Motoyasu proved that he wasn't just any boy-hostage, he's a full-fledged battle general. But (un)fortunately for him, while celebrating victory, he heard the news about the slaughter at Okehazama that caused the death of Imagawa Yoshimoto. Motoyasu had to read the situation and chose wisely on who to side with; whether it's to stay loyal with Imagawa or to join up with the Oda, whom he sensed that they might be the winning side, not to mention he's childhood friends with Oda Nobunaga during his times as a hostage. So... Motoyasu chose the second, and hence a lasting alliance was formed. While Nobunaga solidified his rule in Inabayama and eventually marched to the capital at Kyoto, Motoyasu spent his time pacifying the Imagawa clan and absorbing it to the Matsudaira instead.
- Anegawa (vs. Azai-Asakura): Motoyasu, now named Ieyasu, received a call for help when Nobunaga was having trouble against the Azai-Asakura alliance. They were to face off at the river of Anegawa. At first, it looked like Ieyasu would be facing off the Azai, but Nobunaga was goddamn pissed at the betrayal of Azai after all the trouble he married his sister to that clan that he proposed an overnight formation shift: The Tokugawa would face the Asakura instead, while he marches off against the Azai. It worked in their favor tremendously, the Azai-Asakura never saw it coming, and the Tokugawa basically steamrolled the Asakura that they managed to assist the Oda and trapped the Azai in a pincer attack. The Azai managed to retreat to their home base Odani, but Ieyasu's 'contract' was over, he didn't get involved against the last stand at Odani.
- Mikatagahara-Nagashino (vs. Takeda): Nobunaga and Ieyasu's partnership proved effective as Ieyasu became the one who staved off the advance of the great Takeda Shingen who planned to march to the capital as well. And by that, we mean that the famed Takeda Cavalry completely stomped through Ieyasu's forces so brutally when their forces met at Mikatagahara, leaving Ieyasu alone with just five soldiers. Retreating to Hamamatsu Castle, Ieyasu decided to bet on one last life-and-death gambit. He ordered one of his men (mostly believed to be Sakai Tadatsugu, one of his Four Generals) to lit the castle's torches and then opening the gate open, as if beckoning the Takeda to just Bring It. Shingen got paranoid as a result and decided to hold off his forces, thinking that there was a trap inside. He was further convinced when Ieyasu had some of his men (some believe that he entrusted the task to his Samurai Shinobi Hattori Hanzo) to cause ruckus in the Takeda camp and retreated. Surviving for another day, Ieyasu informed Nobunaga about the threat of Takeda, and they faced off the Takeda again, now led by Shingen's son Katsuyori (Shingen died in the interim), in Nagashino. Nobunaga's new musket tactic obliterated the Takeda Cavalry, and he collaborated with Ieyasu to hunt down the remnants of the Takeda after resolving one particular drama-filled incidentnote , culminating in the battle at Temmokuzan where the Takeda was destroyed for good.
- Iga (vs. Akechi Mitsuhide): After helping Nobunaga clean up central Japan, he decided to go on a vacation with Ieyasu in the Iga area. Nobunaga got a call for help from Toyotomi Hideyoshi, so he decided to help him out, leaving Ieyasu alone. Then suddenly, Ieyasu heard incredibly bad news: Nobunaga was betrayed and killed by Akechi Mitsuhide, and now Mitsuhide wanted Ieyasu's head to ensure his succession of Nobunaga's power... all while Ieyasu was far away from his home province of Mikawa, surrounded with soldiers wanting to kill him. Luckily for Ieyasu, he also brought along Hattori Hanzo with him. Hanzo proceeded to show him a secret path to escape the Iga area unnoticed by the Akechi army, all while convincing other nearby ninja clans to give Ieyasu the safe passage. And so Ieyasu escaped death. Returning home to Mikawa, he prepared his army for revenge on both him and Nobunaga... but then he heard that Toyotomi Hideyoshi beat him to a punch in that department.
