Yasuke (弥助 or 彌介) is the given name of a foreign page who once served Nobunaga Oda until the latter's untimely death. His exotic appearance was said to have caused a huge stir among the Japanese wherever he went.
Role in GamesEdit
Yasuke is a minor Oda vassal who originally appeared in earlier titles of the Nobunaga's Ambition series before returning in Sphere of Influence as a downloadable character. Lacking in leadership and influence, his only redeeming traits are his high bravery and loyalty stats.
A native of Africa, Yasuke (1556 - ?) was initially a servant of Italian Jesuit Alessandro Valignano who had been appointed as Visitor of Missions in the Indies. Not much is written about his background, but several historical documents claim he originated from Mozambique or the Congo. Both the Shinchō kōki and one of Ietada Matsudaira's journal entries describe him as a tall vigorous man in his late twenties with deep black skin; the latter source specifically records his height as 188 cm (6'2").
In 1579, he accompanied his master to the capital of Japan where his presence drew much attention from the public. It was said that several people crushed themselves to death while struggling to take a good look at him. When Nobunaga heard of this, he immediately requested to see the man for himself. Unwilling to believe his dark skin was natural, the warlord ordered his men to scrub the man's body until it shined, proving him wrong.
From that point on, Nobunaga's fascination towards the servant only grew as they interacted with one another. Yasuke's physical strength and limited understanding of the Japanese language impressed Nobunaga so much that he wanted to make him an honorary samurai, though others believed the warlord's favor would have made him a daimyō instead. Valignano consented to this arrangement and left his page to the Oda clan. According to an early version of the Shinchō kōki, Yasuke was given his own sword, a home, and even became Nobunaga's personal spear bearer.
When his lord was killed by Mitsuhide's forces at Honnōji, Yasuke went to Nobutada's side and tried to escort him to Nijō Castle. Unfortunately, their party had been ambushed by Akechi troops halfway throughout the journey. Although Yasuke fought bravely to protect Nobutada, he was eventually captured and forced to surrender his sword to the enemy. In response to this, his captors were ordered to send him back to Nanbanji Temple at Kyoto where the Jesuits resided. It is widely believed that Mitsuhide spared him because he did not acknowledge the servant as a proper samurai, though other sources allege that he did so out of admiration for his courage. Either way, Yasuke was never heard from again. A recent investigation done by the TV series Hitachi Sekai Fushigi Hakken suggests that he was originally a Makua called Yasufe who went back to his homeland and introduced kimonos to the locals.