Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Awards

Here are the 2011 Awards.

Book of the Year: The Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga Translated and Edited by J.S.A. Elisonas and J.P. Lamers.

Historian of the Year: J.S.A. Elisonas and J.P. Lamers. Runner-up Wataru Kajino (Mr. Okehazama)

Movie of the Year: 13 Assassins

The Book of the Year was easy to decide. The translation of the Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki into English as to be one of the most important works that has been published. If you are a scholar on Nobunaga or the Sengoku Era, this book is a must. You can order through the SA at: http://astore.amazon.com/samurai-20/detail/9004201829

As for the Historian of the Year, enough said on the two who published the book. J.P. Lamers has also done scholarly work on Nobunaga s well. I added Wataru Kajino as the the runner-up since I was able to meet him this year. This man alone has really opened up the Okehazama research. Opened minded and a great sense of humor, Wataru has made sure that the Battle of Okehazama would continue to be the battle that changed Japan.

Movie of the Year was simple as well. 13 Assassins is a manly film that we all want to see. Lots of fighting and blood. No love story drama here. Highly recommend this film to all.

Nobunaga no tame!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Baptism of Fire

Oda Nobunaga's Baptism of Fire was in 1547 against the Imagawa at Battle of Mikawa Kira Ohama. Lamers/Elisonas has the English translation available in the Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga (p. 55).

"The next year, [Tenbun 16 (1547)], Oda Saburo Nobunaga went on his first military campaign, accompanied by Hirate Nakazukasa no Jo. For this occasion, Nobunaga was attired in a red-striped head cover (zukin) and a half-coat (haori); his horse was fitted with armor. Nobunaga led his troops toward Kira and Ohama in Mikawa Province, where a Suruga force was stationed. After setting fires here and there, he had a field camp pitched for the day. The next day he returned to Nagoya from this expedition."

For more information, please see Okada Masahito's Oda Nobunaga Sogo Jiten page 310.

Tenka no tame!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Maeda Toshiie

This a statue of a young Maeda Toshiie (1538-99) in front of Arako Station.

He was born in Arako Castle located in Owari Province in 1538 and served under Nobunaga. Toshiie was known as Inuchiyo, Matazaemon, and Chikuzen no Kami He was banished for awhile and participated in the Battle of Okehazama in 1560 taking a couple of heads, but did not win Nobunaga's favor until the Battle of Moribe in 1561. There he took the head of "Kubitori Adachi" Adachi the Head Taker! Toshiie was many of so called "Boys from Owari."

From David D. Neilson's thesis Society at War (pp. 91-92) "After his banishment, Toshiie began fighting with ronin for entertainment and drinking heavily, so Toshiie's general, Murai Nageyori, Shibata Katsuiie, and the Suda Nobuiie (Nobunaga's uncle) who was Toshiie's eboshioya, or godfather, consulted together and recommended that Toshiie go to Atsuta Jingu and ask to stay there for awhile to put his life in order. The priest told Toshiie that there was more to being a man than being strong and tough and locked him the shrine library. Owada Tetsuo says that while confined in the shrine library, Toshiie, for the lack of anything else to do to occupy his time came to develop a deep appreciation for books and learning and that this had a great influence on the man that he later became."

The pictures were taken during the summer of 2011.

Nobunaga no Tame!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anegawa Poll

Thanks for everyone who voted on the Anegawa Poll. There were 12 yes and 3 no. I believe that the Battle of Anegawa is Nobunaga's forgotten war. When one discusses Nobunaga's battle history, often it starts with the Unification of Owari, Okehazama, Conquering Mino, March to Kyoto, The Defeat of the Azai/Asakura, The Banishment of Ashikaga Yoshiaki, Nagashino, The Ikko-Ikki, and the Honnoji. Anegawa is only briefly mentioned and that is unfortunate.

The Battle of Anegawa was important for several reasons. The Oda/Tokugawa victory kept the Azai/Asakura at bay and still allowed Nobunaga a pass to Kyoto. If Nobunaga lost the battle, things would have turned messy. In fact, the Azai/Asakura gave Nobunaga a run for his money. Sure, the Shincho-Ko ki, Shinchoki, and the Mikawa Monogatari all have something written about the battle. I encourage people who can read Japanese to check them out themselves. As for a movie, the Nobunaga Taiga drama did have a great battle scene and well worth watching.

To those who are wondering, yes I have been to the Anegawa battlefield, Odani Castle ruins, and Ichijodani ruins. The Battle of Anegawa deserves the respect as one of the major conflicts during the Sengoku Era in my opinion. Links to the battle/books

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Imagawa KIA

Here is list of the main Imagawa samurai who was killed in action at the Battle of Okehazama. I have translated the names by myself along with some help from others. Again, nothing is perfect.

Imagawa Yoshimoto's Main Army

Katsurayama Harima no Kami Nobusada (KIA)
Ino Buzen no Kami Noritsura (KIA)
Miura Yoshinori (KIA)
Matsui Zaemon no Suke Munenobu (KIA)
Ii Shinano no Kami Naomori (KIA)
Azai Koshiro Masatoshi (KIA)
Ema Sakyo no Suke (KIA)
Yui Mimasaka no Kami Masanobu (KIA)
Ishikawa Shinzaemon Yasumori (KIA)
Sekiguchi Etchu no Kami Chikamochi (KIA)
Saito Kamon no Suke Toshizumi (KIA)
Ihara Mimasaka no Kami Motomasa (KIA)
Ihara Ukon Tadaharu (KIA)
Ihara Shogen Tadaen (KIA)
Ihara Kojiro Tadayoshi (KIA)
Asahina Kasue no Kami Hidetoshi (KIA)
Saigo Danjo Masakatsu (KIA)
Saigo Toshikazu (KIA)
Takai Kurando Zanehiro (KIA)
Tominaga Hoki no Kami Ujishige (KIA)
Mure Yasutoshi (KIA)
Shinomiya Zaemon no Suke Mitsumasa (KIA)
Hasegawa Iga no Kami Motokazu (KIA)
Matsudaira Settsu no Kami Korenobu (KIA)
Kato Kagehide (KIA)
Shimada Sakyo Mochichika (KIA)
Sawada Nagato no Kami Tadayori (KIA)
Niwada Mitsunori (KIA)
Kanai Shume no Suke Tadamune (KIA)
Hirayama Sen no Jo Tameyuki (KIA)
Nagase Nagayuki (KIA)
Hirakawa Sahe Akihiro (KIA)
Fukudaira Shuzei Tadashige (KIA)
Kanbara Kunai Shoyu Ujimasa (KIA)
Kuno Hannai Ujitada (KIA)
Yoshida Musashi no Kami Ujiyoshi (KIA)
Katsurayama Awai no Kami Motokiyo (KIA)
Ejiri Minbu Chikayoshi (KIA)
Matsudaira Hyoe Chikamochi (KIA)
Izu Gonhei Mototoshi (KIA)
Okabe Kai no Kami Nagasada (KIA)
Fujieta Iga no Kami Ujiaki (KIA)
Okazaki Jubei Tadazane (KIA)
Muragaki Okura Yorikazu (KiA)
Ohase Gontafu Tadazane (KIA)
Gomi Saburoemon (KIA)
Ochiai Nagamon (KIA)
Onoe Hikotaro (KIA)
Suzuki Mondo no Suke Shigezumi (KIA)

Ii Naomori's Army

Ono Genba (KIA)
Tanaka Sensaburo (KIA)
Okuyama Hikoichiro (KIA)
Okuyama Tarojiro Chikahide (KIA)
Ono Gengo (KIA)
Ueno Hikoichiro (KiA)
Ueno Genuemon (KIA)
Taku Goemon (KIA)
Kiga Shouemon (KIA)
Mikuriya Matabe (KIA)
Ichimura Nobuyoshi (KIA)
Makino Ichiuemon (KIA)
Ueno Magoshiro (KIA)
Okuyama Hikogoro (KIA)
Hakamada Jinpachi (KIA)

Nobunaga no Tame!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Update Sources

Here is an update bibliography on the Battle of Okehazama. I highly recommend them if you want to fully understand the battle.

