Yukimura Sanada2
Yukimura Sanada
Personal Information
Born: 1567
Place of Birth: Shinano province
Died: June 3, 1615
Cause of Death: Slain in the Siege of Osaka Castle
Place of Death: Siege of Osaka Castle
Style name: 真田 左衛門佐 幸村
Served: Sanada
Participation(s): Siege of Ueda Castle (1600)
Siege of Osaka Castle

Yukimura Sanada was the youngest son of Masayuki Sanada and one of the most famous personages of the Sengoku era.



Yukimura was the second son of Masayuki Sanada.[1] He was the brother of Nobuyuki Sanada.[2] His wife was Akihime (Chikurin-in), daughter of Yoshitsugu Ōtani and Hideyoshi Toyotomi's adopted daughter.

Serving the ToyotomiEdit

In 1585 a quarrel between his father Masayuki and Ujimasa Hojo over Numata castle came to a head, and Ieyasu Tokugawa made plans to attack the Sanada castle of Ueda. In response, Masayuki made overtures to Kagekatsu Uesugi of Echigo province and sent Yukimura as a hostage, where he was placed under the watchful eye of Uesugi general Mitsuchika Suda. A letter of from him dated 8/29 mentions Yukimura's arrival and says that in return, a force had been sent to aid the Sanada in their struggle against the Tokugawa. Ieyasu's attack on Ueda Castle ended in utter failure. Towards the end of the year Masayuki made overtures to Hideyoshi Toyotomi, guaranteeing a quick end to the quarrel with Ieyasu. Perhaps one result of submitting to Hideyoshi was that Yukimura was able to leave the Uesugi, who had also pledged allegiance to Hideyoshi.[3] When Masayuki finally submitted to Ieyasu after 1586, Yukimura's elder brother Nobuyuki was sent as a hostage to Hamamatsu. Nobuyuki married the daughter of Tadakatsu Honda and went on to serve Ieyasu. This move meant that the family was split in two.[4]

Yukimura served under Hideyoshi and married the daughter of a senior Toyotomi retainer Yoshitsugu Otani. In 1594 on the orders of Hideyoshi, Yukimura, along with his father and older brother, was ordered to provide men for the construction of Fushimi castle. Yukimura was a younger son, and he had still younger brothers, but the fact that he was named along with Nobuyuki shows his importance in the clan.[5]

In 1600, in the prelude to the Battle of Sekigahara, the Sanada clan, now allies of the Tokugawa, began their advance against the Uesugi. However, Mitsunari Ishida orchestrated an indictment against Ieyasu on 13 charges that was endorsed by three of the bugyo regents ruling on behalf of the Hideyoshi’s heir, the child Hideyori Toyotomi. With Ieyasu effectively named an enemy of the state, Mitsunari issued an invitation to the Sanada to rethink their current support for Ieyasu and join the Western, anti-Tokugawa coalition. Faced with a complex dilemma on the eve of an all or nothing struggle between Ieyasu and Mitsunari’s coalition, Masayuki complied with Mitsunari’s wishes and immediately withdrew his forces from the field and returned to Ueda, taking Yukimura with him. He left his older son Nobuyuki with Ieyasu, presumably to make sure that the clan would survive no matter which side, East or West, won. This was not an unusual move in Japan. When word of Masayuki’s change of allegiance reached Ieyasu, he promptly told Nobuyuki he would be given his father's land.[6] Yukimura, who stayed loyal to the memory of Hideyoshi, defended Ueda Castle in 1600 against Hidetada Tokugawa. Although this was a victory, the overall defeat at Sekigahara meant that, in the great shake-up of daimyo domains that followed, the Sanada fief was awarded to Nobuyuki, and Yukimura was compelled to shave his head and become a monk on Koyasan[7]along with his father Masayuki.[8]

A number of letters from Yukimura's time in Kudoyama exist, written to his brother or family retainers. Among other things, he said he was learning and enjoying renga, linked poems composed in turn in a group, though it was difficult as he had started late. His father Masayuki died in Kudoyama in 1611.[9]

Yukimura was there when Hideyori's call to arms was issued. Yukimura effected an escape, and joined in a final attempt to challenge the Tokugawa, while his brother Nobuyuki saw ordered by Ieyasu to stay away from Kansai. At Osaka Yukimura Sanada, ably assisted by his son Yukimasa(Daisuke) Sanada, became Hideyori's most reliable and gifted commander.[10]Yukimura then constructed the forward earthwork barbican called the Sanara-maru a key defensive structure that repelled many attacks during the winter and easily defended it against all oncoming attacks with his detatchment of 7000 troops. The Sanada detachment then preceeded to counterattack and broke through enemy lines three times, decimating the armies of Toshitsune Maeda, Naotaka Ii and his "Red Devils"(who were completely annihilated), Tadanao Matsudaira, Shigemasa Matsukura, Takatora Todo, among others. To stop this, Ieyasu used his superior artillery (including 17 imported European cannons and 300 domestic wrought iron cannons) as well as men to dig under the walls. Frustrated by this, Ieyasu immediately constructed storehouses and equipment sheds for a protracted siege. He then set a man with the intention of bribing Yukimura to leave the battle by giving him ownership of the entire Provence of Shinano, his homeland. Yukimura immediately rejected it, and published the decree for everyone to see, showing the troops of Osaka Castle that he couldnt be bought and his will was ironclad. On 22 January the Winter Siege was ended, with Toyotomi Hideyori pledging to not rise in rebellion. The walls of the outer layer defenses were torn down, and the outer moat of Osaka castle was allowed to be filled in. (last paragraph borrowed from Wikipedia)


In the Summer Siege of Osaka Castle Nizaemon Nishio, Yukimura's detachment setup on Chausuyama. A day after fierce and intense fighting on the field with Masamune Date. Immediately they were set upon Tadanao Matsudaira (Ieyasu's relative)(Ieyasu's real last name is Matsudaira not Tokugawa) and broke through his line then preceeded to charge into the far-side camp of Tokugawa Ieyasu. The battle immedietaly threw the Tokugawa camp into chaos as well as the entire siege because the horse flag bearer was killed almost immediately. Ultimately, Yukimura's troop was annihilated by the panicked response and an exhausted Yukimura screamed out, "I am Nobushige Sanada, no doubt a worthy adversary of you, so come on and take my head. A Tokugawa samurai, recognized Yukimura cut off his head.




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  1. Samurai Archives, Sanada Yukimura
  2. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull pg.76
  3. Samurai Archives, Sanada Yukimura
  4. Osprey - campaign 170 - Osaka 1615 - The last battle of the Samurai pgs.19,20
  5. Samurai Archives, Sanada Yukimura
  6. Samurai Archives, Sanada Yukimura
  7. Osprey - campaign 170 - Osaka 1615 - The last battle of the Samurai pg.20
  8. Samurai Archives, Sanada Yukimura
  9. Samurai Archives, Sanada Yukimura
  10. Osprey - campaign 170 - Osaka 1615 - The last battle of the Samurai pg.20