Friday, December 17, 2010

2010 Awards

2010 is almost over at a quick pace. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Nobunaga Historian of the Year: Wataru Kajino
  • Nobunaga Book of the Year: Jimoto no Karo ga Kataru Okehazama Kassen Shimatsuki by Wataru Kajino
  • Non-Nobunaga Book of the Year: War and Faith Ikko Ikki in Late Muromachi Japan by Carol Richmond Tsang
  • Film of the Year: NHK Taiga Furin Kazan

Watau Kajino's take on the Battle of Okehazama was simply brilliant and as for him winning Historian of the Year was easy. His book was on the local perspective on the battle. If there was any faults with his book, it had to be that there was not enough pages dedicated to Imagawa Yoshimoto's career and family history. Other than that, a book that is a must for the scholar who wants to study the Battle of Okehazama in full depth.

I would love to put David D. Neilson's paper Society at War in the mix, but left it out. I received his work late last month and still reading it at the moment. To tell you the truth, if I received it during the summer as planned, it would be a slam dunk all the way. His
paper is right now the 2011 front runner.

War and Faith was suggested by of the SA members earlier this year as a must buy. Tsang's work opened new doors to those who want to study the history of the Ikko Ikki during its zenith. Her chapter on Ieyasu and the Mikawa Ikko Ikki is the highlight in my opinion. The dispute was not over religious doctrine, but who will control Mikawa region and its revenues. She did a great job on explaining how the Ikko Ikki not only consisted of peasants, but townsman, merchants, and samurai as well. Tsang nailed it the Oda/Tokugawa partnership problems regarding to Ieyasu as well. I have to say, many thanks to the SA for recommending me this book.

As for the film, Furin Kazan. I received the NHK Taiga drama as a gift last Christmas and was hooked from the start to finish. Furin Kazan was exciting and it was one of the better ones I have seen of late. Runner-up was Katen no Shiro. It was a nice film, but at times slow. I plan to write a full report sometime next year.

Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 Highlights

2010 is a very special year for me. 2010 is the 450th anniversary of the Battle of Okehazama and all the hard work I put into the book, research, time, and money is slowly starting to pay off. Sure, I made some mistakes, but that is part of the job. A friend from the SA told me once, "Good things happen for those who wait." The quote is true and will be always be true.
This is the interview I had with my good friend Mr. Yukio Kajino at the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield. Mrs. Yuko Hiwada of the Chunichi Shinbum Midori-ku Home Service wrote the article and took the photograph of me and Mr. Kajino. To tell you the truth, I was very surprised when Mr. Kajino told me that the local paper will be there at the battlefield to hold an interview with me.
Me, Yuko Hiwada, and Yukio Kajino.

The personal walking tour with Mr. Kajino was memorable and learned a lot from the local geography around the battlefield. His tour and the other landmarks that he showed me will definitely help when I add more data to my book in a couple of years.

During the all day tour I had with Mr. Kajino, I was able to finally visit Sogenji Temple where the priest Kaioh buried the Okehazama battle dead. A nice quiet place and the family who lives there were very nice and they enjoyed our company. At the time I was there, construction was taking place, but still a must see if you are a serious Okehazama scholar. we were able to visit other places such as Chofukuji Temple (a first for me) and the two heron landmark. To tell you the truth, I spent much time at the Toyoake Okehazama Battlefield than the Arimatsu battlefield that the personal tour was a rare treat.

If there one drawback to the trip, it was not able to meet Mr. Yukio Kajino's father, Wataru. Wataru Kajino wrote one of the best books on the Battle of Okehazama from a local perspective Jimoto no Karo ga Kataru Okehazama Kassen Shimatsuki. Even though I was not able to meet Wataru Kajino, he did sign his book for me along with the Rekishi Kaido magazine as well.

Another highlight I was able to visit Sokenin Temple in Kyoto. Sokenin is a subtemple of Daitokuji and it is only open during the fall. I was able to take photos of the graves of the following, Nobunaga, his sons, Nohime, and Onabe no kata. The one I was after was Onabe no kata's grave (one of Nobunaga's concubines) since the photo I took a few years ago did not turn out so well. The photo turned out well this time and plan to post it next year. As for Sokenin Temple, I plan to write in great depth next year since gathering more photos and data. There were many more memorable moments I had Japan while doing my Nobunaga and Okehazama research. More is coming along the way for sure.

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Neilson's Okehazama

Here is David D. Neilson's Shincho-Ko ki Okehazama translation (Society at War pp.56-60).

