Friday, December 21, 2007


Here is the conclusion of the meeting. The Viper had some issues with Nobunaga before he met him at Shoutokuji Temple. Here were the two key points.

  • Nobunaga was no fool. Dosan was able to see him as the man of the future.
  • The alliance with caution was still in tact. Dosan could not invade Owari because Nobunaga was a strong man with character and would pull off the unexpected.
Dosan had to know right from the start he was beat with brains and not by brawl. He then knew Nobunaga was not going to take orders from his superiors. Dosan then knew the type of person Nobunaga was made of. A self-made man. Nobunaga took full advantage of what the Sengoku Era gave. He was able to pull is zany actions with flare and able to get away with it. When Nobunaga brought him army with him, he made sure that he brought the best. The guns, to scare the Viper, the very long spears, and his wild attire to show his father-in-law: Here I am. Dosan knew Nobunaga was rare, but now he able could work with him. I think Dosan spoke harshly about Nobunaga to his retainers to save face. He had to show strength. He would help his son-in-law a year later in the Battle of Muraki (1554) and when he was killed in 1556, he gave the deed to Mino to Nobunaga. A perfect gift. Why? He was able to see Nobunaga was rare and a self-made man who was able to survive in the Sengoku Era than a man who was not.
God Bless and Merry Christmas!

Nobunaga no tame!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Meeting Part 3

At the main hall of the temple, the Saito men all in formal attire sat and waited for the meeting to start. As for Nobunaga, he was able to pull the rabbit out of the hat trick again. This time he was dressed in formal attire. The hair was properly tied and his clothing was lavish. For example, he wore a brown nagabakama (very long trousers) and a short scabbard to go with it. This was a complete shock for the Saito! They could not believe he was able to pull another trick again. Two of Dosan's retainers showed Nobunaga the way, but he acted as if nothing has happened. He treated the retainers as if they never existed at all. Hotta Doku then introduced Dosan to Nobunaga, "This is Yamashiro-dono." Nobunaga replied, "Indeed" or "Is that so!" The viper had to be nervous. He never met such an odd figure before. He was embarrassed by the fact that Nobunaga brought up the subject of caught in the act of spying. Dosan did mention to Nobunaga that he was an oil merchant long ago. Both had a simple meal and drank to a toast. Dosan sent off Nobunaga back to Nagoya. He had to be in complete bitter embarrassment. He saw the Oda spears longer than the Mino army. Not only that, but the guns as well. Inoko Hyousuke asked about Dosan's son-in-law. He replied, "I feel regrettable that my children will follow that idiot." The viper did have new respect for Nobunaga. How? He knew times were changing in Sengoku Japan, Nobunaga was the new kid on the block, and meeting the father-in-law for the first time Nobunaga passed with flying colors. Dosan knew the alliance was still good enough for time being. As for Nobunaga, he won the battle without firing a single shot. The conclusion of the historic meeting at a later date. The Shinchoo-Ko ki, by Ota Gyuuichi is still your best bet for a good read on the meeting by far.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Meeting Part 2

A woodblock print of Nobunaga's procession to Shoutokiji Temple.

The story only gets better! Nobunaga crossed the Kiso and Hida River by boat with his troops. Slowly he finally arrived at Tonda. As for Shoutokuji itself, located in Ichinomiya, the temple was a proxy from the Honganji in Osaka. Nobunaga would soon find out that his father-in-law was spying on him. Why? The answer is simple. Saito Dosan only heard reports on Oda Nobunaga. He wanted to see for himself if Nobunaga was truly a blockhead. Dosan hid in a small shack to catch a glimpse, but he would soon be in awe! Nobunaga's attire was exactly Dosan was looking for. His hair was tied up in a chasen-maki style with a yellowish light green cord. The clothing was, well infamous! Tiger and leopard skin hakama, his shirt with one sleeve bare, a hemp cord (used for guns) as a bracelet, a flint bag, a rope around his waist as a sash, a beautifully decorated scabbard, and a few containers (hyootan, used for water or store other things). Now comes the awesome part. Nobunaga brought his spear and gunner group with him. What was so special about that? The spears were twice as long and he brought 500 gunners with him. Dosan had to be in complete shock! The father-in-law was supposed to teach the son-in-law a lesson. Not the other way around. The viper was outsmarted by the idiot! In my opinion, Dosan respected Nobunaga little by little after this incident. More zany thing came from the meeting. Again, it gets better and Nobunaga will prove to his father-in-law, he is no slouch

I did not include much detail about Nobunaga's attire in my book Okehazama 1560 because the book was about the battle. If one wanted to know how Nobunaga took over Mino in 1567, yes, by all means, the meeting should be in detail. I love Ota Gyuuichi's, Shinchoo Koo-ki, description of the meeting between the two. (Introduction, Chapter 10)

Myself as young Nobunaga at the Gifu City Museum of History

Nobunaga no Tame!

