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In Echigo in the third year of Eiroku (1560), Kanetsugu was born as the eldest son of Higuchi Souemon, vassal of Nagao Masakage lord of Sakado Castle, and Ofuji. His childhood name was Yoroku, his younger brother is Yoshichi, and his younger sister is Kita. When he was 5 years old, he fascinated Sentouin, Kenshin’s elder sister and served as Kagekatsu’s pageboy at Untouan. Kenshin was also charmed by his talent. This was the start of the master and subordinate relationship between Kanetsugu and Kagekatsu. After Kenshin’s death, Kagekatsu won the succession race against Kagetora and exercised Kanetsugu’s talent as his lord. Even Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu admired that talent and at the same time feared it. Throughout his life, Kanetsugu was guided by the honour and love forgotten by the Japanese of the present generation.

Tsumabuki Satoshi as Naoe Kanetsugu
Bright and cheerful with a strong sense of honour. He devoted his life to serve Uesugi Kagekatsu. He is famous for his good looks and the crest of the word “love” on his helmet. This loyal vassal was a conspicuous presence in the Sengoku period. Grateful all his life to Kagekatsu who appreciated him despite his lowly birth, Kanetsugu was strongly opposed to the view that a person’s worth is determined by his birth and wealth. Under Kenshin’s tutelage, Kanetsugu together with Kagekatsu inherited his spirit of honour and love of the people. He is a commander famed for his wisdom and courage.

Tokiwa Takako as Osen
The daughter of Naoe Kagetsuna, lord of Yoita Castle, and Kanetsugu’s cousin. Because the Naoe family has no son, she marries at the wishes of her parents to secure a successor. But her husband dies in the “Otate no Ran”, the battle to inherit the Uesugi clan after Kenshin’s death. Later, at the wishes of Kagekatsu, Kanetsugu marries into the Naoe family. She has the dignified personality of someone raised in the harsh climate of Echigo. She is strong-willed and has a firm character but sometimes wields this against Kanetsugu. Quick-witted, she supports Kanetsugu as his wife and strategist.

Abe Hiroshi as Uesugi Kenshin
Called the “Dragon of Echigo”, he was one of the best tacticians during the Sengoku period. He exuded devastating charisma in military affairs but, on the other hand, was well versed in waka, and had a sensitive and naive side too. Kenshin was born the youngest child of Nagao Tamekage, the protector of Echigo. He wasn’t originally in the position to take over as the head of the family but became the heir in place of his older brother who was in poor health. In a rare gesture during the Sengoku period, Kenshin chose to let “honour” and not “interest” guide his actions. That stance meant to completely cast aside all self-interests. It is said that his vassals didn’t complain a word about wars that didn’t serve interests and obeyed because they had a firm belief in upholding honour.

Kitamura Kazuki as Uesugi Kagekatsu
Kanetsugu’s lord. Born the second son of Nagao Masakage, the head of the Ueda Nagao clan of Echigo, he was adopted by his younger uncle, Uesugi Kenshin, and became the head of the Uesugi clan. In contrast to Kanetsugu, he projects an extremely taciturn and difficult personality. He is always self-possessed and makes good judgments, and this demeanour remains consistent even during the chaos of the Sengoku period. Because he has been playing with Kanetsugu since his childhood, their bond is more than that of lord and vassal. He also plays the role of the person who restrains the clever Kanetsugu who sometimes pushes things too far.

Tamayama Tetsuji as Uesugi Kagetora
Born as the seventh son of Hojo Ujiyasu but he was passed around repeated from family to family as a ‘hostage’ of the Hojo family from young. He was blessed with good looks and wisdom but because of his resentment at being repeatedly tossed about as a political tool, he grew distrustful of people. However, in the first year of the Genki era (1570), he was warmly received by Kenshin when he was sent to the Uesugi household following the conclusion of the Etsuso alliance. Welcomed as an adopted child, he gained a place where he could have safe refuge for the first time in his life. But the “Otate no Ran”, a fight for inheritance, broke out between Kagekatsu and himself when Kenshin died without a will. Kagetora, who did not have relatives and hereditary vassals to depend on, died a bitter death in this fight.

Koizumi Kotaro as Higuchi Yoshichi
Kanetsugu’s younger brother and the second son of Higuchi Souemon. Later Okuni Saneyori. He was raised with his parents until his coming-of-age ceremony. As he grew up, he became aware that he iss the person to protect his family. He admires his older brother, Kanetsugu, and they both support Kagekatsu but he gradually develops a sense of rivalry and makes a life for himself as a warrior. He later becomes the adopted son of Okuni Shigeyori and succeeds as the head of the Okuni clan. Afterwards, he changes his name to Okuni Saneyori at the orders of his ruler.

