Saturday, January 30, 2010

Imagawa Yoshimoto's Weakness

Yoshimoto had many weaknesses and it cost him his life and later, the Imagawa house. Here are a few:

  • Alcohol
  • Arrogance
  • Treated the Matsudaira of Mikawa like dirt.
  • Imagawa soldiers not battled seasoned compared to the Oda.
  • Not physically fit to fight. Some say, he could not saddled up on a horse.
  • The loss of his advisor Taigen Suufu (Sessai).
  • Cursed at the start?
I listed many more in my book pages 94-98. Some controversial and some spot on. Hopefully, in the next couple of months I will order Arimatsu's book on Imagawa Yoshimoto.

Anyways, Today I finally received War and Faith: Ikko Ikki in Late Muromachi Japan by Carol Richmond Tsang in the mail today. Looking forward to the book.

Nobunaga no tame!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Takeisao Shrine (Kenkun Jinja)

The Samonji sword, along with Nobunaga's armor, and a copy of Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki are now locked up at Takeisao Shrine (Kenkun Jinja) in Kyoto.

In Thomas Conlan's great book Weapons & Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior 1200-1877 A.D. (p. 116), has the engraved sword translated.

"The sword of Imagawa Yoshimoto, who was careless and killed by Nobunaga on 19.5.1560."

Last year I posted about the location on the whereabouts of the tombs of Imagawa Yoshimoto's. They are all worth a visit in my opinion. My personal favorite is the tomb at Daisyoji Temple, in Ushikubo Town.

Tenka no tame!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


According to Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki, Nobunaga built a sotoba for Yoshimoto at Sukaguchi.

The sotoba is located at Shogakuji Temple Sukaguchi (Shinkawa Town, Aichi Prefecture). I was finally able to take a photo of the area last year. The next day after the battle, Nobunaga held a very rare head viewing ceremony at Kiyosu Castle. Yoshimoto's head was in Nobunaga's possession at last.

The man who was responsible for bringing Yoshimoto's head back to Sunpu was Okabe Motonobu. He was the man in charge of Narumi Castle during the battle. Along the way, Motonobu attacked Kariya Castle. Mizuno Nobuchika was the lord of the castle. It was a lost cause for the Mizuno as Nobuchika was killed.

Why did Okabe Motonobu attacked Kariya Castle? One was to make up for the Okehazama debacle. The reason could be the Mizuno were an ally of the Oda. Tokugawa Ieyasu's mother, Odai, came from the Mizuno family. Yoshimoto's son, Ujizane was certainly happy about Okabe Motonobu's success.

When news finally hit back home in Sunpu, Yoshimoto's mother Jukeini and Ujizane had to be in complete shock. Sengoku Japan was changed for good and a star was born, Nobunaga! As for the Imagawa house, they never fully recovered from Yoshimoto's death.

Nobunaga no tame!


After the battle, Kaioh, the head priest of Sogenji Temple gathered the dead and buried them. Another priest by the name of Meiso also helped. A funeral was held for the dead and the landmark was built. In 1937, Senninzuka became a national monument. The landmark is about a fifteen minute walk from the Toyoake Okehazama battlefield.

In Owada Tetsuo's Okehazama no Tatakai, he listed the Imagawa dead as 583 bushi and 2,500 others killed (p. 216). Almost Imagawa three thousand soldiers were killed during the battle.

Here is some of the Imagawa notables killed in action at Okehazama.

  • Muira Yoshinari Guarded Fort Kasadera in Owari.
  • Kanbara Ujinori Lord of Suruga Kanbara Castle.
  • Yui Masanobu Lord of Suruga Kawairi Castle.
  • Matsui Munenobu Lord of Totomi Futamata Castle.
  • Ii Naomori Lord of Totomi Ii no ya Castle.
  • Matsudaira Masachika Lord of Mikawa Okusa Castle.
  • Matsudaira Masatada Lord of Mikawa Nagasawa Castle.
Out of the Imagawa 25,000 strong approximately 2,000-3,000 were samurai while the rest were the grunts. See Okamoto Ryoichi, Oda Nobunaga no Subete, p. 100. A good chuck of the warrior class were killed in action. The numbers can be debated and looking forward to chat with someone about that.