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Meeting Part 1

Good Morning friends! I will explain the meeting between Nobunaga and his father-in-law, Saito Dosan. It will have several parts because I want to explain the details and the outcome which was very important. I just wrote about the tragic death of Nobunaga's senior adviser, Hirate Masahide, which took place in 1553. The meeting also took place in the same year (1553), but early spring. Dosan wanted to know if his son-in-law, was really an idiot. The fact was and still is known today, Nobunaga was no fool. For Saito Dosan, everything was going his way. He had power in Mino, trade, military might, and an alliance with the Oda which he was able to focus on other priorities.

Why the meeting in the first place?

  • Dosan never met Nobunaga in person.

  • Wanted to know if Nobunaga was a fool.

  • To find out if the Oda was weak enough for the Saito to invade Owari.

  • To find out if the alliance was good enough to continue.

The two would meet at Shoutokuji Temple in Tonda, near the border of Mino and Owari. Dosan was about to find out fast that his son-in-law can adapt quickly to the times of war. He found out Nobunaga's free thinking attitude was a fast track to success, especially with new weapons of war. More important, he found out after the meeting Nobunaga had a dream to unite the country. Part 2 later. Until then,

Tenka no Tame!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hirate Masahide's Death

In the first month of 1553, a tragic incident would haunt Nobunaga. He nerves were usually calm as steel, but this time around he was in shock. Rarely anything jolted his attitude. Hirate Masahide finally could not put up with Nobunaga's antics anymore. On January 13th, at Shiga Castle, he took his own life (at the age of sixty-two) as a protest and hopefully Nobunaga would change his ways. As for Nobunaga, it was a devastating blow. It was known that Nobunaga was in tears of sadness. He had respect for him even though Masahide was often called "old man." There was a story when Nobunaga was hawking. He offered the food to Masahide's spirit. Nobunaga even told the gods let the old man become a Buddha. Nobunaga built Seishuuji Temple to honor his senior adviser. Located in modern day Nagoya City the temple still stands today. The person responsible for the temple duties during the day was Takugen Shuuon. He was famously known to give Nobunaga "tenka fubu" slogan once Inoguchi (Gifu) was captured in 1567. The only negative part about the temple today it is always closed. Nobunaga did change his attitude, but he was still a free thinking warlord. Masahide would be proud of what Nobunaga accomplished during his mighty career.

Seishuuji Temple (Zuiunzan Seishuuji) in Nagoya City. As for the temple itself, it has moved around quite a bit. The orginal area was Nishi Kasugai-bu Ogimura. Then it moved to Kiyosu. In 1610, the temple was moved again to Nagoya, its present day location.

Nobunaga no tame!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New Book

Good Morning friends! I bought a new book yesterday at the local Japanese supermarket here in San Diego. Hao no Yume by Tsumoto Yo is a dandy. A great Nobunaga novel and a must have (osusume yomimono). I am still reading it at the moment. Practically, the last chapter of the book deals with Nobunaga's death at the Honnoji Temple in Kyoto. He stated that the world's history was changed. I do believe that if Nobunaga was not killed in June of 1582, Japan and the world as we know it today would be very different. Happy Thanksgiving and God Bless!

Tenka no tame!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Battle of Akatsuka

Narumi Castle landmarks located in Nagoya City.

The Battle of Akatsuka took place in 1552 which Nobunaga fought the Yamaguchi near Narumi Castle. The castle was built 1394 by Yasuhara Munenori. Narumi Castle was also known as Negoya Castle. Located in modern day Nagoya City, Midori-ku, the castle played a key role in 1560 during the Battle of Okehazama. The Yamaguchi were old retainers of Oda Nobuhide. When Nobuhide died in 1551, the Yamaguchi rebelled against young Nobunaga. What the Yamaguchi did not know and it was a mistake, they underestimated Nobunaga.

Fighting began in the middle of April of 1552. The Yamaguchi were led by Noritsugu and his son Kurojiro. The Yamaguchi also built Fort Kasadera and Nakamura in support of Narumi Castle. They also had support from the Imagawa of Suruga. Suruga men included, Kazurayama, Okabe, Iio, Muira, and the Azai. Nobunaga departed Nagoya Castle for war and he only had 800 men with him. As for the Yamaguchi, the had almost twice as much, 1,500. Fighting was heavy and violent. The end result was a draw. The big idiot was a tough nut to crack. Nobunaga knew how to fight with less. This was a great strength of his. For example, in 1561, he defeated the Saito in the Battle of Moribe with less men. Most of the time he came out on top. The Yamaguchi had to be in shock even with support from the outside. Still, they could not defeat Nobunaga. He would actually forgive the Yamaguchi in the future. It would only be a year later (1553) where Nobunaga would meet his father-in-law. The viper was about to soon find out that the big fool was a genius!

