During the Warring States period, the Sengoku Jidai, when many heroes rose and even more heroes fell, the samurai Kasabuke Daihatsu served the noble daimyō Matsumura-Tamarubuchi. Never far from his daimyō‘s side, Kasabuke was sworn by a blood oath to never let a single drop of rain touch Matsumura-Tamarubuchi. As an umbrella-bearer, he was perhaps the most important member of the daimyō‘s retinue, and as was often the case in those days, many conspired to wet him.

Though Kasabuke would be spared the fate of the umbrella-bearer Matsuoka Akira, who was famously torn apart by wild dogs for plotting to spill tea on Oda Nobunaga, he nevertheless was unable to perform his duty. By treachery, an enemy of Matsumura-Tamarubuchi was able to divert the daimyō into the famous Ame Pass and trap him there during a rainstorm. Drawing his kumbrellatana and his smaller umbrella-to–which could not be returned to their scabbards without being wetted–Kasabuke protected his daimyō from every drop of the ferocious storm. But an enemy umbrella-bearer, sent by the shadowy daimyō Shiame, attacked at that very moment.

The contest was an epic one, the sound of bamboo on bamboo echoing from the mountainside for many hours. But in time, Kasabuke tired and the assassin was able to deflect his aim just enough that a single drop of rain touched the hem of the daimyō‘s kimono.

His honor stained, his master wet, Kasabuke was a broken man–until he swore vengeance. He would not rest until Shiame was not only wet but soaking, and his quest would resound through five hundred years of Japanese history as that of the Umbrella Samurai.

Inspired by this.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Early in the Ashikaga shogunate, a samurai known as Sōtan who had performed exceptionally well in the recent civil wars was summoned from his daimyo’s side to the Imperial court at Kyoto. Sōtan had fought furiously against Emperor Daigo’s forces during the Kemmu Restoration, and personally thought it odd that he would be summoned by that same emperor’s son, now a powerless young figurehead under the rule of the shogun. But, bound by duty, he went anyway.

Sōtan was not allowed to view the Chrysanthemum Throne, but was instead received in an antechamber and given a letter with the Imperial seal, along with a small lacquered box sealed with pitch. The Emperor wrote that, shortly before his father Emperor Daigo’s death, he had given the box to his son with the warning that it contained a “wayze,” a word which neither the new Emperor nor Sōtan knew. Whatever the “wayze” was, it had been found by the Hōjō clan during their rule and reclaimed by Daigo when he attempted to return power to the Emperor.

Sōtan found himself cleverly retained by Daigo’s son: having been commanded by his daimyo, who must have thought the mission a trifling one, to do as the Emperor bid, he was duty-bound to carry out the mission. The Emperor had turned one of his father’s fiercest adversaries into an ally.

His mission? Destroy the “wayze” by any means necessary–short of opening it.