Here is another book to check out as well. Please read Inoue Tsutomu Mo Hitotsu Okehazama, (2000).

Tenka no tame!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yoshimoto's Death

It was mid-afternoon and the violent rain/thunderstorm soon passed and now it was the time to attack. Nobunaga then spoke to his troops:

"If the enemy attacks, retreat. If he retreats, give chase. Don't capture anybody. Just leave him alone. If we win in this battle, those taking part will bring honor to your houses, your reputation assured in generations to come." (Gyuichi, Shincho-ko ki).

There is a reason why if the enemy retreats, go after them. Thomas Conlan explains in his book State of War, "A fleeing enemy is easier to kill than actively resisting." (Conlan, p. 62).

Then Nobunaga was ready destroy the Imagawa for good.

"Now is the time to attack. This is a good opportunity to distinguish yourselves in battle. Seek Yoshimoto; ignore all others." (Sugawara Makoto, "Heroes of the Unification of the Country" p. 48).

Nobunaga led the charge and caught the Imagawa off guard. The Oda army quickly killed Imagawa soldiers and blood spewed all over the place. Cries of pain and despair could be heard from far. At first, Yoshimoto thought there was an argument among his soldiers. He was dead wrong. It was the Oda who came with the intent to kill. To make matters worse for the Imagawa army, spears, bows, and guns were stuck in the mud. They were not prepared at all. As for Nobunaga, his guns, bows, and spears were ready for action.

Then Nobunaga's army spotted Yoshimoto's palanquin. This was a stroke of good fortune since Yoshimoto had to be nearby. Nobunaga's army went for the holy grail and failure was not an option. Yoshimoto had around three hundred soldiers to protect him, but it was quickly reduced to fifty. It goes to show how violent the battle was and the pace as well.

Then Hattori Haruyasu spotted Yoshimoto and attacked him. Hattori was wounded, but Mori Shinsuke killed Yoshimoto and took his head as a war trophy. However, Shinsuke lost a finger in the process. His finger slid into Yoshimoto's mouth and his blackened teeth gnawed it off. It was a victory for the ages for Nobunaga. David beat Goliath at the Battle of Okehazama.

There was still more fighting going on and two other Imagawa retainers were killed in action as well. Shimada Sakyo and Sawada Nagato no Kami were slain while trying to flee. The Imagawa was a total mess. Dead bodies were everywhere as well as weapons and kitchenware. Imagawa wounded were being picked off and the whole battlefield was a slaughterhouse.

I do think it was a short thirty minute battle. More like two hours in my opinion. If you want to see some great movies on the battle, here are a few of my favorites.

  • Oda Nobunaga Fuunji (1959) A dramatic ending to the movie. Reminds me of old Hollywood and Nakamura Kinnosuke's role as Nobunaga is one of the best.
  • Tokugawa Ieyasu (1965) Nakamura Kinnosuke plays the role of Nobunaga again. The film shows how badly how Yoshimoto treated the Matsudaira house. Great movie.
  • Nobunaga (1992 Taiga Drama) Great Okehazama action! I love it. Even though there are some things I disagree how the battle was presented. Still awesome battle scenes.
  • Toshiie to Matsu (2002 Taiga Drama) Watching Yoshimoto having difficulty with the sword was hilarious. Great charge led by our dear leader himself. This drama has the best and most accurate Nobunaga in my opinion.
  • Furin Kazan (2007 Taiga Drama) Very short. However, a change of pace. After the rain stopped, Oda guns fired at the farmhouse where Yoshimoto was staying at. You should the Yoshimoto's reaction. Classic.
If Yanada Masatsuna's intelligence was not accurate and Nobunaga had to wonder around looking for Yoshimoto's camp, I think the outcome might have been different. A high possibility that Yoshimoto might have built a better defense against a surprise attack.

Nobunaga no tame!

Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield Part IV

Here are some pictures where Sena Ujitoshi made camp on May 17th, 1560. Ujitoshi's birth and date dates are unknown. However, he was the lord of Sena Castle in Suruga and his wife was Yoshimoto's younger sister, and his father was Sena Ujisada.