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Good afternoon friends!
I have just blew the dust off of a VCR tape I have received in the Fall of 2001. The tape was filmed in Azuchi at the Nobunaga no Yakata (Nobunaga's Mansion). The tape was and still is sublime. There were several people at the mansion. Ken Watanabe was there and joined the discussion. As for his Nobunaga movie, I have seen the date posted 1989 and 1993. If you watch the video, a date does appear and the movie was done in 1989 by Toei Films. You also notice the great Sengoku Era historian Owada Testuo and novelist Tsumoto Yo gave their opinions as well. Unfortunately, I do not know what broadcast station produced the show. The show has many photos, reenactments, and landmarks related to Nobunaga. Watch it!

Nobunaga at Kiyosu Castle chanting "Atsumori"
and the lovely Nohime with hand drum.
Myself in a kimono and swords.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nobuhide's death.

Banshouji Temple in Osu Kannon , Nagoya City. Suemori Castle, Nobuhide's last place of residence.

Good Morning!
Oda Nobuhide passed away in 1551 at Suemori Castle age of 42. His cause of death was some sort of disease, probably cancer. When he died, Nobuhide had brought the other Oda branches to a hold. He could not defeat them. In short, Nobuhide did not unify Owari. Nobunaga finished the unification process when he won the battle of Iwakura in 1559. According to Lamers, Nobuhide held the seaboard side of Owari as well as other districts.
If one wants a great story of Nobuhide's funeral, just read Ota Gyuuichi's, Shinchoo Ko-ki. Introduction Book, Chapter 9, Gyuuichi stated that Nobuhide died in March 1549, but the year is wrong. I have seen 1552 as well. The correct date is March 3, 1551. A temple was built for Nobuhide, Banshouji (Osu Kannon, Nagoya City). There were 300 priests from all parts of Japan who came to the funeral. The funeral was famous and it showed Nobunaga's true character. Everybody was dressed in proper attire. Nobunaga's younger brother, Nobuyuki, Dota Gozen, and Nohime were all present. Nobunaga arrived in his usual attire. Hair in chasen-maki style, long sword, clothes not even formal at all, shabby, a rope sash for his kimono, and a good chance he was dirty from his daily routine. He just did not care. He picked up the incense and threw it at the altar. Everybody was in complete shock! Except for one Buddhist monk from Kyushu. He knew Nobunaga was rare from watching and observing. The monk knew Nobunaga was going to be a powerful daimyo in the future. One person had to be in complete shame, Hirate Masahide. The man tried with his heart to make Nobunaga the proper heir to the Oda house, but unfortunately, could not control him.
Young Nobunaga during the time of his father's funeral at a museum in Azuchi.

I think Nobunaga was upset that his father passed away. For example, in the movie Oda Nobunaga, with Ken Watanabe, he yelled, "too soon" to his father. Another reason he took his frustrations out on the Buddhist monks.
Here is a passage from the Jesuit priest Luis Frois,
"When his father lay mortally ill in Owari, Nobunaga asked the bonzes to pray for his life and asked them whether he would recover from his illness. They assured him that he would, but he died a few days later. Nobunaga then had the bonzes thrown into a temple with the doors locked from outside; he told the bonzes that, as they had lied to him about the health of his father, they had better pray to their idols with greater devotion for their own lives. After surrounding them on the outside, he shot some of them to death with harquebuses" (Lamers, p. 24).

A chilling way to let the stress go. I think Nobunaga was upset about his father's death from the start. Nobuhide's death would mean there would still be chaos in Owari, but the surrounding provinces were licking their chops too. A weak Owari meant a possible invasion from the outside. In the end, Nobunaga just used his strong character and in time took over Owari himself.

Nobunaga no tame

Friday, November 9, 2007


Photo of the Kunitomo landmark in Nagahama City. Guns from Nagoya and Kiyosu Castle.

Good Evening!

