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!