Very close by is the Shinmei/Okehazama Shrine

At Yoshimoto's camp, everything was going well. While everybody was eating lunch, there were Noh songs being chanted and a possibility of a tea ceremony as well. It was noted in Owada Tetsuo's Imagawa Yoshimoto that a daisu was brought on the campaign (p. 222). The possibilities are high in my opinion since Yoshimoto was attached to high culture.

Yoshimoto was in a surcoat of red brocade and armor with a white breastplate, a sword by Samonji, and a dagger by Matsukura Go. He sat in full enjoyment while gazing at the heads of his defeated enemies. Little did Yoshimoto know that Nobunaga was about to crash the party.

Yoshimoto acquired the Samonji sword when he married Takeda Nobutora's daughter. Before it was in the hands of Miyoshi Nagamasa (Sozan). After the Okehazama victory, it was in the hands of its rightful owner, Nobunaga. The sword is now located and stored at Takeisao Shrine (Kenkun Jinja) in Kyoto.

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield Part III

There are many landmarks related to the battle in Arimatsu. To tell you the truth, I wish there was a museum to display the artifacts. It is a shame that the Toyoake battlefield's museum was closed down. That is not right at all in my opinion.

I wrote about Matsui Munenobu's location during the battle in December of last year. He was a retainer of the Imagawa and was also the lord of Futamata Castle in Totomi Provice. During the Battle of Okehazama, Matsui Munenobu was killed in action. His two graves can be found at Chofukuji in Arimatsu and the Toyoake Okehazama battlefield near Kotokuin.

Here is the English explanation of the battle and a street sign leading the way with a the 2010 450th anniversary banner.

Here is some more information Hachisuka Koroku's role during the battle. Ota Mitsuaki's Okehazama no Shinjutsu, pp. 126-127. Ota noted down the goods that were provided to the Imagawa troops. The goods included mochi, sake, and kombu. He mentioned that Hachisuka did play a role in stopping the Imagawa rapid advance.

Nobunaga no tame!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield Part II

Here are some more photos from the battlefield area.

After Nobunaga's victory over Imagawa Yoshimoto, he ordered the Okehazama locals to dig seven holes to bury the war dead. The tombs were called "Nanatsu-zuka" and believed to be under a curse. The Toyoake Okehazama battlefield also has seven tombstones dedicated to the
Imagawa fallen.

When Yoshimoto's main army made camp at Okehazama, a priest by the name of Zenku along with the locals provided food and drink. Zenku became head priest of the temple in 1538 and Chofukuji is from the Seizan sect of Jodo Buddhism. Take a close look at the picture, you will see in the background a stone with Yoshimoto's and Matsui Munenobu's tombstone nearby.

Now there could be one more important person who helped providing the food and drink and some intelligence as well. Hachisuka Koroku Masakatsu did participate in the battle for the Oda. For further reading see Hoshi Ryoichi, Hachisuka Koroku Masakatsu, (Gakken Bunko, 2001) pp. 82-103.

Tenka no tame!

Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield

Now I will focus on the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield. There are many landmarks related to the battle at this location. If you do plan to visit both battlefields, it will take you at least a day to soak it all in. I advise you to take your time and enjoy yourself.

This is the Arimatsu Okehazama Kosenjo Park stone.

This bulletin board explains the battle in Japanese and English. The battlefield park area is some what eerie and spooky. However, a must see.

This is the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield map located near the Senpyo-no matsu landmark. The map has all the landmarks related to the battle. However, the map is in Japanese.

This is the Arimatsu Okehazama landmark post located in the park area.

This is the well where Imagawa Yoshimoto's decapitated head was supposed to be cleaned. My favorite Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield landmark by far. Again, the explanation is only in Japanese.

I also ordered Ehata Hidesato's book Okehazama Kamiikusa no Senryaku to Jitsuzou and should receive it sometime next month. Mr. Kajino, have you read this book yet?

Nobunaga no tame!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

More on Toyoake Okehazama

Here are some more photos of the Toyoake Okehazama battlefield.

This where Yoshimoto's main army was camped at.

