The Black Samurai Yasuke: A Story of Valour. Was He Real?

The anime Yasuke has made a great entrance to the curated list of Netflix’s original anime. The Yasuke anime has been creating ripples in the anime community and also in other circles. The premise of the anime is refreshingly unique and would give a better picture of the Samurai culture in Japan.


Yasuke anime narrates the story of a Samurai of African origin who retreats into self-enforced exile after the fall of his Lord (or daimyo) Oda Nobunaga. However, he has to end his self-enforced exile after he’s obligated to protect a sick girl with magical abilities. 

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The aspect about Yasuke that has intrigued many people is about whether Yasuke is indeed a historical or a fictional figure. Many fans are highly interested to know more about it. Thus, in this article, we’ll be giving you the details of this figure, Yasuke and the story of his life, embedded in the politics of that time.


Where did Yasuke come from? How did he become a Samurai?

It’s still unknown which African country Yasuke came from. He arrived on the shores of Japan in 1579 along with a Jesuit priest, Alessandro Valignano, during the Sengoku period of the Samurai conflict. It’s quite likely that he was a bodyguard for the Jesuit. 


During this time, the feudal Lord Oda Nobunaga was in power and it was under him that Yasuke served as a Samurai. It was also during this period that Oda Nobunaga was unifying the entire country of Japan. 


Yasuke’s first encounter with Nobunaga in 1581 was interesting as Nobunaga couldn’t believe that people could have black skin. Nobunaga thought it was due to dirt that he had black skin and ordered it scrubbed.

There are some theories that Yasuke was a slave brought from Africa to India. However, there are disagreements to this theory, stating that he did have his agency intact though he was likely a slave. 


Yasuke had an impressive and intimidating height of 6 feet and had immense strength similar to the total strength of tons of men. This fact made a strong impression on Nobunaga, who then made him a trusted confidant in his ranks.

Was Yasuke Indeed the First Black Samurai?

Historians say that there are several records of African men serving under some Japanese Lords. However, most of them weren’t recorded properly or sometimes, erased out of existence. That simply means that Yasuke was the first one, among many foreigners, to be recorded in books and historical records.


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