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Useful Notes / Toyotomi Hideyoshi

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"If the cuckoo does not sing, make it sing."

The second of the unifying warlords of Japan during the Sengoku Period and a prime example of Rags to Riches. He was born Kinoshita Tōkichirō, and his early life remains somewhat obscure. His parents apparently wanted him to become a priest, but he ran away from the temple and became a soldier instead. In 1558, he became the sandal-bearer of Oda Nobunaga. He was eventually drafted into Nobunaga's army, changed his name to Hashiba Hideyoshi, and used his resourcefulness to become a valuable asset, leading portions of his army in many of Nobunaga's campaigns, such as 'building a castle in one day' via trickery in the Siege of Inabayama (and also sneaking and opening the main gate from behind); or leading the backline vanguard to cover Nobunaga's escape in Kanegasaki, when the Azai clan ambushed him from behind when dealing with the Asakura clan.


All in all, Hideyoshi quickly rose to become a top general of Nobunaga. In 1582, however, Hideyoshi's big break came. Nobunaga ordered Hideyoshi to lead the attack against the Western Mouri clan. He did ask for reinforcement for Nobunaga, but at that moment, Hideyoshi had an upper hand, already surrounding the castle and initiating a flood attack for a drawn out victory. His messenger returned, but the news wasn't exactly as he envisioned: Nobunaga has been assassinated by his fellow general Akechi Mitsuhide. On this news, Hideyoshi had a change in plan. Rather than continuing the siege, he approached the head of the castle, stated that he really has urgent business, so he gave the castle master a choice: He could just continue on and more people will suffer via the prolonged flood attack, or he could just surrender alone, commit Seppuku and his castle given to Hideyoshi, and his men and people will be spared from the flood attack; and Hideyoshi also offered peace with the clan on top of that. The master naturally chose the second; allowing Hideyoshi to march back and avenge Nobunaga (When the news about the Seppuku reached his ears, Hideyoshi was impressed with the heavy burden said master took that when he came to power, he elevated the act of Seppuku into greater levels of 'taking responsibility by suicide').


It took 13 days after Nobunaga's death for Hideyoshi to arrive at Mount Tennou and decimated the unprepared Akechi army in a battle known as 'Battle of Yamazaki', a very quick period to travel for his time. With that, Hideyoshi avenged his lord and planned to resume Nobunaga's journey to unify Japan.

Hideyoshi next came into conflict with Nobunaga's other top generals, Shibata Katsuie and Tokugawa Ieyasu, who each allied themselves with one of Nobunaga's two surviving sons after Hideyoshi proclaimed Nobunaga's one-year-old grandson as heir. Hideyoshi annihilated Shibata at the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583, and fought Tokugawa to a standstill at Komaki-Nagakute in 1584. From that point on, Hideyoshi continued the conquest of Japan in alliance with Ieyasu, conquering Shikoku from Chōsokabe Motochika in 1585, Kyūshū from the Shimazu clan in 1587, and the Kantō from Hōjō Ujimasa in 1590.

Since Hideyoshi was of lower class stock, he could not become Shōgun. The highest title he held was kampaku (regent), awarded to him in 1585, when he changed his name to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. When Hideyoshi officially relinquished the title in 1591, he became known as the Taikō.

But unifying Japan wasn't enough for Hideyoshi, whose greatest ambition was to conquer China. It just happened to coincidence with the fact that after Hideyoshi cleaned up Japan to ensure an era of peace by using his Sword Hunt policy, he noticed that there were a lot of Japanese soldiers left out of job and the only thing they're good at was fighting. Rather than risking them rebelling or causing ruckus in the country and destroying all of his efforts to rebuild Japan after he unified it, Hideyoshi decided to put their fighting skills to use by getting them to fight another country for his ambition as a distraction for their potential to harm his country. When Korea (a Chinese protectorate at the time) refused Hideyoshi's offer of alliance against China, Hideyoshi decided to wage war on Korea instead. Hideyoshi's army invaded Korea in 1592, and made great progress on land before being ultimately repulsed by the Koreans and Chinese. Not one to give up wild ambitions easily, Hideyoshi launched a second invasion of Korea in 1597, but this invasion was already foundering when Hideyoshi died of sickness in 1598.

