6 Japanese Historical Figures We Want To See In Assassin’s Creed Shadows

6 Japanese Historical Figures We Want To See In Assassin’s Creed Shadows

Assassin’s Creed Shadows is set to launch this November, bringing the much-requested Feudal-era Japan to life in the iconic historically inspired franchise. Alongside the cinematic reveal trailer, the newest protagonists were announced: Naoe, a skilled Shinobi, and Yasuke, an African samurai based on a real-life historical person – a franchise first for Ubisoft, who has generally relegated iconic historical figures to side characters in their Assassin’s Creed games.

With Assassin’s Creed Shadows taking place more specifically in the Azuchi-Momoyama period, nestled between the civil war-torn Sengoku and more stable Edo periods, there’s a whole lot of rich Japanese history for the game to delve into when it releases later this year. As with any Assassin’s Creed title, we’re usually treated to encountering a whole range of famous faces from history – and there’s plenty we want to see make their own appearance in Assassin’s Creed Shadows. We’ve rounded up six historical figures we want to see in the game, taking a look back over 450 years to the iconic people who made history in 16th-century Japan. Given the game has been confirmed to begin from 1579 onwards, we’ve delved into the figures that were active in Japanese society at the time of the game’s setting, and how they could find their way into the game’s story. Characters that are already confirmed, including Oda Nobunaga, haven’t been included. 

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

6 Historical Figures We Want To See In Assassin's Creed Shadows
Image: Kanō Mitsunobu

One of the most influential historical figures in Japan, feudal lord and chief Imperial minister Toyotomi Hideyoshi was known as the second Great Unifier of Japan after Oda Nobunaga. Born a peasant, he served as a local ruler before coming under the employ of Nobunaga, being promoted to a samurai before long. Hideyoshi fought in many iconic battles during the period, becoming the lord of Nagahama after overthrowing two daimyo. He succeeded Nobunaga and continued his goal of unification after his death, and became kampaku (chancellor to the emperor) in 1585, then chief minister after that. Hideyoshi is known for his influential legacy in Japan, and is a central figure during the period in which Assassin’s Creed Shadows is set to take place. Given his proximity to Nobunaga prior to his death, it’s possible he could appear in Yasuke’s story quite prominently as the two may have become samurai around a similar time period. Whether he would be portrayed as a friend or foe isn’t clear, though – given Nobunaga’s destruction of Naoe’s home, he’s likely to be a foe in at least some regard should he feature in the game.

Emperor Ōgimachi

Emperor Ōgimachi was the 106th Emperor of Japan, reigning from 1557 until December 1586, when he abdicated. Ōgimachi and the Imperial Court were aligned with Oda Nobunaga after the daimyo’s arrival in Kyoto – it was under his rule that Japan was ushered into the Azuchi-Momoyama period and the political, financial, and cultural decline of Japan began to recover, mostly thanks to Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s reunification efforts. It’s said that around 1573, the daimyo began to demand the emperor abdicate (although he refused to do so at the time), so it’s possible that we could see the changing relationship between the two unfold throughout the events of Assassin’s Creed Shadows should he make an appearance.

Ishikawa Goemon

6 Historical Figures We Want To See In Assassin's Creed Shadows
Bandō Mitsugorō III playing the role of Ishikawa Goemon in the kabuki drama Sanmon Gosan no Kiri, which was staged in 1820 at the Nakamura-za theater. Image: Utagawa Toyokuni I

Ishikawa Goemon is described as a legendary Japanese folk hero, so his exact origins and exploits are speculated on by many historians (Boye Lafayette De Mente, Everything Japanese, McGraw-Hill, 1989). However, from what we do know – both from legend and fact – he was an outlaw who stole gold and other valuables to give to the poor, Robin Hood style. He and his said are said to have been boiled alive in a public execution in 1594, supposedly after a failed assassination attempt on Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but his deeds prior to his death live on in Japanese popular culture where he is sometimes exaggerated as a skilled ninja. 

Given Goemon was born around 1558, that would make him around 19 years old at the beginning of Assassin’s Creed Shadows – a prime time for his story to take off. He could quite easily be woven into the story of the Assassins or the Shinobi, or operate independently as a character Naoe and Yasuke run into throughout their journey.

Komatsuhime

Komatsuhime, born in 1573 (died in 1620), was a female warrior during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, and the daughter of Honda Tadakatsu before being adopted by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Described as a skilled fighter, she would only have been a child when the events of Assassin’s Creed Shadows begin. While we don’t yet know how many in-game years the story will span, it’s possible we could see her as an adult warrior should the game cover a decent chunk of late 16th-century Japanese history – given her familial and adoptive ties; she could possibly feature in the story as a child before coming into her own as a warrior, though.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

6 Historical Figures We Want To See In Assassin's Creed Shadows
Image: Kanō Tan’yū

Tokugawa Ieyasu was Oda Nobunaga’s successor alongside Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and unlike Hideyoshi, was born into a samurai family before his rise to power. Ieyasu is known for his military prowess, political strategy, and creation of a new centralised government – he was the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate – which was controlled by his family until the late 19th century. We could see Ieyasu in Assassin’s Creed Shadows alongside Nobunaga himself, or if the game spans multiple years could see him in the beginnings of the Tokugawa expansion – either way, given his ties and prominence in Japanese history, it’s likely he’ll feature (or should feature) in some way throughout Naoe and Yasuke’s story.

Oeyo

Oeyo was a prominent woman in the Azuchi-Momoyama period, rising to political prominence during the Tokugawa shogunate alongside her sisters in maintaining a diplomatic relationship between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa clans. She had multiple high-profile marriages, including to Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s nephew and Tokugawa Hidetada – the second Tokugawa shogun. While, much like Komatsuhime, Oeyo was a child around the time when Assassin’s Creed Shadows is set to begin, we could see her story beginning – she and her sisters came under the care of Nobunaga’s uncle in 1582 and lived in Gifu castle before her mother married one of Nobunaga’s retainers.


Given how rich and documented this era of Japanese history is, there are plenty more historical figures that could make an appearance in Assassin’s Creed Shadows in one way or another. Are there any you’d like to see when the game launches in November? Let us know in the comments.

Image: Ubisoft / Kotaku Australia


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