Isshin Ashina


Location Ashina Castle

Isshin Ashina is an NPC in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. For the boss versions of this NPC, see Isshin, the Sword Saint and Isshin Ashina (Boss). For the disguised version of this NPC seen outside Ashina Castle, see Tengu of Ashina.

Isshin Ashina Information

Associated Quests

  • As the Tengu of Ashina, he will ask you to help him kill some "rats" (Assassins) and give you the Rat Description.
  • Once you kill the rats up ahead past the next Sculptor's Idol in the right garden-like locale (there are 3) return and he will give you the Ashina Esoteric Text.
  • After you beat Genichiro Ashina on top of the castle, Kuro sends you to talk to Isshin Ashina. As soon as you have talked with him, Tengu will move to the Great Serpent Shrine. He will ask if you have mastered any Secret Techniques (i.e., that you have purchased 'ultimate skill' at the end of any skill tree). If you have, he will award you the Mushin Esoteric Text. After this he leaves this area.
  • If you progress the story to when the Ashina Castle get's attacked, Tengu leaves and a mini-boss takes his place. If you didn't receive the Mushin Esoteric Text from him before then simply go to Isshin Ashina, in his watchtower room,(most likely after the attack is over) talking to him will yield the same line of dialogue, where he asked if you learned any secret techniques, and if yes he will give you the Mushin Esoteric Text.
  • Finally, after obtaining the Divine Dragon's Tears, you can speak to Emma, who will give you the text if have mastered a secret technique.


  •  Isshin discusses Genichiro's trainer if you give the Unrefined Sake he hands you back to him.
    • "Are you... Offering me the sake I gave you? Delightful, I'll take it! (Alternatively with different sake: 'Ah, don't mind if I do!') Ahhh... That's the stuff! By the way... How was Genichiro? You two crossed blades, did you not? I see. That? It's a technique belonging to Genichiro's mentor. I'll wager it was quite the sight. Tomoe... There aren't many masters of the sword like her. To see her fight, it's like she is dancing. When you look into her eyes... You feel as if you're being drawn into the depths of the ocean. I was completely taken by her and it almost killed me... I've lived a long life, but that was the closest I've come to death."
  • After giving Monkey Booze
    • "Ah, Sekiro! You know me well. Why, if this isn't monkey booze! Hahh! So this is what it's like to breathe fire! Do you know what other name this sake goes by? You don't? They call it Shura's wine. I killed one once, long ago... Shura... Or something very much like it. Those who go on killing will eventually become Shura. They don't even remember why... Simply enraptured... They kill solely for the joy it brings them. I see it in your eyes, too. The shadow of Shura. Give me cause, and I will kill you. It would do you well to remember that."
  • After giving Monkey Booze and having rejected the iron code
    • "Ah, Sekiro! You know me well. Why, if this isn't monkey booze! Hahh! So this is what it's like to breathe fire! Do you know what other name this sake goes by? You don't? They call it Shura's wine. I killed one once, long ago... Shura... Or something very much like it. Those who go on killing will eventually become Shura. They don't even remember why... Simply enraptured... They kill solely for the joy it brings them. I saw it in your eyes, too. The shadow of Shura. Or at least, I thought I did. However, it appears I was mistaken. If Shura were to appear, I would have cut it down myself." (laughs)
  • After giving Dragonspring Sake
    • "Well Well! If it isn't Dragonspring! You've really done it this time, Sekiro! Buhaah! That hit the spot! Whenever I used to get my hands on Dragonspring...bunch of fools would start coming to me, demanding drinks. Fools who wouldn't let go of their cross-spears while they drank...fools who would steal sake using illusion techniques...fools tinkering with half-finished prosthetics, sake cup in hand. And even...the cunning owl, who despite his size would turn bright red after the first drop! Yes, your father was a fool too."

Lore note: the fools are, in order: Gyoubu, Lady Butterfly, Dogen (Emma's adoptive father and creator of the Shinobi Prosthetic originally fashioned for the Scultptor) and Owl.

  • After giving Ashina Sake
    • "Smart thinking my boy! Let me see...That's some good sake! This is how we drank when we won our battles. The people of Ashina, together as one. Oh, the rebellion...we just took back what was stolen from us. Before, this land was a place where we, the Ashina people lived. Where the waters flowed, straight from the source. We were a people who loved our country dearly. And we made good sake to boot! But we were heretics, and we were weak. Naturally, we were overrun. Trampled into submission. For many long, excruciating years...we couldn't even pray at the water from the springs. The way we were then...even good sake couldn't get us truly drunk. Yes...amidst the chaos that was Japan...the endless casualties. The flames of war...we found the perfect opportunity to take back our land. But's a place of's a bitter thing indeed."
  • When eavesdropped upon after showing him the Mortal Blade
    • "The crimson Mortal Blade...That means the one he has must, then. To abandon oneself in search of strength...How tragic..."

