I am Kenji. Upstanding merchant... renowned Sake Brewer―
And the best swindler in the Island.
― In-game Description
Kenji (堅二; Kenji) is a farmer of Tsushima. He is a sake seller and frequent swindler who got into troubles where he often solves by making another one that someone else has to help solve. He became an odd ally of Jin Sakai during his breakout mission in the Mongol-occupied Azamo Bay and has since become a staple in Jin's network of unlikely allies against the Khotun's army.
- "The Fate of Tsushima"
- "The Ghost of Iki Island"
Little is known about Kenji's past except that he has made risky business deals that works out for him only because of the element of deception and half-truths he played into it. Adding to the danger, he often makes these deals with criminals and other dangerous parties, even the occupying Mongol soldiers. Despite the tendency, Kenji is inept at playing his game, as he gets caught often and nearly got killed in various occasions for it,as at one point Yuna had been protecting him for a month.
Some time during the Mongol's invasion of Tsushima, after the battle of Komoda Beach, Kenji has been selling sake to the Mongols to keep himself alive (or more accurately, not getting killed), but Yuna convinced Kenji to help her and the surviving Samuari, Jin Sakai, to infiltrate Azamo Bay and break out Yuna's blacksmith brother, Taka. Kenji does so by having both Yuna and Jin smuggled into a sake barrel on one of his regular deliveries to the town. He also later would prepare horses for their escape.
The breakout was successful, but Kenji's involvement became known to the Mongols and he has been on the run since. With nothing better to do, Kenji tries to follow Jin's advice of making himself useful to the people of Tsushima in fighting the Mongols, though his good intentions could not escape his bad habits and methods and these efforts sometimes end up for the worse if not for the timely intervention of Jin Sakai.
In Izuhara, Kenji had swindled a Mongol raid party and gave them fake supplies to help Aoi Village resident to protect theirs (which Kenji also profited from on the side). This angered the Mongols and had them took the real supplies and food along with hostages (and his horse, Miko). Luckily, one of the barrels is a Trojan Horse containing the one-man-army Jin Sakai who eliminated the Mongols at their camp and freed the resentful villagers who berated Kenji.
Later in Toyotama, Kenji stole belongings of the Straw Hat traitors and sold them to the Mongols, whom he later planned to steal back from. Kenji somewhat had Jin Sakai, yet again, involved by pretending that the Mongols left their belongings unguarded and that it was simply an empty camp raid. Later, Jin discovered that Kenji brought him as protection as a rescuer to a fellow man whom Kenji got into trouble and became a captive of Mongols. The situation erupts into chaos as the camp became a stage of a four-way battle between the swindled Mongols, the angry Straw Hats who thought the Mongols stole from them, a confused Jin Sakai and a hungry bear who happened to be nearby. Jin turned out victorious and expressed his doubt on Kenji, to which he reaffirms that he's a better man.
Later, Jin yet again had to help Kenji, only this time with no deception; Kenji asked him to watch out for potential murder attempt by a man he's about to meet and pay a debt to: Gon, whom had sour dealings with Kenji before. Kenji supposedly had the money, but he suspected that Gon wasn't going to let go of his past irritation. True to his suspicion, Gon brought a band of bandits with him who would've killed Kenji if not for Jin being in the vicinity. Jin later assessed Kenji's priorities and deduced that Kenji actually has a talent and a good heart, but needs to channel it in a better way than what he has been doing, to which Kenji agreed.
For some reason, despite being a noncombatant, Kenji would be active in big operations against the Mongols, like the retaking of Castle Kaneda and Castle Shimura, either doing logistics or making sure of the the siege weapon availability. After Jin got exiled and stripped from his Samurai status, he would be among the rogue militant group loyal to the Ghost's cause along with the likes of Yuna, Sensei Ishikawa, Lady Masako Adachi and the warrior monk Norio.
Kenji presents a stark contrast of upbringing compared to the rest of the cast and is arguably close to qualify as the story's comic relief. Kenji lacks the straightforwardness and composure of most other characters, often posing in a laid-back but suspicious manner; he would likely feign optimism when he needs to convince others into one of his schemes, trying to present the situation as much less severe than it really is. This would take a 180 degree turn when he realizes he's the one in danger, and Kenji would act frantically and carelessly as to somewhat locking himself up accidentally at one point.
Kenji has a knack on taking huge risks, gambling his success on unlikely chances and unusual methods that, either out of luck or his hidden genius, always worked out for him.
Despite his fraudulent tendency, Kenji is not evil, as he would not go out of his way to intentionally put someone in mortal danger for profit; when he does, he would desperately try to make up for the unintentional outcome. Kenji actually willing to get himself in a lot of trouble to provide food and medicine for the struggling people of Tsushima during the invasion. One can say that Kenji's good intentions are held back by his terrible habits.