Thursday, December 27, 2012

Nobunaga link

I found this link through a friend from Facebook and thought it would be appropriate to post it.

The name of the program is Nobunaga Sengoku Rekishi Kentei.

It is a link with Owada Tetsuo and others that an event will be held on February 24.
The awesome part is the practice questions.  For those who can read Japanese/kanji, there is a renshu mondai bar.  Click it and there should be ten questions to answer.  Some of the questions are:  What was Nobunaga's birth name, his wife, and who was Ieyasu's uncle.  It is a fun quiz to take and yours truly did well.

Nobunaga no tame!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Awards

Before I write about the 2012 Awards, I would like to tell you the reader about my condition.  Ever since my accident in May of 2011, my life has changed completely.  Two surgeries later, I am still suffering a lot of body pain and more important my mental health has declined drastically.  At times, I do not think I am going to make it through the entire day.  Still, my mental health is not the best and wonder if I am going to die today or the next.  I am getting medical treatment, but I think the best treatment is being in Japan.  I feel better there and my mental and physical health improves as well.

Okay, let us get back to business.  Here are my awards.

Best book/Thesis:  David D. Neilson  Society at War:  Eyewitness Accounts of Sixteenth Century Japan

Runner-up: Brandon C. Schindewolf  Toki wa Ima.

The Historians of the Year:  The 2012 Fuji TV Ii ne Nippon ga Daisuki Gaikokujin Grand Prix Sengoku Busho.

Finally after a couple of years of being the runner-up, Neilson's thesis finally on top.  I cannot stress how important his thesis is.  It covers the Men of the Fields who often did a lot of the dirty work in the Sengoku Era.  Neilson's thesis covers the Battle of Okehazama, the Sunomata Project, and the cruelty of Sengoku warfare.  As for the Battle of Okehazama scholar, his thesis is a gold mine and provides key evidence that Nobunaga really had a plan well thought out before he rode out into battle.  Regarding Sunomata, planning was essential and the main weapon that was used was guns.  Neilson covers this in great detail.

Schindewolf's paper Toki wa Ima, covers the Honnoji Incident.  A major coup in my opinion.  His thesis is balanced and covers all the angles on why Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed the Uesama.  I have learned a lot and his thesis made me understand Mitsuhide's actions more easily.  Schindewolf's bibliography is superb as well.  If it was not for his thesis, I would have never known about the English translation of Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki.  He receives major kudos for that.  Hopefully, next year I will cover more on the Honnoji Incident and you can bet I will use Toki wa Ima as the main source.

I was in Japan in October to participate in a Japanese game show called.  Fuji TV Ii ne Nippon ga Daisuki Gaikokujin Grand Prix Sengoku Busho.  The photo is myself in armor and very lucky.  Why?  It was the same armor that was used in the Nobunaga Taiga drama.  I was completely humbled and surprised.  Me and three other people were quizzed on Oda Nobunaga.  Everyone did well since we all knew what we were talking about.   The show was in Japanese which made it more impressive.  Why then us four are the historians of the year?  The answer is simple.  People like ourselves who love Sengoku warfare and its heroes make history more enjoyable.  It is us who visits the battlefields, castles,  and other landmarks.  It is us who reads and studies up on the subject and breathes new life into it.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Okehazama 1965

The Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield has changed over the years.  The Kajino family gave me this photo of the Okehazama battlefield that was taken in 1965.  The first thing you will notice is that the area has not changed much since the Taisho Era.  It is still very rural and the population small.  This photo can give historians clues on what the battlefield was like and how it was fought.

Now look at the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield today.  The geography has completely changed as well as the population.  It is much harder now to get an idea on what the battlefield was like since the area was developed.  That is why the 1965 photo is so important because it does give the historian a better idea on how the battle was fought and looked like during Nobunaga's greatest hour.

Nobunaga no tame!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Random News

There has been more discoveries of late at the Gifu Castle Nobunaga Mansion excavation work of late. Here is a link to the site (Link is in Japanese):

We are learning something new on a daily basis on what Nobunaga's mansion looked like while living in Gifu.  With his mansion looked very similar to Kyoto's Kinkakuji and more gardens and the like discovered, it seems that his mansion was simply awesome during its day.

Photo above is Nobunaga's Mansion Ruins at Gifu Castle Park.  Well worth the time to visit.

Tenka no tame!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nobunaga and Kyoto

When Nobunaga made his visit to Kyoto in 1559 to meet with shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru.  During this trip he made visits to Nara and Sakai.  However, when Nobunaga became the most feared man in Japan, he headed back to Kyoto in 1568 along with soon to be shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki.  Nobunaga's Kyoto lodging was at Toji (picture above).  During his long military career, Nobunaga lodged at various temples or mansions in Kyoto.   There are two valuable resources that includes the Uesama's Kyoto lodgings, the Shincho-Ko ki and Kawauchi Masayoshi's book Nobunaga ga Mita Sengoku Kyoto.

Kawauchi on page 159 has a list on where and when Nobunaga lodged at Kyoto.  He ends up using the Shincho-Ko ki as the main source.  Here is a list on where Nobunaga stayed and how many times.

  • Toji-1
  • Roan in Upper Kyoto-1
  • Mushannokoji in Upper Kyoto (Nobunaga never got to use this facility due to hostilities between him and Yoshiaki.  Yoshiaki gave orders to destroy it and quality of lumber was taken by all who was able to attain it.)
  • Myokakuji-16
  • Shokokuji-3
  • Honnoji-5
  • Nijo-10
If anything that stands out is that Nobunaga lodged more times at Myokakuji than any other place in Kyoto.  Honnoji would later be his pied-a-terre.

