daddy got beaten up again like last year by both the Imagawa
and Matsudaira clans that cleverly made a temporary
alliance this year.
As a warranty
of faith in the alliance, the Mikawanese Matsudairas sent Tokugawa
Ieyasu to the Imagawa HQ in Suruga as a hostage.
Oda supporters mugged the caravan and took over Tokugawa Ieyasu. So
for a while the little Tokugawa was Oda's hostage, although nobody so
far testified of having witnessed the two little boys meeting each other,
since the Odas of course put the abducted kid away from everybody in
a separate castle.
Oda Nobunaga got a new younger brother who would outlive him for a very
long time, and who would secure his own fame in the direction that no
one could have predicted now: Oda Nagamasu.
At 14, Nobunaga
still lived by himself, away from his dad and mom and daddy's concubines,
so the procreation business that kept getting him new brothers didn't
really matter to him -- yet. He had been, besides the champ
in horse-race and archery and swordsplay and spearing, taking much interest
in what went on in Japanese politix and warfare, but hid it from Hirate
Masahide, Oda Nobuhide, and all people around him. To him it was a too-crowded
world for sharing anything like a fantastic private ambition that had
shaped itself at the back of his mind.
crowded little hut in Nakamura gnawed at Toyotomi
Hideyoshi's conscience, for obvious reasons. A 12 year-old
boy was almost an adult in the Japanese social system where samurai
kids came of age at 15 and working-class boys even much earlier. He
should have made his own living.
himself kicked out of the monastery and several establishments in and
around the village, he was sent to town to get apprenticeship in a rice
shop, while his mom and everyone else started to count the days of how
long this time he would remain where he was at.
times, as a hostage, though he was still no older than 5 years old,
Tokugawa Ieyasu had been
quietly learning to subdue every natural instinct in his fibers, to
resign to fate, and to clam up about everything. The only thing that
a bit cheered him up was martial art lessons, but he couldn't get that
here in confinement.
Oda Nobunaga (standing)
surprised Saito Dosan (sitting) at their first
meeting. Saito expected 'the Lord
to get to the formal banquet dressing awfully kinky as usual.
the pic for story and pictures about this meeting.
Why was Oda Nobunaga nicknamed 'the Lord Fool'?
Oda Nobunaga (standing
behind the priest) arriving at his
He didn't even
dress up to suit the occasion.
(diorama at the Azuchi Museum, 2004)
of the Saito
Nobuhide fell seriously ill.
Tokugawa Ieyasu's dad, Matsudaira Hirotada, refused
to bargain with the Odas around the abducted kid that the Odas
blackmailed the Matsudaira clan for peace with.
this was a final word on the matter, because soon afterwards Matsudaira
Hirotada died, leaving his underage heir alone.
Suruga, Imagawa Yoshimoto waited
in vain for his hostage's arrival. Having got wind of the abduction,
the Imagawa army spread its net and caught Oda Nobunaga's older
brother, Oda Nobuhiro
-- by besieging the ex-Matsudairan castle Anjo
where the teenage lived at.
Odas wanted Nobuhiro back alive, so the 6 years-old Tokugawa
Ieyasu -- new Chief of the Matsudaira clan --
was turned over to the 'rightful abductor' Imagawas, who, for
their part, kept the promise to lift up the siege and let go of
Oda Nobuhiro once Tokugawa was back on the road to Suruga.
Nobunaga was 15 this year when he took up decision-making of Nobuhiro's
fate, release of Tokugawa Ieyasu, ceasefire for the entire family,
and everything else.
the same year, the senior advisor of the clan, Hirate
here for story, and here
for pictures), who was practically the only adult around Oda
Nobunaga's house these days, got busy negotiating peace with the
much more powerful Saito clan of Mino that had
beaten Oda Nobuhide's army. Nobuhide had made it his last wish
to get some sort -- any sort -- of peace with Saito Dosan.