A controversial topic in regards of the Korean Campaign and Hideyoshi's actions revolve around an order referred as the 'ear hunt'. In order to ensure discipline and his soldiers were fighting, Hideyoshi demanded that his soldiers brought proofs back to Japan in form of the heads of their enemies. His soldiers decided that it's too much of a hassle to bring their enemies' heads so they decided to just cut off the ears of the Korean people and use them as proofs. In his own megalomania, Hideyoshi then built a monument of those ears to celebrate on the campaign. This is a monument that still existed today, known as Mimizuka, and still became one of the main reasons Korean and Japanese people do not get along, especially when latter Japanese government took a defensive stance on Hideyoshi's controversial monument.

Since Hideyoshi's heir, Toyotomi Hideyori, was only five when his father died, Hideyoshi left his administration in charge of five magistrates: Ukita Hideie, Maeda Toshiie, Mōri Terumoto, Uesugi Kagekatsu and Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was Tokugawa, not Toyotomi, that would become the ruling family of Japan, after Ieyasu won a decisive victory over Ukita Hideie and Mōri Terumoto at the famous Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Fourteen years later, Ieyasu finally moved against Hideyori (whose list of offences against the shogunate ranged from rebuilding the great fortress of Osaka and gathering an army of the Tokugawa clan's enemies to, of all things, sponsoring a temple bell with an inscription that the shogunate claimed contained subversive wordplay), who perished the next year when Ōsaka Castle fell after a long siege.

As noted, Hideyoshi is most known for his resourcefulness and his ability to manipulate events. Some historians to this day still argue that Mitsuhide's betrayal was secretly engineered by Hideyoshi. That being said, props should be given that he actually succeeded in unifying Japan and actually did good to his people's welfare. Too bad that his dynasty didn't last past two generations. It should be pointed out that Hideyoshi was also ruthless. He forced his heir-apparent Hidetsugu to commit suicide after an unsuccessful coup, but that apparently was not enough for Hideyoshi, who ordered Hidetsugu's entire family, including 31 women and children, executed. Moreover, his failure at the Korean Campaign was credited as one of the reasons why and it left a sour note to his legacy (not to mention the Mimizuka monument, as mentioned above). It is probably also why very few productions in the modern day ever touches that Campaign in any fictional portrayal that features Hideyoshi, regardless of how he's portrayed, and only featuring the Sengoku Period. The Korean Campaign, nevertheless, has begun to become a period of interest for some nuanced fictional worksnote .

His nickname by Oda Nobunaga was 'monkey' and 'bald-rat', though nobody except Nobunaga would dare call him that to his face. Usual portrayal would depict him being a wannabe schemer, though positive portrayals of him do exist, being an eager and hard-working man that earns his peers via hard work (close enough of being a Shonen hero that defies Hard Work Hardly Works), that could seep into being a bumbling man as his vices. The middle-ground portrayal of him tends to be a Fallen Hero type of character, when he was younger, he was an idealistic hero, but at one point of time (usually after his unification of Japan or even as early as Nobunaga's death or another time), he was faced with harsh realities that made him do a lot of morally questionable things and became much more ruthless, no longer the ideal hero he was before. He's also included in one issue of Badass of the Week.

Examples of works featuring Hideyoshi:

Anime & Manga

  • In One Piece, Admiral Kizaru of the Marines is likened to him for his craftiness and manipulation of his enemies and underlings alike.
  • Hideyoshi makes an appearence in Genzo without playing a major role. Here he looks like a monkey dressed as a samurai. His expansionistic tendencies are frequently mentioned, to the point that Kiku thinks that if he could he would try to conquer not only Korea and China, but Philippines, Spain and Portugal as well.
  • Hideyoshi (or rather, Yoshino Hide) is the main character of Battle Girls: Time Paradox, here gender flipped into a young, somewhat clumsy girl with blond hair who gets thrown into the past, and may very well become the actual Hideyoshi.
  • Nobunaga Concerto portrays Hideyoshi with a heavy dose of Historical Villain Upgrade. At the start of the series, he was an unnamed spy for Imagawa Yoshimoto, sent into Owari to join the Oda army. He was sent away by Hirate Masahide, who could tell something was off about the man. The spy proceeded to kill Masahide later that day, being found by Saburo (The real Nobunaga's stand-in), but was never caught. While Saburo told the world he committed Kanshi, the spy met a salesman named Tokichiro Kinoshita, who proceeded to kill and steal his name. After that he became a stable worker, and (in the manga) caused the Oda brothers to have a civil war. At the battle of Okehazama, Kinoshita had believed the Oda would prepare for a siege and sent letters to Yoshimoto, unaware Saburo was riding into war. When he found out it was too late, and the last of the Imagawa spies approached him ready to assassinate him for the apparent betrayal. Kinoshita killed his assassin, and swore revenge on the Oda, not for Yoshimoto, but for his ruined honor. He'd spend the rest of the series fixated on this, and would grow an ambition to become more powerful than the Oda (Likely sparking his eventual failed invasion of China). When he met Princess Oichi, she had thought he looked like a monkey, which makes him decide that she'll be kneeling before him soon (referencing how after Nobunaga's death, she'd serve her future husband Shibata Katsuie in war with Hideyoshi that she'll later die in, and that her most famous daughter will be his concubine and mother of his heir). He is disliked by several retainers, including Shibata Katsuie, due to his (fake) obsession on pleasing Nobunaga, and is not trusted to go into battles without Takenaka Hanbei and Akechi Mitsuhide (Secretly the real Nobunaga) to keep a close eye on him to not betray them. And given the close bond Saburo and Mitsuhide/Nobunaga have, it is heavily implied that he will be the orchestrator of the Honno-Ji incident.
  • Not appearing as a person, but protagonist Makoto Edamura of Great Pretender looks up to him as someone obscure who managed to "hoodwink" the whole country into bringing him into power. He also invokes him as a model worthy of emulation by any con-man.

