The Samurai Banner of Furin Kazan
Originally published in Japanese in 1959, this classic novel by Yasushi Inoue takes place during the Japanese Warring Era (1467-1573)—a time when a fractured Japan was ruled by three young powerful warlords: Takeda Shingen, Iwagawa Yoshimoto and Hojo Ujiyasu. The story focuses on Takeda Shingen and his one-eyed, crippled strategist, Yamamoto Kansuke. The brilliant strategies of Kansuke, inspired by his passion for war and his admiration for his enemies' war tactics, are beautifully expressed throughout this book.
Takeda Shingen—a proud and confident warlord—wants to expand his territory. When he retains the ambitious and mysterious Yamamoto Kansuke—a masterless, unheralded samurai—as his war strategist, he discovers a bold and cunning collaborator. Kansuke's talents at diplomacy and his prescient understanding of war strategy leads Shingen's clan to great success, a path which leads the pair to Princess Yuu. When Kansuke discovers her among the ruins of a castle he has just captured, she is about to commit ritual suicide, jigaki. Kansuke falls under her spell—and convinces her to live to carry on her family's lineage. The conflicting ambitions of Shingen, Kansuke, and Princess Yuu are at the heart of this complex and intensely dramatic story. Each of the three needs the others in order to attain their goals. In the end, the lines between who is using whom are blurred beyond understanding.
Though there's some doubt as to whether Kansuke really existed, the historical narrative and depictions of daily life present a unique and engaging look at the end of the feudal era in Japan.