DATE, Masamune 1567-1636

The first Daimyo of Sendai Han in early Edo Period. Son of Date Terumune the lord of Komazawa castle in Dewa province. His birth name was Bontenmaru. Masamune joined the Toyotomi armies and by 1590 he was able to defeat a number of warriors. As a reward he received 58, 000 koku of land in Oshu province. Later he received more land in Omi and Hitachi provinces, which increased his total land holdings to 62,000 koku. After Toyotomi Hideyoshi's death he joined Tokugawa Ieyasu in the battle of Sekigahara. His letter to Ieyasu from the battlefield is one of the only clues to the size of armies in that battle. In 1601 he built a castle in Sendai and moved there.

According to legends Masamune was a fierce warrior, known for his mastery of warfare. In one of his battles, when an enemy arrow struck him in the eye, he pulled the arrow out and continued to fight. Naturally, he lost the eye and since then he placed a cover (often depicted as tsuba) on his eye. As attractive this legend may be, it is but a legend. Date Masamune lost his eyesight due to sickness or it was a birth defect. Regardless, his place in history as one of Japan's most important daimyo remains. In this portrait of Masamune the injured eye is exposed and is easily identified.