I would like to write about Nobunaga's favorite toy. The gun! Yes, I mean the long barrel that can kill a man. Nobunaga would be the man who would change Sengoku warfare forever. He knew how to use the gun to its full potential. As stated earlier he placed an order for 500 hundred rifles at the Kunitomo gun factory in 1549. People called him an idiot to waste money on a useless weapon. They were right to some extent. Reloading was a problem. It was too slow and the gunners would have to drop their weapons to flee or fight. Nobunaga changed that quickly. He would create the rotating volley method that proved highly successful. Battles such as Muraki (1554) and the most famous one Nagashino (1575) were won by the gun. Sometimes he did not to fire a single shot to use its full strength. For example, the meeting with his father-in-law, Saito Dosan in 1553, Nobunaga brought 500 rifles with him. Dosan had only 100. The viper had to be scared to death to see his son-in-law with such brute force. Nobunaga used the gun's psychological advantage to its fullest.
When he was a young lad, Nobunaga would often practice with the gun. Indeed, he messed around with the sword, the bow, and the spear. But the gun was new, a symbol of power! Slowly, his free thinking mind would lead him to the future. Without his renaissance personality, Sengoku warfare might have been the same, the time to unite Japan much longer, and the technology development stalled. The gun spurred Japan's technology innovation. The castles had to be bigger, more stone had to be used, and more important, trade with the Europeans. Castles such as Azuchi, Himeiji , or Osaka would have never been built if the gun did not exist. The city of Sakai, located in the Osaka area was known to crank out guns too. Not only that, they were the Wall Street of Japan at the time during the Sengoku Era. Nobunaga knew the gun's drawback, but his futuristic thinking solved the problem. He dared while others did not. Eventually, Nobunaga was the one with the main prize-Tenka! And the gun played a huge role in Nobunaga's plans to unite the country. Last, the gun spurred Nobunaga's mind to a new naval weapon-iron clad ships!
As for the European guns itself, they arrived in 1543. The ship was swept by a typhoon and landed on the outskirts of Tanegashima, an island of Kyushu. The guns were first called Tanegashima, but now referred as teppo or hinawaju.

Osusume Yomimono. Recommended readings.

Perrin, Noel. Giving Up the Gun: Japan's Reversion to the Sword, 1543-1879. Boulder: Shambhala, 1980.
A great book. I bought it at a local used bookstore years ago. I disagree with some of his opinions on Nobunaga and the gun.

Brown, Delmer M."The Impact of Firearms on Japanese Warfare." Far Eastern Quarterly, vol.7 (1947/48), pp. 236-253. I like this article. Tons of useful footnotes.

Another Kunitomo landmark in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture. By the way, you can see Nagahama Castle, the gun museum, and the Odani Castle ruins (The Azai clan headquarters) in a day. If you really want to stretch it, the Anegawa (1570) battlefield too.

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Kitsuno: Nobunaga's love

Kitsuno's grave in Kounan city.

Ohaiyo Gozaimasu!
Today I will write about one of many Nobunaga's famous concubines. Her name is Kitsuno (15?-66) and she gave birth to three children. Kitsuno was another Sengoku beauty. She was first married to Dota Yaheiji, but he was eventually killed in battle. She was not a widow for long. Soon after his death, Kitsuno met Nobunaga and the rest was history. Kitsuno's came from the Ikoma family. The Ikoma originally came from Nara Prefecture, Ikoma City. During or after the Onin War, the Ikoma migrated to Owari. The Ikoma family headquarters were located at Unkyuuyashiki in Owari. Her father was Ikoma Iemune. It was known Nobunaga was deeply in love with Kitsuno. Her children would become famous. Nobutada born in 1557 (at the Ikoma mansion), Nobukatsu 1558, and Nobunaga's first daughter Gotoku in 1559. Nobutada
was the first in line for the Oda family, but he was killed during the Honnoji Rebellion in 1582. Gotoku would marry Tokugawa Ieyasu's first son, Nobuyasu. He would later take his own life for mishaps along with his mother, Tsukiyama-dono. After Gotoku's birth, everything went wrong for Kitsuno. She was sick and never fully recovered. She was always bedridden and for Nobunaga, it was painful. She moved to Komaki Castle in the early 1560s. Komaki Castle was close to the Ikoma's Unkyuuyashiki mansion and it benefited. Her body was not strong enough and finally gave way May 13th, 1566 at the age of 29 (39?) at Komaki Castle, a year before Nobunaga took over Inoguchi (Gifu) in 1567. Kitsuno's parting gift to Nobunaga was her three children. It was known that Nobunaga was full of tears. He was heartbroken and some say, he was never the same again. This event is rarely written about. It should be. It proved Nobunaga was human after all. His love and care for Kitsuno was from the heart. Both almost lived as if they were husband and wife. She gave more love and support than Nobunaga's mother, Dota Gozen. A sweet and gentle lady when support was needed, she gave it to Nobunaga and her children. Kitsuno's grave can be found at Kyuushouji Temple, Kounan City, Aichi Prefecture. Kusudo Yoshiaki's book, Fuun ji Nobunaga to Hiun no Onnatachi, has some great information on Kitsuno (pp. 84-112). Her age of her death is murky. It was known that she died at the age of 39, but Yoshiaki posted her age at 29. To tell you the truth, I really do not know Kitsuno's age at the time of her death. As for now, I trust Yoshiaki's work. Until further evidence, 29 it is.

