Otani Yoshitsugu was born in 1565. His mother was a lady-in-waiting to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a feudal lord of the late Sengoku period, but his father’s identity remains unknown.
It is said that from an early age, Yoshitsugu grew up competing with the likes of Ishida Mitsunari, who would one day become a close ally, under the patronage of Hideyoshi. When Hideyoshi rose to power, Yoshitsugu supported the Toyotomi regime as an excellent bureaucrat.
In 1589, as the feudal lord of Tsuga, Yoshitsugu made initiatives such as expanding Tsuruga Castle and developing the town, transforming Tsuruga into a “port city with a castle.” Tsuruga provided Kyoto and Osaka with goods, and in times of war, served as a base for supplying provisions to soldiers, providing ships, and organizing sailors. It is said that the foundation for Tsuruga’s prosperity since early modern times is thanks to the efforts made during the time of Yoshitsugu.
However, when Hideyoshi died, Tokugawa Ieyasu took center stage in the political arena. The Battle of Sekigahara (1600) was fought between Mitsunari, who supported the Toyotomi clan, and those allied with Tokugawa. Mitsunari’s side was defeated, and Yoshitsugu, who had been his ally, committed suicide. Afterwards, Tsuruga Castle was also abandoned.
Yoshitsugu was known for being a strategic mastermind, and has been the subject of dramas and novels. Recognized for his unwavering loyalty, he stood by his friend’s side on the battlefield despite being afflicted with an illness, and is a military commander who is still respected today.