Yasuke, the only African samurai

lead-yasuke987

One of the best-known non-Japanese samurais was the 16th-century African slave who went by the name of Yasuke. He was reportedly the first African man to come to Japan, and because of his origin, many people gathered around him after he arrived to take a closer look.

Yasuke was in the service of the Italian Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, the man appointed to inspect the Jesuit missions in the Indies. Later, he was made a samurai by the ruler and hegemon Oda Nobunaga, who wanted Yasuke as his bodyguard. The Japanese were so unused to Africans, the warlord ordered him to take off his clothes to have servants try to wash out the “black ink” from his skin.

Continue reading