This is the rest area on the Kotokuin Temple (Shingon sect). One of the most beautiful rest spots in Japan and very peaceful as well.

The Toyoake Okehazama Battlefield Map. Nicely done. Matsui Munenobu's tomb is located near Kotokuin Temple as well. The picture did not turn out, so I have to make another trip back to the battlefield. A good excuse in my opinion.

Here is some information on Matsui Munenobu's tombstone.

Matsui Munenobu was a chief vassal of Imagawa Yoshimoto. He and Yoshimoto was killed in battle. The two tombstones of Matsui Munenobu and Imagawa Yoshimoto were erected by Yamaguchi Masayoshi of Arimatsu in 1876.

To get to the Toyoake Okehazama battlefield, take the Meitetsu Line and get off at Chukyo-Keibajo-mae station. It is only a three minute walk from the station. There used to be a museum dedicated to the battle, but a few years ago, it was shut down. A real bummer because they had some awesome artifacts. I wish one of the two battlefields would build a new museum.

Tenka no tame!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Okehazama Battlefields

It is raining hard here in San Diego and I am stuck in the house. To kill time and still being productive, I am blogging.

There are two Okehazama battlefields, one in Toyoake City and the other located in Arimatsu. I will focus on the Toyoake City battlefield during the weekend and then the Arimatsu location next week.

The Toyoake City Okehazama battlefield was designated as a national historic site by the Ministry of Education on December 21, 1937.
In April of 1938, Toyoake Village was designated as an administrator of the national historic site called "the Okehazama battlefield" by the Ministry of Education. This monument was erected in October 1941 to commemorate the designation of the village as a historic site.

Okehazama Chokohi

This monument was erected in 1809 by a Shinto priest of the Tsushima Shrine. Toyonaga Himuro who lamented that the ancient battlefield fell into ruin. On the back of the monument, the history of the battlefield is inscribed. The monument was built by Magoemon Kawachiya, whose name had been succeeded for generations. The inscription on the monument was composed by Hatakanae, an official Confucian teacher of the Owari region and written by Akira Nakanishi of the Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka.

Imagawa Yoshimoto's Tombstone

This tombstone was erected by Yamaguchi Masayoshi of Arimatsu in 1876. According to the Hinki (Inscription engraved on the back of the monument), after the erection of the Chokohi, visitors burned incense and offered flowers after mistaking the Chokohi for Imagawa Yoshimoto's tombstone. To avoid this confusion, surrounding areas were cleared to place Yoshimoto's tombstone.

Buddhist Stone of Imagawa Yoshimoto

This tombstone was erected in 1860. It consists of a rectangular stone pillar with woven shaped stone and a stone lotus flower pedestal.

One of the seven stone monuments dedicated to Imagawa vassals who died at the Battle of Okehazama

Monument built by Hitomi Yaemon Atsushi and erected in December 18th, 1771.

Nobunaga no tame!

Kutsukake Castle

On May 18th, Imagawa Yoshimoto made a stop at Kutsukake Castle. Kondo Kageharu was in charge of the castle at the time. This would be Yoshimoto's last stop before his violent death at the Battle of Okehazama.According to Owada Tetsuo's Okehazama no Tatakai, Kageharu served under Matsudaira Hirotada (p. 42). After Okehazama, the castle was attacked by Nobunaga and Kageharu was killed.

For his reward for the intelligence, Yanada Masatsuna was given money and Kutsukake Castle.
One of the reasons why Yoshimoto stopped at Kutsukake Castle was to rest his troops, gather some last minute information on the Oda, and plan out the rest of campaign. Your best bet to visit the castle ruins is to get off at Zengo Meitetsu station and take a taxi.

Tenka no tame!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Narumi and Zenshoji Photos

Here are some photos of Narumi Castle landmark and Fort Zenshoji as well.

Narumi Castle was in the hands of the Yamaguchi until the 1550's. Then Okabe Motonobu who served the Imagawa, was in charge.

Narumi Castle, Tange, Zenshoji, and Nakajima landmarks are close to one another. Get off at Meitetsu Narumi Station.

Here is another photo of Fort Zenshoji. Again, Sakuma Nobumori was in command during Okehazama.

