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!

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