shotgun-peace was to be achieved by a shotgun-wedding, between
Oda Nobunaga and Lady Saito Nou. (Click
here for story and pictures.) As
it was a normal thing in 16th century Japan, nobody raised any
objection to politically-motivated nuptials.
since in 20th century there was still a large chunk of Japanese
who got married via traditional matchmakers, both Oda Nobunaga
and Saito Nou had no say about it at all; it was an interclan
biz, never interpersonal.
then, Oda Nobuhide died at Suemori Castle.
said that Oda Nobunaga went to the funeral just right after hanging
around with easy riders of the town, and he stayed there just
long enough to scoop up the ashes of the incense, and threw it
into the vase that contained Oda Nobuhide's remains. Then he disappeared
into the streets again. There were cases of heart-attacks in this
occasion, and from then on Oda Nobunaga was officially dubbed
he loved that.
was a stigma he deliberately sought after to keep the clan's enemies
tricked into believing that he was absolutely incompetent. That
way they wouldn't attack him before he was ready.
he let people to call him 'Lord Fool' ('baka-dono' in
Japanese -- click here for story and pictures).
Dosan, Lord of Mino, was a colorful individual and an
exceedingly eccentric personality. Nobody knew where he came from.
When he was younger, people used to see him peddling cooking oil,
selling household utensils, teaching kids ABC's, wandering around
the countrysides saying loudly that he was looking for some 'enlightenment'
that had something to do with swordsmanship (if you buy whatever
Miyamoto Musashi said about his own idle roaming, you'd believe
all of a sudden he killed the Lord of Mino and married the widow
and adopted the kid of the two's. The kid would grow up to be
Saito Yoshitatsu. Now you can stop wondering
why father and son vowed to whack each other off after Dosan's
wanted Owari. He would have been one heck of a happier man by
the idea of a nuptial if the candidate son in-law came from the
Iwakura Odas -- since they controlled the largest
part of the province. But even if they did have such a candidate,
the Iwakura Odas had declared themselves to be Imagawa
Yoshimoto's vassals, hence Saito Dosan's enemies.
Saito got to make do with Oda Nobunaga, who,
in his eyes, had nothing at all to offer to anyone but good looks.
kid is surely very handsome," he said to Hirate Masahide.
"But there is something wrong with his head. Did you drop
him off the turret when he was a baby?"
Masahide, despite the fact that he had been near Oda
Nobunaga since Oda's birth, never understood him.
believed that the history of the Oda clan would eventually end
with Nobunaga's ascent as chief of the clan.
Hirate, everything Oda Nobunaga did was 'unbecoming', unreasonable,
and wrong. But of course he had to 'sell' Nobunaga to Saito, so
he must have been in a lot of pain trying to find anything good
about the boy to start advertising him as.
that involved Oda Nobunaga and Hirate Masahide's son Gorozaemon
wandering around joblessly (pretending to be a mobile peddlar
of household gadgets) in Saito's province of Mino,
at this time the 15 years-old Toyotomi
Hideyoshi had heard much about Oda Nobunaga's
chronic misbehavior and wondered if it all was true -- he had
thought of getting himself hired as a servant by the Oda clan,
mostly out of provincialism (that's kind of patriotic those days,
since nationalism wasn't yet born), but if the Lord was like that,
was he worth his sweat?
so, and Toyotomi also heard of this, Oda Nobunaga wanted the seat
as the head of the family, although his older brother Oda
Nobuhiro was around and kicking.
wasn't an immoderate ambition, and wasn't out of proportion. The
Japanese never followed the law of 'first son first' strictly,
and most family members and senior retainers never believed that
Nobuhiro was a legitimate son anyway, and they showed this by
sort of electing Nobunaga (if there were to be a ballot). De facto,
such a recognition from family members meant Nobunaga was
the head of the family now.
that was only about the family, or what people called the 'Kiyosu
Oda' crowd. There was another branch of the Oda clan in Owari;
dubbed the 'Iwakura Oda',
they possessed much of the province, a lot bigger than Nobunaga's
land. Oda Nobunaga wanted them to move over and unite Owari under
one lord, and he meant himself.
own relatives were the only ones Oda Nobunaga was concerned about,
because the Governor of the province -- who was, as the Japanese
political structure of 16th century dictated, appointed by Shogun
Ashikaga Yoshiteru -- wasn't worth a headache.
