Nobutada, the eldest son, was now a General at 15 years
old. He commanded a large troop in the war against the Asai
clan plus Asakura clan plus the same old troublesome
warrior-monks. He was engaged to Takeda Shingen's daughter,
but when Oda Nobunaga led the army himself to help Tokugawa
Ieyasu in the battle against the Takedas, Shingen said
thereby the engagement was annuled. Not only that; Takeda Shingen also
caught Oda Nobunaga's youngest son Oda
Katsunaga and held the little kid as hostage.
weight to his reputation by having also defeated Tokugawa
Ieyasu and his army so utterly that Tokugawa nearly
couldn't escape alive. Oda Nobunaga was glad he made it after all, but
couldn't understand why it got to be so. "It's your own fault,"
he told Tokugawa, "You moved into a castle that was too close to
Takeda's borders (the Hamamatsu). That was unnecessarily provocative."
Oda was right, but Tokugawa might have wanted to get close to the mighty
clan to plan its downfall.
For picture of Oda Nobutada and story of his
exploits, click here.
Lord of Kai mountains
the pic for the real-life battle of Nagashino
finally kicked Ashikaga Yoshiaki
out of the Nijo Palace, out of Kyoto, out of his domain, but not
out of this world.
got back to his previous way of life: nomadic bum with incurable
manic for deadly conspiracies and unquenchable illusion of grandeur.
kept on begging military assistance from warlords since. But nobody
took him seriously.
Shingen's death, 1573
of Takeda Shingen & his Kai
that had been mounting -- because of the obvious problem of authority
-- between the 39 years-old Oda Nobunaga and Shogun Ashikaga
Yoshiaki now was bursting.
of course, never had anything to fight anyone with; he, as usual,
relied on conspiracies.
time Takeda Shingen of Kai was called forth to
'punish' Oda Nobunaga. Oda and Tokugawa had been in a war against
the Takeda clan since 1571, on and on.
Takeda got shot by a Tokugawa soldier and died on Ashikaga just
before the war got anywhere (click
here for story and pictures), although this death was kept
a secret for the next three years just as Takeda's testament said.
turned to warrior-monks again, and a few other warlike peoples,
dispatching letters asking them to wage war against Oda Nobunaga
or to send assassins to do the job in hush-hush whenever Oda came
Nobunaga heard of every move he made, but for a long time he didn't
do anything about it. Now he left the rest of the war to Tokugawa
Ieyasu, and went to Kyoto. He banished the crybaby
Shogun and ended the era of the Ashikaga shogunate entirely.
Hideyoshi and Oda
Nobutada ended the battle against the Asakura
and Asai clans, too, with victory.
This year, Tokugawa Ieyasu
was beaten hard by Takeda Shingen in the famous
war of Mikata Plains ('Mikatagahara' in Japanese).
Click here for details and pictures
of the battle of Mikata, and how the complete loss of Tokugawa
Ieyasu's side affected Oda Nobunaga.
elder brother, Oda Nobuhiro,
died in an ambush by the warrior-monks of Ise. He was
accompanied to the thereafter by their uncle Oda
Nobutsugu and another relative Oda
Hidenari. In one strike the Oda clan lost so many. This
of course made Oda Nobunaga mad. He counter-attacked with all that he
got, and the entire sect of Buddhist monks in Nagashima,
Tokugawa Ieyasu had been
stuck in an endless series of combats against the Takedas
of Kai. Even without Takeda Shingen, the Takedas were still determined
to snatch Tokugawa's domain, although if so they got to do it piecemealy.
On the other hand, without saying anything as usual, Tokugawa Ieyasu
wanted the Takedas' possessions, too. So they fought each other for
years by now.
29 years-old son in-law Takeda Katsuyori stormed Tokugawa
Ieyasu's realm of Mikawa with surprise attacks on some
unheard-of scale in Katsuyori's standard. This was a bit too much for
the 32 years-old Tokugawa to fend off.
came to help with a lot more soldiers than the Takedas expected.
clan of Kai was politically no more after the famous battle of Nagashino
for movie scenes or here for the real thing).
between the Takedas and Tokugawas were still extant and both sides became
engrossed in mutual raiding expeditions to and fro betwen Mikawa and
Hideyoshi led a part of the Oda army in Nagashino; he
said he learned a lot from all parties, and that's why he didn't shine
there -- which probably was right.
Click here for details and pictures of Nagashino
Click here for details and pictures of Oda Nobutada's
battle of Iwamura in the same year.
