481 years ago, on this date of March 17, a legendary warlord was born. Today, we all know him as Hideyoshi Toyotomi. His legacy lives on through his heart warming story and his words. On his birthday, I would like to talk a little bit about both.
Hideyoshi, as a child (he wasn’t called Hideyoshi then) was a waif, a peasant wanderer in search of adventure. At age 11, he strayed into the Oda clan, lords of Owari Province (roughly modern Fukui Prefecture). He served as “sandal-bearer” to the clan head, Oda Nobunaga (1534-82). Hideyoshi was one of the three great unifiers of Japan, along with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Hideyoshi-samas story is a typical ‘humble-to-hero’ story. But the path to success varies for everyone. And especially for someone surviving in the Sengoku Jidai (Era of the Warring States), success isn’t as easy.
As we’ve seen in the above story, Hideyoshi started off as a nobody. He wasn’t even ‘Hideyoshi’ at that time. He wandered from province to province, meeting new people, surviving alone.
Being in the upper echelon of the Oda prowess also wasn’t easy. Initially, he was just a ‘sandal-bearer’. From there, after gaining the trust of all his comrades and his Lord, Hideyoshi became one of the most trusted vassal of Oda Nobunaga.
And in my view, Nobunaga-sama is someone who is not very easy to please. This thought comes from the English translation of a Japanese poem, which Japanese children are taught to recite. It perfectly sums up the ideologies and personalities of the three great unifiers of Japan.
Refers to Oda Nobunaga-“If the cuckoo does not sing, kill it”
Refers to Hideyoshi- “If the cuckcoo doesn’t sing, coax it”.
Refers to Tokugawa Ieyasu- “If the cuckoo doesn’t sing, wait for it”.
Thus, you can understand where my perception comes from. Nobunaga seems very impatient. It’s his either his way, or a dead end. Gaining trust from Nobunaga is a feat in itself.
Hideyoshi had a way with words. We can understand this when he says, “Coax the bird”.
And Ieyasu seems like a very patient man.
Technically, I’ve noticed one thing, Nobunaga is at one side of the extremity and Ieyasu is at the other. Hideyoshi is like the balance between the two. A linking of two ideologies.
And now, I’ll talk about my favourite quote by Hideyoshi-sama :
Super resembling, isn’t it? The reason I love this quote is because it encompasses the essence of who ‘Hideyoshi’ actually is. These words sum up his entire life.
A peasant wanderer ➡ sandal bearer ➡ trusted vassal of Nobunaga ➡ one of the great unifiers of Japan.
But between these arrows, there is a long story to tell. A story of failures. A story of hurt, love, disappointment, trust and victory.
Hideyoshi is inspirational. He makes us realise that efforts are the only means to the end of success.
If privileged people are born with greatness, then there are people who achieve greatness.
Don’t lament if you are not privileged with the genius of intellect or luck. Work your way right up to the pinnacle.
Today, Hideyoshi’s name is spoken in tandem with Nobunaga and Tokugawa. It’s all because of the sheer effort that he put in. Even after 400+ years, we speak about him and hail him. Because he deserves it.
He set off alone on a journey. Years later, under Nobunaga’s leadership, he commanded troops during war.
Isn’t it just so awesome that how people can surpass their own social crises thorough perseverance?
If he can do it, so can we. In our own little ways. Everyone has a spark, you only need a little instigation to amplify it into an inferno of success.
I absolutely adore Hideyoshi for his hardwork and his interesting story. In fact, I’m (hopefully) planning to read this historic fiction, ‘Taiko : An Epic Novel of War and Glory in Feudal Japan’ in my summer vacation!
The novel traces the life of Hideyoshi from his childhood, fact mixed with fiction. Interesting, right? As a budding fan of Japanese history, this is going to be a perfect summer treat.
You can read the synopsis, some reviews and also check out a few preview pages here.
Thank you for checking out this blog! Do tell me your views!
Happy Birthday Hideyoshi!❤