- Komaki & Nagakute (vs. Toyotomi Hideyoshi): While recuperating from the retreat from Iga, Ieyasu was eventually approached by one of Nobunaga's sons Oda Nobukatsu. He wanted shelter from Ieyasu because to him, Hideyoshi's power has gone off the chart and someone must stop him from going out of control and only Ieyasu had the power to do so. Seeing this as a chance to be the official successor of Nobunaga with Nobukatsu's support, Ieyasu went on a war with Hideyoshi. But, the two's forces were evenly matched that no one was able to make a dent. Eventually, Ieyasu met Hideyoshi personally and somehow managed to broker peace. Once again, Ieyasu played the long game and decided that even if his force looked mightier, might as well make himself look like the loser by becoming Hideyoshi's vassal. Hideyoshi was impressed at this, so he gave Ieyasu a special privilege for a vassal: Ieyasu had only one time to abstain in deploying his forces for him when Hideyoshi made a call-to-arms. This would be a privilege that Ieyasu wouldn't waste willy-nilly, as it was vital in his ultimate victory later.
- Odawara (vs. Hojo Ujimasa): Much like his history with Nobunaga, this battle was basically mostly on Hideyoshi's main campaigns. But Ieyasu was part of it, and of course it was to the surprise of even Hideyoshi that Ieyasu just didn't flat out use his privilege. It worked even better on Ieyasu: His efforts in the campaign made Hideyoshi reward him with the remnants of the Hojo, the Kanto region. Using all the resources he had, Ieyasu moved his capital from Mikawa to Kanto, where he would remodel the city and renamed it Edo, which centuries later would become the capital of modern Japan, Tokyo. And later, when Hideyoshi made a call of arms to Korea, that was the time Ieyasu used his privilege that he abstained from using during this campaign. As that campaign ended in utter disaster, Ieyasu managed to keep his men safe and bolstered his popularity, his long game starting to bear fruit.
- Sekigahara (vs. the Western Army/Ishida Mitsunari): The campaign was a very big one and Ieyasu was one of the main players, leading the Eastern Army. After several accusations and assassination attempts too many, the last straw for Ieyasu to rise up arms was how the Uesugi clan, especially its chief retainer Naoe Kanetsugu, directly insulted him for power-hungrily tried to usurp the righteous throne from Hideyoshi while accusing others of doing the same. Many of the Eastern warlords sided with him, while the Western ones sympathized with his rival/main accuser Ishida Mitsunari. While the main conflict happened in the field of Sekigahara, there were several battles that was fought in the name of the Eastern Army, all part of Ieyasu's commands:
- Hasedo (vs. Uesugi): The Uesugi clan, led by one of the senior Council Five Elders like him, Uesugi Kagekatsu (adopted son of the legendary Uesugi Kenshin) and assisted with the aforementioned Naoe Kanetsugu, planned on to join on the Western side, but their location in Echigo meant that they had to cross the Eastern Army's main bulk. Luckily for Ieyasu, one of his newest allies was Date Masamune, and he was located close enough with the Uesugi. For that, Ieyasu had Masamune and the Date clan intercept the Uesugi in Hasedo. It worked enough that the Uesugi was delayed, defeated by the Date and not directly participating in Sekigahara.
- Ueda (vs. Sanada): Ieyasu has gone a long way to placate the Sanada clan, an ex-retainer clan of the Takeda. Ever since the conflict with the Toyotomi started, he already discussed with the patriarch, Sanada Masayuki for some sort of alliance and so Ieyasu convinced his mightiest general Honda Tadakatsu to let him adopt his daughter, Komatsuhime/Inahime, so she could be married with the Sanada's eldest son Nobuyuki and thus linking the two clans together. Despite all those, Masayuki and his other son Yukimura chose to side with the Western army. For that, Ieyasu sent his heir Hidetada to storm the Sanada stronghold at Ueda. Hidetada promised that he'll be in Sekigahara in time, but even with 38000 men with him, Masayuki stalled him with just 2000 men, long enough that he didn't make it in time to directly participate in Sekigahara (where Ieyasu won). Ieyasu was disappointed at his son, but this didn't cause him to disown him, as he still made Hidetada his heir.