A photo of Nohime at Gifu Castle. Was she Barren? High possibility. Kitsuno had the children and Nohime never had any during her lifetime.

Tenka no tame

Monday, November 5, 2007

Nobunaga's Birth

Shobata Castle landmark. Oda Nobuhide's place of birth in the early 1500s.

Good afternoon friends! I have stated earlier in my blogs that Nobunaga was born at Nagoya Castle.
Historians such as Jeroen Lamers have stated he was born at Shobata Castle. His father, Nobuhide was born there, 1510(11)? Also there is a good possibility Nobunaga's grandfather, Nobusada, was born at Shobata Castle too. I will use Nagoya Castle for two reasons. 1) There is a landmark at the modern Nagoya Castle. 2) the most important reason is the historians. Owada Tetsuo comes to mind. Many of his writings have stated Nobunaga was born at Nagoya Castle. I take Owada's work seriously because he is one of the most trusted in the business. Okamoto Ryouichi is another that comes to mind. His book, Oda Nobunaga no Subete, has Nobunaga's place of birth at Nagoya Castle. As for for the day? Eleventh or the twelfth of May is fine. I have seen others that are off the mark. Until further evidence, Nagoya Castle was Nobunaga's birth place.

Nobunaga no tame!

Nagoya Castle, Nobunaga's area of birth May 11th, 1534.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Hirate Masahide

Photo of Hirate Masahide's Mansion

Good Afternoon my friends. Today I will discuss my view on Hirate Masahide, Nobunaga's personal adviser. Hirate Masahide was born in 1492. As it is known he took his own life in the first month of 1553. That situation will be explained at a later date. I want to write about the man. Mentioned earlier posts he was superb at the arts and taught Nobunaga the way also. Masahide made the arrangements for his young pupil to marry Nohime in 1548. He was loyal to Nobunaga. Nobuhide gave him a tough task, but he the only person who was up to it. He would do anything to make sure Nobunaga was ready to take claim to the Oda. Masahide almost always took full responsibility for Nobunaga's rash actions. He knew young Nobunaga had potential for the Oda clan, but how to do the job was the tough part. How did he know Nobunaga was heading to greatness? Watch and observe. During Nobunaga's first taste of war in 1547, he saw Nobunaga cool, calm, and collected. That was rare for a young warrior. Masahide then knew Nobunaga was no ordinary samurai. In my opinion, he knew Nobunaga was a genius do to his new way of thinking. Guns, new war tactics, and free trade economics. That is including Nobunaga as well. Even though, he called Masahide an "old man" he had respect for him. Masahide was too traditional and it would be one of many reasons why he took his own life. Masahide was covering up for Nobunaga's mishaps, and making sure Nobunaga was ready for the big one. If Masahide lived long enough to see Nobunaga's success at the job, I bet you your life he was very happy man! Hirate Masahide's mansion landmark is located in Shiga Park. I was lucky enough to go there this year and take a photo.

A photo of Nobunaga during his first baptism of fire in 1547 (Mikawa Kira Ohama). The reproduction is located at Kiyosu Castle.

Tenka no tame!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tatsuya Nakadai wins cultural award and the perfect Nobunaga

Hello my friends and a Happy Halloween to you! During the weekend, I was reading the Japan Times and found out that Tatsuya Nakadai will receive the Cultural Merits. I was happy for him. He has done some superb samurai flicks, but his best was Kagemusha, directed by Akira Kurosawa in 1980. To tell you the truth, the role was originally given to Shintaro Katsu, the actor who did the Zatoichi films in the 1960s and 70s. That brings me to my point. What actor plays the Nobunaga role the best? Takuya Kimura and Ken Watanabe comes to mind. If you have seen Kagemusha, you probably have a good chance to see what Nobunaga looked liked in his prime. Daisuke Ryu played the role perfectly. No questions asked. Everything was a 10 in my mind. Look at the physical features. Skin, height, and weight was perfect Slim and masculine. Kurosawa did his homework! Daisuke Ryu still had a bit of pretty boy in him. His voice tone was again, great. Just looked how Nobunaga was upset that his spies were not giving him the correct information. Nobunaga riding the horse and more important, his love of foreign toys. The armor from Europe, guns, and the priests. Later near the climax of the film, Nobunaga sang his favorite noh song "Atsumori." Look at his clothes closely. Kurosawa had to use the Nobunaga painting located at the Choukouji Temple in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. I have never been to Choukouji, but plan to the near future. If you have any doubts, just read some of Luis Frois's diary on Nobunaga. You will be amazed! This what Nobunaga looked during at his best. I have not seen any director since Kurosawa who have taken the time to pay attention to detail.

