One of the “great unifiers” and legends of feudal Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was a master tactician as well as political strategist. Much can be said of Ieysau for his bold yet prudent quick reactions to seize opportunities, but his long game tactics proved most successful. After years of clever maneuvering and military battles, Leyasu traded his five home provinces for eight in the Kanto province after conquering them with one of his top rivals Toyotomi Hideyoshi. This ingenious move isolated him from Hideyoshi’s rule and allowed for autonomy in becoming the second most powerful daimyo in Japan. This move spawned the Japanese proverb “Leyasu won the Empire by retreating.”
After Hideyoshi’s death, Leyasu became one of the regents in the Council of Five Elders that would rule on behalf of his young son, Hideyori. A year later, one of the oldest and most respected regents dies creating an opportunity for control. Leyasu takes Osaka Caste, the residence of Hideyori, and infuriates the other regents. At the Battle of Sekigahara he found himself almost outnumbered two to one. But like his deceased friend and ally, Oda Nobunaga, Leyasu made use of firearms and had some arquebuses smuggled in for the battle, along with some added behind the scenes negotiating with some of the daimyo in the Western Army. Ending in complete and total victory, Leyasu became Shogun in March of 1603, which created the Tokugawa Shogunate, lasting until 1868, which is referred to as the Edo period.