The Shimazu clan come from the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto Shogunate. In 1187, Minamoto Yoritomo appointed his son, Tadahisa, as military governor of southern Kyushu. Tadahisa renamed the province to Shimazu. The Shimazu clan was splintered into two contending factions following the death of Shimazu Sadahisa and remained fractured into the Sengoku Period. It was through the campaigns of the Shimazu daimyos during the Sengoku period the provinces would be reunited. They remained a powerful house until the end of the Edo Period.
The Shimazu openly welcomed the Europeans and frequently traded with them. Not only did they get guns from the Europeans, but they also began production of their own firearms that they sold to other Japanese nations. Kyushu Island was especially rich in agriculture due to the climate. It mainly grew rice, tea and soy. After European contact, the Shimazu widely grew the different produce the Portuguese brought with them including potato and tobacco. Silk and porcelain were also produced in large quantities. The clan`s economy was very strong because there was a high demand for a special type of rice that only the Shimazu were able to yield large quantities. Through this extensive trade, the Shimazu were able to build a strong economy that could support their armies and campaigns.
The Shimazu military had a very important quality; they were adapting. Once the Shimazu came into European contact, they realized the massive advantages they could gain by using foreign technology and tactics. The Shimazu became famous for being the first to use firearms in battle. The Shimazu clan retainers and officers were very loyal and there was never any coup.
With the Shimazu determined to expand from their small land, their military tactics focused on defeating larger enemy armies. A common strategy was to lure the opposition into an ambush with gunpowder troops on both sides. When the enemy troops were in panic, they would commit the central forces which would often lead to the shattering of enemy moral and cause a mass rout.
In Shogun 2, the main focus of the game is during the reign of Takahisa (1514 – 1571). He was the fifteenth head of the Shimazu clan. He was born in 1514 and became head of the clan in 1526. During his reign, he would lead the Shimazu on a succession of campaigns expanding the realm. This includes the regions of Satsuma, Osumi and Hyuga. His campaign was not complete, however, and it would take another generation to completely reclaim the area. The Shimazu, in the generations after Takahisa, would reign over the entire island of Kyushu. Takahisa supported foreign relationships and actively trade with foreign peoples. He was the first daimyo to bring Western firearms into the Japanese battlefield. He, for a time, allowed Jesuits to spread Christianity in his domain but later retracted his support under pressure from local Buddhist monks. He also had connections with the Rhukyu Kingdom and several other nations in the area.
The Shimazu were able to grow and prosper and become a powerful clan through strong economic doctrines from diligent domestic production and trade, efficient government organization, strong and loyal military and the fact they were isolated from Honshu (mainland Japan) and their wars.
I felt compelled to do research on the Shimazu clan as they were the first clan I have carried out a campaign as in Shogun 2. I also wanted to get a better since of this time period of Japanese history because prior to do doing this my Japanese history was centered on the Tokugawa Shogunate and WWII. This research has made me rethink my whole Shimazu play style because I myself liked to isolate myself and avoid firearms. Please give me some feedback on this.