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Oda clan, Nobuhide, Nohime, and young Nobunaga

Paper dolls of Nohime and her court at Nagoya castle. Sagiyama Castle landmark, place of Nohime's birth.

The Oda Clan originally came from Echizen or modern day Fukui Prefecture. They were the guardians of the Tsurugi Shrine in Ota-cho. It is most possible the Oda name came from the town name. In the 15th century the Oda moved from Echizen to Owari. The Shiba were in control and they were the military governors (shugo). The Oda were the deputy governors (shugodai). The Shiba resided in Kyoto while the Oda stayed in Owari. The result was even though the Shiba were in control of Owari which was given to them by the Muromachi shogunate, the real work was done by the Oda. Eventually, chaos erupted in the Shiba house and the Oda took over as the rulers of Owari. This was an excellent example of gekokujo: The low overtakes the high.

The Oda branch was split into two parts. The Ise no Kami and the Yamato no Kami. The Ise no Kami is located closer to Kyoto and the main areas located in Owari were Nakajima, Kasugai, Niwa and Haguri. The main headquarters for the Ise no Kami branch was Iwakura Castle. As for the Yamato no Kami branch which was futher away from Kyoto included Kaito, Kaisai, Aichi, and Chita. Nobunaga's line came from the Yamato no Kami. Their headquarters were located at Kiyosu Castle. There is a theory that Nobunaga's family came from the Taira. In the 1570s, Nobunaga liked to sign off his letters using the Taira name to distance himself from Ashikaga Shogun Yoshiaki who was from the Minamoto line. Old tales from the Edo Era mentioned that Nobunaga came from Taira no Sukemori, the son of Taira Shigemori (1138--79) line. The truth: Nobunaga's line was from the offshoots of the Fujiwara clan. The strongest case is a bulletin written by Nobunaga himself in 1549. The bulletin was signed off as "Fujiwara no Nobunaga" and it was a public off-limits notice to the eight villages of Atsuta. This is the oldest document around with his John Hancock on it! That same year Nobunaga ordered 500 rifles from the Kunitomo gun factory located in Omi Province, modern day Nagahama City. If you want learn more about the Oda family, read Jeroen Lamers book, Japonius Tyrannus.
A great website on the Oda family:

Oda Nobuhide was born at Shobata Castle. His father was Oda Nobusada, Nobunaga's grandfather. After Nobunaga was born, he gave Nagoya Castle to young Nobunaga. Soon after he left the castle, he built Furuwatari Castle where Nobunaga had his genpuku. He later spent the rest of his life at Suemori Castle where he died in 1551 of probable cancer. After Nobuhide's death, Suemori Castle was in the hands of Nobunaga's younger brother, Nobuyuki. All of these castle or landmarks are located in the Nagoya City area. Nobuhide knew young Nobunaga was rare and prepared him for great success later on. He was a bright man who made friends with many. He endorsed trade, made war, and alliances when needed. Owari had good river routes for farming and trade. Nobuhide used this to his advantage as much as he could.

He had success in 1540 in the Battle of Anjo, which he took over, He gave the castle to his older son, Nobuhiro. A blunder nine years later against the Imagawa which they captured Nobuhiro. Nobuhide was forced to exchange a young boy who he held hostage in 1547, Takechiyo, for Nobuhiro. As for Takechiyo, he was later known as Tokugawa Ieyasu. The person who was responsible for make the exchange possible was Taigen Suufu, Imagawa Yoshimoto's military adviser. Nobuhide had to fight the Imagawa from the rear and the Saito on the front.

Nobuhide had some success in trying to unify the Oda clan, but the real unifier was Nobunaga who won control of Owari after destroying Iwakura Castle in 1559. The real disaster was the constant war with Saito Dosan. 1544 (Inoguchi) and 1547 (Kano) were setbacks to Nobuhide who tried to invade Mino.The only bright spot was the battles took plave in Mino not Owari. He lost a lot of good men. In the long run, he had to make peace with Dosan. The marriage was arranged by Hirate Masahide who was Nobunaga's guardian. Masahide excelled in the arts such as tea ceremony and renga. The family who held the power was the Saito. During the Sengoku Era, giving away one's daughter was a sign of power.

(Statue of Nohime at Kiyosu Castle. Photo of myself as young Nobunaga at Gifu City
Museum of History).

