The 20 Most Famous Samurai Names And What They Did

Georgia Stone
Feb 16, 2024 By Georgia Stone
Originally Published on Oct 29, 2020
Japanese Samurai standing on the shore

The Japanese had a class of military nobility called the Samurai.

The Samurai were considered extremely virtuous and privileged in Japanese society. Even after the feudal hereditary class went out of existence, stories of their gallantry prevailed and the Samurai's strong reputation continues to influence Japanese culture to this day.

Samurai were tasked with guarding the nobility and so they were trained in military strategy and battle tactics. Heavily influenced by the teachings of Buddhism and Zen, Samurai would use Zen meditation to calm their battle-ready minds.

This list includes information about 20 famous Samurai. For more naming information, take a look at these Mayan names and these Sumerian names.

Famous Samurai Names

Listed below are 20 famous Samurai names alongside a description of their role In Japanese history.

   1. Abe Masakatsu – Son of Abe Masanobu, served the Tokugawa Ieyasu.

   2. Akai Terukage – Sengoku period Samurai, Lord of Tatebayashi Castle.

   3. Akao Kiyotsuna – Late Sengoku period Samurai, one-third of the “Three Generals of the Azai.”

   4. Date Masamune – Young and fearless Samurai, who led his first campaign at age 14 and conquered most of the Tohoku region by age 22.

   5. Kusunoki Masashige – Defeated the Shogunate’s 100,000 man army while defending the Chihaya Castle with only 2,000 men.

   6. Miyamoto Musashi – Expert dualist who founded several schools of swordsmanship and authored the treatise on tactic and philosophy, 'The Book Of Five Rings'. He is considered to be the greatest (and the most feared) Samurai of all time.

   7. Minamoto no Yoshitsune – Led the Genpei War between the Taira and Minamoto clans.

   8. Miura Anjin – Born William Adams, christened Samurai by Tokugawa Ieyasu.

   9. Oda Nobunaga – Believed to be responsible for the unification of the nations during the Warring States period in Japan.

  10. Shimazu Tadahisa – Founded the Shimazu clan of Samurai in Japan.

Samurais practising Japanese martial art form

   11. Sanada Yukimura – Believed to be the greatest Samurai warrior between 1567 and 1615. Sanada valiantly resisted the initial Tokugawa advances to capture rule over the nation.

   12. Tomoe Gozen – Female Samurai (known as an Onna Bugeisha) who defeated Yoritomo’s strongest warrior in the Battle of Awazu.

   13. Toyotomi Hideyoshi – One of the 'Three Great Unifiers Of Japan' who helped lay the foundation of modern-day Japan.

   14. Takeda Shingen – Belonged to the Takeda clan that descended from the Minamoto clan. Shingen was called the 'Tiger Of Kai'.

   15. Tokugawa Ieyasu – The first Tokugawa Shogun was just as skilled in strategy as he was in the art of war.

  16. Uesugi Kenshin – Fondly nicknamed the 'Dragon Of Echimo', Uesugi is also remembered for his rivalry with Takeda Shingen.

   17. Yagyu Munenori – Founder of the Edo branch of the Yagyu Shinkage-ryu style of swordsmanship.

   18. Yamagata Masakage – One of the 'Twenty-Four Generals Of Takeda Shingen'.

  19. Yasuke – Oda Nobunaga made this Samurai his personal retainer after being impressed by his size and strength.

   20. Watanabe no Tsuna – One of the earliest Samurai class members to be immortalized in Japanese legend.

Kid dressed as a warrior

Kidadl has lots of great names articles to inspire you. If you liked our suggestions for Samurai names then check out these names that mean brave, or for something different these names meaning protector.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Georgia Stone

Bachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia Stone picture

Georgia StoneBachelor of Arts specializing in French with Film Studies, Bachelor of Arts (Year Abroad) specializing in Literature, History, Language, Media, and Art

Georgia is an experienced Content Manager with a degree in French and Film Studies from King's College London and Bachelors degree from Université Paris-Sorbonne. Her passion for exploring the world and experiencing different cultures was sparked during her childhood in Switzerland and her year abroad in Paris. In her spare time, Georgia enjoys using London's excellent travel connections to explore further afield.

Read full bio >