Kusunoki Masashige (楠木 正成?, 1294 – July 4, 1336) was a 14th-century samurai who fought for Emperor Go-Daigo in the Genkō War, the attempt to wrest rulership of Japan away from the Kamakura shogunate and is remembered as the ideal of samurai loyalty. His origin has not been validated and it was merely six years between the start of his military campaign in 1331 and his demise in 1336. According to the Bansenshukai his death could be blamed on his lord, who was not virtuous. He received the highest decoration from the Meiji government of Japan in 1880.
Kusunoki was a well-to-do member of the rural gentry in the Kawachi Province. He claimed descent from Tachibana Moroye, a great nobleman of the eighth century. Kusunoki was a scholar and a devout Buddhist.
He was not a shinobi himself but his unconventional tactics later gave birth to or influenced shinobi no jutsu. Masashige possibly lead a powerful band of thieves that included hundreds of criminals from Iga. According to the Shoninki shinobi manual, he used shinobi several times in battle.