3 samurai who broke the mould

09 Nov 2018 in Discover Japan

Not all samurai were grizzled Japanese men. Discover 3 warriors unlike any others!


Yasuke: the first black samurai

In the late 16th century, an African man arrived in Japan as a slave to an Italian Jesuit. Within a few years, he was a samurai!


It’s thought that Kurusan Yasuke was from Mozambique. Unsurprisingly, his imposing physique and dark skin made an immediate impression on the Japanese. Before long, the feudal lord Oda Nobunaga had taken him on as a warrior.


Little is known of Yasuke’s final years, but his story is celebrated in the popular children’s fiction, Kuro-suke.

Tomoe Gozen: Japan’s most famous female warrior

A heroine of folklore and popular stories, Tomoe Gozen was a 12th-century onna-bugeisha, often dubbed “female samurai”. She is believed to have fought in the 5-year Genpei War and was reputed a fierce warrior, excellent archer and skilled rider.


Tomoe continues to inspire today with recent reincarnations in manga, novels and video games.

William Adams: a British samurai

Best known as “Anjin”, meaning pilot in Japanese, William Adams was a British navigation officer who settled in Japan after his ship was hit by storms in 1600.



He became a close advisor to the shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, eventually becoming one of the very first Western samurai.

Adams’s story is celebrated at Hoshino Resorts KAI Anjin in the town of Ito, where he oversaw the construction of the first Western-style sailing vessel in Japan.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Anjin:





Photo credits:


Yasuke, el esclavo africano que llegó a ser samurái


Shisa in Japan

Shisa, Okinawa’s guardian statue

16 Sep 2016 in Discover Japan

Discover the legend of Shisa, the half-lion, half-dog statue that decorates rooftops in Okinawa, protecting inhabitants from evil spirits... Read more


Kagura: Gods and eight-headed serpents

08 Jun 2018 in Discover Japan

It’s stylized, spectacular and a huge amount of fun. Find out where you can catch a kagura performance! Read more


4 things Japan does better

13 Dec 2017 in Discover Japan

Ever noticed how the Japanese do things differently – and often better? Discover our list of what they do best! Read more



Understanding Japan’s drinking culture

27 Mar 2019 in Discover Japan

Master the rules of Japanese drinking etiquette with an insider bar tour! Read more

Sanshin instrument

Sanshin, the banjo from Okinawa

07 Oct 2016 in Discover Japan

Have you ever heard about sanshin, this unique traditional Japanese 3 strings banjo ? Read more


Gion Matsuri: Kyoto’s famed month-long festival

07 Jul 2017 in Discover Japan

All July, Kyoto goes into festival mode! With giant floats, great food and sprawling street parties, Gion Matsuri is an event to put on your wish list. Read more

most popular articles