Kajino Wataru. Jimoto no Koro ga Kataru Okehazama Kassen Shimatsuki. K*H, 2007.

----------. Shinsetsu Okehazama Kassen. Nagoya-shi Kiyomizu Tochi Kukaku Seirikumaiai, 2010.

Kuwata Tadachika and Yamaoka Sohachi. Okehazama no Eki. Nihon no senshi. Tokyo: 1965.

Neilson, David D. "Society at War: Eyewitness Accounts of Sixteenth Century Japan." Ph.d. diss., University of Oregon, 2007.

Ota Gyuichi. The Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga. Translated and Edited by J. S. A. Elisonas and J.P. Lamers. Leiden: Brill, 2011.

Owada Tetsuo. Imagawa Yoshimoto no Subete. Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha, 1994.

----------. Rekishi Documento: Okehazama no Tatakai. Tokyo: Gakushu Kenkyusha, 2000.

----------. Imagawa Yoshimoto. Kyoto: Mineruboa Shobo, 2004.

Oze Hoan. Shinchoki. ed. Kangori Amane. 2vols. Koten Bunko 58 and 59 Tokyo: Gendai Shichosha, 1981.

Paterson, Les. Oda Nobunaga: The Battle of Okehazama. Jet Lag Press, 2008.

Rekishi Kaido "Okehazama no Nazo." June 2010.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nobunaga podcast

The SA (Samurai Archives) have finally composed a podcast on Oda Nobunaga. The podcast is a general analysis on Nobunaga's wars and his career. In my opinion, it is not that bad and highly recommended it to everyone. I certainly enjoyed the podcast.

Here is the link: http://bit.ly/i4k1hr

Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sandal Bearer

This is a story about young Hideyoshi serving Nobunaga as a sandal bearer. Shogun and Samurai: Tales of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu. By Okanaya Shigezane and translated by Andrew and Yoshiko Dykstra (pp. 67-68).

"On September first og 1558 when Nobunaga was hawking, Hideyoshi came by, and begged to be hired as a sandal-bearer. Still young, Nobunaga nightly visited women. For such private rendezvous, Nobunaga took along only his footgear men. Since Hideyoshi wanted to keep the job longer, he asked the supervisor of the footgear men, 'I want to learn everything, so I would like to accompany our lord on night duty.' The supervisor agreed, and allowed Hideyoshi to take charge of the night duty. The wondering Nobunaga asked the supervisor, 'I see the same young man nightly. Is that because the older ones are neglecting their duties?' The supervisor explained, 'No, sir. He volunteered for the job himself.'

On one snowy night when Nobunaga was to leave to leave a woman's place, and began to put his wooden clogs, he felt they were warm. 'You must have been sitting on them. What a rude rascal!' Scolding him, Nobunaga hit Hideyoshi with his stick. 'No sir. I did not sit on them,' Hideyoshi contradicted him. The angry Nobunaga continued, 'Don't lie to me. I will punish you!' Then a woman came out, and interceded for Hideyoshi who was still excusing himself, 'I did not sit on them, sir.'

Nobunaga insisted, 'Then why are these clogs so warm?' Hideyoshi explained, 'Since it's a cold night, I thought your feet might be cold. So I have warmed your clogs by putting them on my back under my kimono.' 'Show me proof!' Hideyoshi took off his kimono, and showed his back which was clearly marked by the clog thongs. The impressed Nobunaga immediately promoted Hideyoshi to supervisor of the footgear attendants."

Tenka no tame!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Unthinkable

In 1579, Tokugawa Ieyasu did the unthinkable. He ordered his wife Tsukiyama-dono (she was known to selfish and wicked) and son Nobuyasu to death. In modern times, nobody in their right mind would kill their wife and son. Ieyasu had to made a decision, it was his family or the Tokugawa house. The last thing Ieyasu wanted was a fragmented Tokugawa house, so he had to do the unthinkable. He had no other choice since Nobunaga carried the whip in the Oda/Tokugawa Alliance. Elisonas and Lamers did a great job explaining and it is one of the best so far.

The Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga (p. 38)

"In 1579 Tokugawa Ieyasu's son and heir Nobuyasu and his mother Tsukiyama Gozen, Ieyasu's wife were denounced to Nobunaga for atrocious conduct and treasonous activities. Nobunaga demanded that Ieyasu put them to death; Ieyasu complied, forcing Nobuyasu to commit hari-kiri and having Lady Tsukiyama executed. According to a frequently repeated story, none other than Nobuyasu's wife, Nobunaga's daughter Gotoku, wrote her father the letter that incriminated her husband and mother-in-law. The author of this story, Okubo Hikozaemon reported that on hearing Nobunaga's verdict condemning his son, Ieyasu reacted with the words: 'It is something that cannot be helped. I bear Nobunaga no rancor.... As long as I am locked in conflict with a great enemy [Takeda Katsuyori] and depend on Nobunaga to back me up, I cannot very well defy Nobunaga. It cannot be helped.' In other words, Ieyasu had concerns that transcended his parental instincts; the survival of the house of Tokugawa was at stake.

Ieyasu is universally described as Nobunaga's ally. Yet the willingness to accept an intolerable demand without protest is a characteristic not of the ally but of the subordinate. If a special relationship existed between these two, it was skewed in favor of Nobunaga, who retained the whip hand."

Nobunaga no tame!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Starvation Sieges

If you read the Shincho-Ko ki often like I do, you will often see that Nobunaga isolated and starved his enemies into submission. It was a barbaric and effective tactic. David D. Neilson explains in his paper Society at War:

(p. 287) "Starvation sieges were one of Nobunaga's favored tactics and the grim scene that we encounter here is one that was played out many times in different locales. Was this sort of tactic cruel? Without question it was. But it was also a practical one that enabled an enemy to be reduced to the point of submission or utter defeat without wasting Nobunaga's most valuable resource, his soldier's lives, by sending them them against a hardened defensive fortification."

Neilson also does a great job explaining who was likely to be spared or killed.

(pp. 287-288) "Nobunaga's decisions regarding whether a garrison should be spared or put to the sword seem to have been primarily based on his personal perception of the enemy. If it was a former ally who had betrayed him like Araki or an enemy for whom he held great personal enmity like the Ikko Ikki, he was more likely to demand total extermination. A daimyo's vassals who were merely doing their jobs as loyal retainers were much more likely to be spared."

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Imagawa Structure Before Okehazama

I received Mikata ga hara no Tatakai by Owada Tetsuo last Friday and have to admit this book rocks. On page 55, Owada has a small chart with the Imagawa structure before Okehazama. Even though the chart is small and condensed, it does provide clues how Imagawa Yoshimoto had his vassals arranged. This drastically changed when Nobunaga defeated and killed Yoshimoto at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560.

Imagawa Family (Yoshimoto)

Gunshi Taigen Suufu (Sessai)

Elders: Asahina and Muira families

Katsurayama Castl/ Katsurayama Ujimoto
Yokoyama Castle/Okitsu Kiyofusa
Ihara Castle/Ihara Zaemon no Jo
Kakegawa Castle/Asahina Yasutomo
Takatenjin Castle/Ogasawara Ujioki
Futamata Castle/Matsui Munenobu
Inui Castle/Amano Kageyasu
Hikuma Castle /Ino Tsuratatsu
Ii no ya Castle/Ii Naomori
Utsuyama Castle/Asahina Zanetsugu
Noda Castle/Suganuma Sadamitsu
Yoshida Castle/Ito Motozane
Tahara Castle/Asahina Mototomo
Okazaki Castle/Matsudaira Motoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu)

Most notable are Matsui Munenobu and Ii Naomori since they were KIA at the Battle of Okehazama. One of the true survivors of the battle was Matsudaira Motoyasu who later became Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Key Oda Warriors at Okehazama

When I was in Japan in July, Mr. Wataru Kajino showed me a book titled Okehazama/Anegawa no Eki. This book had all the key Oda/Imagawa warriors who participated the Battle of Okehazama. A great piece of work by Kuwata Tadachika and Yamaoka Shohachi. Here is the list of the key Oda warriors who took part in the battle. Again, nothing is perfect (181-182).