Nobunaga (second from the right) supervised the construxion
project himself. In this picture he was showing off to Tokugawa
Ieyasu (at his right) and Tokugawa General Honda
the time, the Tokugawa clan certainly couldn't afford to finance
such a colossal project -- but even if they could, Tokugawa Ieyasu
surely wouldn't let go of any dime more than absolutely necessary.
here for profile and pictures of Honda Heihachi, the best of all
castle, its outer chamber and main hall (reconstructions)
Click here for
photos of Azuchi
New Year, Oda Nobunaga got a new acquaintance in friendly terms,
the Date clan that thought it wisest to pay respect
to him after such a major victory upon the Takedas.
Nobunaga didn't go to war by himself for some time.
year was architecture year; he started to build his pet-fort Azuchi
here for story and complete pictures).
peacemaking General, Lord Niwa Nagahide, supervised
the overall project; Oda himself added anything he wanted to,
while Mori Ranmaru plus Akechi Mitsuhide
also helped in designing some parts of this architectural salad,
the wonder of Japan those days.
by day Oda Nobunaga was to be found lounging around the construxion
site, fussing a lot about details of the castle whose complete
structure had been vividly flashed inside his head for some time.
the warrior-monks of Hongan temple ('Hongan-ji' in Japanese)
allied themselves with the 'Western Mori' (Terumoto's)
clan against Oda, and began killing while the boss was busy with
his domestic project.
was the only real great clan that was still around. So
this wasn't a piece of cake. One wrong step and the Oda clan would
get crushed to dust.
characteristically, Oda Nobunaga didn't let himself be bothered
even by that, when he wanted to think and do nothing
but the building of Azuchi. At 42 years old now, as he had finally
found his real dream-house (at least that's what he thought at
the time), Oda had started to get his already always been 'relaxed'
chain of command got an even higher degree of laxity.
Nobunaga could afford that because he trusted his Generals enough,
especially the 39 years-old Toyotomi
Hideyoshi. So he wasn't getting into the usual
'despotic out of old age' phase in this dangerous spot of his
life when midlife-crisis used to encrouch. Actually, among the
secrets of Oda's success in warfare all these times, were his
reasonable amount of trust and willingness to delegate authority.
relationship with the late Chief of the Mori clan, the formidable
warrior Motonari, was always good; only the grandson
of Motonari's, who was now in charge, severed the mutually-respecting
bi-clannial relation. This, too, served as an excuse in not leading
the army himself.
he gave the fans of commanders (you know the sort; Japanese warlords
used fans in place of the European ceremonial swords or sticks)
to Toyotomi Hideyoshi,
Shibata Katsuie, Maeda Toshiie,
plus his sons Oda Nobutada,
Oda Nobutaka, and
Oda Nobuo. It was
up to them to do the fighting.
everybody's surprise, though, Nobunaga's official letter of assignment
pointed at Toyotomi Hideyoshi
as the Chief of Staff for the whole operation.
was okay for Maeda Toshiie and Oda Nobutada -- the first because
he was really okay, the latter because he believed in his dad's
judgment -- but very much un-okay for Shibata, Nobutaka, and Nobuo.
as usual they didn't dare to challenge Oda Nobunaga on this. They
only doubled-up the tending of their already fertile ground of
resentment towards Toyotomi.
Ieyasu had been seeing Toyotomi as a rival for
half a decade by now (according to Tokugawa's biographers, since
the battle of Ane river in 1570), and though he actually agreed
with Oda's judgment of Toyotomi's quality as a commander and strategician,
he never had any warm relationship with the latter.
the other hand, Toyotomi, who used to be very open-hearted in
interpersonal relations, strangely also felt the same about Tokugawa
-- though he nailed Tokugawa's overall 'coldness to humanity'
as the reason why.
Nobunaga got a new General, and this time an already famous one:
Kuroda Kanbei, Lord of Himeji
in Harima -- a stronghold right where a campaign westward could
be easily launched from. Kuroda himself offered his homebase as
Nobunaga assigned him to join Toyotomi's forces. Kuroda's job
was to help Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the Western campaign against
the formidable Mori clan, which was, even now, still the masters
of Kuroda's own father's.
though Oda Nobunaga always let himself to get wrongly carried
away by the correct knowledge that Kuroda's dad was a staunch
supporter of the Moris, Kuroda's arrival at his HQ was something
to rejoice for because in general Oda Nobunaga's army was notorious
for its 'patchwork' existence, unlike the entirely disciplinary
and totally spartan and nearly professional army of Tokugawa
Ieyasu's. The Kuroda army could serve as a model
there: it was better-organized than Oda's own.
