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!

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