Monday, May 19, 2014
Today's post will be on my experience on the Battle of Okehazama. Am I an expert? No, but I know know more about the battle than most people and that includes the Japanese.
"My first experience of the Battle of Okehazama is when I read George Sansom's A History of Japan 1334-1615, back in the mid 1990s. Ever since then, the Battle of Okehazama has been my love. The battle itself reminds Japan's version of David and Goliath. The past fifteen years or so I have read so many books in English and Japanese that it helped my interest and love grow. To this day, Nobunaga's victory over Imagawa Yoshimoto was unorthodox and nontraditional. That is the main reason why I like Oda Nobunaga and the Battle of Okehazama.
When I was studying Japanese and the career of Oda Nobunaga at Gifu University, my history professor at the time, Matsuda Yukitoshi encouraged me to write a paper on the battle. That paper would later become my first published book as a historian. Even with a written book, several blog posts, and articles, the Battle of Okehazama still has many unsolved mysteries and questions, which I still have problems answering. Nevertheless, this makes the Battle of Okehazama so special.
My first visit to the battlefield was back in 2000 when I visited the Toyoake Okehazama site. It was small and even had a museum, which is unfortunately no more. Then I started to learn where troops were placed after Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki. In fact, I always had a copy of the Shincho-Ko ki and Owada Tetsuo's Okehazama no Tatakai with me at all times when visiting the battlefield. I was never able to visit the Arimatsu Okehazama battlefield until a few years later since it was far and hard to find. However, my trip to the Arimatsu battlefield with Mr. Yukio Kajino would change everything.
I first met Yukio Kajino back in 2009 at the Nagoya festival and the next day had a tour of the Arimatsu Okehazama battlefield. In 2010, I had another tour with him and a year later met Mr. Okehazama (Wataru Kajino). With his kindness from the Kajino's, I received Jimoto no Koro ga Kataru Okehazama Kassen Shimatsu Ki, a book about the Battle of Okehazama from a local perspective. I quickly found out that Nobunaga's victory was not a simple surprise attack (more likely a frontal surprise attack). It was more complex than that. The tours changed my military thinking completely.
One of the many reasons why the Battle of Okehazama is so fascinating is that Nobunaga had very few opportunities. That being said, he used the most he was given and took full advantage of it. there are many examples such as: his use of human intelligence (Yanada Masatsuna), the thunderstorm, the small force he had, the geography, quality of troops, his use of the Men of the Fields who did his dirty work, and his charisma. Nobunaga was in no way shape or form was supposed to win the battle, but he did with some luck and true grit. Nobunaga's miracle at the Battle of Okehazama shocked Sengoku Japan since Imagawa Yoshimoto was a major Sengoku daimyo whose goal was Kyoto. Other Sengoku daimyos now had a new warlord to deal with and Nobunaga was not from the traditional mold. Nobunaga was a revolutionary Sengoku warlord who knew that guns, intelligence, gold, capitalism, and building projects were the keys to the future.
If one wants to fully understand the Battle of Okehazama from all points of view, there are several sources for you to choose from. Here are some of my favorites: Ota Gyuichi Shincho-Ko ki, Oze Hoan Shinchoki, the Bukoyawa, Mikawa Monogatari, and Watru Kajino's Jimoto no Koro ga Kataru Okehazama Kassen Shimatsu Ki and Shinsetsu Okehazama Kassen. Last is a thesis from the University of Oregon by David D. Neilson 'Society at War: Eyewitness Accounts of Sixteenth Century Japan.' In addition to, one must visit both the Arimatsu and Toyoake City Okehazama battlefields to really get the feel of the battle.
In closing, the Battle of Okehazama was the beginning of a new age in Sengoku Japan. It put Oda Nobunaga on the map and it started the demise of the Imagawa house. One must remember that Nobunaga's quest to unify Japan as one started in 1560, his miracle victory at the Battle of Okehazama."
Tenka no tame!