Hideyoshi, at 41 years old now, was a famous General
and warlord of his own. He and Kuroda Kanbei instantly liked each
other. So much that Oda Nobunaga let Kuroda go to become Toyotomi's
own man. The two could work miraculously well together.
under Oda's command, Toyotomi mostly used his own resources in
the prolonged Western campaign against the Moris, in which his
Takenaka Hanbei (click
here for story and pictures) also participated even though
being at the last stage of TB.
too, liked Kuroda as a person, and vice versa. So when a complicated
fate befell them all, only because of that unusual interpersonal
bond the three found a way out (click
here for what this is all about).
the Moris, Oda also got to fight another legendary warlord, Uesugi
Kenshin of Echigo.
were okay before. In fact, Uesugi Kenshin was probably the only
senior warlord who had never underestimated Oda Nobunaga from
the start, and Oda respected him for that. But now, as he turned
50, somehow Uesugi regretted his lack of ambition that had given
way to this younger man of Owari.
was actually too late in acknowledging this. He had after all
squandered away his entire youth just to fight meaningless skirmishes
against the same man over and over, the late Takeda Shingen. "Like
Kenshin and Shingen" had already been proverbial those days
for futile exercise of might.
Oda Nobunaga went to war himself against Uesugi, although both
he and Uesugi didn't intend to kill each other at all.
Click here for details and pictures of
the battle of Tedori River ('Tedorigawa' in Japanese) between
Oda Nobunaga and Uesugi Kenshin, and what was in a letter that
Uesugi sent to Oda Nobunaga during this war.
in Azuchi, 1580
Nobunaga celebrated his 44th birthday in his 'dream-house' this
entire Oda clan moved into Azuchi, and to net
traders Oda Nobunaga personally imposed the rule that all Azuchian
shops sold their stuff duty-free. As
usual with feudal subjects, virtually the entire denizen of Komaki
moved out from there and moved in here.
son Oda Nobutada
and Toyotomi Hideyoshi
were not there to enjoy the new HQ, since both were given the
assignment to fight against the still unrelenting Mori
clan and their allies.
all of a sudden, they got the news that Uesugi Kenshin
died (of cancer). Thus one threat for the Oda clan was naturally
removed. Nevertheless, "there goes a great man," wrote
Oda Nobunaga to Toyotomi, in a strange feeling of loss he never
felt toward the late Takeda Shingen.
Oda Nobunaga was given the title of Prime Minister by the Imperial
decree. He reluctantly accepted just for courtesy. A few weeks
later he resigned. Disabled from any chance to become a Shogun
because of his DNA (click
here for story and pictures), Oda Nobunaga never wanted Imperial
titles like that. It wasn't worth a dime in combat anyway, he
Click here for details and pictures of the
famous battle of Miki castle.
the place where the Oda army met one of the legendary Japanese
samurai who in the end valiantly fought and died there:
of Tokugawa Nobuyasu
son Oda Nobuo --
who was 21 years old this year -- planned and acted the invasion
of Iga (I forgot
to say, see the maps whenever a funny-sounding place is mentioned
of course, ended up in utter defeat. Oda Nobunaga was
really mad at this; Nobuo didn't even consult the clan's advisors
or his dad. Worse, his only 'accomplice' here was the 49 years-old
Captain Takigawa Kazumasu, who should have known
better, and who still got an unfinished biz with Oda Nobunaga's
wrath of 1573, concerning his A.W.O.L in the battle of Mikata
plains (click here
for story and pictures).
the heck did you invade such a wretchedly poor, mountainous, swamp-infected,
inaccessible, little ninja lair?" he thundered -- and his
trembling son couldn't even provide any answer to that basic question.
loss of lives in this attempt was too great for Oda Nobunaga to
let the issue rest; not to mention the smear of his reputation.
So he ordered preps to re-invade Iga -- for real this time --
although gave no deadline and no fixed date of the operation.
ugly domestic scene this year involved Nobunaga's son in-law,
the 19 years-old Tokugawa Nobuyasu.
got reports that Tokugawa entered a dead-secret pact with Takeda
Katsuyori of Kai, with the purpose to -- what else? -- assassinate
wasn't clear whether Oda had gotten some solid evidence of this
or not, except the fact that as half-Imagawan Nobuyasu might
have hatched some plans to avenge the death of his grandpa Imagawa
Yoshimoto -- no matter that the possibility of such was as near
as a Klingon warlord.
36 years-old Tokugawa Ieyasu
believed that his son was 100% innocent, but he couldn't stand
up against an angry Oda. As a matter of fact he didn't even
try to -- while if he did perhaps the life of the son could
have been saved (despite all appearances, Oda Nobunaga usually
valued the words of certain people -- and Ieyasu was one of these
without further ado, Tokugawa Nobuyasu committed 'seppuku'
and the case was closed.
knew what's really going on, not even today.