Live-Action TV

  • While there are multiple instances of him being part of the NHK Taiga Dramas whenever the Azuchi-Momoyama period is covered, two series stand out:


  • The famous novel Taiko. Chronicles with the life and times of Hideyoshi, from sandal-bearer to the Japanese unifier.
  • In The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, Hideyoshi dies saving the main character's life at the very beginning of the series, leaving him to serve Oda Nobuna under the "Monkey" nickname.
  • In The 39 Clues, he is really Thomas Cahill, the founder of the Tomas branch.
  • In Shogun, the novel by James Clavell, he is the inspiration for the character Nakamura, a former dictator of Japan.


Video Games

  • In Age of Empires II's special mission, you actually control Hideyoshi's forces trying to beat down Mitsuhide after he killed Nobunaga. There's also a mission where the player must prevent Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea.
  • In the Onimusha series, Hideyoshi starts out as Nobunaga's smug henchman. But when Nobunaga dies, Hideyoshi levels up and unifies Japan off-screen. Then comes the fourth game, where he becomes the Big Bad using the Genma forces to wreak havoc. However, he does get an Alas, Poor Villain moment when the Genma forces ditch him and he realizes that he's done something horrible, meaning, there was a time that Hideyoshi had a genuine Heel–Face Turn...
  • Sengoku Rance where he's... a literal monkey. He's also directly responsible for the Demonic Possession of Nobunaga as a catastrophic Spanner in the Works.
  • Of course, KOEI's Samurai Warriors. Hideyoshi starts out as a smug sleazeball NPC in the first game, but at the first expansion, he's given a more sympathetic personality where he really wants to make Japan a place for happy people. That trait sticks to his future portrayals. Even though he also has a friendship with Saika Magoichi as well as being a much more fun and stern guy to be around, he still looks more of a goofball in future games...oh, and he also loves treasure. He wields a sansetsukon (three-section staff) in battle, and as a note to his monkey motif, Word of God made it so it was akin to a monkey's tail whipping at something.
    • Warriors Orochi is also notable of his inclusion, especially in the English version, whereas his voice now literally sounds like Bugs Bunny trying to sound like a monkey. Eww...
      • In the Nobunaga's Ambition crossover with the Pokémon series, Pokémon Conquest, Hideyoshi appears with an Infernape (and through DLC Reshiram).
      • In all those games in the Japanese version after his second Warriors game appearance, he's subsequently portrayed by Hideo Ishikawa.
  • The Sengoku Basara series. Forget about scrawny monkey-like Hideyoshi and say hello to gorilla-sized Hideyoshi who fights with huge grappling gauntlets and solves all problems by punching them. Hard. If that fails, grab a nearby mook (usually a hostile one but friendly ones will do), then bludgeon the problem at hand with said mook. Instead of a Smug Snake, he becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist who'd do ruthless things to shape Japan into a strong nation. To put it simply, he's a Captain Ersatz of Raoh, with massive power shaped in the form of light.
    • Plus, he also is voiced by a seiyuu who does characters in the aforementioned Warriors franchisenote . That guy happens to be Ryoutarou Okiayu.
  • Hideyoshi is one of the main players in Hyouge Mono. He is a friend and fellow tea enthusiast of main character Sasuke, and is also a deft manipulator who conspires to overthrow Oda Nobunaga by turning his vassals and generals against him.
  • Hideyoshi is a teenager that meets Raimon 11 in Inazuma Eleven Go Chrono Stone after they traveled to the past. He idolizes Oda Nobunaga and wishes to fight by his side.
  • Nioh occurs after Hideyoshi has died, but his legacy is still referenced by historical characters: Kuroda Kanbei was imprisoned during his tyrannical rule, while he forced himself upon Tachibana Ginchiyo into an affair when her husband Muneshige was fighting for him during the Civil War. Finally, Ishida Mitsunari still continues to serve the Toyotomi clan as a vassal and leads their forces at the Battle of Sekigahara. For all his flaws, Mitsunari still saw values within Hideyoshi's dream to make Japan unified and strong. Also despite making Hideyoshi more tyrannical, Koei still had him not touching the Korean Campaign.