Governor, who was from the clan of Oda Nobuhide's former masters,
Shiba Yoshimune, had openly been supporting Nobunaga
for the vacant seat as Chief of the United Clan of Oda. Everyone
wondered what everybody was thinking, nominating the Lord Fool
when there were saner teenagers around. This even puzzled the
would characterize the entire career of Oda Nobunaga's later;
no one could nail any good reason to let Oda Nobunaga lead, yet
somehow they did let him lead. Oda
Nobunaga himself had already gotten used to this enigma since
he took control of his own household 8 years ago.
1551, people listened to stuff such as physiognomy, but psychology
wasn't born yet although there was a rich array of psychopaths.
the way, this was also the first year that Akechi
Mitsuhide, 22 years old, was heard of.
moved from his hometown to Mino's capital city of Mt. Inaba ('Inabayama'
in Japanese) to 'continue his study'. There he stayed at his cousin
Akechi Mitsuharu's house, and according to Toyotomi's
biographers he met the hero there -- more precisely he caught
the teenage Toyotomi because the latter roamed around suspiciously
around the vicinity.
Akechi clan was vassal of the Saitos -- the senior Saito,
that was, since this year the mutually venomous retorts ping-ponged
from Saito Dosan to Saito Yoshitatsu
and vice versa had reached their manifestations in deeds. The
two had been living in separate castles cut asunder by the Nagara
river of Gifu, so both were free to hatch assassination plans
and the like.
found a job as the lowest-ranked servant for the Hachisuka
clan (the same clan whose Chief was Toyotomi's future Captain
and most trusted General, Hachisuka Hikoemon
-- click here for story and
pictures) only to be sent to their secret mission to support
Saito Dosan in his efforts to kill his step-son Yoshitatsu.
why Toyotomi lurked around the Akechi mansion; according to legend
he was about to burn the city upon order from the Hachisukas,
who got the idea from Saito Dosan himself.
busy with the internal problems of his own clan's,
Oda Nobunaga kept his eyes on the homicidal Saitos
without concealing his disgust. He began to think of how to take
the territory from the (according to his standard) unworthy present
masters of the realm, but kept this thought to himself.
behind the solid walls of silence and tightly clutched by hostageship,
learned about all that from his ninjas. And he learned
from that, you'd see.
Nobunaga's wedding in1553, to Lady Saito Nou,
according to the official guidebook of Gifu museum.
Masahide is the man standing behind the newly-wed --
but in real life he had already been R.I.P.
Oda Nobunaga's married life was like
Advisor Hirate Masahide committed suicide to
protest against Oda Nobunaga's 'unbecoming conduct' and nerve-wrecking
attitude in general (click
here for story and pictures).
to some optimistic historians, Oda did listen to him
and repent this time, and to substantiate the allegation
they point at the fact that a temple was built to remember Hirate
by (Oda Nobunaga named it 'Seishu', in Kiyosu
here for pictures).
death didn't cancel Oda Nobunaga's marriage as planned to
this time, Toyotomi Hideyoshi
showed up, after getting himself sacked by his new master,
the Matsushita clan of Mino, for refusing
to learn martial arts (!!!).
to Toyotomi, he had to crouch for hours in a swampy spot (it was
imperative not to let Oda Nobunaga's soldiers catch him there)
for a chance to throw himself right in front of Oda's horse and
beg for a job, any job, right when Oda was on his way
home after a cavalry-training.
Nobunaga said okay and took him in instantly, no questions asked
-- that was the way he did everything, i.e. depending on his mood,
or, more precisely, on his instincts.
though, was a whimsical decision that Oda would never regret.
for the forgotten
'Iwakura Oda' in 2002
grave of Oda Nobutomo is
at some back alley, in the middle of lower-middleclass urban clot
of dwellings, on a private property.