- Fushimi (vs. Ishida): The most vital Hold the Line war of the campaign. Before departing to Sekigahara, Ieyasu had a chat with his closest friend dating back from his days as Imagawa hostage, a certain Torii Mototada. With the Western army marching, both predicted that it would be the last they see each other. And so, Mototada holed himself up to the only part standing between Mitsunari and his position at Sekigahara: Fushimi Castle. He stalled the Ishida 40000-size army with just 2000 men for a whole 10 days, and then committed seppuku. Mitsunari made it anyway to the main conflict at Sekigahara, but those 10 days were vital; by the time Mitsunari arrived, Ieyasu was ready with a majority of his men.
- Sekigahara main battle: With the Western forces consisting of about 120000 men and the Eastern forces consisting 75000 men, it looked like that Mitsunari had the advantage of numbers and tactic. However, Ieyasu has taken pages from Hideyoshi's tactics... of bribery and manipulation. Before the battle even began, he had contacted some of the Western generals that if he won the conflict, there shall be leniency awaiting them. And chief of them was Kobayakawa Hideaki, a nephew of Hideyoshi. But somehow, he remained indecisive in taking a decision. It was at that point that Ieyasu temporarily lost his most known trait, getting impatient and ordering the arquebuses to fire at Hideaki, finally forcing him to defect and getting his men to strike at Mitsunari... but was intercepted by Mitsunari's best friend Otani Yoshitsugu, who decimated his men. But that left his flank open, leaving him surrounded and defeated afterwards, and Hideaki's defection caused a chain of defection of generals that had been bribed by Ieyasu, turning the tables for his favor and ultimately made him the winner of the Sekigahara conflict and the newest Shogun of Japan, the de facto ruler of Japan.
- Osaka (vs. Toyotomi & Sanada): Ieyasu has retired and let Hidetada rule Japan while just advising him. But then, the Toyotomi clan, led by the more matured Hideyori and supported with his mother Lady Yodo/Chacha, has been doing suspicious activities as if insulting the Tokugawa, and contacted several anti-Tokugawa factions, such as the Sanada clan under Yukimura (who was formerly exiled instead of executed after Sekigahara thanks to Nobuyuki's interference). After several slights one too many, Ieyasu came out of retirement and declared that the Toyotomi must go down for good, even if Hideyori was married to his granddaughter Senhime. After gathering his men, they cornered the Toyotomi in Osaka castle, drawing them out in a long, painful siege. It bore fruit, Hideyori along with Chacha were defeated and either killed or forced to commit seppuku, while Senhime was sent back to safety (and remarried to Honda Tadakatsu's eldest son Tadatoki, and after a string of tragedies later became a nun). As Ieyasu was about to celebrate his victory, however, he saw Yukimura and several of his personal guards making a mad dash right onto his camp, killing off his personal guards one by one, until only Yukimura remained and he was that close to chop off Ieyasu's head... But due to certain reasons, most commonly fatigue, Yukimura just stopped there, declared that despite being a most Worthy Opponent, he's just too tired to fight anymore, and either died in exhaustion, or the remaining Tokugawa men came just in time to kill Yukimura, saving their lord's life. Inspired with his tenacity even when he knew he's not gonna win anything out of it, Ieyasu praised Yukimura's burning spirit, giving him the epithet "Japan's #1 Soldier" as a post-mortem reward. And that was the last activity of the third unifier of Japan before he passed away naturally due to sickness in Sunpu Castle, 1616.
