Date(s): See Below
Other Known Names: See Below
Saika clan mon
(This article will be done differently due to fact that the name covers three different individuals. This will also include pop culture references at the end to show how the legend has been interpreted.)
Saika Magoichi was a mercenary who served various different samurai and Buddhist warrior monks throughout the Sengoku Jidai. The name of “Saika Magoichi” is a title of sorts, and three different mercenaries carried the title. These men were: Suzuki Sadayū, Suzuki Shigetomo, and Suzuki Shigehide.
Suzuki Sadayū (1511-1585)
The first of these men known as Saika Magoichi was Suzuki Sadayū. He is the father of the other two men who will be covered in this article and who also carried the name of Saika Magoichi. The first half of his life is unknown. It is speculated that he was a travelling mercenary. He was employed by the Hatakeyama clan and contributed majorly in the battles they fought against the Miyoshi clan. It was during his service to the Hatakeyama clan that he gained a reputation as a fearsome warrior. At some point, he served the Buddhist warrior monks of Ishiyama Honganji, because it is recorded that he fought with them alongside the Miyoshi clan when Oda Nobunaga attacked them in 1570. He brought 600 riflemen with him to the battle. Not much is known after that. He appears in records again in 1584 with the Battles of Komaki and Nagakute. He aided Tokugawa Ieyasu, fighting against Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The battles ended in a stalemate, and he ended up surrendering to Hideyoshi after the battle ended. While he swore to serve Hideyoshi alone, a samurai who served Hideyoshi, Tōdō Takatora, did not trust them and believed that they would not remain loyal. Sadayū was sentenced to committed seppuku, and died the following year in 1585. He was 75 years old.
Suzuki Shigehide (c. 1546-c.1586)
The next man to take on the name of “Saika Magoichi” was Suzuki Shigehide. He the better known out of the three and is possibly the son of Suzuki Sadayū. It is unclear if he is his son or not because the name is not listed in historical records that have been released to the public. Much like his father, much of his life is unknown, but what is known is that he was a supporter of the Ikko-Ikki during the Ishiyama Honganji Campaign, was a great warrior, and hated Oda Nobunaga. He participated in Ishiyama Honganji Campaigns, fighting alongside the Ikko-Ikki. While he was allied with the Miyoshi clan, he sympathized with the Ikko-Ikki and remained loyal only to them. He usually fought with 3,000 riflemen at his side, something Nobunaga would make note of for his Battle of Nagashino in 1575. There are gaps in his history after that, and the next time he appears, he surrendered to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He tried to save his family from destruction, however, he could not convince Hideyoshi to save them, and they fell into ruin. How his life ended varies by source. From my research, I have found four different endings for Shigehide’s life.
The first is very similar to the end of his father. Some sources claim that he served Hideyoshi for a short time then committed seppuku. The second extends his service with Hideyoshi to 1598, then joined the Eastern Army for the Sekigahara Campaign. He was later employed by Date Masamune as a secondary rifle troop. The last two theories are less exciting, with them stating that he became a wanderer and died late in life as a hermit, or that he lived the rest of his days as a rōnin in Mito domain after Sekigahara.
Suzuki Shigetomo (1561-1623)
The last person to have the name “Saika Magoichi” was Suzuki Shigetomo. His story is pretty similar to Shigehide’s: he is one of Sadayū’s sons and he fought alongside the Ikko-Ikki. He ended up in the same situation as Shigehide after he surrendered to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, however, Shigetomo was made one of Hideyoshi’s generals. He participated in the Korean Campaings by sending men from his station, which was now Nagoya Castle. He continued to serve Hideyoshi well beyond his lord’s death. He fought for the Western Army during the Sekigahara Campaign. He participated in the Siege of Fushimi Castle and he later joined Date Masamune after the Battle at Sekigahara. He became one of Tokugawa Yorifusa’s high ranked bodyguards. He died of natural causes at the age of 63.
Saika Magoichi in Pop Culture
Saika Magoichi is an interesting case when it comes to representation in pop culture, and it deserves a mention. The individual men who held this name are not remembered as individuals, but their stories are remembered under the name Saika Magoichi. All representations have similar characteristics: all are mercenaries, all have firearms as a weapon, and all are represented by their clan mon (crest), a crow. The pictures in this article come from three different video games were the character has been represented. The title photo is from Nioh, followed by Samurai Warriors 4, and finally, Sengoku BASARA 4. The main ones that are of focus will be the representations from Samurai Warriors and Sengoku BASARA, for in Nioh, he is just a boss that the player has to face in order to proceed further into the game, not so much a character with background.