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Odaka no michi

While I was in Japan last month, I was able to visit the Okehazama battlefield again to do more research.  This photo here is the Odaka no michi which Matsudaira Motoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu) used this road to deliver supplies to Odaka Castle.  The road is old, small, and narrow.  In fact, the Okehazama Research center is on the left side of the road and Mr. Okehazama's house is on the right.  You can feel like you are in the footsteps of Matsudaira Motoyasu delivering supplies to Odaka.  This was a rare treat.  I always learn something new while visiting the Okehazama battlefield no matter how many times I have been there.

Later, I was able to have a long chat with Mr. Okehazama, Yukio Kajino, and his son Akitsugu.  Various topics discussed were tactics, both the Arimatsu and Toyoake battlefields, The Men of the Fields, Ota Gyuichi and Oze Hoan's biographies on Nobunaga, and how the Battle of Okehazama changed Sengoku Japan forever.  In addition to visiting the Okehazama battlefied, we made a brief stop at the Fort Muraki ruins where Nobunaga fought the Imagawa in 1554 and won.  I suggest anyone who has the free time and is visiting the Okehazama area to visit the Fort Muraki landmark.  I would like to express my thanks for the Kajino family for taking their time to show me new things related to the Battle of Okehazama.

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nobunaga, the sportsman

If you really do your research on the Uesama, you will find out that he was quite an active person.  Besides the war front, he was active in various activities that would call him a modern sportsman.  For example, he loved to swim, shoot the matchlock rifle, archery and ride horses.  He also loved to set up horses races as well. He fished and hunted in the countryside and was superb at falconry, one of favorite hobbies.  He enjoyed sumo and the tea ceremony.

The Uesama was truly unique in his activities and he was definitely a sportsman during his time.

Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Nobutada's pied-a-terre

Jeroen Lamers's Japonius Tyrannus has an interesting take on Nobunaga's son, Nobutada's secondary residence at Azuchi. 

Lamers (p. 142)  "There is evidence that Nobutada, Nobukatsu, and Nobutaka had their respective pieds-a-terre in Azuchi.  As regards Nobutada and Nobukatsu, they received instructions on 14 June 1580 from their father 'to construct residences for themselves' at Azuchi."

This is a picture of Oda Nobutada's Azuchi mansion at Azuchi Castle.  Could this be Nobutada's pied-a-terre?  His main headquarters at the time was Gifu Castle. I have not being fully engaged on Azuchi Castle over the years due to other projects.  That being said, this is an interesting subject.

Tenka no tame!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Uesama Quotes

I found an awesome quote by the Uesama found  in the Cambrige History of Japan Volume 4 Early Modern Japan (pp. 43-44).

"He was bold in his purpose, ruthless in his execution: 'There are so many corpses in Fuchu that there is no room for more,' he claimed after leading more than thirty thousand troops into Echizen."

If you were the enemy of the Uesama, chances are you were going to to be wiped out.

Nobunaga no tame!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Tenka

I have a few posts on Nobunaga and the tenka awhile back, but recently found an excellent piece by the Cambrige History of Japan that deals with the tenka.  It is broken into four parts and it deals with Nobunaga and the realm.

The Cambrige History of Japan Volume 4 Early Modern Japan (pp. 80-81)

"But is was Oda Nobunaga who used the term 'realm' (tenka) most effectively.  By his time it had aquired four concentric layers of meaning: (1) Japan and the people who lived there; (2) Kyoto and its environs, focus of the regime that ruled the nation; (3) The regime itself; and (4) The individual rulers of the regime.  Nobunaga used the term first sense to criticize the shogun: 'The realm," he stated, 'is reprimanding Ashikaga Yoshiaki.'  He then overthrew him.  In this instance Nobunaga claimed to represent public opinion.  But at the same time he continued to maintain that he had been entrusted with the government of the realm and ascribed the third and forth meaning to himself.  Nobunaga was at once the representative of the realm (a ruled object) and the realm itself (the principal of the realm).  As the personification of the realm, he felt called upon to replace the old social order.  Because Nobunaga was killed halfway on his path to unification, he could not be called a 'man of the realm,' but he was nonetheless the first to develop and apply the mode of action associated with a man of the realm in actual politics."

One must remember when the Uesama was about to overthrow the lame shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki it was stated that even the peasants and crude farmers called him the evil shogun.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Always on the offense

The best defense is a great offense and the Uesama had one of the successful armies during Sengoku Japan.  In fact, it was revolutionary at the time.  The Shogun Yashiki at the Samurai archives has an excellent article on how Nobunaga was able to divide his army to fight several fronts.  The article explains the military concept the principles of the Objective, Offensive, and Mass.

The Shogun Yashiki: "Nobunaga was truly the first samurai commander to divide his operations into theaters, with Hideyoshi commanding his forces in western Japan, Shibata Katsuie commanding Oda forces in the north, Sakuma Nobumori leading forces against the Ishiyama Honganji in central Japan, and Tokugawa Ieyasu (as a subordinate ally) in charge in the Tokai region to the east.  Nobunaga never ceased being on the offensive--he would move between theaters with his main army to exploit offensive opportunities created by his subordinate commanders.  When an objective in one area was reached he would shift focus to the next offensive opportunity--for instance, when the surrender of the Ishiyama Honganji was finalized, he shifted focus to the final destruction of the Takeda in Shinano and Kai."

