We’ve all been there, waking up late after the alarm didn’t go off or just hitting the snooze button a few hundred times too many. Sometimes the excuses are legitimate and sometimes everyone knows you didn’t actually get food poisoning while rescuing a Girl Scout troop from a box of bad cookies. Still, calling in sick has a timed-honored tradition of hard (and lazy) workers for decades — and, in fact, for centuries!

A recently discovered document on display at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum reveals the reason why one daimyo (samurai warlord) was late to an important meeting with his boss, the famous Toyotomi Hideyoshi. We’re guessing “Sorry, boss, I have a sore throat!” probably didn’t cut it with one of Japan’s great unifiers…

▼ Date Masamune, daimyo and author of the excuse

date2Wikipedia (Taisyo)

One of the big things that employers look for in new hires is punctuality, and it’s definitely something your boss is judging you on, whether you like it or not. Of course, in 1590, punctuality was still important, though we’re guessing there was a little more leeway to deal with due to all the walking and horse-riding people had to do. Hey, at least they weren’t packed into a crowded Tokyo train!

But what happened when someone was late during the Warring States Period in Japan? It’s not like they could just pick up the phone and make a quick call with a fake cough. Instead, they would have written out a letter and sent it by courier, kind of like a really inefficient text message, we guess. Without the emoji.

▼ Probably for the best. Hideyoshi doesn’t seem like he’d appreciate smiley faces.

Toyotomi_hideyoshi4Wikipedia (M-sho-gun)

And that’s exactly what Date Masamune did when he found himself late for a meeting with one of Japan’s great unifiers Toyotomi Hideyoshi!

After Hideyoshi’s victory at the Seige of Odawara Castle, the great general called together his many daimyo to meet in what is now Utsunomiya City in Tochigi Prefecture. However, it seems that Masamune found himself late to the meeting, and so sent a missive ahead with an explanation for his tardiness, perhaps hoping to avoid harsh treatment by Hideyoshi.

To be fair, it seems that Masamune had a far better excuse than we would have. In his message, the daimyo wrote, “We’ve been travelling all day and night, but the men and the horses are exhausted, and our provisions have not arrived, making us late.” We don’t know about you, but “My horse was tired” seems like a pretty good excuse to us! Masamune even offered Hideyoshi an idea of when he would arrive, saying that they planned to set off again that night and to arrive by 10 the next morning.

The letter, which was purchased from an old books seller in Kyoto, will be displayed at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum until August 30. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop and take a look at how to craft the perfect excuse for being late to a meeting!

Sources: NHK, Hachima KikoTochigi Prefectural Museum
Top image: Wikipedia/Mitsusada Tosa