Example of works featuring Tokugawa Ieyasu:
- Battle Girls: Time Paradox presents a gender flipped Ieyasu as appearing sweet, but actually being the most underhanded character in the series. She's not opposed to cheating, and is actively planning to take the Crimson Armor for herself once Nobunaga completes it.
- Ieyasu is the Big Bad of Brave10 although he works mostly through other people and shows himself to be a ruthless but frequently ineffective warlord given the story centres around one of his opponents.
- One Piece likens him to Admiral Aokiji for their patience and wisdom of knowing when to strike and when not to. His fellow admirals Akainu and Kizaru are given to similarities between Oda Nobunaga and Totoyomi Hideyoshi, respectively.
- In Saber Marionette J, the Japoness is led by a man named Tokugawa Ieyasu. He looks like a normal old man, but flashback reveals that the man he was cloned from looks just as bishonen as the protagonist Otaru, in fact, he looks like an older version of him.
- In Samurai Deeper Kyo, Ieyasu is a literal Fat Bastard...until it's revealed that this fat bastard was just a Kagemusha. The REAL Ieyasu took the guise of Hattori Hanzo. In the anime, the Ieyasu really is the fat man, is forcibly turned into a monster and killed by his own son Hidetada, who then has Hanzo impersonate the real Ieyasu.
- Bandai's SD Sengokuden Bushin Kourin Hen has depicted several Warring States characters in SD Gundam form, picking the three unifiers of Japan to make at a larger "deluxe" size. Ieyasu is the last of the deluxes and possibly the last model released.
- Makes a brief appearance in Lilith, when the time-traveling protagonist appears at Sekigahara. His death at Lilith's hands to lure her actual target where she could reach him sets the point Lilith's alterations to history finally have a large-scale effect.
- One of the few works where Ieyasu is arguably the villain would be in Futaro Yamada's The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, with Ieyasu pitting the warring Kouga and Iga ninja clans in a free-for-all simply to determine who among his grandchildren would ascend to the Shogunate, setting off the tragic events for all participants.
- The character of Toranaga in James Clavell's novel Shogun is a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Ieyasu. He is one of the central characters.
- Ieyasu shows up as a minor character in Taiko, spending most of the book as Nobunaga's ally.
- Understandably, nearly every major NHK Taiga drama centering on the Azuchi-Momoyama period would involve him as a character, main or supporting:
- Kunitori Monogatari (国盗り物語, 1973), portrayed by Akira Terao as part of the supporting cast.
- Terao would later reprise this role in 2014's Gunshi Kanbei (軍師官兵衛), as a Magnificent Bastard and the final strategic rival of the titular Kuroda Kanbei—in contrast to Smug Snake Ishida Mitsunari. Despite his shifty and double-faced character throughout his screen-time (even driving a political and personal wedge between Kanbei and his son Nagamasa), he seems very convinced that everything he does is to return stability to the nation. After Sekigahara, he and Kanbei have a heart-to-heart about their intentions, with Kanbei admitting defeat and acknowledging his supremacy, and Ieyasu assuring him of his genuine desire for good governance, even offering him a spot as his own adviser. While Kanbei declines, Ieyasu clearly sees him as a Worthy Opponent, and privately sighs in relief that he no longer has to fight him.
- Tokugawa Ieyasu (1983) has him as the main protagonist, spanning for his whole life.
- Dokuganryu Masamune (独眼竜政宗, 1987), as a competitor to the titular Date Masamune, portrayed by Masahiko Tsugawa. He would later reprise this role as first of the leads of 2000's Aoi: Tokugawa Sandai (葵 徳川三代)—and even in other period productions not of the NHK, being closely associated with the role.
- Understandably the Big Bad of Sanadamaru (真田丸, 2016), as this story takes the perspective of his longtime rivals Sanada Masayuki and Sanada Yukimura. The show see-saws a bit with his characterization, sometimes rendering him a Smug Snake with a dash of manipulative brilliance, and sometimes a fidgety and paranoid leader who's on alarm at the mere knowledge of fighting the Sanada. He still wins in the end, obviously.