The link to the article is here:

His success was a key to location as well.  As stated in an earlier post, Azuchi was the perfect place for the Uesama to launch a full scale attack anywhere.  For his enemies, it must have been a horrified experience to see the Oda army always on the offense.  If there was one drawback, he almost stretched his forces too thin as he was killed at the Honnoji in 1582 due to betrayal.  There was nobody nearby to to defend him.  However, this skill of dividing his army to be able to fight on several fronts successfully made him a genius.

Nobunaga no tame!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Nobunaga and Banana

Here is a link that caught my attention by Livedoor.  It is a blog post on Nobunaga and the banana.  The post describes Luis Frois first visit with Nobunaga during the construction of Nijo Castle at Kyoto in 1569.  However, it seems that there is no record of the Uesama eating a banana.  The article also has a small list of gifts that Nobunaga received from Frois such as a hat, clock, mirror, and a peacock feather.

Tenka no tame!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Today I will give some brief answers why Nobunaga built Azuchi Castle and stayed at the Honnoji later in his career.  Gifu Castle was simply too far away from the capital to control the national stage.  Azuchi was perfect for him.  It was a convenience of transport of transport by crossing Lake Biwa and he could arrive in the capital in less than a day.  Also Azuchi provided the Uesama to lead the front when at war.

Also there were two key points politically for Nobunaga.  It was close enough to control the national stage and far away from the daily pettiness of the Imperial court.  Nobunaga was smart to put his governor Murai Sadakatsu in charge of the daily affairs.  For example, the President of the United States moving his headquarters to the mountains of West Virginia leaving the Vice-President in Washington to handle the affairs. Another reason why Nobunaga built Azuchi because the area was new and had no past history to haunt it.

Since Azuchi was built, Nobunaga had no legitimate reason why he should built a castle in Kyoto.  The Honnoji became the Uesama's  "Pied-a-Terre" or his temporary second residence.  Again, it made sense because Murai Sadakatsu was Nobunaga's governor of Kyoto.  Nobunaga only needed a second home when he visited the capital which drastically decreased later in his career.

Nobunaga no tame!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Okehazama no Michi Review

I will finally write my review on Mizuno Seishiro's take on the Battle of Okehazama.

Okehazama he no Michi was published earlier this year and I have to say, it is a must read.  However it does have some flaws.

Here are the flaws that I have found.

  • Not much coverage on  the Imagawa family pre-Okehazama.  A major disappointment.
  • Routes leading to Okehazama: Sunpu to Chiryu is left out..
  • No pictures of Matsui Munebobu's tomb or the crane landmark at the Toyoake City Okehazama battlefield.
  • No photos of Kunotsubo, the place where Yanada Masatsuna came from.
  • No mention of the Oze Hoan Shinchoki in the bibliography.  Both versions are needed to fully understand the battle.
The positives which were many:

  • Great book for those who want to understand Nobunaga pre-Okehazama.
  • Top sources include Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki and the Mikawa Montogatari.
  • Owada Tetsuo, Tanguchi Katsuhiro, Fujimoto Masayuki, and Wataru Kajino's works were used in great extent.  Which means that Mr. Mizuno used the recently published works as his bibliography.
  • The Mizuno family is covered in this magazine (Mizuno Nobumoto, Ieyasu's uncle).
  • Lots of great colorful pictures and maps.  Simply superb.
  • Lots of one day travel courses included.  A huge plus.
Overall, really enjoyed the magazine and it is highly useful.  In my humble opinion, this is a must have for the Battle of Okehazama scholar.
Tenka no tame!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tax Cutter

Normally when people talk about Nobunaga, they often mention about his genius as a military tactician.    However, he was also known for his economic talents as well.  The first part deals with the difficulty of traveling during the Sengoku Era and the second one will explain Nobunaga's answers to economic freedom.  Jeroen Lamers Japonius Tyrannus p. (136).

"Travel in 16th-century Japan was dangerous and expensive, and toll barriers were a common phenomenon.  In August 1565, Frois wrote that travel in the Kinai, where he had arrived from Kyushu in February of that year, 'is very costly' because of the fees one has to pay.  At the time, a traveller going, for instance, from Nara via Kyoto, to Akechi in Mino Province would encounter no less than eighteen barriers.  two people carrying two wine casks over this stretch would pay duties amounting to one kan and 496 mon, a respectable sum if one considers that many of Nobunaga's early land grants represented a yearly income around twenty kan.  It is hardly surprising that travelling merchants would sometimes attack newly erected barriers.

Sengoku daimyo commonly strove to abolish all checkpoints impeding free traffic to further trade within their domains.  Nobunaga was the first to apply this policy on a greater scale.  The abolition of toll barriers represented a cut in the tax burden shouldered by the common populace.  Although Nobunaga did not redirect this cash flow to his own  coffers, the indirect benefits must have been substantial.  More and cheaper traffic meant more trade; more trade meant higher economic development, which in turn increased Nobunaga's capacity to wage war."

Low taxes, free trade, and business friendly environment leads to economic success.  Simple as that.

Nobunaga no tame!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Uesama's Generals

Yesterday while surfing the web, I found a link on Nobunaga's generals and it is not that bad at all.

The link provides a few short sentences on Nobunaga's key generals/captains.  It is very brief, but it works for someone wants to know just the basics.

