Kusunoki Masatora (楠木正虎)

Masatora KUSUNOKI (1520 - February 9, 1596) was a man that lived during the Sengoku period (Period of Warring States) (Japan) to the Azuchi-Momoyama period. He served Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA, Hisahide MATSUNAGA, Nobunaga ODA, and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. His former names was Chozaemon (Jinshiro) Oae and Choan KUSUNOKI. He was Shikibukyo (Ceremonial Minister) Hoin (the highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests) and Jushiijo Kawachi no Kami (Upper Junior Fourth Rank, the governor of Kawachi Province).

He was in charge of Yuhitsu (secretary) for the Matsunaga family, the Oda family, and the Toyotomi family; he referred to himself as a descendant of Masashige KUSUNOKI, and appealed to the Imperial Court for the remission of Masashige KUSUNOKI as an enemy of the Emperor. In 1559, owing to the mediation through Hisahide, Masatora was granted Chokumen (pardon by Emperor's order) from Emperor Ogimachi to formally use the name of the Kusunoki clan, and he renamed himself from Choan KUSUNOKI to Masatora KUSUNOKI. In 1575, he was conferred the position of Shikibu-sho (the Ministry of Ceremonial) Soi (rank of Buddhist Priest), and along with Yukan MATSUI, he was appointed to the position of control officer for Nobumori SAKUMA. Masatora learned calligraphy from Tsunefusa INOO (since Tsunefusa INOO died in 1485, it was conjectured that Masatora actually learned from a man who was one of Tsunefusa's disciples), and he was one of the top grade calligraphers of the day from the Sensoji School.

During the Bunroku-Keicho War in 1592, he was in charge of bookkeeping at Nagoya-jo Castle in Hizen Province (the present Saga and a part of Nagasaki Prefecture) with Masatsugu ISHIDA, who was the father of Mitsunari ISHIDA. He was later appointed to Jushiijo Kawachi no kami.

It is also insisted by some people that Masatora's son was Masatatsu KUSUNOKI who was a scholar of military science and who had become a foster father to Sessho YUI, but there is no positive proof.