Shiba Yoshimune was killed by Oda
Nobutomo from the 'Iwakura Oda'
family, because the Governor took Nobunaga's side in the (actually
had been concluded) succession battle.
Nobutomo then moved into the Governor's Kiyosu
castle and declared it his own; he challenged the 'Kiyosu
Odas' to defy him if they could.
Nobunaga took it as some heaven-sent pretext to seize the
Kiyosu castle and moved in himself (click
here for story and pictures). After
he got rid of Oda Nobutomo and all his army, of course.
was a more or less 'good war' even though from the eyes
of 21st century caucasian familypersons it would have been
nothing but fratricide.
Nobunaga had a legitimate reason to do what he did, i.e. 'punishing
the murderers of the Governor' which was equal to 'rebels against
the Shogun', which left absolutely no room for discussion because
anyone who acknowledged the authority of the Shogun had it as
his duty to whack off anybody who committed anything
against the shogunate.
why no one even thought of chastising Oda Nobunaga for
wiping the Iwakura Odas off the planet this year, and no one would,
as long as the Japanese people is concerned.
Nobumitsu of Mt. Mori castle died without
any warning. Some rumors started to get circulated, saying that it was
Oda Nobunaga's doing. Such a thing was common in 16th century Japan,
though; people only cared of how and what for. The
'how' wasn't clear, and the suspicion of Nobunaga's hands in it never
got substantiated by any evidence at all. The 'what for' was, nonetheless,
if it was him whodunit, very clear -- eliminating a rival. However,
the case was inconclusively closed.
later, another uncle, named Oda Nobutsugu,
killed his nephew Oda Hidetaka
(Nobunaga's own brother). Or actually it was an accident; they were
hunting together when it happened. Since Nobunaga was said to be such
a brutal man (he's 21 by now, not exactly a kid), the uncle ran away
from the province. But Nobunaga didn't even try to get him, so he got
back again. This uncle was officially pardoned by Nobunaga and resuming
his life like he used to.
Hideyoshi was now 19 years old and had been supporting
his mom's household for several years (she bragged about it everywhere).
Oda Nobunaga found him very useful, no matter what job he gave. So from
being everybody's servant, some sort of errand-boy and bell-boy and
janitor condensed, Toyotomi was now Oda Nobunaga's personal attendant.
in Suruga, Tokugawa Ieyasu
got his 12th birthday in silence as usual. He wondered (and everyone
who was concerned did, too) whether he would one day be able to get
back to Mikawa and be a master instead of a constantly-nodding hostage.
Faithful Generals and Captains of the future Tokugawa army, like Sakai
Tadatsugu (click here
for story and pictures), tried everything they could to keep Tokugawa's
spirit up despite the decidedly sombre atmosphere of confinement. When
they thought Tokugawa was now able to lead the Matsudaira clan directly,
a regular dispatch of Mikawanese ninja to sneak into the Imagawa castle
was established, so that Chief Hostage could get his files of Japanese
politics routinely updated.
Yoshimoto of course didn't treat Tokugawa in any vulgar way,
since he was supposed to be an ally; but he didn't let him go either
for unclear reasons. As far as it was about latest news from the outside
world, Tokugawa could only rely on his clan's ninjas -- Imagawa had
made it very very clear that he wouldn't relay any newsworthy piece
to the hostage's ears.
in his twenties
before Oda Nobunaga's 22nd birthday, his younger brother
Oda Nobuyuki, favorite of his mom, conspired
with his cousin Shibata Katsuie and the senior
vassal of Oda Nobuhide's Hayashi Sado to kill
Nobunaga and snatch the head-of-family title.