Tenka no tame!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Magazine Preview

I received Mizuno Seishiro's magazine on the Battle of Okehazama last week from a friend in Japan.  So far, I am impressed by the rich color photos and maps.  The magazine covers the Oda family presence in Owari to the Battle of Okehazama itself.  If you are interested in young Nobunaga's life, this magazine is for you. Both the Arimatsu and Toyoake battlefields are discussed.  Also the magazine has one day travel courses for those who are interested in visiting the historical landmarks. A major plus in my opinion.  Mr. Mizuno's bibliography uses the most current resources and his links are decent too.  There are a few things that I do not like about the magazine which will be discussed next month.  Overall, I do approve this magazine with two thumbs up.

Here is a nice Battle of Okehazama link:

Nobunaga no tame!

Friday, June 1, 2012

The last chakai

This post will have a passage on Nobunaga's last chakai at the Honnoji the day before he took his life. I think the passage does gives clues what happen that day. George Elison, Dues Destroyed: the Image of Christanity in Early Modern Japan, p. 82. "(Oda's) purpose in coming to the Honnoji was not that of the warrior but rather that of the connoisseur of the major elegantiae of the age, the tea ceremony and the various objects d'art appurtenant to it. He had invited famous teamen and court nobles to attend at a sumptuous display of his precious utensils--a list of the most valuable thirty-eight exists to the present, dated the day prior to the disaster. Nobunaga's tea party proved to be very expensive diversion. He entertained his guests late into the night with talk of his dreams of the past and designs for the future, until the irruption of Ackechi's soldiers ended the pleasantries." Tenka no tame!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Trap

Nobunaga succeeded at the Battle of Okehazama due to he was able to trap the Imagawa and the crush them in a surprise attack.  David D. Neilson's thesis Society at War goes into great detail on this.  Neilson (pp.  80-81).

"It soon became clear that the Imagawa would pass through an area where there were several riverside villages under the leadership of a village headman named Tozaemon, a man with whom Maeno Shoemon and Hachisuka Koroku were acquainted.  Seeing this as the opportunity they needed to halt the progress of the Imagawa army that they had been waiting for, Maeno and Hachisuka set their plan in motion.  Bringing them a large amount of carefully chosen foods and sake, they and some of their men joined a group of villagers led by the aforementioned Tozaemon and some Shinto and Buddhist priests, and went out to the road to wait for Imagawa Yoshimoto to pass by.  They were planning to offer the food to him as a gift celebrating the auspicious beginning of his campaign against Nobunaga and secure his favor.  

They waited on their hands and knees in the dirt on the side of the road with their gifts laid out on white cloths.  It was so hot that those who were waiting later said that they became dizzy from the heat.  It was no small gesture-and no small risk for peasants to approach someone like Imagawa Yoshimoto and the Imagawa outrider who initially encountered them told them to disperse or be cut down.  They were persistent however, and after the outrider returned to tell Imagawa Yoshimoto of the peasant's wish to offer him their congratulations, Hachisuka Koroku, who was secreted within the group, had the villagers move to a place further down the road to a place which was shady and therefore more inviting during the heat of the day.  The trees and hills father down the road also provided much needed cover for the approach of the Oda army which was already riding out from Kiyosu to lay in wait among the nearby hills and villages.  Onikuro who Maeno and Hachisuka had been ordered to report to once they had Yoshimoto's location, had been sent out ahead of the main Oda force.  He took their report and rode back to relay this critical piece of intelligence information directly to Nobunaga."

The gift giving scene is played out really well in the movie Fuunji Oda Nobunaga (1959).  The Men of the Fields did everything they could to make sure the trap worked or Nobunaga would not have been  successful at at.  The weather played a key role and the Imagawa army must have been exhausted from the intense heat.  The gifts of food and drink along the shade of the trees provided much relief to the Imagawa army.  Yoshimoto took the bait and the rest was history.   Happy Battle of Okehazama Day!

Okehazama no tame!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Okehazama resources

Earlier this week I found out from a friend that there is new new material on the Battle of Okehazama.  After looking at the link, I can tell you this is a must have.  All 156 pages are in color and the contents contain lots of maps, photos, and the like.  The information is easy to follow and understand.  I approve the new book and looking forward to reading it in the future.  The book is on sale this week and it is perfect timing since the Okehazama festival is near as well as the anniversary of the battle.   I would like to know Wataru and Yukio Kajino's opinion on the new book.  Hopefully, a positive response.

Here is the link:

Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ota Kinjo

One of the newest landmarks that was erected at the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield is dedicated to Ota Kinjo.  Ota Kinjo (1765-1825) was a Confucian scholar and poet who visited the area in 1819.  It was said that he wrote a poem about the battle.  The man who was in charge in construction and setting this landmark up was Mr. Okehazama, Wataru Kajino.  It is certainly a nice new landmark that has made the Arimatsu Okehazama Battlefield much more beautiful.

Tenka no tame!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The birth of Okehazama

It is that time of year again and this month I will continue to discuss the Battle of Okehazama.  Okehazama's roots came from the warrior class.  During the period of 1340-41 the losers of the Nanbokucho Wars fled and hid near the Chofukuji Temple area.  There were around twenty or so people that fled and they served under Nitta Yoshisada.  The families included Nakayama, Aoyama, and the Kajino.  This was the birth of Okehazama. During the time of the Battle of Okehazama, the population was less than a hundred people. It makes sense since the picture above was taken in the Taisho/Early Showa Era shows that the battlefield was nothing but farmland.

Even its name has changed throughout the centuries.  Before the Edo Era, the area was known as Horazama, Kukihazama, and Hokehazama.  By the Edo Era, the name was more stabled to Okehazama with various kanji spelling. The modern kanji spelling of Okehazama first appeared in 1878.  Okehazama was founded and built by warriors and it was the perfect place for Nobunaga's finest hour in 1560 when he defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto.

Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


DKIA (Demon King in Action) and he was good at it. This is a passage from Carol Richmond Tsang's War and Faith: Ikko Ikki in Late Muromachi Japan. She uses the Echizen no kuni soetsuki.

Tsang (p. 1).

"In the autumn of Tensho 3 [1575], a Buddhist priest visited the military commander Oda Nobunaga during one of the latter's campaign conquest. His temple had economic interests in the province Nobunaga had just absorbed, and the priest hoped to safeguard them by being on the spot. His diary of the stay mentions some of Nobunaga's forces returning to camp after a 'mountain hunt,' which usually referred to tracking wild boar, a common samurai pastime. This time they did not hunt wild boar or the like, however, the priest noted a new definition of the term: 'a mountain hunt means killing members of the ikki (league) and cutting off their noses to bring back as an indication of the number killed. Also, more than two hundred were alive and beheaded in the rice fields to the west of camp.'

The soldiers' prey was human. In the sixteenth-century Japan, rewards for warriors depended largely on the number and status of those they killed, and their commanders required proof. Noses sufficed as trophies from low-status enemies."

This brutality was nothing new in the Sengoku world. The grim warfare was a necessity since only the meanest, evilest, and wicked ruled and survived in Sengoku Japan. I stated this before, nice guys do not finish last in Sengoku Japan, they are dead! Nobunaga used his wickedness to scare the living the hell out of his enemies and he excelled at it.

Tenka no tame!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Funeral story

I wrote a short story on Oda Nobuhide's funeral and Nobunaga's behavior. Enjoy.

The sound of horror was heard when a few matchlock rifles were fired directly at the temple building. "Take that! That is what you blasphemous monks get for lying to me! If you would have said that my father's life was in God's hands, I probably would spare your lives!" Yelled a livid Nobunaga. He had the monks locked inside the temple with no escape and shot them to death. When Nobunaga's father, Nobuhide was mortally ill, he asked them if his father would recover. The monks replied yes he would recover, but regrettably it would not be the case.

Nobunaga was wearing a yellow yukata with a rope sash; his hair was tied up like a tea whisk with a red and green cord, and his face of that of the devil as he loaded the rifle one more time. The roar of the rifles shook the earth and those monks who were wounded or escaped being hit pleaded Nobunaga for mercy. "Get the hell out of here or I will kill all of you!" One of his pages Maeda Toshiie replied,"What about the ones who cannot escape my Lord?" Nobunaga with an evil look answered,"Kill them since they are no use anymore and burn the building to hell!"

Nobunaga's elders Hirate Masahide and Hayashi Hidesada were at Nagoya Castle when they heard the news about the massacre. "The young Lord has gone crazy. I do not know what he is thinking. His behavior worries me." Hayashi said. Hirate replied, "I have done everything I could to curb him, but he just goes his own way." Hayashi answered back,"Nobunaga is truly the Fool of Owari!" Hirate responded in a low and unconfident voice. "It will get only worse before it will get better. Unfortunately, it has not hit rock bottom yet."

The Tiger of Owari (Oda Nobuhide) unexpectedly passed away in early 1551 at the age of forty-two at Suemori Castle. He was a capable man and struck friendships with many. Nobuhide was often at war against the Saito, Imagawa, and the Matsudaira. a few days later the former lord's funeral was held at a Soto Zen temple called Banshoji. Nobuhide's posthumous name was Togan and the funeral attracted several monks who wondered around and were lured in by the cash that was handed out. In all, some three hundred clerics attended the ceremony. However, one monk from Kyushu that was present at the funeral service would soon recognize Nobunaga's future as the new warlord of the ages.

Lord Nobunaga's elders were in attendance. Hayashi, Hirate, Naito and others included Nobunaga's lovely wife Nohime (Kicho) was present and everyone was wearing formal attire. Nohime's heart was heavy in sorrow as her mother Omi no kata recently passed away last month. As for his younger brother Nobuyuki, his retainers were also in presence. Nobunaga's mother Dota Gozen, Shibata Katsuie, Sakuma Morishige, Sakuma Jiemon, and others were there. As for Dota Gozen and Nobunaga, sadly, never got along since she sided with Nobuyuki.

As the monks were chanting the sutras, the temple had a gloomy tense feeling since Nobunaga was not in attendance. His elders were nervous and terrified. They began to ask each other questions on Nobunaga's whereabouts. Hirate then politely asked Nohime,"Do you know where the young Lord is at this hour?" She whispered softly with prayer beads in hand. "Unfortunately no. I did see him this morning, but he left." Hayashi then asked the same question to Nobunaga's pages. Again, no word on the young Lord's situation and everyone looked bewildered. Nobunaga's page, Maeda Toshiie then told Hirate that the young Lord went riding alone in the countryside. "You got to be kidding me. At this time of hour, the young Lord is riding alone? He should know better than that." Replied Hirate with beads of sweat all over his face due to stress.

Just about when the head priest rang the bell to start burning the incense for the dead, Toshiie cried out,"The young Lord has finally arrived!" Hayashi and Hirate's faces of nervousness and confusion turned into liberation. "Thank God, Nobunaga is finally here to pay his respects to the former Lord." Hirate said to himself as he slowly breathed a sign of relief. The rest of the Oda house was happy as well. That being said, the fireworks were about to begin.

