Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mt. Hiei

I have not wrote anything on Nobunaga and Mt. Hiei in ages.  The last time I was able to visit Mt. Hiei was in 2001.  It was an awesome place to visit and learn.  It still amazes me even today how Nobunaga and his army climbed up the mountain and put practically everyone to the sword in 1571.

There is an excellent book in English by Neil McMullin, Buddhism and the State in Sixteenth-Century Japan, which explains the many reasons why Nobunaga put Mt. Hiei to the torch.  The monks of Mt. Hiei either bought their way out, fought their way, or prayed their way out of troubles.  That being said, Nobunaga was very different and had no fear to show Mt. Hiei a lesson they will never forget.

Here are some of the main reasons why Nobunaga attacked Mt. Hiei in 1571.

  • Mt. Hiei was a member of the anti-Nobunaga league united at least indirectly with the Honganji against Nobunaga.
  • Mt. Hiei was on the doorstep of Kyoto.  It was very dangerous to come and go.
  • Nobunaga had a chain of forces against him.  To break the chain, Mt. Hiei was the weakest link of that chain.
  • Mt. Hiei was located in a strip of land between the Honganji to the west and the provinces to the east such as Echizen and Kaga that Nobunaga wanted to control.
  • Mt. Hiei challenged Nobunaga's authority.  A very bad idea indeed.  Challenging the Uesama's authority only results in death!  A year earlier, Nobunaga gave Mt. Hiei a stern warning.  The priests disregarded the warning which costs them total destruction of the entire area.
In the end, Nobunaga did not give a damn and slaughtered everyone at Mt. Hiei.

Nobunaga no tame!


D_A Renoir said...

If I recall correctly, in the Japanese Wikipedia page for this incident, it says that archaeological excavations found no traces of such a massacre ever happening... But I can't read Japanese well, so that was ran through Google Translate.

Do you mind checking what the wiki actually says? It would be a very scandalous if the famous Mount Hiei massacre turns out to be something that never happened in the first place! O__O

(if it wasn't in the Wiki, I apologize)

otsuke said...

Read the Shincho-Ko ki, the Shinchoki, and Luis Frois's account of Mt. Hiei.

D_A Renoir said...

I don't know where to find Frois's account or the Shinchoki. However, that is seriously beside the point. This theory is claiming that new archaeological discoveries proves that the news about the massacre is an exaggeration.

Please take a look at this. I cannot read Japanese, so it's not clear to me what it's saying.