Hideyoshi, who was now Oda Nobunaga's 20 years-old
personal servant (his official title was 'sandal-bearer') and
thus stayed around him 24/7, was constantly in alert and worrying
about the boss' safety, while Oda himself seemed to care not a
fig about things planned toward him those days until the plans
were manifested. Whether because he didn't care or because he
wanted to stretch the rope as long as he could, Oda Nobunaga even
gave Hayashi Sado a new job of mastering the Nagoya castle --
where all secret meetings of rebellion and assassination plans
had been discussed at.
coup was not to be, and after waging a war that they couldn't
win Oda Nobuyuki, Shibata, and Hayashi surrendered. But Nobunaga
pardoned them all. He didn't let Shibata to 'shave his head and
go to Buddha' -- some self-inflicting monkship that was always
rampant in Japan as long as there were war losers who didn't have
the guts to commit suicide, defeated soldiers who still harbored
political and military ambitions, and restarting warriors would
continue warring in the new 'profession'.
Nobunaga's father in-law Lord Saito Dosan was
finally killed by his step-son Saito Yoshitatsu
here for story and pictures of Saito Dosan and family).
through the persistence of Tokugawa
ninjas the exiled Lord of Mikawa could get the news about the
Saito tragedy. And he always nearly 'interrogated' the newsbearer
every time, of all things that he wanted to know; as a result
Tokugawa's archives was obese compared to Imagawa Yoshimoto's
anorexic files. What Tokugawa asked his ninjas about was especially
about Oda Nobunaga.
to Tokugawa's biographers, he had already seen Oda as something
like a rival or alternately someone to look up to, or at any rate
someone not to get dismissed whenever there was a talk
of wars and political constellation of Japan. It could have been
true because Tokugawa Ieyasu was much younger than Oda. Older
warlords never took Oda Nobunaga seriously those days.
had developed a complicated codes of conduct regarding his dependence
on ninjas by now, a habit he kept on until his death; while on
the other hand Oda Nobunaga had started to be kind of phobic to
ninjas, something that he also would keep on feeling until his
turned 23 this year. While Oda Nobutada,
his first son from Lady Ikoma Kitsuno (click
here for story and pictures of this woman), was born, Oda Nobunaga's
brother in-law Saito Yoshitatsu of Mino conspired with
Oda Nobunaga's older brother, Oda Nobuhiro,
to assassinate Nobunaga.
conspiracy was blown up before the plan came to anything.
of cutting Nobuhiro's head, Nobunaga gave him amnesty.
knew then, and no one knows now, why he got so lenient, while
at the same time his ne'er-do-well brother Oda
Nobuyuki was repeating his own conspiracy to kill
Nobunaga, and once more their mom was behind the fresh attempt
at Oda Nobunaga's life.
plans failed to achieve that goal, Nobuyuki resorted again to something
he was never good at: open war.
army repeatedly attacked his men, Nobunaga decided to wipe the brother's
supporters off completely, and he did just that. But he took care of
his nephews and nieces.
got two sons at once from his concubines when he turned 24 this year.
Oda Nobutaka from Lady
Ikoma, and Oda Nobuo from
Lady Ikeda Mikoto (click
here for story and pictures of this woman).
Ogimachi ascended this year. Although living in the same city, the Shogun
let him live in shameful poverty while himself still dabbling in the
last scraps of the wealth of the Ashikaga clan. The poverty of the Emperors
since 1500 had been so grotesque that they died of malnutrition and
untreated illnesses, and even couldn't afford funerals so that the corpse
of the Emperor was left just like that for two whole months for lack
of money (see
History of Japan).
a petty warlord who enabled Emperor Nara II, Ogimachi's predecessor,
to live like normal; Oda Nobuhide of Nagoya, father of Oda Nobunaga.