- 2020's Kirin ga Kuru (麒麟がくる) would see Ieyasu portrayed from his childhood (as Takechiyo) to his eventual growth as a general under Imagawa Yoshimoto, and then choosing to stand down and switch to allying with Nobunaga. In a case of Third Line, Some Waiting, his perspective is usually taken as a 'third-person view' to portray the impact of Nobunaga's conquests (not to mention his descent to tyranny) has on the country (including to the province of Mikawa he rules). Throughout this, Ieyasu is portrayed as nothing but an earnest and dutiful hostage-turned-leader of men. Indeed, by the climax of the series, the protagonist Mitsuhide eventually realizes that despite his overthrow of Nobunaga, it would not be him, but Ieyasu—due to his better character and political choices—that will lead the country to peace.
- As of press time, 2023's slated drama is entitled Dōsuru Ieyasu (どうする家康), once again taking his perspective. Jun Matsumoto of Arashi has been announced for the role.
- The last figure to be released in the SD Gundam BB Senshi model line SD Sengokuden Bushin Kourin Hen, Tokugawa Ieyasu Gundam, is based on Tokugawa Ieyasu.
- Kessen and Kessen III. For the first game, Ieyasu is one of the protagonist and can go either sympathetic or unsympathetic, depending on whoever is picked as protagonist (Him or Mitsunari). In the third game, he is forever a second banana to Nobunaga since Nobunaga survived Honnoji and is the main protagonist.
- Samurai Warriors: Ieyasu starts out as some sort of cowardly Fat Bastard Smug Snake NPC in the first game, but by the expansion, he grew some competence (despite still being NPC) and sympathy. And in the second game, he became playable, got a spear cannon for weapon and can be a Fat Gentleman. Later games then give him a more virtuous side he is forced to give up, forcing him to resort to devious methods in order to secure peace; Ieyasu himself says to others that he deserves to be hated for it. One thing that's been rather consistent with him is that he's A Father to His Men all the way.
- Pokémon Conquest features Ieyasu as he appears in Warriors Orochi. Here he is dubbed the Warlord of Valora, the Steel-type nation. He's portrayed in a positive light, disagreeing with Nobunaga's methods but joining his team to keep his nation safe, and warmly congratulates the hero upon their victory. His signature Pokémon in this is Aggron and eventually Registeel, if you play your cards right.
- What's more, he alongside Uesugi Kenshin is voiced by the long-time villain seiyuu Joji Nakata.
- The fifth game, which is a Soft Reboot, shows him in his younger self as Takechiyo who is a hostage of the Imagawa clan. Compared to his 'old man' usual design and Nobunaga and Hideyoshi's younger selves, Ieyasu's new design has the most stark difference: he was kind of a willowy Bishōnen, but still handles himself well in battle using twin katana. His first wife, Sena, also appears as a playable character (and also looking older than him), and their relationship is tweaked to be at least more loving to each other, where she didn't betray him or collude with the Takeda and when the incident with Nobuyasu happened, she promptly takes the blame rather than Ieyasu taking it, and slits her own throat when he couldn't bear to kill her.
- Ieyasu is mentioned in Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams as Soki's true father. However, Soki thinks he's just a useless lapdog to Hideyoshi. In Soul, Ieyasu finally makes an appearence as a Genma-aligned Daimyo: surprisingly enough, he's shown as a Bishōnen in youth, and as a gruff but still attractive man wielding a triple-bladed katana.
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice takes place during the Tokugawa Shogunate with the backstory being that the Ashina succeeded in a coup to resist the unification of Japan. While Ieyasu himself never makes an appearance, the threat posed by his army (referred to as the "interior ministry") is hanging over the heads of the Ashina fighters like a Sword of Damocles, and is the reason Genichiro Ashina turned into a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
- Sengoku Basara has an...interesting take on Ieyasu. Early on in the series, he's a short, plump, impatient little brat; and while he's virtuous, he's also rather incompetent, relies too much on Tadakatsu, and gets kidnapped way too often. But in the third game, he grew up, took massive levels in badass and became one of the main protagonists.