Oguri Shun as Ishida Mitsunari
He served as a pageboy since young and is Hideyoshi’s close aide. He is the same age as Kanetsugu. He is very loyal to his lord, and because they both shared a deep sense of honour, they were good friends throughout his lifetime. He is capable as an administrative official but he has little experience in actual combat and because he is too serious and honest, this earned him the envy of many vassals belonging to the military faction. This discord brought about the battle of Sekigahara. In the battle, the man who risked his life to fight for a cause as the feudal lords of the western forces went over to the eastern forces, didn’t lose his own honour to the very end. In his personal life, he was a genial man who took good care of his wife and children but he was also secretly fascinated by Hatsune.

Shirota Yu as Sanada Yukimura
He supported the western forces in the battle of Sekigahara and drew Tokugawa Hidetada’s eastern forces which were rushing to Sekigahara to Ueda Castle so they were late in arriving at the battlefield. He’s also a brilliant general who came close to routing Ieyasu’s troops in the Seige of Osaka when he joined the side of the Toyotomi. He adores Kanetsugu as an older brother. He had been forced to live the life of a hostage since young but only Kagekatsu and Kanetsugu treated him as an equal. This left a deep impression in Yukimura, and even after he left the Uesugi household, he didn’t forget their kindness as he grew up. He is gentle, persevering and composed. One reason behind this is the profound influence that Kanetsugu and Kagekatsu had on him.

Kamiji Yusuke as Kobayakawa Hideaki
Born as the fifth son of Kinoshita Iesada, Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s brother-in-law. He became Hideyoshi’s adopted son and called himself Hashiba Hidetoshi. He later entered the Kobayakawa family as Kobayakawa Takakage’s adopted son and changed his name to Hideaki. He inherited the dominion of Takakage, his adoptive father, after he retired, and became the lord of Najima Castle. He joined the western forces in the battle of Sekigahara but decided to support the eastern forces midway through the battle. He was a key figure in the assault on the western forces and the crushing victory of the eastern forces. Following this distinguished war service, he gained Bizen and Mimasaka for 550,000 koku and became the lord of Okayama Castle.

Sasano Takashi as Toyotomi Hideyoshi
He succeeded Nobunaga and unified the whole country. He built Osaka Castle after that and was appointed the chief advisor to the emperor and chancellor of the realm. Hideyoshi was good at forging personal relationships, but as he became the lord of the realm, he found only sycophants by his side. Constantly fearful of being betrayed, he envied the genuine master and subordinate relationship between Kanetsugu and Kagekatsu that wasn’t based on personal interests, and tried to lure Kanetsugu away.

Fukada Kyoko as Yodo
Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s concubine and the niece of Oda Nobunaga. In 1589, she gave birth to Sute (Tsurumatsu) and an elated Hideyoshi gave her Yodo Castle as a gift. Thereafter, she was called Lady Yodo. In 1593, she gave birth to Hiroi (Hideyori). After Hideyoshi’s death, she was the Kitamandokoro and as Hideyori’s guardian, wielded the real power in the Toyotomi household. She clashed with Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had started to build up a military government, following the battle of Sekigahara. In the summer campaign of the Seige of Osaka, the Toyotomi urged their soldiers to fight vigorously but were completely defeated by the Tokugawa’s might. She committed suicide with Hideyori with the fall of Osaka Castle.

Nagasawa Masami as Hatsune
Sanada Yukimura’s younger sister and a ninja. She comes and goes freely through the country border and is even aware of the situation in foreign countries faraway. In the beginning, she served Nobunaga but because she later decides who to side after reading the state of world affairs, the country will certainly follow where Hatsune goes. Innocent and naive, she likes things that are new and novel and is a simple and lovely girl but she also has a cruel side where she will quickly cast away things that she has no interest in. She originally made contact with Kanetsugu out of mere curiosity but she became unconsciously drawn to his righteousness.

Aibu Saki as Hanahime
Kagekatsu’s younger sister. She is innocent and naive but is single-minded just like her taciturn older brother. She and Naoe Kanetsugu, who is the same age, are like childhood friends. She fell in love with Kagetora, who was sent by the Hojo family as a “hostage”. Because of her wholehearted gentleness and warmth, she opened Kagetora’s heart and they became husband and wife. She was placed in an extremely awkward position in the “Otate no Ran” where her beloved husband and the brother she respected were enemies.

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About jadefrost

This blog contains information and musings on current and upcoming Japanese dramas but is not intended to be comprehensive.
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