Looking at Saika Magoichi in Samurai Warriors first, we can see that he looks the part of a mercenary: he is rugged-looking in dress and facial appearance, he carries a sniper rifle with a bayonet, and the symbol of the crow is seen on the back of his poncho. My focus is not so much the appearance not the personality of the character, but rather the history and his personal story in the game. In the game, he has a hatred for Nobunaga, is best friends with Hideyoshi, and develops a friendship with Masamune later in the game. There are no Buddhist warrior monks in the game, but it is alluded to the he represents the Ikko-Ikki, a representation that dates back to the second installment of the game.
In a cutscene, Magoichi looks around a smoldering village, which was once the Saika stronghold. He has no idea what happened to them, and the only living thing he finds in the burnt village is a dog. Hideyoshi appears behind him and asks for forgiveness. He explains that he tried to stop Nobunaga, but Nobunaga wanted to make the Saika an example of what happens to those who stand up against him. Magoichi points his gun at Hideyoshi, who begs for his life, and the cutscene ends with the usually cheerful character staring down his old friend with a dead look in his eye. He takes matters to his own hands later on and ends up assassinating Nobunaga during the Honnōji Incident.
With this scene, it can be speculated that Saika Magoichi was representing the Ikko-Ikki, for the burning of innocent men, women, and children took place during Oda Nobunaga’s assaults on Buddhist warrior monks’ strongholds, such as Mt. Hiei and Nagashima. This would also explain the hatred for Nobunaga, not just in the video game, but in real life as well. Since Magoichi sympathized with the warrior monks of Ishiyama Honganji, then the atrocities that happened at Mt. Hiei and Nagashima would have enraged him.
The Samurai Warriors interpretation of Saika Magoichi takes all three men and combined them into one, and despite is young looking appearance, he is one of the longest living characters in the game because they have combined all three lives of the men who held the name of “Saika Magoichi”.
In the case of Saika Magoichi in Sengoku BASARA, there is a little bit more to unpack. First off, the character is a female, a matter we will get to in a moment. She dresses in a Western like fashion, wears guns like a garter belt, and is symbolized by a crow and calls her men the “Crows of Saika”. Her timeline is just as long as her male counterpart, but the events are not the same. They keep to the details of the first two men discussed in this article. She’s literally a hired gun, only allying herself with the people who are worthy of their expertise. She has an extreme hatred for Nobunaga, and served Hideyoshi as a hired gun for a time. During Sekigahara, she really does not take a side, remaining neutral to go after the resurrected Nobunaga. In the video game, however, the player can decide if they want to fight for the Eastern or Western Army. This might also have to do with the fact that Sadayū’s sons may have served on separated sides during the Sekigahara Campaign. This version of Magoichi does not serve Masamune either, but it is noted that the two do share some history.
Going by the information given to us by the game, it seems that Sadayū was the inspiration for this version of Saika Magoichi. It really becomes clear after a cutscene between her and the “pirate” daimyo of Shikoku, Chōsokabe Motochika. He calls her “Sayaka”, which according to her, was her original name before she took on her master’s name of “Saika Magoichi”. He was killed by Oda Nobunaga. She hoped to have killed him, however, Akechi Mitsuhide killed him before she could. Then, when he is resurrected by Tenkai (aka, Mitsuhide), she makes her personal duty to make sure he never gets the chance to spread his terror across Japan ever again. Now, the name “Sayaka” is similar to “Sadayū”, which makes me believe that this version on Magoichi, was based off of him. The fact that she is just a hired gun also points to her being Sadayū. Out of all three that this article covers, Sadayū is the only one who is truly a mercenary. The fact that she took on the name of her master, also shows that the name is passed down like a title, almost like the title of “Don” in the Mafia.
The character of Saika Magoichi is an interesting one, for little is known about all three of the men who held the name. We do know for a fact though, that they did exist, for there are historical records, even though they are brief. Hopefully, the public will get more information about these three men and the roles they played during the Sengoku Jidai. Until then, these three men will be continued to be lumped together as one under the name of Saika Magoichi.