Oda Genba no Jo Nobuhira (KIA)
Ino Omi no Kami Sadamune (KIA)
Ino Oki no Kami Nobumune
Sakuma Daigaku Morishige (KIA)
Hattori Genba
Watanabe Daizo
Ota Sakon
Hayakawa Daizen
Mizuno Tatewaki Tadamitsu
Yamaguchi Ebi no Jo Moritaka
Tsuge Genba no Kami
Maki Yojuro
Maki Sojuro
Ban Juzaemon
Sakuma Nobutoki
Kajikawa Shichirouemon Takahide
Mizuno Shirouemon
Oda Sake no Jo Kiyomasa
Kawajiri Yohyoe Hidetaka
Yanada Dewa no Kami Masatsuna
Sassa Kura no Suke Narimasa
Iwamuro Nagato no Kami (page)
Hasegawa Hashisuke (page)
Sawaki Tohachi (page, Maeda Toshiie's younger brother)
Yamaguchi Hida no Kami (page)
Kato Yasaburo (page)
Kato Toshosuke Yorimori
Kuwabara Kanuchi
Takei Higo no Kami Sekian
Sassa Hayato no Kami Masatsugu (KIA)
Senshu Kaga no Kami Suetada (KIA)
Maeda Magoshiro Toshiie
Mouri Kawachi no Kami Hideyori
Mouri Shinsuke Hidetaka
Kinoshita Uta no Suke Katsunobu
Nakagawa Kinemon
Sakuma Yataro Moriaki
Mori Kosuke
Ajiki Yataro Sadamasa
Uozumi Hayato no Kami
Hayashi Sado no Kami Hidesada (Michikatsu)
Ikeda Shosaburo Tsuneoki
Shibata Gonroku Katsuie
Mori Sanzaemon Yoshinari
Chujo Koichiro
Toyama Kagetsune
Toyama Kawauchi no Kami
Hattori Koheita Tadatsugu
Shimokata Kurozaemon
Oda Yoichi Nagasada
Oda Yosaburo Munemasa
Shimokata Sadakiyo
Nakagawa Hachiuemon Shigemasa
Mizuno Kiyohisa
Ban Shigetomo
Kubo Hikobei Katsuchika
Yuasa Jinsuke Naomune
Kanematsu Matashiro Masayoshi
Kanamori Gorohachi Nagachika
Hachisuka Koroku (Masakatsu)
Azai Michitada (Mizuno Nobumoto's warrior)

I had to make some changes due errors in the book. That being said, it is a must have. The total list for Imagawa Yoshimoto's main army and Ieyasu's is very long. It also includes the Imagawa KIA as well (long list of KIA included). I should have both the Imagawa and Ieyasu's main armies translated by the end of the month. To tell you the truth, I wish I the list three years earlier. Again, many thanks to Akitsugu, Yukio, and Wataru Kajino for all their help.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, August 22, 2011

More on Oze Hoan

This passage comes from The Chronicle of Lord Oda Nobunaga. It describes the major differences why the two biographies are so far apart. I have both copies in my private library and the Nobunaga scholar should have them as well.

Elisonas/Lamers (pp. 34-35).

"...substantially different account of Nobunaga's career that bears the title Shinchoki. That other book is from the pen of the physician Oze Hoan (1564-1640), a Confucianist who cast his design of Nobunaga in the mould of a Confucian exemplar. Hoan based himself on Gyuichi's work. Hoan's prefatory statement acknowledges that fact and expresses his desire to improve on his predecessor. Indeed, his book is full of embellishments. because it subordinates historical fact to interpretation, falsifies events and documents, and is essentially a work of fiction, scholars today unanimously regard his Shinchoki to be of far less value than Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki. In the Tokugawa period, however, Hoan's was widely read work. Printed on that novel apparatus, the movable type press, it was first published no later than June 1612. In other words, Gyuichi must have experienced the dubious pleasure of seeing himself plagiarized in his lifetime. Whereas Hoan's Shinchoki was reprinted repeatedly during the Tokugawa period, Gyuichi's chronicle, available only in manuscript form until the Meiji era, did not reach nearly as large a readership."

It would be interesting if Gyuichi's work was published on a wide scale during the time when Hoan's work as out. It probably would have stirred up a major debate.

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Conquest of Mino II

Earlier this year I mentioned that there was archaeological excavations that were done in Gifu. The results were stunning. When Nobunaga put the castle town to the torch in 1567, everything was burned down creating a hadakajiro (naked castle). One of the Saito mansions that was burned down was built during Saito Dosan's Era and it belong to a high ranking officer. Lots of Chinese pottery and the like were discovered and I wanted to take a look at them. Unfortunately, from what I have heard from the Gifu Tourism Volunteers that the only way to see them is to go to the Gifu City Hall (shiyakusho). Even then, you will be only able to see pictures of them. Hopefully, in the near future, the museum will display the artifacts.

The above photo is where the mansion was found. It is south of the Gifu Museum of History. You can also see where the archaeologists did their work from the white pavement.

Paul Varley does a great job explaining the effects of a naked castle. The economic and psychological damage was devastating. Paul Varley's "Oda Nobunaga, Guns, and Early Modern Warfare in Japan" (p. 115).

"While engaged in this arsonous activity, they also cut down and discarded all the crops they came across. Once the fields and villages around a fort had been denuded and/or put to the torch, it became, in parlance of the SK, a 'naked fort' (hadakajiro). This was both economic and psychological warfare. It was economic warfare because it eliminated the nearest source of food to which a fort's defenders had access when they were directly under siege; and it was psychological warfare because in many, if not most, cases the defenders of the forts were recruited primarily from nearby villages, the villages, containing their homes, that were being destroyed." The SK=Shincho-Ko ki.

One of great reasons why I love the Sengoku Era, everything was expendable. No PC warfare here.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Conquest of Mino

After many years of trial and error, Nobunaga finally captured Mino in 1567. I think the key to Mino was the Mino Big Three (Ando Morinari, Ujie Bokuzen, and Inaba Yoshimichi) switching over to the Oda. Once that happened, the Saito control of Mino quickly disappeared.

The Shincho-Ko ki's take on Nobunaga's conquest of Mino. This comes from the new English version of The Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga by J.S.A. Elisonas and Jeroen Lamers (p. 114)

"In the first decade of the Forth Month, [Eiroku 9 (1566)], Nobunaga crossed the wide expanse of the Kiso River and deployed his troops at Kagamino in Mino Province. His enemy Saito Tatsuoki had his men sally from Inokuchi and take up positions in the village of Shin Kano. the terrain between the two armies was difficult and unsuited for cavalry action. Nobunaga therefore terminated this operation on the same day.

On the first day of the Eight Month, [Eiroku 10 (1567), the Mino Triumvirs-Inaba Iyo no Kamai [Yoshimichi], Ujie Bokuzen [Naomoto], and Ando Iga no Kami-agreed among themselves to defect to Lord Nobunaga's side and asked him to accept hostages from them. Accordingly, Nobunaga sent Murai Minbu no Jo [Sadakatsu] and Shimada Tokoro no Suke to western Mino to pick up the hostages. But even before these had arrived, Nobunaga suddenly sent his men up Mount Zuiryoji, a spur of Mount Inokuchi. While the Saito were still trying to guess whether these troops were friends or foes, Nobunaga had already set fire to the town, denuding Inokuchi Castle. That day, an extraordinary strong wind blew. The next day, Nobunaga divided the responsibilities for constructing the siege works and had a bamboo palisade put up all around the castle, sealing it off from the outside world. In midst of this, the Mino Triumvirs presented themselves before Nobunaga to pay their respects. They were bemused by all activity. but Nobunaga went about his business in his habitual offhand manner.

On the 15th of the Eight Month, while his garrison surrendered, pleading in various ways for mercy, Tatsuoki escaped in a boat to Nagashima in the Delta, going down an arm of the Kiso River. Nobunaga now commanded the whole of Mino Province. He moved his seat from Mount Komaki in Owari to Mount Inaba in Mino and renamed the castle from Inokuchi to Gifu. One year later, the following took place:"

This was important step to controlling the nation. He controls central Japan, controls Japan. it would only one year later when Nobunaga marches his army into Kyoto. For the Tenka!

