Shimazu Takahisa (May 28, 1514 – July 15, 1571)
The Daimyo Shimazu Takahisa introduced firearms to Japan, forever changing samurai warfare.
The 15th head of the Shimazu clan, Takahisa was interested in fostering relations with the international travelers of the day. Realising the importance of trade, he established trade with the Ryukyu (Okinawa) Kingdom, and in turn with China. Because of this trade with the Ryuku Islands and China, the Shimazu clan were responsible for introducing cockroaches into Japan.
In 1542, following a Portuguese shipwreck on the island of Tanigashima within his domain, he obtained some early matchlock guns. Recognising the military value of the weapons, he asked the Portuguese traders to bring more. It was Takahisa who greeted St. Francis Xavier on his arrival to Japan, and was one of the first daimyo to embrace Christianity, allowing Jesuit priests to work in his domain. This support for the foreign religion was soon rescinded under pressure from many Buddhist temples and monks.
In 1549, Portuguese derived matchlock guns were first used in Japan in the Shimazu Takahisa led Siege of Kajiki, in Osumi Province (Modern-day eastern Kagoshima Prefecture).
Shimazu Takahisa was 57 when he died.