This papercraft is Naoe Kanetsugu‘s helmet, Suji Kabuto (striped) Helmet with The “Love” Kanji Letters Crest. The paper craft is created by Yonezawa Naoe. Naoe Kanetsugu (直江 兼続) was a Japanese samurai of the 16th-17th centuries. The eldest son of Higuchi Kanetoyo, Kanetsugu was famed for his service to two generations of the Uesugi daimyo. He was also known by his court title, Yamashiro no Kami (山城守) or his childhood/adolescent name, Higuchi Kanetsugu (樋口 兼続).
Kanetsugu served first as a koshō to Uesugi Kenshin. After Kenshin had died, he served Kagekatsu, of the adopted son of Kenshin. Kanetsugu’s brother, Ōkuni Sanehiro, was also a famous Uesugi retainer.
Kanetsugu was born Higuchi Yoroku, at Sakato Castle in Echigo Province. His father, Higuchi Sōemon Kanetoyo, was a senior retainer of Nagao Masakage, the lord of Sakato Castle. When Yoroku came of age, he married Osen, the widow of Uesugi retainer Naoe Nobutsuna, and took the name Naoe Kanetsugu. He quickly distinguished himself as an outstanding commander, and was involved in much of the fighting that took place on the Sea of Japan coast with Sassa Narimasa and Maeda Toshiie. Kanetsugu was also responsible for the actions of the Uesugi clan against the allies of the Tokugawa during the leadup to the climactic Battle of Sekigahara. Following the Uesugi clan’s surrender to the Tokugawa, in 1601, their holdings were transferred to the much smaller fief of Yonezawa, with an income of 60,000 koku. Kanetsugu was granted a stipend shortly before he retired.
Naoe Kanetsugu was respected for his judgment. In “The Life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi,” Walter and M.E. Dening recount an anecdote in which Hideyoshi, whose temporary unification of Japan paved the way for Ieyasu’s shogunate, decides to visit Uesugi Kagekatsu, Kanetsugu’s liege lord at the time, in person, accompanied by just a few retainers.
On receipt of the news, Kagekatsu called a council to discuss what was best to do under the circumstances. The majority of the councilors advised the assassination of Hideyoshi, arguing that this was by far the simplest way of ridding themselves of a dangerous enemy. But Naoe Kanetsugu condemned this advice as unworthy of a man holding the position of Kagekatsu. “Hideyoshi’s coming among us unguarded,” said Kanetsugu, “is proof of his profound respect for our master. With lesser personages Hideyoshi would not so expose himself to danger. Knowing that our lord is a man of noble disposition, he trusts himself among us. Were we take advantage of this and slay him, the story of our baseness and treachery would be handed down to distant posterity to our eternal shame. No: let our master meet magnanimity with magnanimity; let him have an audience with Hideyoshi and let them see whether they cannot come to an understanding. If they cannot agree, then we will fight, but not till Hideyoshi has been sent back to his own country.”
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