(real name Kiuchi Sogo). Born 1611; died 1653. Leader of a peasant antifeudal uprising in Japan in 1652 and 1653.
Sakura was the headman of the village of Kozu (Shimosa Province, now the prefectures of Chiba and Ibaraki), which belonged to the daimyo Masanobu Hotta. The peasants on Hot-ta’s lands rebelled against the cruel oppression of their daimyo and sought support from the ruler of the country, the shogun Tokugawa Ietsuna, to whom they sent a petition signed by the headmen of 389 villages. Sakura volunteered to deliver the petition. His action was viewed as an act of rebellion, since a special law of Tokugawa prescribed the death penalty for direct complaints to princes, much less to the shogun. Sakura and four of his children were executed. Many legends and tales were composed about Sakura. The story of his life has been the theme of plays, novels, and novellas written by progressive Japanese authors.