Nobunaga no tame!
Tenka no tame!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mr. Okehazama

Me, Wataru, and Akitsugu Kajino at the Battle of Okehazama Research Center.

I was able to return to Japan this month and was lucky enough to meet Mr. Okehazama (Wataru Kajino). Wataru has probably wrote the best book on the Battle of Okehazama from a local perspective, Jimoto no Karo ga Kataru Okehazama Kassen Shimatsuki. Many thanks to Yukio and Akitsugu Kajino for setting up the meeting.

We all met at the Battle of Okehazama Research Center and quickly the conversation started. Topics included key points of the battle (Yanada Masatsuna's intelligence, rain, and the Arimatsu and Toyoake battlefields). Wataru mentioned one of the key aspects of the historian-be opened minded. We both agreed that both battlefields should be visited and both versions of Nobunaga's biography (Ota Gyuichi and Oze Hoan) should be read and discussed. Even though we both agreed that Ota Gyuichi's is the basic text. Also the role of the Men of the Fields was included in the conversation.

We spent the entire day visiting areas related to the battle and discovered that Wataru has left his mark on on several Okehazama landmarks. This man has spent the past twenty years or more making sure that Nobunaga's greatest triumph-the Battle of Okehazama lives on. While we were at Chofukuji Temple, I mentioned that Wataru Kajino should be called Mr. Okehazama. We all laughed and Yukio Kajino summed it up best, "You are right about that!"

I learned a lot on that day and thank Yukio, Akitsugu, and Wataru for taking their time to share their love for the Battle of Okehazama.

Tenka no tame!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Japonius Tyrannus Review

Suzanne Gay did a review of Jeroen Lamers's biography on Oda Nobunaga, Japonius Tyrannus. A nice review and hopefully for those who do not have the book, will be convinced to buy it. It is worth its weight in gold. You have to trust me on this.

Here is some of the review by Gay:

"It is quite possible, it seems to me, that Nobunaga had the intellectual capacity, not to mention political shrewdness, to apply concepts of statehood to his rule. Mr. Lamers, however, seems to determined to portray him at all costs as a pragmatist."

The rest of the review can be read here:


Nobunaga no tame!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dosan's victory

Oda graves at Entokuji Temple in Gifu City.

Saito Dosan scored a major victory over Nobunaga's father, Nobuhide in 1547. Nobuhide attacked Mino, but failed. The losses were so high that eventually Nobuhide had enough and made peace with Dosan. The end result would be Dosan's daughter marrying the "Fool of Owari" (Nobunaga) a year later.

This passage is from the Shincho-Ko ki and the modern text was translated by Nakagawa Taiko. Please forgive me while my translation is not the best.

(pp. 28-29 Gyuichi/Nakagawa) Oda Nobuhide Invades Mino

"Now Nobuhide gathered all the troops from Owari, one month attacked Mino Province and the other month attacked Mino Province on the 16 year of the Tenbun (1547), On September 3rd with the men of Owari supporting, he (Nobuhide) invaded Mino Province setting fires here and there. On September 22 the army advanced to the villages of the foothills of Inabayama Castle (modern day Gifu Castle) where Saito Yamashiro Dosan had his headquarters. The villages were burned and advanced to the castle town. By this time, it was around 4:00 p.m. and the sun was beginning to to go down. Nobuhide began to disengage his army. When about half of the army had left the field. Yamashiro Dosan's forces suddenly attacked southward. At first, Nobuhide's army was able to put up a defensive fight, but many troops broke in the end because they were not able to hold the lines. Many big shot warriors were killed numbering around 5,000. Among them were Nobuhide's brother Nobuyasu, Oda Inaba no Kami, Oda Mondo no Kami, Aoyama Yoemon, Senshu Suemitsu, Mouri Juro and his vassal Terasawa Matahachi, his younger brother Mouri Tokuro, Iwakoshi Kisaburo, and many others."

Tenka no tame!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nobunaga and kid games

This is another passage from Okanoya Shigezane and it quite a good one. The story involves Nobunaga playing games when he was a kid and gave away gifts on those who did well. The kids knew that young Nobunaga would be a great warlord someday. One reason because Nobunaga made it a policy to reward those on merit, not on lineage.

A Stone-Throwing Game: Translated by Andrew and Yoshiko Dykstra.

(pp. 28-29)

"The young Nobunaga, called Kipposhi, studied with forty or fifty children at a temple of Kiyosu. In his youth, on the fifth of May [which is Boy's Day], he used to love to play a stone-throwing game called injiuchi with other children who were divided into two teams called East and West.

For the occasion, his mother used to send him gifts including writing brushes, ink cakes, paper, three to of rice and one kan of Eiraku coins. Nobunaga gave the coins to the children who did well in the game. Thus he gave away all the gifts to the children according to their merits in the game, and did not keep any for himself. Those who watched this were all impressed, saying, 'This child will surely become a great lord and general

Here are two links related to the archaeological work being done at Gifu Castle.



Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Small Snake

This story comes from Shogun and Samurai: Tales of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu by Okanoya Shigezane (1835-1919). The text is translated by Andrew and Yoshiko Dykstra.

(p. 29)

"Once, when Nobunaga was playing in the yard, a small snake appeared. Grasping it in his hands, Nobunaga asked one of his attendants, 'Do you call my action brave?' The attendant replied, 'You don't need to be afraid of such a small snake.' The young Nobunaga asked again, 'The size of the snake has nothing to do with its poison. If you are not afraid of a snake because it is small, then do you disdain your lord if he is young and small?' At this, the attendant was most embarrassed."

Very clever by Nobunaga. It just goes to show that Nobunaga and most of the Sengoku warlords had much more common sense back then. It would be great if any of our modern leaders today had any common sense like Nobunaga and others had during Sengoku Japan.

Tenka no tame!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Punishing Higuchi Naofusa

Book 7 Chapter 10 of Ota Gyiuchi's Shincho-Ko ki is translated by David D. Neilson and can be found in his paper Society at War (p. 299).

"Lord Nobunaga built a fort at Kinome Pass in Echizen and put Higuchi Naofusa in charge of defending it. Higuchi [made peace with the Ikko Ikki], abandoned the fort and escape with his wife and children to Koga [in Omi province]. Hashiba Chikuzen no Kami (=Toyotomi Hideyoshi) pursued them, captured, and killed them. He sent the heads of Higuchi and his wife to Lord Nobunaga's camp in Nagashima.

The Nagashima people were not prepared to fight a long battle and from the thirteenth day of the seventh month, many men and women, including people from both higher and lower classes of Nagashima, sought shelter in Nagashima Castle, and Nakae Castle. since the castles were under siege for three months, most of the people trapped there died of starvation. on the twenty-ninth of the ninth month, an apology (=a letter of surrender) was sent from Nagashima Castle [and hostilities ended]. As the [defeated] Ikki people were preparing to board the many waiting ships [and sail away], Lord Nobunaga ordered his men to form ranks and shoot them. Countless Ikki people were cut down and fell into the river. The most spirited of the Ikki people stripped off their clothes, drew their swords and attacked 700 or 800 of Nobunaga's men. In this battle, many notable warriors in Nobunaga's army (that is to say, not ashigaru, but higher ranking samurai), were killed, including some of Lord Nobunaga's relatives. The spirited Ikki people overwhelmed the undermanned Oda force and broke through an area uninhabited cabins and prepared to cross the river. Heading in the direction of Tagi Mountain and north Ise, they eventually escaped into Ozaka.

20,000 men and women who were besieged in Nakae and Okunagashima Castles were captured. A huge corral consisting many layers fences was set up to contain them. Lord Nobunaga ordered that fires be set from four directions, burning them to death. Lord Nobunaga was greatly pleased and returned to Gifu on September 29."

The wrath of Nobunaga strikes again! Mess with the best and die like the rest. A perfect example of WWND (What Would Nobunaga Do).

Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Frois take on Mitsuhide

Brandon C. Schindwolf's Toki wa ima is a great paper on why Mitsuhide rebelled against Nobunaga. He provided his paper with all sides of the story. That being said, my favorite is on Luis Frois's opinion on Akechi Mitsuhide.