Nohime was born at Sagiyama Castle in modern day Gifu City in 1535. Earlier I had mentioned that she had no kids. A good chance she might have been barren. When Dosan agreed that his daughter would marry the idiot, he knew he had a trick up his sleeve. He gave Nohime a dagger just in case her new husband was an idiot. She never had to use it. In fact, it would be Nobunaga who would give his new father-in-law a run for his money. She was also known as Sagiyama-dono, Kichoo no kata, and later in life Azuchi-dono, a true Sengoku beauty. Her mother, Omi no kata, was Akechi Suruga no Kami Mitsutsugu's daughter, the lord of Akechi Castle in Mino. She was born in 1513. Omi no kata was married to Saito Dosan in 1533. To tell you the truth, Nohime was related to Akechi Mitsuhide. Omi no kata passed away in 1551, at the age of thirty-nine of some sort of disease. One incident is well known that Nobunaga was a cunning man. He would stay up at night glancing at Mino Province. Nohime was troubled and ask why? Nobunaga told her that he sent spies to kill her father. Naturally, Nohime told her father and the spies were killed. The truth was it was a lie. Dosan ended up killing his own men who did not commit a crime. Her death mentioned earlier, is still in question. I still believe that she passed away July 9th, 1612. One reason could be that her grave is located at Sokenin Temple, a sub-temple of Kyoto's Daitokuji. One can still go to Sokenin, but it is only open during the fall. Daitokuji is a must for the person traveling to Kyoto. Excellent Zen gardens. As for reference took Nohime's death, Okada Masahito's,Oda Nobunaga Googyoo Jiten, is a great option.

Nohime's grave at Sokenin Temple in Kyoto

Young Nobunaga

When Nobunaga was born in 1534 and was a young lad, he was supposed to act as the next in line for hos father Nobuhide. That never happened. Nobunaga had a crazy redneck childhood and loved it. One time he brought a snake back home and his family was horrified! His younger brother, Nobuyuki, was the opposite. In fact, Nobunaga's mother Dota Gozen showed more love to Nobuyuki. 1546 was his genpuku at Furuwatari Castle. His name would change to Kichiboshi to Saburo Nobunaga. A party was held in his honor. He often rode into town wearing tiger skin trousers (hakama) and his short sleeve shirt sleeveless. He ate chestnuts, mochi, and persimmons. Skilled in the gun, sword, bow and spear. People did wonder if he was an idiot. He loved to play with his toys, guns! Held mini sumo bouts with friends. He put his retainers in mock battles with the commoners. Chased girls around, enjoyed hawking, and more important saw the world in a different way than his superiors. He knew TAXES HAD TO BE CUT to bring in business and more important warfare had to change! Just by watching and observing while in town. He was thinking outside of the box. He knew guns and long spears would rule the day. As mentioned earlier, when he purchased the 500 matchlock rifles, Nobunaga knew the proper use. Many Sengoku warlords were not fond of them and paid the price. For Nobunaga, they were worth the weight in gold. As for treating others, he did not give a hoot where they came from. If you can do the job, you were hired regardless whee you came from. A good movie of young Nobunaga is Tenka Tota Baka (The Fool who Conquered Japan) with Takuya Kimura. Kimura's physique was perfect. Skin color, height, and weight was sublime, a real pretty boy. His short temper was well known and kept his subordinates on their toes. He would create trouble for Hirate Masahide which will be discussed later on.

Nobunaga's genpku landmark
Furuwatari Castle in Nagoya City

Tenka no tame!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Statue of Oda Nobunaga near Kiyosu Castle

This page will be a site dedicated to the life of Oda Nobunaga (1534-82). Nobunaga was a genius who knew how to unify the country of Japan with guns, intelligence, and gold. He saw the future while the other warlods faded. Nobunaga was born around May 11th or 12th at Nagoya Castle, some historians say at Shobata Castle. His birth name was Kichiboshi. He was killed at the Honnoji Temple in Kyoto by one of his generals, Akechi Mitsuhide, on June 2, 1582. What made Nobunaga so unique during the Sengoku Era-he was a made ahead of his time. Nagoya Castle landmark in the area of modern day Nagoya Castle. Nobunaga's place of birth.

As for myself, I received my degree in History at San Diego State University in 2003. Spent one year at Gifu University 2000-2001 as an exchange student under Matsuda Yukitoshi, a man I owe great debt to. There at Gifu, I continued my studies on Oda Nobunaga and the Japanese language. Learned the tea ceremony (Urasenke school) and the shakuhachi. Lately, finished my first book, Okehazama 1560. As for Japan itself, I have been there 11 times spending much of my time in Aichi and Gifu Prefecture. As a bonus, I know the ins and outs of the city of Kyoto very well. If anyone who interested in studying or reserching Nobunaga, I urge you to go to the Nagoya and Gifu City area. There are many battlefields and landmarks related to him. Especially in Aichi Prefecture.

