|Weapon Type:|| Spear (2)|
|Unit Type:|| Fierce (2)|
|First Appearance:||Samurai Warriors 2|
|Real name:|| |
|Japanese name:|| |
Saizō Kani is one of Masanori Fukushima's famed retainers. He gained renown at Sekigahara when he claimed the heads of seventeen enemy generals.
The Nobunaga no Yabou 201X poll for 3-star officers puts him in fifteenth place.
Role in GamesEdit
Throughout the Samurai Warriors series, Saizō appears as a minor general serving under the Oda and appearing during Nobunaga's campaigns. Samurai Warriors 3 has him additionally appear at Komaki-Nagakute and Sekigahara.
Kani Saizō was born in the Kani District in Mino. Nothing is known about his father, but he has one known brother, Sakubei. His father served and died for an extinct branch of the Asakura clan, and his mother was a concubine who fled from its destruction. His surname is widely believed to have been adopted from the place of his birth rather than any samurai heritage. Saizō spent his youth training at Gankōji and was taught traditional Japanese spearmanship. According to the temple records, he was taught by the monk Hōzōin Inei.
Throughout the majority of his early career, Saizō was an undecorated foot soldier. When he was 13, Saizō served under Saitō Tatsuoki. Saizō defected to the Oda forces and served under many generals such as Shibata Katsuie, Akechi Mitsuhide, Maeda Toshiie, and Oda Nobutaka.
Saizō had an unorthodox style with his cross spear. He opted to fight with a bamboo stalk sticking out of the pole slot normally reserved for standard war banners on his back. He did so because the bamboo leaves blinded his opponents from targeting his vital neck and gave him an opening to counterattack. His foe would be rewarded with a mouthful of leaves and a decapitated head. According to the tales, he became known as "Bamboo Saizō" (笹の才蔵, Sasa no Saizō) during the hunt for the Takeda. While Mori Nagayoshi brought back dozens of decapitated heads, Saizō brought back three and confirmed he had slain sixteen. He casually remarked that the thirteen other heads were too cumbersome to carry but stated that each had a bamboo leaf stuck in their mouths. The pun from his nickname plays on the alternate readings for bamboo and wine, stating that foes had their "last drink" if they faced Saizō.
His loyalties shifted to the Hashiba when Nobutaka was defeated by Hideyoshi, leading to his servitude to Hashiba Hidetsugu in 1583. It didn't last due to Hidetsugu's loss at Komaki-Nagakute. Stories vary on the exact details, but Saizō severely offended Hidetsugu once their side of the battle had turned sour. Saizō thought to flee at once, disregarding Hidetsugu's orders and refusing to lend his horse to his lord during the retreat. Hidetsugu allegedly never forgave the offense and Saizō did not return to him. He was briefly a wanderer until Sassa Narimasa recognized his potential and admitted him into his service.
Narimasa died in 1588, but by this time Fukushima Masanori knew of him and chose to hire him with a fief of 750 koku. Saizō became a formal samurai and lord of Iyo by 1589; he would continue to serve the Fukushima clan for the rest of his days. Since he treasured his men and was a perfectionist for form, he was popular with those who knew him. He particularly favored talented warriors and was known to foster them under his jurisdiction.
A year later he assisted the siege of Odawara and joined the assault against Hōjō Ujinori. His performance during battle granted him recognition with the reputed generals of the battle, although many were not familiar with his name. As one of Masanori's spearhead captains for the campaign in 1600, he fought at Gifu Castle and Sekigahara. Saizō personally claimed a total of twenty heads from these battles, the highest number from any single officer from the campaign. The seventeen he took at Sekigahara received personal praise from Ieyasu. Masanori rewarded him an approximate 1,250 koku for the deed.
Saizō's mental health began to fail soon after the battle and he apparently became senile in his later years. He would ride on a horse for his outings and carry a long polearm (naginata) with him at all times. Though apparently jovial in his aimless patrols, he turned hostile if someone tried to take his belongings away from him. Masanori had him relocated for a complementary retirement in the Hiroshima Domain. According to Okinagusa, Saizō was a firm believer of the deity Atago Gongen and foretold that he would die on Atago Gongen's holiday. True to his word, he did when he was 60. When the time came, Saizō died dressed in full armor and gave wishes to be buried while wearing it.