(Schindewolf, pp. 23-24)

"He explains that Akechi was a man who, through his own resourcefulness, foresight, and cunning, gained Nobunaga's favor, though not being of any noble orgin. However, to those in Nobunaga's inner circle, Akechi was an outsider, and was not held in high regard--but ever so, Akechi had a mysterious or strange way of holding on to, and even increasing his standing with Nobunaga. A man prone to betrayal and to secret gatherings, cruel in handing out punishment, and a despot who was shrewd in disguising himself, he was skilled in conspiracy, strong in perseverance, and a master of deception and scheming."

Tenka no tame!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nobunaga's Last Trip

I recently translated Nobunaga's last trip to Kyoto before his tragic death at the Honnoji. This is by no means perfect, but at least you will get a clear picture on what happened.

Ota Gyuichi Shincho-Ko ki (translated by Sakakiyama Jun) Book 15 Chapter 30 pp. 299-300.

"On May 29th, Lord Nobunaga leaves for Kyoto. Protecting Azuchi Castle Group: Tsuda Genjuro (Nobuzumi), Gato Hekoto, Nonomura Mataemon, Toyama Shinkuro, Segi Yazaemon, Ichibashi Genpachi, Kushida Chube. Second Bailey Group: Gamo Katahide, Kimura Jirozaemon, Ujii Dewa no Kami, Narumi Sukemon, Sofue Goroemon, Sakuma Yokoro, Minoura Jiroemon, Fukuda Mikawa no Kami, Chifuku Totomi no Kami, Matsumoto Nariashi, Marumo Mitsukane, Ukai, Maeba Yagoro, and Yamaoka Kagesuke. He (Nobunaga) was also accompanied by twenty to thirty pages with him to Kyoto. During this time no soldiers accompanied with him."

It would be only a few days later when Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed Nobunaga at the Honnoji. If anything sticks out here, is the lack of soldiers he had on his journey to Kyoto. On reason why was his forces were spread to thin fighting all over Japan. Then again, he did not expect Mitsuhide to rebel against him.

Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bukoyawa Okehazama

Since May is the month of the Battle of Okehazama, I would like to share with you part of the Bukoyawa's version. You can find in David D. Neilson's Society at War (pp.84-85).

"Having changed direction we (the Kashiwaishu and the Sassa Clan), [left Narumi] and arrived at Zenshoji. By that time, we numbered only eighty or so men. Because Nakajima Fort had already been occupied by the Suruga army, there was nothing we could do [there].

Just then, someone raised a battle cry near Taishidake. It was dark on all sides and thunder shook both heaven and earth. We were in a state of shock and took petrified to move. Before long, a triumphant shout echoed from Hazama, but we could not tell if it was raised by friend or foe.

When Sassa Kuranosuke realized that he was late [for the battle], his face convulsed and told his party to dismount. Looking out over an area three cho (one cho=2.45 acres), we saw that the field curtains (maki) [of the Imagawa camp] were lying in the mud. Fallen men and horses created a terrible scene.

The Suruga army had disappeared like the ocean tide. Sassa Kuranosuke and the Kashiwaishu, we were all so close to Dengakuhazama, [but because we went to Narumi as directed by the Sassa Clan general who met us on the road and because we helped the Sassa Clan to fight at Narumi, we were unable to arrive at Hazama as ordered by Lord Nobunaga]. It was a great blunder. Kazusanosuke-sama (=Nobunaga), saw us, but ignored our presence. He departed for Kiyosu holding aloft a spear to which Imagawa Jibusho's severed head had been tied by the hair. Everyone was downhearted and that evening, we went back to Ryuzenji Fort."

The men of the fields went along with the Sassa to attack Narumi Castle. However, they were late to join Nobunaga and did not participate in the battle. Also it is quite possible that the Sassa attacked Narumi without Nobunaga's blessings. Senshu Suetada and Sassa Masatsugu were killed fighting at Narumi.

Tenka no tame!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


May is the month that Nobunaga was born and I have decided to share some of his greatest triumphs in his career, Nagashino. Matthew Stavros's Military Revolution in Early Modern Japan has translated some of Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki's Nagashino. I was able translate the Nagashino section earlier this year and was quite pleased with it. Here is Mr. Stavros's version:

Stavros (pp. 8-9)

"Upon our arrival at Nagashino on the eighteenth day, Lord Nobunaga set up a base at Gokurakuji temple on a mountain in the village of Shitara. Nobutada camped at Mt. Niimido.

The village of Shitara sat on land slightly lower than its surroundings. About 30,000 soldiers could take up position there and avoid detection from the enemy army of Takeda. Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu established camp at Mt. Takamatsu at the top of the Koromitsu incline. Takigawa, Hideyoshi, and Niwa made camp at Arumihara. Altogether, the forces allied with Nobunaga were arranged so as to surround the enemy, Takeda Katsuyori. Nobunaga thought, 'With the Takeda so close and backed up against a great river, this is a fine blessing from heaven. We must destroy them all!'

Calling Sakai to his side, Nobunaga pulled about 2,000 archers and skilled gunmen from Ieyasu's troops. He placed these men in Sakai's charge. Just after six o'clock in the morning, troops [of Nobunaga] having reached the top of the mountain, raised their flags high and shouted battle cries. Watching the enemy from atop Mt. Takamatsu, Nobunaga issued orders not to take action until his signal was given. He then ordered about a hundred infantry gunners into formation so as to receive the approaching enemy.

In the first wave, an enemy general, Yamagata, gave the signal and hit the drum, sending his troops charging forth. They were all either immediately cut down or sent back by gunfire. A second wave of infantry troops came forth. Again, in accordance with Nobunaga's orders, fire rained down, forcing more than half of them to retreat.
In the third wave, fighters from Nishi Kozuke sallied forth. Kanto soldiers tend to be skilled horsemen. They rode forth, pounding their drums. Here too, Nobunaga's gunners remained in formation, well hidden, awaiting the approach of the enemy. Each wave of fire would bring down more than half of the charging enemy. The rest fled.

In this way, Nobunaga's troops remained stationary despite the enemy's charge, answering their attack with fierce infantry gunfire. The Takeda army was overwhelmed by this [tactic], left with no choice but to retreat.

The forth wave came from the forces of Baba Minonokami, again sounding their drums. But again, Nobunaga's lines remained tight answering the assault with gunfire. Most[of the enemy] were cut down.

From sunrise until about two o'clock in the afternoon, fighting continued in the east, northeasterly direction. The Takeda army was badly struck until only a few of them remained. Finally, the various bands gathered around Katsuyori and fled..."

The entire text was not published in Stavros's article and some things are left out. That being said, it does give the reader on what might have happened on that day when Nobunaga and Ieyasu gave the Katsuyori an old fashioned butt kicking. Nobunaga arranged his troops close as possible to the enemy. Why? So the Takeda army did not have the ability to maneuver freely and it would be at a great disadvantage.

Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gruesome Letter

This is a letter that Nobunaga wrote to Kobayakawa Takakage and Mori Terumoto in late 1573.

Passage comes from Jeroen Lamers's Japanius Tyrannus:

(Lamers p. 97-98)

"I forced Yoshikage to commit suicide and sent his head up to the capital. I took the majority of his remaining troops into my service, and with the whole province [of Echizen] being pacified, I ended my campaign there. I left behind district heads and quickly returned to northern Omi on the 26th [22 September]. I immediately attacked the castles of the Azai on the night of the 27th, which I captured the next day; I took the heads of father and son Azai, which I also sent to Kyoto so that the people of that town and its environs could admire them. It was due to the manipulations of the Azai that the Takeda from Kai Province and the Asakura clan from Echizen Province became my enemies in recent years. The Azai were also to blame for the treasonous ambitions of the shogun. You cannot imagine my happiness that I have slain them all, for I hated them deeply. If this current situation prevails, I will [shortly] incorporate Kaga and Noto into my domains. I have been on good terms for many years with Uesugi Kenshin from Echigo, so there will be no problem. As far as the Northern Provinces are concerned, they are completely under my command. Shingen from Kai has died from a disease and his succession will be a difficult task."