  1. Father: Oda Nobuhide (1511-1551) fought against the Imagawa and the Saito throughout the 1540s with mixed results. Made some inroads in uniting the Oda clan.
  2. Mother: Dota Gozen (d. 1594) She was from the Mino area of Kani. Her father was Dota Masahisa Shimosa no Kami. She would give birth to Nobunaga's younger brother, Nobuyuki.
Young Nobunaga loved the open country as a kid. He often played with matchlock rifles, mock battles, and getting into trouble. His rowdy childhood would give hime the title "Outsuke" or big idiot. His zany childhood would prepare him forsuccess later on in life. He made his genpuku or manhood in 1546 and in 1547 had his first taste of war. The enemy was the Imagawa army. He was married in 1548 to a beautiful lady named Nohime. This was arranged byHirate Masahide, one of Nobunaga's retainers. She was Saito Dosan's daughter. Saito Dosan was known as the viper. Her mother was Omi no kata. Saito Dosan controlled the Mino area which is modern Gifu City.

  1. Nohime never had any children.
  2. Her death is still in debate. Most likely she died in 1612. The same year one of Nobunaga's concubines, Onabe no kata, passed away.
His likes were country food, beautiful girls (was known to be a playboy, a ladies man), noh and the tea ceremony. He was a man in good physical condition (rarely sick), a slender body, and the best looking out of three unifiers, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu. He loved swimming, horse riding, sumo, and hawking. He hated to lose and his short temper showed it!

A reading list for the Oda Nobunaga fan. Most are in Japanese. I plan to post more in the future.

Ota, Gyuuichi. Shinchoo-Koo ki. Translated by Sakakiyama Jun. Tokyo: Kyookusha, 1980. This is a must for any Nobunaga historian. He fought with Nobunaga and he was from Nobunaga's Owari Province. Excellent descriptions of battles. The number one primary source. No exceptions what so ever!

Oze, Hoan. Amane Kangori(ed). Vol. l. Koten Bunko 58 and 59. Nobunaga-ki. Tokyo: Gendai shinchosha, 1981. Another must. He was born in 1564, four years after Okehazama. A good primary source.

Lamers, Jeroen P. Japonius Tyrannus. Leiden: Hotei Publishing, 2000. This is a rare English book on Nobunaga. A great book, but lacking in the war department. This is a must, no exceptions!

McMullin, Neil. Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth Century Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984. Another book in English. Tells the story of Nobunaga's wars with the Ishiyama Honganji and Mt. Hiei-zan.

Okamoto, Ryouichi, Oda Nobunaga no Subete, 11th ed. Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ourai sha, 2000.

Okada Masahito. Oda Nobunaga Soogyoo Jiten. Tokyo: Yuusankaku, 1999. A great wealth of information. A must have reference book.

Nishigaya, Yasuhiro. Oda Nobunaga Jiten. Tokyo Do Shuppan, 2000. A great reference book.

Kaku, Kozo. Nobunaga no Nazo. Tokyo: Kodansha, 2000.

Akiyama, Shun. Nobunaga. Shinshosha, 1996. A good book that explains Nobunaga's greatness.

Owada, Tetsuo. Rekishi no Documento: Okehazama no Tatakai. Tokyo: Gakushu Kenkyu Sha, 2000. One of the best books on the Battle of Okehazama. Which took place in 1560. Owada is one of the best historians covering the Sengoku Era.

Kusudo, Yoshiaki. Fuunji Nobunaga to Hiun no Onnatachi. Tokyo: Gakusha Kenkyuu Sha, 2002. A must have! The book explains Nobunaga's women and their history.

Rekishi Gunzo "Gekishin Oda Nobunaga." Tokyo: Gakken, 2001.

Paterson, Les. Okehazama 1560. A book in English on the battle of Okehazama. Not in print yet, but canbuy the manuscript.

Akita, Hiroki. Oda Nobunaga to Azuchijo. Osaka: Sogensha, 1990. A great book on Azuchi Castle and the history of Azuchi.

Turnbull, Stephen. Nagashino 1575. UK: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 2000. Nobunaga's victory in English. Great graphics. Must have.

Kudo, Kensaku. Nobunaga wa honto ni tensai no ka. Tokyo: Soshisha, 2007. A new book that doubts Nobunaga's genius. It is biased, but still a good read.

Elison, Goerge. Smith, Bardell. Warlords, Artits, and Commoners in the Sixteenth Century Japan. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1987. A great book on Sengoku culture. Has many pages devoted to Nobunaga. Another must have.

Web pages

  1. The English paper of the Japan Times newspaper.
  2. The best site in English on Warring States Japan.
  3. A great place of samurai flicks.
  4. Another great place for samurai flicks.
  5. A magazine that is devoted to Kyoto.
  6. A great place for ninja and samurai flicks.
As a parting word, Tenka no tame or Nobunaga no tame- For the sake of the realm For the sake of Nobunaga!