    • The prequel game in 2019, however, depicted Hideyoshi in his younger days and he was much more heroic before he ended up being a tyrant. Turns out, "Toyotomi Hideyoshi" is two people taking on the name, the first one is the default man himself, Kinoshita Tokichiro, who unfortunately suffered Demonic Possession by the game's Big Bad, Kashin Koji, and eventually committed all those tyrannical actions in his name. The other one is the protagonist of the game, Hide, who eventually fixes things and generally being more heroic. For a bonus, Naoto Takenaka (from the NHK Taigas above) serves as Ink-Suit Actor and voices him.
  • Nasuverse:
    • Fate/Koha-Ace: He doesn't appear, but he is mentioned as a hypothetical Servant, and Oda Nobunaga is a Servant who occasionally talks about him. He was later given a profile as a Saber class Servant. When summoned, he will start out as a child, but then his Noble Phantasm Child of the Sun will cause him to rapidly age into a powerful adult over the course of a week, and then into an elderly man the next week. This symbolizes his growth from a no-name farmer to one of the most important names in Japan, and also his rise as a no-name guy to the Ideal Hero that brought peace to Japan by unifying it at his peak (adult), but then decayed into the Fallen Hero that massacred Christians, ordered the disastrous Korean Campaign and killing his own family members for no reason as he got older and more senile.note  He also has Blade Taker: Sword Hunt, which gives him a chance to render his opponent's weapon useless and then at higher levels steal the weapon, and can summon the Sunomata Castle.
    • He is still The Ghost in Fate/Grand Order, but his liege lord Nobunaga and his second wife Chacha are playable characters in-game, with their characters colored by their perception of him. Furthermore, in the 3rd GUDAGUDA event, much of the motivations of that chapter's main villain (Akechi Mitsuhide) is colored by his resentment of being Always Second Best to Hideyoshi in Nobunaga's eyes. Also, Mitsuhide is convinced Nobunaga and/or Hideyoshi were in love with each other. And beforehand, in the 2nd GUDAGUDA event, while he personally did not appear, one Demon Pillar took his name (or just his title Taikou) and recreated his golden castle after capturing Chacha, enabling it to get a perception of Hideyoshi from her to make it happen. And in the 4th GUDAGUDA event, he's deliberately the target of hatred for Katsuie Shibata, who hates how Hideyoshi avenged Nobunaga before he could, rose to power in the vacuum left by her death, and can be linked to Chacha's later suffering in life.
    • Chibichuki!: In a parody, several characters reenact Momotarō and he plays Monkey.
  • In Ikemen Sengoku he is a love interest, and far from being a schemer, he's almost fanatically loyal to Nobunaga, to the point that the main character considers the latter a love rival. The reason for his loyalty is that he was born very poor, stated specifically by himself to have been sanka, and ultimately was treated so badly by the world he gave up on himself and became a petty thief. But when he tried to rob a young noble one day, that noble turned out to be Nobunaga, who handily disarmed him. Hideyoshi waited for death, not seeing his life worth anything, but was told by Nobunaga that class and caste differences were meaningless and that he strove to create a unified Japan where all people would be equal. So moved was Hideyoshi that he tracked him down to become his sandal-bearer and rose through the ranks to be his right-hand man. When the main character meets him, he is a reliable, friendly Team Mom who is beloved by the town for his good nature, but widely acknowledged as a bad romantic prospect, due to his willingness to throw his life away for Nobunaga at a moment's notice. Later in his route, the main character catches a glimpse of what the future will be if she leaves the time period to go back home, seeing Hideyoshi as a bloodthirsty, wealth-obsessed tyrant totally unlike the man she knows. She realises that's what the historical Hideyoshi was like, and that's who he will become if she allows him to continue his self-destructive path in the wake of Nobunaga's (apparent) death.


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