The heads of Asakura Yohikage, Azai Hisamasa, and Azai Nagamasa were sent as proof and a warning to those who are against Nobunaga. Proof that the three are dead and the Kyoto population can see the truth for themselves the bloody trophies. The warning was direct and head on. If were an enemy of the Demon King, this is the treatment you will receive. In the end, it was a perfect example of psychological warfare.

Tenka no tame!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Okehazama Edo Sources

In March Mr. Yukio Kajino sent some information regarding souces written in the Edo Era relating to the Battle of Okehazama. Here are three and all three authors came from Nobunaga's home domain of Owari.

Okehazama Kassenki Published 1691-92
Written by Yamazumi Hidetatsu 1605-1703

Bishu Okehazama Kassenki Published unknown
Written by Yamasaki Manato 1736-1810

Shiken Okehazama Kassenki Published 1846
Written Tamiya Atsuteru 1808-1871

As for the Okehazama Kassenki, it could be the first chronicle related to the battle that is not from the standard sources (Shincho-Ko ki, Shinchokoki, Bukoyawa, or the Mikawa Monogatari).

As for the 2011 Arimatsu Okehazama Festival, it will be held on May 15.


Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What if?

What if Nobunaga was defeated by Imagawa Yoshimoto at the Battle Okehazama. Sengoku Japan would have been different fore sure. Luckily for Nobunaga, Okehazama was the shot heard all round Sengoku Japan. Neilson's Society at War wraps it beautifully on the what if question.

Neilson (pp. 88-89)

"The Oda victory at Okehazama is every bit as important as George Sansom recognized it to be. Why it has not been more widely recognized as the turning point which initiated the process of unification--and by extension, sounded the death knell of the Sengoku Period is something of a mystery. Had this battle resulted in the destruction of the Oda Clan--and by extension, the Maeno, Hachisuka, and Sassa Clans--all of whom later assumed important roles in the future of the country, Japanese history as we know it would very different. Nobunaga would have not spent the next twenty-two years in a struggle to unify the central provinces. Toyotomi Hideyoshi would never have lived to unify the country, invade Korea and menace China. Tokugawa Ieyasu might never have never become anything more than a vassal of the Imagawa and would never have had the opportunity to found a dynasty which would rule Japan for two and a half centuries."

The Arimatsu Okehazma Festival is in middle of May and plan to post information this weekend.

Tenka no tame!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Signore Part V

The Signore (pp. 59-60)

"He had only one military and political principle: to win by power in a world of power. Having laid down this principle, he acted on it with every means at his disposal, regardless of such considerations as personal safety. His pages were fond of telling how, even when defeated in battle, he seemed quite calm, almost as if he viewed his own possible demise as just another move in the power contest. He was not one to shed tears of chagrin, and seemed an utter stranger to regret. A defeat meant simply that, in a meeting between a stronger and a weaker force, one's own had been the weaker; and for the Signore, after suffering defeat, the only possible course of action was to bolster the strength of the inferior force. I imagined that the look of composure on the Signore's face was a feature common to the men of his sort--men such as Cortes or Vespucci (whom my father had known in Florence)--who constantly confronted crises and who managed to overcome them with reason as their chief weapon."

The message is clear: When you are knocked down, get up quickly as possible and get back into the fight, and never give up. A great example is the conquest of Mino. It took Nobunaga seven long years after the Okehazama victory in 1560 to have Mino in his hands. He had some defeats along the way, but quickly recovered and finally defeated the Saito in 1567. This characteristic gave Nobunaga to conquer his enemies and eventually, most of Sengoku Japan.

Nobunaga no tame!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nobunaga seminars

Late spring and early summer should be a treat in anybody is in the Gifu area. The Gifu City Museum of History will be presenting five seminars related to Oda Nobunaga. Out of the five, four are must see in my opinion.

  • Battles between Nobunaga and Azai Nagamasa
  • Nobunaga, a God?
  • Nobunaga's rival Takeda Shingen
  • Nobunaga's Castle Towns
Here is the link with more seminar information:


Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Okehazama Festival 2011

If you are in the Okehazama area during the first weekend in June, then by all means, visit the Toyoake City Okehazama battlefield. They will be holding their annual festival dedicated to the Battle of Okehazama.

Link: http://www.city.toyoake.lg.jp/sangyoshinko/kosenjo/kosenjo-gyoretu2.html

For those who are interested, the Arimatsu Okehazama Festival will be held in the middle of May. Last year's festival was a huge success.

I plan to clean up my translation today on the Battle of Anegawa (Shincho-Ko-ki's version).

Nobunaga no tame!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Battle of Anegawa

Here is a report on the Battle of Anegawa (1570) in Nobunaga's own words. From Jeroen Lamers's Japonius Tyrannus (pp. 48-49).

"Today, at the Hour of the Snake [around ten a.m.], the Echizen army together with Azai Bizen no Kami [Hisamasa] advanced on a village called Nomura in an effort to relieve Yokoyama. They deployed their forces at two places: the Echizen army was about 15,000 strong, and the Azai army somewhere between 5000 to 6000 men. At the same hour, we attacked them and joined battle on both fronts. We scored a great victory. As far as heads are concerned, I have no idea at the moment how may [we have taken], so I cannot provide you with any lists. [But] the fields and paddies are covered with corpses. Ask yourself, what greater joy could there be for the sake of the state."

I also have the Shincho-Ko ki's version translated as well and plan to post it later in the future. The photo above is modern day Anegawa and it was taken about ten years ago. Slowly, I am gathering sources related to the battle and in my opinion, one that is often overlooked.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nobunaga's Holy Grail now in English?

It looks like Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki will finally be in English. J.A.S. Elisonas and J.P. Lamers are the two people who are credited with this awesome project. The release date will be on May 31. 2011. That being said, the price will be expensive.


I have three different copies of the Shincho-Ko ki in my private library

Kuwata Tadachika First Edition 1997

Nakagawa Taiko First Edition 2006

Sakakiyama Jun 1980

This is the Holy Grail in my opinion. I received my first copy of the Shincho-Ko ki in 2000 and have been slowly reading and translating to the best of my ability. To tell you the truth, I have about half the chronicle translated in one form or another. If you have read Lamers's book on Nobunaga or David D. Neilson's thesis Society at War, there were many parts of the Shincho-Ko ki translated. This modern translation will open many doors to everyone who is interested in Oda Nobunaga or the Sengoku Era,

This is great news and feel like a kid in a candy store. I do believe that if you do plan to purchase the book, it will be worth every penny. As for myself, I plan to buy the book and still be translating on my own until the book is on my doorstep.

Nobunaga no tame!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Signore Part IV

This passage from the Signore made the case that Nobunaga was a lonely man. As the saying goes, it is always lonely at the top.

The Signore (pp.74-75)

"I knew that the Signore generally slept alone in a room with wooden floors, rather than one with straw matting. I wondered whether there were not perhaps a few days each month that he spent with his wife and children, but it seemed more probable that he was too preoccupied with responsibilities, ambitions, and crises to let himself relax even briefly. In the final analysis, he was living prove of the adage that the soul that seeks to rise above the common herd is perforce a lonely one.

In the Signore's case, however, I do not feel that the case of his loneliness lay only with himself. I had seen how those around him were quite unable to recognize his human qualities--either his strengths or his weaknesses--and imposed on him instead fearsome images of their own creation. I could not help feeling that the gloomy, chilly atmosphere that surrounded him was less a product of his own character that something others had, however unintentionally, fabricated around him."

Nobunaga had to give up his personal life in order to unite Japan. I also agree that other around him could not recognize his traits good or bad. The battle of Okehazama is fine example, but then again, very few knew what Nobunaga was thinking. In the end, I do believe that Nobunaga paid the price of his ambition to unify Sengoku Japan. Not only his life, but his personal one as well.

Tenka not tame!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saito Dosan's jokamachi found?

The past few years there have been many archeological diggings that have uncovered many relics related to Gifu Castle, Nobunaga, and Saito Dosan. One recent discovery was part of a mansion that was burned by Nobunaga when he attacked and conquered Inoguchi (Gifu) in 1567.

