Friday, May 30, 2014

Samonji Sword I

I have some updated news on the famous Samonji sword that Nobunaga took as a prize at the Battle of Okehazama 1560.  The sword was forged by Samonji of Chikuzen in the fourteenth century.  As stated in an earlier the post, the sword was two feet six inches in length.  However, Nobunaga had the famous Samonji sword cut down to two feet two inches.  Later Tokugawa Ieyasu wore the Samonji blade at the Osaka campaign in 1614-15.

Nobunaga no tame!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shobata Castle News I

The picture on the left is myself at Nagoya Castle, Nobunaga's hometown.  The right is Shobata Castle landmark.

Shobata Castle is in the news again.  There is another article claiming that Shobata Castle is Nobunaga's birthplace.  The article mentions the source,  Bishukojoshi, that states Shobata was Nobunaga's birthplace.  If you read the article, the Shobata theory starts around in 1992.  1992 was the year of the Nobunaga Taiga drama.  A good time to stir up the hornets nest in my opinion.  My theory/opinion still is Nagoya Castle.  It just makes sense in the long run.

Shobata Castle was constructed by Nobunaga's grandfather Nobusada in the Eisho Era (1504-21).  The flatland castle was 328 by 459 (feet).  There is one thing for certain regarding Shobata's birthplace. Nobunaga's father, Nobuhide was born at Shobata Castle.

Tenka no tame!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Samonji Sword

After the fighting at the Battle of Okehazama, Nobunaga acquired Imagawa Yoshimoto's famous sword Samonji as the spoils of war.  Yoshimoto received the famed sword from Takeda Nobutora.  The sword was about two feet six inches long.  On the front side of the sword it was engraved "The sword of Imagawa Yoshimoto, who was careless and killed by Nobunaga on 19. 5. 1560."  The reverse side was engraved: "Oda Owari no Kami Nobunaga."  Nobunaga was known to have this sword around at all times and tested it quite frequently.

The present home of the Samonji sword is located at Kenkun Jinja (Takeisao Shrine) in Kyoto.  Kenkun Jinja also houses, Ota Gyuichi's Shincho-Ko ki and armor that Nobunaga wore at the Battle of Okehazama.  The great Samonji sword symbolizes Nobunaga's miracle victory at the Battle of Okehazama.

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Azuchi Banquet

Here is a postcard I bought while visiting Azuchi last year.  This was the last huge banquet that was held at Azuchi before the Honnoji Rebellion.  Nobunaga entertained Ieyasu in the middle of May in 1582.  There is a model display of the banquet at the Azuchi Castle museum.  Also there is a great book  on Sengoku hospitality cuisine by Ego Michiko, Nobunaga no Omotenashi.  Highly recommend for the Nobunaga scholar.

Tenka no tame!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 Toyoake I

It will be a couple of weeks before the Toyoake Okehazama Festival.  That being said, there is some awesome news surrounding the festival.  Paper crafts.  That is right, paper crafts.  There is a paper craft hobby on the Battle of Okehazama.  To tell you the truth, they are not easy to build.  My own personal experience with Japanese paper crafts has been a love/hate.  The castle paper crafts were very difficult to build.  However, they are beautiful when properly constructed.  I would love to get my hands on the Okehazama paper craft.
As you can see from the picture, the Okehazama paper craft is highly detailed.  I like it since you might get a glimpse on what the battle was like.  For the Battle of Okehazama scholar, this is a must have.

Nobunaga no tame!

Monday, May 19, 2014

2014 Okehazama

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!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Nagashino Festival

Earlier this month, the 2014 Nagashino Festival was held in Aichi Prefecture.  In 2001, I was lucky to attend the festival.  My past experience was nothing but pure joy as the matchlock rifles were fired.  As one can say, "I love the smell of saltpetre in the morning!"

Last year I was able to visit Shitaragahara battlefield for a few hours.  That being said, you actually need a couple of days to really understand the battlefield and the tactics of Nobunaga and Ieyasu.  The Shitaragahara Museum is a must visit, no exceptions and no excuses.  I was finally able to visit the museum last year and the teppo (matchlock rifle) displays are incredible.

Geography often plays a vital role in warfare and the Battle of Nagashino is no different.  One of the most important things Nobunaga and Ieyasu did was to move their armies as close as possible to the Takeda camp so their calvary and light infantry did not have much room to move.  In short, shorten the battlefield to your advantage.

Nobunaga no tame!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Uesama's Birthday II

Here is the complete article on the Nobunaga mosaic at Shobata.  The article is still fair as it includes both Nagoya and Shobata theories.  Many thanks to a friend of mine in the Okehazama area for sending this to me.

Tenka no tame!


Rekishijin Magazine's new issue will cover Nobunaga's career.  I am a big fan of Rekishijin ever since they first came out.  Topics include:

  • Honnoji
  • Family line
  • Nobunaga's charisma
  • Castles
  • Nobunaga's interests/hobbies
  • Nobunaga's ladies
Historians such as Owada Tetsuo, Taniguchi Katsuhiro, Kirino Sakujin, Togawa Jun, and others contributed to this special issue.  I would love to get a copy as soon as possible.