- In his first incarnation Takeda Shingen drives the point home by addressing him as Takechiyo, the childhood name he used before coming of age (Ieyasu is technically his adult name, though historically he changed his name to "Tokugawa Ieyasu" much later).
- Saihai no Yukue, an Ace Attorney-like game based on Sengoku era (by Koei) features Ieyasu as a Fat Bastard antagonist, while our protagonist is the Bishōnen Ishida Mitsunari. Though, in the end, it's subverted that Ieyasu was suckered by the true villain of the series: Lady Yodo.
- The Japanese campaign of Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties is about his rise to power, with help from the player character, Sakuma Kichiro. He is also the leader of the Japanese if they are system players.
- Tokugawa is the leader of the Japanese civilization in the second, third, and fourth installments of the Civilization series of games; he is noted for being particularly isolationist in IV. He gets replaced by Nobunaga in V.
- One of the main daimyos -clan leaders- in Shogun: Total War and its successor, Total War: Shogun 2.
- One of the warring leaders opposing the Takeda Shingen clan in the film Kagemusha.
- Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban has him as the first boss, using rocket punches and beams against the player characters, because he has been possessed by aliens. Also, his name is spelled in-game "YEAHyasu", with Western alphabet and all (while the final boss is Oda NObunaga). It's kind of a weird game.
- Nioh also has Tokugawa Ieyasu in it as the Big Good of the game, though he can veer to a ruthless Pragmatic Hero and Well-Intentioned Extremist, which is actually closer to how it's like in real life. He's a tremendous help to William, which is another touch in with history, where the historical William Adams/Miura Anjin would end up on friendly terms with the Tokugawa clan. Unlike in Samurai Warriors, his relationship with his first wife Sena went just as history progressed, with the added bonus that Sena became so wracked with grief on Nobuyasu post-mortem that she ended up turning into the boss called Ogress for William to beat.
- In the Nasuverse, in particularly Fate/KOHA-Ace, Ieyasu is a hypothetical Servant, only mentioned by Nobunaga. At first he looks like an unassuming wimp (he looks like this, seriously). He has no skill whatsoever, but has a Noble Phantasm that lets him take stats of one of the seven classes. For instance, if he took on the Lancer class, he'll assume the form of Honda Tadakatsu, and if it's Saber, it would be Yagyu Jubei (based on how he's taught by Yagyu Munenori, who's a Servant in Fate/Grand Order, although he also sports the Eyepatch of Power usually wielded by Munenori's son Mitsuyoshi, the more famous Jubei). It is also implied that this Ieyasu is one of his kagemusha when the real Ieyasu died early.
- He is also mentioned quite a lot within background material of Grand Order, especially in the backstory of Chacha (Hideyoshi's chief concubine, Nobunaga's niece), where she considers him the one who kickstarted the trend of branding her the wrecker of Toyotomi household and as a result, she thoroughly hates him and tends to make comments that anything from Tokugawa should die.
- The aforementioned game's event, "Tokugawa Kaiten Labyrinth" is named after his clan, but Ieyasu was completely absent from it. However, it being set in the Ooku of the Bakufu he established, his major female follower/influencer Lady Kasuga features (albeit in a weird Composite Character situation with the Indian goddess Parvati)—together with Yagyu Munenori.
- In the Assassin's Creed series, Ieyasu is stated to have been a member of the Assassin Brotherhood, with the implication that he was likely the local head of the Japanese Branch. As such, it meant that the Assassins effectively ruled Japan through the Tokugawa Dynasty all the way until the Meiji Restoration (stated to be a Staged Populist Uprising by the Templar faction).