Notes & Tips

  • Voiced by: Andre Sogliuzzo (English), Tetsuo Kanao (Japanese).
    • Tetsuo Kanao is also known for voicing Bui in Yu Yu Hakusho, Sekishusai Yagya in Nioh, and Blood Stalk/Evolt in Kamen Rider Build.
  • Isshin is the one who gives the main character the nickname "Sekiro", likening the shinobi to a one-armed wolf.  
  • If you enter his room before fighting Genichiro, he will be absent and a letter will be found in his place.
  • Upon meeting Isshin in Ashina Castle, he reveals that he was actually the Tengu of Ashina in disguise.
    • Tengu's cloak and mask can be found on the floor behind Isshin in his room.
    • Emma telling you how Isshin is always disappearing on her is likely also a reference to his activities as the Tengu.
  • Can't catch Dragonrot.
  • Isshin is the one who cut off the Sculptor's arm to prevent him from turning into a Shura. 


 Story & Lore

  • There seem to be several historical models for Isshin Ashina.
    • The clearest model is the daimyo warlord Moriuji Ashina (1521–1580), although Sekiro uses a slightly different kanji character for Ashina (葦名 in Sekiro versus 蘆名 in history). The meaning of 葦 and 蘆 are the same ("reed").
      • In addition to his own clan name, Moriuji's vassals include many clans that also appear in Sekiro. For example, in the real history, the vassal clans of the Ashina clan include Hirata, Yamauchi, Kawarada, Matsumoto, and Saze.
      • Moriuji ruled the sourthern part of Tohoku (the northeastern area of Japan), a snowy region. The areas of Sekiro also have the same feature.
    • Another clear model is the major daimyo warlord Masamune Date (1567–1636), a relative of Moriuji Ashina.
      • Like Isshin, Masamune was a one-eyed warlord. Isshin mastered a technique called Dragon Flash. Masamune is often called the One-Eyed Dragon (独眼竜, Dokugan-Ryu).
      • Masataka Oniwa is one of the most trusted generals of Isshin. Likewise, Tsunamoto Oniniwa (1549–1640) is one of those of Masamune.
    • Isshin also shares many features with Tomonori Kitabatake (1528–1576), a powerful daimyo warlord and master swordsman.
      • In spite of being a warlord, Isshin is also a master swordsman and called the Sword Saint. Likewise, Lord Tomonori was the greatest student and successor of the Sword Saint Bokuden Tsukahara (1489–1571).
      • Isshin's iconic skill is Ichimonji ("the Shape of One"). Tomonori learned an esoteric skill called Ichi-no-Tachi ("the Blade of One") from his teacher Bokuden.
      • The Province of Ashina (in Sekiro) produced two demonic swords: the Mortal Blade and the Black Mortal Blade. Likewise, Muramasa, one of the greatest Japanese swordsmiths, lived in the Province of Ise (ruled by Tomonori). The swords of Muramasa are considered to be the sharpest blades in Japan. They are often depicted as demonic swords in popular culture.
      • The Ashina clan in Sekiro was once the ruling clan of the Ashina Province. Isshin temporarily restored the power of his clan but he ultimately failed. Likewise, the Kitabatake family was one of the most powerful clans of Japan in the Nanbokucho period (14th century). It effectively ruled the half of Japan when Chikafusa Kitabatake (1293–1354) was the de facto leader of the Sourthern Court. Tomonori also tried to restore the power of his family and was partly successful, but his attempt ultimately failed.
      • The Ashina clan in Sekiro seems to have some connections to the clan of the Fountainhead Palace (Minamoto-no-Miya in the Japanese version) in ancient times. The Kitabatake family belongs to the Minamoto clan.
      • One of the most divine deities (Divine Dragon) exists in Ashina and it is connected to the Ashina clan. Likewise, the Ise Grand Shrine, the highest of all shrines in Japan, is located at the Ise Province ruled by Tomonori. Chikafusa, the ancestor of Tomonori, strongly supported (and was strongly supported by) the Ise Grand Shrine.
      • In spite of his personal prowess, Isshin's army was finally destroyed by the army of the Interior Ministry that developed advanced firearms. Likewise, in spite of being a master swordsman, Tomonori's army was defeated by the army of Nobunaga Oda that developed advanced firearms. In 1576, Tomonori was assassinated by the assassins of the "Interior Ministry" (his rival Nobunaga held the position of the Interior Minister of the Court betweeen 1576–1577).
  • Isshin's fighting style is likely based on historical master swordsmen. Among these historical figures, Bokuden and Nobutsuna are considered to be the Sword Saints, while Musashi is the most popular and well-known in popular culture.
    • Bokuden Tsukahara, the founder of Kashima-Shinto style, is the clearest example as he developed an skill called "Ichi-no-tachi" (versus "Ichimonji" for Isshin Ashina) and his student includes the swordsman-warlord Tomonori Kitabatake (see the previous paragraph).
    • The way he is proficient both in the sword and in the cross-shaped spear is an homage to Nobutsuna Kamiizumi, the founder of the Shinkage style. Two of his greatest students are the master swordsman Munetoshi "Sekishusai" Yagyu and the master spearman-monk In'ei. Munetoshi founded the Yagyu-Shinkage style, which heads would serve as the head sword trainers for Tokugawa shoguns. In'ei founded the Hozoin style, the greatest school for the art of the spear, especially for cross-shaped spears.
    • The way he uses two weapons at the same time is an homage to Musashi Miyamoto, the founder of the Niten-Ichi style and the author of the Book of Five Rings. Musashi is also very famous in the Japanese popular culture from the 17th century.
    • The way that he emphasizes mindfulness, or paying attention to the present moment ("hesitation is defeat"), is an homage to Munenori Yagyu, the first son of Munetoshi and the author of Hereditary Book on the Art of War. Under the influence of the Zen monk Takuan, Munenori attained enlightenment that the swordsmanship and the Zen are one and the same. Like the Zen Buddhism, if one mastered swordsmanship, his moves are natural, spontaneous, and completely free from hesitation and attachments.
    • The way that he uses weapons well even when he is one-eyed is an homage to Mitsuyoshi "Jubei" Yagyu, a son of Munenori, who has been depicted as a one-eyed swordsman in popular culture. Researchers however think this depiction is unhistorical and Mitsuyoshi actually had both eyes.