The End of Imagawa Yoshimoto

Eiroku 3 (=1560), fifth month, seventeenth day.

Imagawa Yoshimoto came to Kutsukake leading his army. On the evening of the eighteenth, Sakuma Daigaku and Oda Genpa reported to Lord Nobunaga in Kiyosu that the Imagawa were probably planning placing men and food in Otaka Castle on the night of the eighteenth. Before [the] reinforcements [that they were requesting from Nobunaga] could arrive at Washizu and Marune Forts in the morning, having taken the ocean tide into consideration, the Imagawa [most likely] intended to attack and take control of the two forts that lay between [Imagawa's] Otaka Castle and [Oda's] Narumi Castle. However, Lord Nobunaga mentioned nothing of his military plans on that night and merely chatted with his generals. He noted that is was late and sent everyone home. The generals laughed at Nobunaga, saying "this is a perfect illustration of the maxim that when a man's luck runs dry, his wisdom becomes clouded" and left. As anticipated, at daybreak [on the nineteenth], messengers arrived with news from Oda Genpa and Sakuma Daigaku that the Imagawa had already begun invading Washizu and Marune Moutains. This is when Nobunaga performed the famous dance scene from [the noh play] Atsumori.

Ningen gojunen
Genten no uchi wo kurabereba
Yumemaboroshi no gotoku nari
Hitotabi shoete
Mesenu mono no arubeki ka

Then he ordered that the war conch be blown and that his armor and weapons be brought to him. He put on his armor immediately and ate while standing up. Then he put on his helmet and left for battle. He was accompanied by his pages; Iwamura Nagatonokami; Hasegawa Kyusuke; Sawaki Tohachi (Maeda Toshiie's younger brother); Yamaguchi Hidanokami; and Kato Yazaburo. [The] Master and servants totaled six people and they mounted their horses and rode the [first] three ri (approximately 12 kilometers) at a fast pace. At about eight in the morning when Lord Nobunaga looked to the east from [where he was standing] in front of Kamichikama no Yashiro [Shrine] smoke was visible and it appeared that Washizu and Marune Forts had already fallen. Nobunaga was accompanied by only six mounted men and two hundred zohyo foot-soldiers.

Lord Nobunaga thought that if he went by the way of the beach, it would be shorter, but because the tide was high, it would be particularly difficult for the horses. Therefore, he decided to go by the upper road from Atsuta and rode hard, arriving at Tange Fort. He then went to Zenshoji Temple where Sakuma Daigaku was in charge. There he set up camp and took time to asses the situation and decide on a battle strategy. He discovered that his enemy, Imagawa Yoshimoto, led forty-five thousand soldiers and was currently taking a break to rest his men and horses at Okehazama.

At noon on the nineteenth, Yoshimoto positioned his men to the northwest and captured Washizu and Marune Forts. Yoshimoto performed three [noh] songs and commented that he could not have been more satisfied [with how things had gone so far].

In this battle [Tokugawa] Ieyasu acted as [Imagawa Yoshimoto's] vanguard and made use of his akamusha red corps. He brought provisions with him to Otaka Castle so that his men and horses could rest, [but they still] had difficult time taking Washizu and Marune Forts.

Knowing that Lord Nobunaga had come to Zenshoji Temple, Sassa Hayatonosho and Senshu Shiro led three hundred men against Yoshimoto's men. Fifty-some cavalry including Sassa Hayatonosho and Senshu Shiro died in battle. Yoshimoto was delighted and said 'Even devils or gods cannot stop Yoshimoto! I feel good!' He was singing in camp as well.

Lord Nobunaga considered this and tried to move to Nakashima, but his generals stopped him by grabbing the bit of his horse. The generals said that the path to Nakajima was narrow and bordered on both sides by fields of deep mud and could only be traversed single file. The enemy would be able to see clearly that the force that Nobunaga led was very small and that was a bad idea. Lord Nobunaga shook off his generals and proceeded to Nakajima. His army at that point numbered less than two thousand men. [Finally, the generals were successful in stopping Nobunaga himself from going on, but] Lord Nobunaga sent his army beyond Nakajima. Lord Nobunaga said "Everyone listen! The Imagawa soldiers are exhausted because they haven't eaten last night and had a difficult time taking Washizu and Marune Forts. We are a fresh force. Do not be scared just because the enemy is large and we are small. Heaven decides who shall win and who shall lose. If the enemy attacks, retreat. If the enemy retreats, pursue them and attack. No matter what happens, overpower the enemy and destroy them. It's easy. Do not take heads, just cut them down and move on! If we win this battle, all who take part will bring honor and fame to their families forever! Fight hard!" At that time, [the generals] Maeda Matazaemon (=Toshiie), Mori Kawachi no Kami, Mori Juro, Kinoshita Yoshitoshi, Nakagawa Kinemon, Sakuma Yataro, Mori Kosuke, Ajiki Yataro, and Uozumi Hayato, arrived carrying the heads of some of the enemy. Lord Nobunaga repeated his orders to them.