Nobunaga then slowly walked on the wooden floor. His apparel was not proper at all. Instead he wore a red yukata caked with mud with a rope sash, from his waist sway a couple of gourds, his hair tied up as a tea whisk with a green cord as he normally prefers, and carried his sword and dagger. Hirate then harshly scolded Nobunaga. "Learn from your younger brother Nobuyuki who is dressed in formal attire!" Nobunaga paid no attention to Hirate or his elders. He pounded the sword on the floor and with his right hand grabbed a handful of the incense powder. The temple was dead silent. Nobunaga's face was a bit dirty and sweaty,showed no emotion at all, and his elders were terrified. Nobunaga then threw the incense powder, ignored everybody and left. Everyone in attendance was in total shock and said that Nobunaga was the biggest fool in the entire province of Owari. However, the monk from Kyushu begged to differ. "That young Lord will rule many provinces in the future. Yes, that one who just left the building." Nobunaga's elders were certainly embarrassed and could not believe what they just saw. Some say that young Nobunaga purposely played the role of the fool in order to survive.

Nobunaga wanted to grieve alone and in his own way and rejected traditional authority. He was facing north towards Iwakura (home of the Oda Iwakura house) and started to load the matchlock rifle. He lit the fuse and was about to fire and then said, "Do not worry father. I will finish the job you started and unify Owari!" The somber sound of the rifle was something as if were a twenty-one gun salute. Black smoke filled the air and the smell of gunpowder was pungent. Nobunaga again fired and told his father he will unify Owari. The future Demon King quietly saddled up on his gray horse and slowly headed back to Nagoya Castle.

Nobunaga no tame!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Multiple Dosan Graves?

Saito Dosan was defeated and killed by his son Yoshitatsu at the Battle of Nagaragawa in 1556. Donsan does have a grave located in Gifu City. According to this link, there is a chance that there might be multiple graves of Saito Dosan.

One theory could be that Dosan's corpse was cut in to pieces by Yoshitatsu's soldiers who claimed they were the one who killed Dosan. If that is correct, then there should be more graves. Here is how Dosan was killed according to the Shincho-Ko ki, p. 103 Elisonas/Lamers (Gyuichi).

"Nagai Chuzaemon took on Dosan, laid hold of him as he was raising high his assault sword, and locked him in an embrace. Just when Nagai had almost succeeded in taking Yamashiro Dosan alive, Komaki Genta, a ferocious samurai, came running up, mowed down Dosan crosswise at the shins, and took his head as he fell prostrate. Chuzaemon, keen to get some evidence for later, sliced off Dosan's nose and made off."

Saito Dosan was an interesting and colorful figure in my opinion. If there are more of his graves/tombs scattered around Gifu City, I would like to know.

Tenka no tame!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nobuhide's Death Part II

When Oda Nobuhide (Owari no Tora) passed away, he had some accomplishments and failures that were important for the future of the Oda house.

  • Formed a strategic alliance with Saito Dosan of Mino (the marriage between Nobunaga and Nohime).
  • Was able to told hold off the Imagawa/Matsudaira of Mikawa.
  • Failed to unify Owari. Nobunaga finished his father's job when he unified Owari in 1559.

Here is another story on Nobuhide;s death which can be found in Jeroen Lamers Japonius Tyrannus page 24. The Jesuit missionary Luis Frois tells the grim story when Nobunaga shot some monks to death because they lied to him about his father's health.

"When his father lay mortally ill in Owari, Nobunaga asked the bonzes to pray for his life and asked them whether he would recover from his illness. They assured him that he would, but he died a few days later. Nobunaga then had the bonzes thrown into a temple with the doors locked from the outside; he told the bonzes that, as they had lied to him about the health of his father, they had better pray to their idols with greater devotion for their own lives. After surrounding them on the outside, he shot some of them to death with harquebuses."

To be honest, the monks had no way of knowing when Nobunaga's father was going to die. That was in God's hands. It does show that even at a young age: you mess with Nobunaga, you pay the price--death!

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Nobuhide's Death Part I

Oda Nobuhide passed away in 1551 0r some scholars say in 1552. When the Tiger of Owari (Owari no Tora) died, Owari was still not unified. This passage is from the Shincho-Ko ki and describes the funeral and Nobunaga's crazy behavior. One must remember the monk from Kyushu who recognized the true genius of the future leader of Japan-Nobunaga. Passage from Gyuichi The Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga. Translated by Elisonas/Lamers (pp.60-61).

"Lord Bingo no Kami contracted a contagious disease, from which he failed to recover despite all kinds of prayer and medical treatment. In the end, he passed away on the 3rd of the Third Month in his forty-second year.

Birth and death: impermanence be the law of this world, The sorrow of it all! Whistling winds scatter The dew from the grasses. Huge tinted clouds obscure The light of the full moon.
Bingo no Kami was the founder of a [Soto Zen] temple called Banshoji. Its rector gave him the posthumous name Togan. Attracted by the alms being given out in cash, monks from all over the province flocked to Banshoji, where a stupendous funeral service was held. Many wondering priests who happened to be passing through on their way to and from the Kanto region also attended. Some three hundred clerics in all were at the service.

Lord Saburo Nobunaga came accompanied by his house elders Hayashi, Hirate, Aoyama, and Naito. His younger brother Kanjuro [Nobukatsu], was accompanied by his own retainers, from Shibata Gonroku [Katsuie], Sakuma Daigaku [Morishige], Sakuma Jiemon, Hasegawa, and Yamada on down.

When the time came for Nobunaga to burn incense for the deceased, he stepped up to the alter looking like this: He bore his long-hilted sword and dagger stuck in a straw rope that he had wrapped around himself. His hair was tied straight up like a tea whisk. He was not even wearing formal trousers (hakama). He abruptly grabbed a handful of incense powder, threw it at the altar and left.