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    • Anonymous

      21 Dec 2020 18:10  

      No mention of the fact that Isshin wielded the black Mortal Blade in the opening? It's hard to spot, but if you look closely, his sword had the exact same floral tsuba (hand guard) and white hilt, and even has the same double-edges and tapering tip.

      The only difference is, the blade wasn't blackened then. I wonder what caused that? Isshin states that he "once killed Shura... or something like it," which could explain it, but we don't know much beyond that. He did sever Orangutan's arm to *prevent* him from becoming Shura, but I kind of doubt that's it. And why did he part with it after his coup?

      • Anonymous

        11 Nov 2020 00:21  

        There's an eavesdrop opportunity not presented on this page. Eavesdrop when Emma is in the same room as Isshin, she mentions how she's afraid that the Tengu will make another appearance, and that Genichiro has the other mortal blade. Isshin says he expects no less from his grandson, who is determined to see Ashina survive in any way necessary. Not sure when this opportunity arises. Right before the first owl encounter? Maybe before making the decision to betray Kuro.

        • Anonymous

          08 Nov 2020 03:47  

          If you give him the dragonspring sake after killing Owl(Not sure if it's Owl at Ashina or Owl at Hirata as I gave him the drinks pretty late game) he'll have one more additional line of dialouge. Right after saying "Your father was a fool too" He says "To the fools!" and toasts in their honor and Sekiro says "Yes.." in a somber tone. Kind of funny to realize that Sekiro toasted in their honor but he killed most of them. Gyuobou, Lady Butterfly & Owl

          • Anonymous

            11 May 2020 03:52  

            It says Isshin gives Wolf the name Sekiro, but the Tengu is the first character that you can meet that calls him Sekiro.

            • Anonymous

              06 Feb 2020 23:49  

              Just finished beating him, he was the last boss I needed to kill towards to playinum trophy on PS4. Even though the game lags as***** took me about 3 hours to do this. On Emma, it's all about staying close, dodging left side and using the Ichimonji: Double. First phase: Bait him with R1 (he will dodge it) then dodge left and use whirlwind slash followed by another R1 baiting him, repeated that the whole phase. Second phase: firecrackers + Mortal draw 3-4 times and then kept running around the area waiting for him to use the fire attacks and randomly hitting him.

              • Anonymous

                12 Jan 2020 20:55  

                The fact that Isshin uses fire to fight you means he thought you would be afraid of it. It's likely that after Sekijo rescued Emma and left her with Dogen, he somehow got involved with Dousaku, who used him for Red-eyed experiments (meaning the events implied by Isshin's Dragonspring sake dialog happened after the rebellion). He nearly turned into Shura when Isshin cut off his arm, who was able to get the upper hand because of the Red Eyes being weak to fire. This is probably why that Ashina soldier we eavesdrop before the 1st Chained Orge fight called it a 'proclamation,' and also why the Demon of Hatred is wreathed in flames, because fire became an obsession for the Sculptor even after being freed from the Red Eyes. It was embracing flames that finally made him into Shura. That said, the Pink Ogre mention in the Second Prayer Necklace is probably the Sculptor.