The army then moved into the mountains. A storm blew in from our rear and suddenly it began to rain down upon the enemy with the power of stones or icicles. At the foot of Kutsukake Pass, large camphor tree was blown down in an easterly direction by the wind coming to rest at the foot of a small pine. Those present asked "Is this was a battle in which Atsuta Damyojin [The tutelary deity of the Oda Clan] is taking part?" Soon the rain slackened. Lord Nobunaga took his spear and raising it over his head yelled "Attack! Attack!" The enemy looked at Nobunaga's army as they [came out of the forest] and began their attack. The Imagawa troops were surprised, unprepared, and disorganized and they retreated, scattering [before Nobunaga's men]. Bows, spears, banners, and swords were scattered everywhere and [the camp] was in great confusion. Yoshimoto's palanquin was abandoned by the men around it and Lord Nobunaga yelled "Those are Yoshimoto's senior retainers (hatamoto) attack them."

About two in the afternoon we fought our way from the west [side of the valley] to the east and Yoshimoto's headquarters camp. About three hundred cavalrymen formed a defensive perimeter around Yoshimoto and attempted to retreat. They were attacked three, four, and then five times and their numbers declined until finally, they numbered only fifty riders. Lord Nobunaga dismounted and made his way to the vanguard, competing with his younger men to be the first to engage the enemy. He struck at the enemy but was knocked down. Hot-blooded young men fought desperately breaking [even] their sword guards in the heat of battle. Although it was a confusing battle, friend and foe were easily distinguished. There were countless dead and wounded, including horse-guards (umamawari) and pages. Hattori Koheta struck at Yoshimoto, but Hattori fell because he had already received a slash to the knee. [Then] Mori Shinsuke attacked Yoshimoto and took his head. People are saying that when Takehirasama was [recently] forced to take his own life at Kiyosu Castle and Mori Shinsuke captured Takehira's younger brother and saved his life that the blessing of the gods that he gained at the time brought him good luck today and was able to take Yoshimoto's head.

Again, this is Neilson's Shincho-Ko ki translation of the Battle of Okehazama. A superb job in my opinion. Nothing is perfect, but hopefully this will give the reader a clearer picture.

Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nobunaga had a plan and did not trust....

Last week I finally received David D. Neilson's paper Society at War: Eyewitness Accounts of Sixteenth Century Japan. His work contains rich information on Okehazama and Sunomata, as well as other information related to the Sengoku Era.

After reading his take on Okehazama, I have concluded that Nobunaga had a plan and did not trust his generals due to bribery and defection. Nobunaga trusted the Men of the Fields who did contribute to his success at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560.

(Neilson, p. 70)

"Furthermore, the Men of the Fields could function as spies, and quartermasters, and because of their familial relationship with Nobunaga, were probably more reliable and less susceptible to bribery and offers of defection than others who served Nobunaga in the capacity of leaders and generals."

Nobunaga kept his plan secret and his general staff did not even know what was going on. To have any sort of success, Nobunaga had to play the role as a fool and coward.

(Neilson, p. 75)

"For all Nobunaga knew, he may had Imagawa spies among his own general staff. So, while he continued to attend strategy sessions with his own generals, Nobunaga appeared distracted, aloof, and unsure of what to do. His strategy, which he seemingly shared with no one, was appear to be unprepared. At the same time, while appearing to be engrossed with fishing, dancing, and living out his last days in idleness, Nobunaga was using these activities as excuses to meet with the Maeno, Hachisuka, and the Men of the Fields. Since Nobunaga stayed at Ikoma mansion when visiting Kitsuno, he could meet with the Men of the Fields without attracting the attention of Imagawa spies and not even his people would suspect that Nobunaga was actually implementing a plan behind the backs of his own general staff. For the plan to succeed, everyone, even his own generals, had to believe that Nobunaga was cowardly and unprepared. It was an unlikely plan, which was even less likely to succeed. In the end, it was perfect."

  • Nobunaga had a plan all along.
  • Did not trust or wanted his own general staff to know his plan.
  • Used the Men of the Fields or middlemen to help him who were more loyal and trusted than his own staff.
Tenka no tame!