His younger brother Kanjuro was dressed appropriately, in a stiff sleeveless robe (kataginu) and formal trousers, and comported himself impeccably.

It was generally agreed that Lord Saburo Nobunaga had been his usual self--a big idiot. Amid all the critics, however, there was an itinerant priest from Kyushu who is supposed to have said: 'Yes, but one day he'll lord it over entire provinces, that one.'"

Oda Kanjuro Nobukatsu was known as Oda Nobuyuki. Others at the funeral who were not mentioned, but probably there were Nobunaga' mother Dota Gozen and his wife Nohime. Nobunaga behavior was nothing new and one must remember that he rejected traditional authority because he was the boss. His free thinking attitude would become one of his greatest assets. The pictures were taken last July and a trip to Banshoji Temple is highly recommended for those who are interested in Nobunaga or Sengoku history.

Tenka no tame!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nohime Drama

It is finally about time Nobunaga's lovely wife Nohime (Kicho) will have her own drama. Asahi TV will broadcast the drama later next month. Arisa Mizuki will play the role of Nohime and Yu Shirota the role of Nobunaga. Here is the link:

If you want to know my opinion which actress was the best in the Nohime role, that would be Kyoko Kagawa. She played the role of Nohime in the late 1950s and was superb. Beautiful, young, lady-like, and strong.

The picture is a statue of Nohime at the grounds of Kiyosu Castle. There is a kimono worn by Kikuchi Momoko who played the role of Nohime in the Nobunaga Taiga drama. here is some information on Nohime from Tadashi Ehara's Daimyo of 1867 (p .283) " At their wedding Nobunaga described her as having 'the mind of a genius and the appearance of a goddess,'..."

Nobunaga no tame!
Tenka no tame!
Nohime no tame!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Signore Part VI

I have not posted anything on The Signore (Azuchi Okanki Japanese title) in a long time. This post will describe Nobunaga's physical appearance. It does have some of Luis Frois's written account on Nobunaga, but it also has the opinion of another as well.

Kunio Tsuji (pp. 34-35, 47)

"Father Frois reached the far end of the room and wheeled around to face us, talking incessantly. The Owari Signore was about thirty-seven or thirty-eight years of age; he was tall, bony, and agile; his face was narrow and pale, he was clean-shaven. His voice was resonant, his pronunciation clear and precise. He wore his sword day and night, and always kept a lance close at hand. He was an enthusiastic horseman. his manner was harsh and his retainers trembled at his every word, yet he was extremely just by nature and could be moved by the least show of affection. He had almost no interest whatsoever in the opinions of others, seeming to have an almost religious faith in his own ideas and judgments. He was forever full of new schemes, but was far from being kind of man who, having once lighted on an idea, refuses forever after it. He would in fact discard former principles and opinions without a qualm--even those once regarded as gospel--and did so, indeed, with such regularity that those around him were sometimes inclined to think to think him merely capricious. Frois maintained, however, that if only one recognized the consistent personality underlying them, one could accept even these bewildering changes. The Signore's most trusted retainers, such as Lord Hashiba, had found favor precisely because they were able to comprehend this aspect of his temperament.

Directly after we had taken our seats, the sliding doors before us parted and a tall man entered surrounded by retainers. We knew without introduction that this was the Signore of Owari. He was very much as Father Frois had described him: the face long and quite pale and the features firm. His eyes were piercing, and his right brow twitched in a most disturbing fashion almost the whole time we were in his presence. Once inside the room, he made a sign to the attendants, who withdrew instantly, almost as if the wave of his arm had been a sorcerer's gesture and they had simply vanished into thin air."

Nobunaga was the tallest of the three unifiers at around 5'8''. He was also the most good-looking and attractive as well. I have mentioned this many times, he was not a man bound by tradition and did his way. He could care less about others think about him or his policies. He kept his captains on their toes and scared the living bee-jesus of his enemies. One of his most important qualities was that he was a self-made man.

Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I have translated this passage from the Shincho-Ko ki a long time ago and last year was able to visit the place. This story sounds good and a great opportunity for a River Monsters special.

Gyuichi (Elisonas/Lamers) The Chronicle of Lord Nobunaga (pp. 96-97).

"In the middle decade of the First Month, a man called Matazaemon, a native of Fukutoku Hamlet in Ajiki Village, was walking along the embankment on a rainy evening. All of a sudden he saw a black thing, of a girth about as thick as one man could barely embrace, which rested with its trunk on the embankment while moving its head little by little across the dike toward the pond. The thing lifted its head when it heard Matazaemon approaching. Its head resembled that of a deer, and the eyes shone as bright as stars. When it stuck out its deep red tongue, it looked like an opened hand. The sight of the thing's glistening eyes and tongue scared the life out of Matazaemon. His hair stood on end, and fled to whence he came, running all the way from Hira to Onogi, where he had been staying. As Matazaemon told others about what he had seen, the story spread until it reached the ears of Lord Kazusa no Suke and

In the last decade of the First Month Nobunaga summoned this Matazaemon to interrogate him personally. Having heard what Matazaemon had to say, he issued orders to start draining the pond the next day in order to dredge up the serpent. The farmers of Hira Hamlet, Onogi Village, Takeda Five Hamlets, Ajiki Village, and Ajima Village were told to bring spades, hoes, and buckets for scooping water. On Nobunaga instructions, they lined up several hundred buckets, enclosed the Amagaike on all four sides, and scooped water for almost four hours. But once they had bailed out third of its contents out of the pond, the water level stayed the same, no matter how many more bucketfuls they took away. At this juncture, Nobunaga decided to go in the water and look for the snake himself. Clenching a dagger between his teeth, he plunged into the pond. After a while he emerged again, but he had seen absolutely nothing that looked like a serpent. Nobunaga told a man called Uzaemon, an experienced swimmer, to have a look under water as well. Uzaemon followed Nobunaga into the pond, but again nothing whatsoever was found. Nobunaga therefore went back to Kiyosu."