I want to further elaborate on the letter that Nobunaga wrote at Atsuta Shrine. My guess and could be wrong was that Owada used the Hoan Shinchoki as his source. It is the only two sources that I know that have the letter in full. If anybody knows more about this, by all means, let me know. I would be happy to discuss it.

Here is also a link to an article on Atsumori, performed in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Nobunaga no tame!

Nobunaga at Atsuta Shrine

Around eight in the morning on May 19th, 1560, Nobunaga made a brief stop at Atsuta Shrine to pray for victory. Many of the Oda soldiers where called to arms gathered to the shrine to pray as well. Nobunaga was humming to a tune and the shrine priests did not know if he was going to fight it out with the Imagawa. All warfare is based on deception! How true it is.

Nobunaga wrote a noted and deposited in the shrine box ripping Yoshimoto to shreds. Owada Tetsuo's Okehazama no Tatakai (pp. 142-143) and the Oze Hoan Shinchoki has the complete letter written out.

If you have seen the 2002 Taiga Drama Toshiie to Matsu, at the shrine a white heron flew into the sky and it was considered good luck. Owada did mention the heron story in his book (135-136) as well as Oze Hoan.

According to the Toyoake City Okehazama Battlefield pamphlet, two white herons flew into the sky and guided Nobunaga's army to Okehazama. The two birds perched on a tree Ishizuka-no mori. Based on the legend, Yamaguchi Masayoshi erected a monument(located near the Toyoake City Okehazama Battlefield). To tell you the truth, I am skeptical about this event and do not think it happened at all. That is my opinion.

There was another event that happened at Atsuta Shrine which I can believe. At the shrine, Nobunaga grabbed some coins and threw them in the air and landed face up (heads). A modern coin toss. Heads we win, tails we lose (See Owada Okehazma no Tatakai, p. 136). Nobunaga was blessed by the Gods that day for sure.

Now there was another shrine Nobunaga might have visited, Hioki Shrine (located in Nagoya City).

Here some Hioki Shrine photos I took last October. As for Atsuta Shrine, I always pay a visit there every time when in Japan. A special place for me. If someone is looking for a book on Yoshimoto that is not written by Owada Tetsuo, please read Arimatsu Yugaku, Imagawa Yoshimoto, 2008.

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nobunaga's Forts

Nobunaga did build five main forts that was ready for the Imagawa advance. The five forts were: Tange, Zenshoji, Nakajima, Washizu, and Marune. There were three less known forts as well (Mukaiyama, Shokoji, and Hikamiyama).

For information on on the numbers, please see Owada Tetsuo Okehazama no Tatakai, pp. 86-87 and Hashiba Akira Shinsetsu Okehazama, p. 180. As for the construction quality of forts during the Sengoku Era see Paul Varley "Oda Nobunaga, Guns, and Early Modern Warfare in Japan" pp. 105-125.

The five forts were built around 1559 and they had a purpose.

  • Tange, Zenshoji, and Nakajima were to balance out Narumi Castle.
  • Marune and Washizu were to counter Odaka Castle.
  • Washizu was to counter Odaka and Narumi.
  • Marune was to counter Odaka and Kutsukake Castle.

The area of Fort Tange commanded by Mizuno Tatewaki with 340 soldiers.

Fort Zenshoji commanded by Sakuma Nobumori with 450 soldiers.

Fort Nakajima commanded by Kajikawa Takahide with 250 soldiers.

Fort Marune was commanded by Sakuma Morishige with 150 soldiers and Fort Washizu by Oda Nobushige with 520. All numbers are approximate.

Here is a great link with maps, forts/castles, and the campaign route.

Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Kajino Map

Here is a map of the Okehazama battle which Mr. Yukio Kajino sent me this morning. The map is very similar to Wataru Kajino's Jimoto no Karo ga Kataru Okehazama Kassen Shimatsu ki, p. 69. The map is useful and in my earlier posts mentioned about the troop level on both armies.

If you want a digital copy of Mr. Wataru Kajino's book, click on the link below. Many thanks to Mr. Yukio Kajino for sending me the map.

Tenka no tame!