Nobunaga no tame!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Uesama's Birthday I

Shobata recently celebrated Nobunaga's birthday with a beautiful mosaic.  As you can see from the picture, the mosaic is a youthful Nobunaga.  It looks good and need another visit to Shobata in the near future.  Speaking of Shobata, there is a fair article on Nobunaga's birth.  It does explain the Nagoya and Shobata theory.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Uesama's Birthday

According to the old lunar calendar, today is the Uesama's birthday.  I have a passage from Walter Dening's The Life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi that stands out.  Nobunaga's character, that is.  No, he is not giving in to the Imagawa.  In fact, he has a message for Imagawa Jibu Daifu Yoshimoto and his army.

Dening (pp. 90-91)

"I have, after twelve years of fighting, succeeded in taking the whole of the province of Owari.  Yoshimoto has opposed me continually all this time, but as yet I have never had any reason to fear him.  And now am I quietly to submit to his rule without striking a blow?  Would this be maintaining the reputation of my family for brave deeds?  Would this be soldier-like conduct?  No, rather than do this, I will shave my head and become a priest.  To make plans for submission with nothing but report to guide us--whoever heard of such cowardice?  Should Yoshimoto come, we will give him a warm reception on the borders--we will fight to the death rather than allow him to pass through our province."

This is Nobunaga at his best.  You know he has something in his bag of tricks.  The self-made man from Owari is not going submit without a fight.

Nobunaga no tame!  Tenka no tame!  Owari ni hikari wo!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

2014 Toyoake

The Toyoake City Okehazama festival will be held on June 7th and 8th.  The two day event will have lots of activities such as parade, battle reenactment, rifle firing squad, and a market.  Festivities will be held at the Toyoake City Okehazama battlefield, Kotokuin Temple, Kutsukake Castle ruins, and Senninzuka.

Tenka no tame!

Monday, May 5, 2014


The role of the Men of the Fields at the Battle of Okehazama was critical to Nobunaga's victory.  As I stated many times before, Nobunaga had more trust and loyalty in the Men of the Fields than his own retainers.  The Men of the Fields knew Nobunaga had a plan to defeat Imagawa Yoshimoto, but his vassals did not due to betrayal.

David D. Neilson's Society at War (p. 88)

"Nobunaga had gone to the Men of the Fields precisely because they were outside of the formal military infrastructure and could be trusted.  As Maeno Shoemon and Hachisuka Koroku said during their audience with Nobunaga, they appreciated the fact that he treated their clans with favor.  They owed him a debt of gratitude and their performance in the planning and execution of the battle of Okehazama was payment due.  In addition, their familial connections with Nobunaga through Kitsuno and the three sons she had with him, irrevocably tied the interests of the Ikoma, Maeno, and Hachisuka Clans as well as those of their wider network of the Men of the Fields to those of Nobunaga and created ties of loyalty and mutual self-interest which were stronger than any bond created by an oath of vassalage."

Neilson made a minor error when he stated that Kitsuno had three sons.  She had two sons and a daughter.  I did write a post almost four years ago on Nobunaga's Okehazama plan.

Nobunaga no tame!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Key Points I

                                             Landmark at the Toyoake City Okehazama battlefield.

It is that time of year again when the Battle of Okehazama is the main topic.  I have expanded my key points to the battle over the years after reading several sources from the local perspective.

  • Nobunaga had a plan from the start.
  • He did not tell his captains/retainers about the plan since betrayal was common in the Sengoku Era.  He did not trust them at all.
  • He used the middle man on the outside such as the Men of the Fields to do his dirty work for him.  Nobunaga had more trust in them than his own retainers.
  • The weather was so hot and miserable it made the Imagawa stop and rest.  Also the thunderstorm provided cover for Nobunaga's army.  The storm prevented the Imagawa to do any scouting around the surrounding area.
  • The intelligence provided by Yanada Masatsuna was crucial in Nobunaga's victory.
  • The quality of the Imagawa army was poor compared to the Oda.  Nobunaga's army was toughen up by all the battle experience they received while unifying Owari.
  • Charisma.  Nobunaga's unorthodox character rubbed off to his soldiers when they needed it the most.
  • Yoshimoto never respected his enemy as a worthy opponent.  He always though Nobunaga was just a country samurai with no national pedigree.  That snobbish attitude cost him his life and the Imagawa house.
  • Kyoto.  Yoshimoto was so obsessed with the capital as his goal, he for who was the real enemy, Nobunaga.
  • Yoshimoto failed tactically.  His allied vanguard consisted of the Matsudaira and the Asahina did much of the bulk work.  However, Yoshimoto's main army failed due to attentiveness and overconfidence.
  • Plan.  Preparation.  Execution.  It was near flawless which Yoshimoto and the rest of the Imagawa army could not adjust nor recover.
I did write a similar blog post about four years ago.  It has changed somewhat.

Tenka no tame!