Though wasn't a rich man himself, Nobuhide made it a point of duty to
send whatever he could spare to the Imperial treasury. The Emperor would
never forget this, and his successor was similarly attached to the Oda
clan. Oda Nobunaga continued his father's policy of sending a little
money to the Imperial Treasurer since he became Chief of the clan, and
now he financed Emperor Ogimachi.
for the first time, Oda Nobunaga met Tokugawa
Ieyasu -- who was now 15 years old -- at war.
managed to halt and finally cancel Oda's attempted seizure of one of
the Matsudaira's castles. For this he obtained a special permit from
Imagawa Yoshimoto to get back to Mikawa just for a fortnight, so to
speak, to defend his clan's territory. By forcing Oda Nobunaga to halt,
Tokugawa had validated his clansmen's ushaken faith in his leadership
despite his seemingly endless absence.
got back to Suruga and into being a hostage, Soldiers of Owari and Mikawa
kept on with their routine skirmishes around and across the borders,
just like how it was when Oda Nobuhide and Matsudaira Hirotada were
At this time,
Toyotomi Hideyoshi had
been the supervisor of supplies, where Oda Nobunaga put him in -- a
jump in his career, the pace of which would keep people gasping for
years and years ahead.
Tokugawa Ieyasu woke
up to find a prospect that was just as unpalatable as a war: he was
ordered to marry Imagawa Yoshimoto's adopted daughter.
a thing could be seen as a generosity on Imagawa's part, so Tokugawa
couldn't say no. He married this Lady Imagawa Tsukiyama.
they lived the unhappiest marriage you could imagine; Lady Tokugawa
did nothing but spying on the younger husband (she was a few years older
than Tokugawa, who was 16) and then writing long reports addressed to
something she had in common with Oda Nobunaga's
here for story and pictures).
Nobunaga (on horseback)
at the famous battle of Okehazama
the picture for details and pictures of Okehazama battle.
Click here for details of what Oda Nobunaga
and Tokugawa Ieyasu did in this battle, and pictures of where
Tokugawa waited for the final hours of it to be over.
Ieyasu got his first son, Tokugawa Nobuyasu
-- a miraculous event considering how busy Lady Tokugawa had been
with paperwork for her daddy's Central Intelligence Agency.
cold father (he was cold towards everybody, as a matter of fact),
Tokugawa Ieyasu nonetheless wrote to his Mikawanese faithfuls
that it gave him some sort of pain -- at least to his pride --
to see the kid being born in and raised as a hostage.
The baby was an additional hostage to the Imagawa clan,
you know. That's how the rule in hostagedom was.
Nobunaga had been called 'Lord Daddy' for some years, and he didn't
belong to the category of Tokugawa's fatherhood, but he wasn't
a family man either. Like his own dad, he seldom spent time with
his kids. Only, unlike his dad, he seldom spent time with his
Tokugawa's 'protector', Lord Imagawa Yoshimoto
of Suruga, decided that this was the time for him to be the greatest
warlord of Japan. To do this he must get to Kyoto, to get the
Emperor's blessing face-to-face. That's how things were done those
'marching to Kyoto' equals to taking control of the entire country
(this 'entire country' only consisted of a third or so of today's
to travel to Kyoto from Sumpu (imagine today's railway from Shizuoka),
whatever that for, meant crossing several unfriendly warlords'
territories, including Oda Nobunaga's Owari.
of cake, this one; so he thought.
brushed aside Tokugawa Ieyasu's warning that he had underestimated
had a solid reason as far as the eye could see: there outside
his HQ more than 25,000 soldiers were waiting, and all of them
would stay with him in this 'journey'.
Owari, Oda Nobunaga had called up everybody in his territory to
defend the borders, yet the total number of the men was no more
than two thousand.
Oda had all the luck. Somehow he whacked a great chunk of those
25,000 Imagawa soldiers off, and, more than that, Imagawa himself
got killed. This was the immortalized battle of Okehazama.
Oda's first great war, and the mental landmark of the point of
no return in his career as the so-called 'unifier of Japan'.
Ieyasu also scored his own pivotal point at exactly
the same time and in the same event.
had deliberately avoided to get himself and his clansmen involved
in this battle, because he never believed what Imagawa did --
namely that they would easily crush Owari since the ruler there
was Lord Fool.
way he survived, and after hearing of Imagawa's death, he dashed
quickly back to his beloved Mikawa, a free man at last.