Tenka no tame!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Matsudaira KIA

Photo: Fort Marune

On the eve of the Battle of Okehazama, Matsudaira Motoyasu (Tokugawa Ieyasu) attacked Fort Marune. The commander of Fort Marune, Sakuma Morishige was killed in action. The assault was successful, but the Matsudaira did suffer some casualties as well.

First source will look is Owada Tetsuo's Okehazama no Tatakai. On pages 206-207 Owada listed seven main samurai who were KIA.

Matsudaira Settsu no Kami Korenobu
Matsudaira Kozuke no Suke Masatada
Matsudaira Kiheiji Munetsugu
Matsudaira Chikamochi
Matsudaira Gorobei Tadayoshi
Kato Jingorobei Kagehide
Saigo Toshikatsu

Kuwata Tadachika's Okehazama*Anegawa no Eki has all the seven listed above as well (pp. 183-191). However, Kuwata has four others listed as KIA that are not included in Owada's book.

Ebara Magosaburo
Matsudaira Denichiro Shigetoshi
Kouriki Shinkuro Shigemasa
Kakei Matazo Masahisa

Owada did state on page 109 that the Sankouki list Kouriki Shigemasa and Kakei Masahisa as KIA. Also Owada has a list of those who participated in the Fort Marune siege (118-120). One name that did stand was Ebara Magosaburo (p. 120). According to Kuwata, Ebara was KIA.

Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Atsumori at Ikoma Mansion?

Photo of Nobunaga singing and dancing to "Atsumori" at Kiyosu Castle

During the last summer I bought Kanshi ni Araszu: Nobunaga wo Sukutta Otoko by Hattori Tooru. The book is about Nobunaga and his adviser Hirate Masahide. What caught my attention was the pages dedicated to Atsumori (pp. 153-171). Hattori claimed that Nobunaga's finest hour was not at Kiyosu Castle, but Ikoma Mansion. Hattori (p. 166) "Nobunaga tabitabi [Atsumori] wo utai, matta bashou ga aru. Sore wa Ikoma yashiki de atta." So before departing for the battlefield against Imagawa Yoshimoto (defeating Yoshimoto at the Battle of Okehazama), Ikoma mansion was the starting point. Personally I do not believe it. That being said, it might have been possible. David D. Neilson's thesis Society at War provides some clues.

Nobunaga held a dance party before the battle. Neilson (p. 71) "The party was not to be held at Kiyosu Castle, but at the Ikoma Mansion." Why? Nobunaga's concubine Kitsuno lived there as well as his children. Normally, a warlord would bring his concubine to his headquarters. Not Nobunaga, since he was not the conventional Sengoku warlord. Neilson (p. 17) "Nobunaga though is noted for flaunting convention and not doing what was expected of him. He was the daimyo. He was not beholden to anyone to behave in a certain way or to act in any way other than that which he wanted." Nobunaga often would spend time fishing or visiting Kitsuno at Ikoma. It was routine. If Nobunaga was defeated and killed, Ikoma provided a better chance to escape for Kitsuno if she stayed at Kiyosu Castle.

These examples are only clues. One reason why I do not believe that Nobunaga performed "Atsumori" at Ikoma Mansion was the war council at Kiyosu. Nobunaga was there at the war council practically giving his staff he was not up to the fight. It was late at night when he dismissed his retainers. Was it possible that Nobunaga left for Ikoma as well? Possible, but highly doubtful. It is all based on speculation in my opinion. In the end, Nobunaga stayed at Kiyosu Castle and performed "Atsumori" there on the eve of his greatest triumph.

Tenka no tame!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012

Happy New Year and as always we celebrate the way Nobunaga did in 1574. The lacquered skulls of Asakura Yoshikage, Azai Hisamasa, and Azai Nagamasa sure created a still at Gifu Castle in 1574. David D. Neilson's thesis Society at War explains Nobunaga's way of scaring the living hell out of people was effective. Neilson (pp. 305-306)

"Supposedly Nobunaga had his generals drink from the cups and then forced his wife who came from the Asai family to drink from the skull of her brother. While the taking of heads is nothing unusual, after they are presented to one's commander for reward for service in battle, they are usually given proper services and buried. The decoration of skulls in this manner does have some precedent in Chinese history and that may be where Nobunaga got the initial idea from. Still, the display of skulls as objects of art to be admired was probably a shock to many of those present. Probably that is precisely the effect that Nobunaga was hoping for; to make an impression on those present that he was not going to be bound by convention and the rules as previously understood, did not apply to him. He would go to any length to achieve unification and the creation of a unified and peaceful country justified whatever means he chose to employ. Doing the unexpected, the shocking, or outrageous was one of Nobunaga's favored strategies as it kept even his closest vassals off balance and unsure as to what he might do or how he might react. While on one hand, such acts did create an atmosphere of fear even among his top vassals; they also kept everyone on their toes and on their best behavior."

The Rules of Engagement did not apply to Nobunaga and he did scare the Bee-Jesus of his enemies and his vassals. One must remember that the sword was mightier than then pen in Sengoku Japan. For Nobunaga: It was my way or the highway!

Nobunaga no tame!
Tenka no tame!