When Nobunaga made his final assault to take over Mino for good in 1567, he burned the castle town and soon Inabayama Castle (Gifu Castle) became a naked castle. You can find the conquest of Mino in the Shincho-Ko ki. According to the findings, the discovered site was not a townhouse, but a warriors mansion. Also the mansion was built during Saito Dosan's reign.

This is good news and I plan to visit the archeological site later this year. Here are two links that covered the story.


Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Toki Wa Ima

A good friend of mine on the SA Citadel posted a great link on a thesis on the Honnoji Rebellion.

Brandon C. Schindewolf's thesis (Ohio State University, June 2010) Toki wa ima is one of the most freshest works on the Honnoji in a long time.

There are seven chapters which covers a variety of topics (Schindewolf, p. x).

  1. Introduction
  2. The Age of the Country at War: Japan's Political and Military Status, 1467-1603
  3. Toki wa ima: Seeds of Rebellion and Problematizing The Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga
  4. Contemporary Sources: Jesuit Letters and Other Writings
  5. Theories: Ambition, Vengeance, and Further Speculation
  6. Modern Interpretations: Tenchijin and Sengoku Muso 2
  7. Conclusions: History as Narrative and Akechi, the Failed Noble Rebel
There was a written account by an Akechi retainer by the name of Honjo Soemon, who claimed to be at the incident. In the future, I will explain why I do not believe his account. That being said, Schindewolf did include all sides to the story (Oda, Luis Frois, and Akechi).

Here is a great link on Akechi Mitsuhide


More on The Signore later.

Tenka no tame!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Signore Part III

Continuing with The Signore which focus on Gifu during Nobunaga's reign. This is one of better descriptions of my adopted hometown and I wish I was there when Nobunaga's Raku-Ichi Raku-Za economic policies were in full strength.
Photo at the Gifu Museum of History. An exhibit of what life was like during Nobunaga's time in Gifu.

The Signore (pp. 45-46)

"Gifu was a town of nearly ten thousand souls. To us, accustomed as we were to the spaciousness of the capital and the orderliness of Sakai, the place was a veritable Babylon. Markets lined the narrow streets, were all manner of people jostled each other day and night. Noisy throngs filled the open spaces. Men on horseback pushed their way through the congestion, being loudly berated for their efforts. There were merchants hawking their wares, people laughing, people crying out at finding themselves nearly trampled underfoot. Some shouldered heavy bundles, others were seated on the ground eating their meals. Carts were being loaded and unloaded. There were gamblers, merchants, revelers, women, small groups of children, visitors from other provinces, and ronins--masterless samurai--all marching or shuffling or strolling along to such a clamor that we had to speak loudly unto one another's ears to make ourselves heard."

Nobunaga's Gifu was one lively place and no doubt his capitalistic policies made the city prosper.

Nobunaga no tame!
Tenka no tame!
Nihon no tame!

God Bless Japan!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Signore Part II

I plan to use the rest of the month focusing on The Signore. Here is one of my favorites as merchant from Sakai describing Nobunaga as a monster.

The Signore (p. 21)

"When we pressed to know who this Lord of Owari was and what sort of man he might be, the answer again was always the same: He was the most brutal and heartless warlord who had ever lived. One merchant told us with a scowl that the Lord of Owari had murdered his own brother, banished his uncle, and slaughtered many of his own vassals. What is more, he assured us, the man actually enjoyed the carnage."

"When this lord makes war," he continued, "he has no thought of mercy, but sees to it that his enemy is eliminated to the last man. He has burned a great many towns, and he destroys the temples of Buddha. He is under the spell of some evil spirit--perhaps he is a devil himself. the very thought of him makes me shiver....When he cam here to Sakai to demand a contribution of twenty thousand kan for his war chest, the town council flatly refused him. We drew up bridges, barred the gates, and set up fortifications; every last soul was prepared to take arms to defend the city. But it was worse than hopeless. The Lord of Owari had fifty thousand soldiers waiting at the capital for the least pretext to attack us. The lords of Miyoshi and Tango, harsh though they were, were never half so cruel as this Owari. At his coming, the gods themselves are put to flight and the Buddhas vanish, leaving only burning and killing. In form he is a man, but the truth he is a fearsome monster!"
The Great Satan Nobunaga has come to unify Japan! In Sengoku Japan, nice guys are dead!

As you continue to read The Signore, you will be amazed how much information it does have on Nobunaga's personal life.

Nobunaga no tame!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Book Review: The Signore

Title: The Signore
Author: Kunio Tsuji Translated by Stephen Snyder
Publisher: Kodansha International
Pages: 197
Year: 1989
Original Japanese Title: Azuchi Okanki
Stars out of five: *****

If you are a Nobunaga fan or a Sengoku Jidai junkie, then The Signore is the book for you. Even though the book is fiction, it does provide details that Nobunaga's life was a lonely while unifying the Japan. I have to admit, I cried while reading this magnificent book. Here is the excerpt from the inside book jacket.

"Like the colorful, rapidly changing scenes of an old Japanese picture scroll, the events of this historical novel unfold in a series of unforgettable glimpses of misery and magnificence, cruelty and compassion.

Caught up in the late sixteenth-century struggle to unify Japan, a group of Portuguese missionaries react with curiosity, bewilderment, and admiration to the contradictions of this foreign land. Through the remote countryside and the streets of the capital, their dark-robed figures move amidst a shifting throng of fierce samurais, scheming Buddhist monks, wealthy merchants, and humble working folk. Their ultimate concern is with the common people; but the uncertainties of the age make the protection of the mighty essential. It is this need that brings them into contact with the enigmatic central figure of the story: the young lord Oda Nobunaga, who is obsessed with the task of imposing unity on a seething mass of rival forces. Ruthless, inquisitive, artistic, irreligious, he typifies the essential solitude of the man who seeks supreme power. Yet his relationship with the foreigners seems, paradoxically, to satisfy not only his thirst for knowledge-- of guns, of the other lands, of the universe-- but also a need for the human contact that his role makes impossible with his fellow countrymen. This strange relationship reaches a peak when Nobunaga has a splendid Catholic mission erected only a stone's throw from the magnificent castle that is the symbol of his hegemony. But the brilliance of the novel's climax is shattered at a single stroke by Nobunaga's sudden death. Thus, in its ending, this work-- so thought provoking in its picture of the meeting of the cultures--also seems to invite the reader to find beauty in the cruelty and impermanence of existence itself."

More later on The Signore which will include Nobunaga's appearance and a description of Gifu during Nobunaga's era.

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Battle of Okehazama: Takaneyama Map

I received this photo map of Matsui Munenobu's last camp at Takaneyama. During the Battle of Okehazama, Matsui Munenobu moved his camp from Makuyama to Takaneyama which was the highest point on the battlefield.

As you can see from the photo Takaneyama faces towards the Oda forts of Tange, Zenshoji, Nakajima, and well as Narumi Castle (occupied the the Imagawa). On a clear day, the view is breathtaking. Many thanks to Mr. Yukio Kajino who provided me the map. As for Takaneyama itself, it is located near the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield.

Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Fishing

David D. Neilson's Society at War provided a passage from the Bukoyawa on a day of fishing in Owari.

Neilson (p. 94).

"The next morning he summoned his official in charge of the river (kawa yakunin) Murase Heiko, and they went out to catch fish in the Furukawa River. They dammed up the river and removed water until the water level was very low. Ichihashi Denzaemon and Sawaki Tohachi held the bridles of the horses and Kitokichi (=Toyotomi Hideyoshi), wedging his kimono between his buttocks and paying no attention to the cold, waded into the river with pail in hand. He got mud splashed all over him and looked completely miserable. Lord Nobunaga was sitting in the river and was very good at catching carp [tossing them into the bucket held by Hideyoshi]. The carp caught in the Furukawa River was exceptionally tasty and Lord Nobunaga was greatly delighted."

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ota Gyuichi, Oze Hoan, and the Bukoyawa

Here is more from Society at War by David D. Neilson. This section of his paper will sure raise your eyebrows (pp. 31-33).