                • Anonymous

                  11 Oct 2019 07:52  

                  How did Isshin lose his eye? i like to think it was from fighting Shura for the first time but im not sure if its confirmed.

                  • Anonymous

                    07 Jun 2019 00:24  

                    Is it just me or is Isshin's dialogue when he talk about Tomoe when you give him the Unrefined Sake implies that he fell for Tomoe in his youth ?

                    • Anonymous

                      04 Jun 2019 10:08  

                      They did a really good job writing the characters for this game. It's a rare occasion when I feel affection for a fictional character.

                      • Anonymous

                        02 May 2019 17:04  

                        I tried to skip talking to this guy, but it's impossible. Unless you talk to the tengu, and he gives you the name sekiro, you cannot progress the game. I killed genichiro, and the corrupted monk but the illusive bell doesnt spawn and you need to talk to isshin in the tower to get to the sunken valley passage. Damn I was hoping for some extra dialogue, too.

                        • Anonymous

                          26 Apr 2019 15:45  

                          Spoiler Another thing. If you already kill Isshin The Sword Saint and doesn't continue to NG+, go to the Kuro's room and talk to Emma. If you haven't receive Mushin Arts from Tengu, there will be new dialogue about Isshin's last words. She will tell you that before Isshin died, he said "If Sekiro is able to master these... I'd like to duel him" Probably this is why when Isshin the Sword Saint knows Sekiro (even this is the Young Isshin) and said "Hesitation is defeat" every time Sekiro dies. The Sword Saint that we fight is combination of old and young Isshin. Young Isshin with lust of power and seeks for strength and Old Isshin who wants to test Sekiro in final battle. That's what i think.

                          • Anonymous

                            20 Apr 2019 00:56  

                            Tengu gives you the name sekiro at first meeting but he already knew everything about you who you are what you have done and what you are doing he has ordered all shinobi to be killed but something about this one fascinated him Sekiro means the 1 armed wolf Giving you a new name that he can call you but he already knew you were wolf the son of the great shinobi owl Up until you meet owl you long believed him to be dead as well as owl believed the same of wolf Isshin has lost his sons and his grandson is falling into madness Sekiro lost his father and really never truly had a father's love he was really raised to be a weapon Isshin before he passes wants to die with a healthy father son relationship witch he did Less you follow the iron code owl thought you at witch then isshin feels he has lost another son and you are now a shinobi in his eyes agian Honestly it's quite sad having to fight him hes the greatest example of tough love hes truly the greatest npc I've met in a long time in any game I respect this man and he will always be #1 in game

                            • Anonymous

                              17 Apr 2019 11:43  

                              Something I don’t get is if he’s the lord of ashina and a friend of ours why is it on sight action with damn near everyone else? Did I miss something? Is it about the boy? Or is it just a gameplay thing where we need to fight somebody

                              • Anonymous

                                14 Apr 2019 20:43  

                                Worth deleting the "associated quests" section and just leaving a note to refer to the Tengu of Ashina's page for quest details? It's good info, but I'm not sure if the duplication is really necessary.

                                • Anonymous

                                  08 Apr 2019 04:14  

                                  Just discovered like previous poster you can eavesdrop on Isshin behind his entrance. Similarly did so after mortal blade and got the same dialogue. You can eavesdrop on Kuro as well just as you would to get the true ending. The dialogue for Kuro after getting the mortal blade is about Genichiro and him going astray.

                                  • Anonymous

                                    06 Apr 2019 07:30  

                                    If you Eavesdrop on Isshin Ashina by hugging the wall outside his doorway, you can listen to him say, "The crimson Mortal Blade...That means the one he has must, then. To abandon oneself in search of strength...How tragic..." I don't know what requirements must be met to trigger this, but I'm fairly certain you have to have at least gotten the Mortal Blade from the Divine Child of Rejuvenation. After getting it, talking to Isshin Ashina will have Wolf explain that when he drew and looked upon the crimson blade, he died, once. So... As you just told him your blade is crimson, and he says "the one he has is black, then" implies that... there is more than one Mortal Blade? Perhaps this is mentioned/explained at some point later in the game, as I've only completed Mibu and Senpou Temple, and am just about to kill the Guardian Ape.

                                    • Anonymous

                                      03 Apr 2019 21:12  

                                      Isshin has also an alternative dialogue after you give him the monkey booze but only after you chose to serve kuro and killed the owl, it's pretty much the same except the last sentences change and he says to sekiro "I though I saw the shadow of shura in you too but I guess I was mistaken" it's something like that

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