"Perhaps the most radical and intriguing theory regarding the possible motivations behind the creation the Bukoyawa beyond the simple recording of the Maeno Clan history is a hypothesis put forth by one such amateur, Inunoe Tsutomu, in his book Mo Hitotsu no Sengoku Jidai, or 'One More Sengoku Age' (I do have a copy of the book). He makes the interesting claim that in addition to penning his own works, Ota Gyuichi had considerable influence over both Oze Hoan's Shincho Ki and more indirectly, the Bukoyawa. The Bukoyawa connection is plausible if you accept Inoue's theory that the name Ota Magozaemon that appears in both the Shincho Koki and the Bukoyawa was simply another name used by Ota Gyuichi. He also says that Magozaemon was a good friend of Magokuro, Maeno Shoemon's older brother, hence the possibility exists that there wasa sharing of information between Gyuichi and the Maeno/Yoshida families, perhaps over several generations on the Maeno side.

Ota Gyuichi was busy writing the Shincho Koki at roughly the same time that Yoshida Katsukane was working on the Bukoyawa. The Shincho Koki was intended to be Nobunaga's official history and as such, could not be too critical of Nobunaga for fear of Bakufu censorship which was sometimes accompanied by harsh punishments upon both authors and publishers alike. As this was the early Edo Period, the Tokugawa Bakufu was also compiling the Fudoki, its own version of events that because of the Bakufu's political primacy was to become the official history of the unification age.

Inoue claims that the Bukoyawa was also written with Gyuichi's collusion and that all three works are mutually supporting. He claims that this cooperation was intended to preserve historical facts that could not be included in or his own work and that were being overwritten by the victor's history that was the Fudoki. If this is true, it would mark the Bukoyawa, the Shincho Koki, and the Hoan Shincho-Ki as subversive histories that were intended to be oppositional to the Tokugawa Bakufu's version of events.

Inoue believes that Gyuichi's methodology was a follows: when the same events appear in both the Shincho Koki and the Hoan Shincho Ki and when they differ as to anything number-related, dates, koku, people, etc., the figures in the Hoan Shincho Ki are correct. He claims that Gyuichi did this intentionally and that the section he or she was currently reading is purposefully inaccurate. He claims that when Gyuichi wanted to convey something important, but could not be truthful because of the official nature of his work and was unable to criticize Tokugawa Ieyasu or the Tokugawa Bakufu openly, or contradict the Fudoki, that at the point in the text, he chose to insert mistakes to alert the informed reader to his subversive message. He then also inserted irrelevant digressions and stories at those same points to further distract the censors or overly-curious but uninformed readers from discovering his secret intent.

So, according to Inoue, if one wants to get a full and true picture of the activities that took place under the Oda and Toyotomi administrations, free from the omissions, embellishments and untruths that the Tokugawa Bakufu wrote into the Fudoki, one must read the Shincho Koki, Hoan's Shincho-Ki, and the Bukoyawa as one text. Each is incomplete and contains contrary or new information that is not contained in the others. He claims that Gyuichi's Shincho Koki is the skeleton, Hoan's Shincho-Ki is the flesh and the Bukoyawa is the parts, or details that flesh out the whole. While Inoue has come up with some pretty wild theories that are not discussed here, and his argument that the three works are intentionally intertwined may initially seem far-fetched, he has done a great deal of very tedious and precise comparisons that lend some credence to his theory. There is just enough substance to his ideas that if nothing else, demonstrates that they merit further investigation."

If Inoue theory is correct, it changes everything. My first thought came to mind was Nagashino and the guns. I like Inoue's theory since it radically different, but also agree that it needs more research on the matter.

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Okehazama Senki Final Volume

Earlier this month I was finally able to buy Hideki Miyashita's Okehazama comic, Okehazama Senki. Volume five was the last in the series and I have to admit the comic was not bad at all. According to Mr. Yukio Kajino by e-mail, Miyashita spent a lot of time around the Okehazama battlefield and his work shows.

There were a couple things that caught my attention. One, Imagawa Yoshimoto was a lot slimmer and younger in the comic. In fact, Yoshimoto reminded me of Gackt believe or not. Comics are meant for enjoyment and I did not get too carried away from the historical inaccuracies. Second, people such as Yanada Masastuna, Matsui Munenobu, Okabe Motonobu, Hattori Tomosada appeared. Which I was pleased. Third, was the story in general. The five volume set covered both Nobunaga and Yoshimoto's career, a major plus in my opinion. The rain, intelligence, and the battles were done in good taste.

I am pleased to own all five and have to say, a must have for those who love Nobunaga and Okehazama in general. A special thanks to Mr. Yukio and Akitsugu Kajino for the comics. As for next month, more on Society at War.

Tenka no tame!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Atsuta landmarks at the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield

As you know I was able to take many photographs during my personal Okehazama Battlefield tour with Mr. Yukio Kajino. The Nobunaga "victory wall" stands out very nicely at the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield Park.

This landmark represents Nobunaga's miracle Okehazama victory.
Here is the actual Nobunaga "victory wall" located at Atsuta Shrine. A must see in my opinion.

This small pond represents Ise Bay and beautifies the park. The Okehazama staff really took the time and effort to create a first-class park.

I understand that Mr. Yukio Kajino did have a lecture last weekend in Nagoya discussing the Battle of Okehazama. Hopefully it went well and looking forward in the future to meet with him again. Next month, I plan to post more on Neilson's paper, Society at War.

Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Young Hideyoshi

If you own a copy of David D. Neilson's dissertation Society at War: Eyewitness Accounts of Sixteenth Century Japan, you know there is ton of juicy information. Today, I would like to share with you a story about young Hideyoshi.

Neilson (p.99) Source Bukoyawa?

"When Kyuan-sama (=Kitsuno, Nobunaga's wife/concubine), was in Ikoma Yashiki, he stayed close to her and kept her entertained (lit. flattered), her. Because he was good at talking, even in front of her, he unashamedly told sexual stories which usually, people [would] have difficulty telling [in front of such a refined person]. Once, when Lord Nobunaga came to Ikoma yashiki, Tokichiro was called before him to keep him company. Tokichigi (=Tokichiro=Hideyoshi), did not hesitate even in front of Lord Nobunaga., and as usual, told comical stories with many [hand] gestures which pleased Lord Nobunaga. Although he was small, he directly asked Nobunaga to hire him. Hachiemon, who happened to be present, could not help but say; 'Who the hell do you think you are? A little guy like you doesn't have the physical strength [necessary to be a soldier], and your sword technique is doubtful [as well].' Hachiemon tried to placate him, but Tokichiro asked Kyuan-sama to intercede with Lord Nobunaga on his behalf, saying 'I will do anything, even caring for the horses (umano kuchitori).' Her (Kitsuno-sama's) attendant recommended him to Lord Nobunaga. He became a courier for messages between villages (guson, lit. errand boy), [in Owari] and performed smartly. He finally ended up working in Kiyosu Castle. This was the beginning [of Hideyoshi's meteoric rise]."

Tenka no tame!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all and God Bless! Today, we will celebrate the New Year Nobunaga style.

Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki translated passage by Jeroen Lamers (Japonius Tyrannus, p. 32).

"On the first [day] of the First Month, all of the warriors from Kyoto and its surrounding provinces came to Gifu to present themselves before Nobunaga. Nobunaga hosted a banquet where each quest drank three rounds of sake. After the Provincials ['takokushu', lit. 'men from other provinces'] had left, there was another feast, which only His Lordship's Horse Guards were allowed to attend. During this second banquet, some extraordinary and unprecedented things were presented as accompaniments to the sake. These were the heads of:

Item Asakura Sakyo no Daibu Yoshikage
Item Azai Shimosuke [Hisamasa]
Item Azai Bizen [Nagamasa]

Their heads had been taken in the previous year [1573] in the Northern Provinces. The banquet began when these heads, coated with gold paint and placed on square trays, were brought out with the sake. Everybody sang a song for His Lordship and had a merry time; Nobunaga himself was happy that everything was under control."

This is how you should celebrate the New Year.

Nobunaga no tame!
Tenka no tame!