Takeda clan was noncommittal. And
they are still, now.
reasons (that he didn't find it necessary to relate to anybody, as always),
Oda Nobunaga kicked several old-timers out of his vassaldom: Captain
Sakuma Nobumori, Captain Inaba Ittetsu,
and General Hayashi Sado.
cause was, if not sheer paranoia, another suspicion of espionage and
plan of assassination. The Takedas and others were still at large, after
Or, at least
in the case of Sakuma Nobumori, the A.W.O.L in the battle at Mikata
plains in 1573 (click here for details and
others might have been just victims of Oda's drastic measure to refresh
news this year was that some Honganji warrior-monks had sued for peace.
Toshiie, the long-time faithful General, was Lord of Noto
this year in his 42nd birthday, a reward for his services all these
times. General Sassa Narimasa -- who was also 42 years
old -- got the province of Etchu.
way Oda Nobunaga distributed gifts was typical; he could just say "Now
I give you the so-and-so districts," something that, if translated,
would read "Now you assemble your men and attack so-and-so, and
after it falls you can take the land (or castle)."
Toyotomi Hideyoshi and
Akechi Mitsuhide were fighting hard in the Western
Ieyasu was still busy warring against the remains of
the Takeda clan.
Click here for details and pictures of the battle
at Tottori castle.
Click here for details and pictures of the battle
against the Iga ninja clan --
an absurdly unnecessary battle that Oda Nobunaga had to do just because
of his son Oda Nobuo's
blunder two years earlier.
Katsuyori, 36 years old, Oda Nobunaga's son in-law, and Nobunaga's
grandson Takeda Nobukatsu, 15 years old, died in a
nasty battle against Oda Nobutada
and other Generals plus Tokugawa Ieyasu.
It's so sad;
even the name 'Nobukatsu' was an obvious structure made of 'Nobunaga'
and 'Katsuyori', and the best parts of them, too; 'Nobukatsu' meant
named Takeda, if not died in the final battle, were executed (including
Takeda Nobukado -- click
here for story and pictures).
At the same
time, the 47 years-old Toyotomi Hideyoshi
was still struggling against the Mori clan and their resilient vassals
in this super-long game of besieging castles that never surrendered.
He sent messengers
for help. If Oda Nobunaga himself (who was 49 this year) or at least
Oda Nobutada (who just turned 25), went to the Western Japan, so he
wrote, they'd win the part of the island much easier.
to be on his way to see the Emperor, but he planned to lead his army
to help Toyotomi after he got back from Kyoto.
never got back.
Mitsuhide, 55 years old, with his piles of personal grudges
here for profile and pictures), suddenly ambushed the Honno temple
('Honno-ji' in Japanese) where Oda Nobunaga took a night off.
clan against a few men that made Oda's escorts at the time, there was
no way out. Oda Nobunaga committed suicide after the last soldier of
his died and himself wounded by an archer. Mori Ranmaru
-- who was still a teenager -- died right after burning Oda's body as
he was told to. Oda Nobunaga's youngest son, Oda
Katsunaga, 14 years old, also died there, plus Mori's
little brothers, too, who weren't any older than Katsunaga.
Palace, the usual place where the Odas stayed whenever they were in
this city, the Oda heir, Oda Nobutada,
lost his life in the fight against the same overwhelming Akechi forces,
together with his uncle Oda Nobutoshi
here for story and pictures).
Ieyasu, too, was in Kyoto; in fact he was scheduled
to meet Oda Nobunaga after the court audience. Since he always brought
a lot of ninjas as usual, he got wind of the attack and managed to get
out of Kyoto, back to the only safe place, namely his own castle in
Mikawa. That was just lucky. Akechi Mitsuhide intended to finish him
back home, after losing his soldiers through random fights against the
Akechis, Tokugawa wanted to strike back, but in a war for vengance the
initiative must come from relatives or retainers of the dead and he
was neither. So he waited. Anyway, his way of planning a war always
took a very long time -- this is characteristic of him -- and so some
time elapsed before anything was done.
happened with Oda Nobunaga's relative and senior vassal, General Shibata
Katsuie, after getting the news at his own castle in Echizen.
year kept on claiming victims. It was so unfortunate that Oda Nobunaga's
scheming brother, the late Oda Nobuyuki,
let his son Oda Nobutsumi
to marry Akechi Mitsuhide's daughter; now
Oda Nobutaka, the third
son of Nobunaga's, executed the cousin for treachery that his father
in-law committed in Kyoto.
else, though, the Odas suffered sudden killings out of opportunism of
their old and defeated foes. Let alone going about bearing the name
of Oda -- Governors and heads of districts were hunted down and exterminated
as long as they were appointed by Oda Nobunaga. A nationwide unrest
was clearly in the air.
forgot there was Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
he heard of Oda's death, he hastily halted his bombardment (with cannons)
of the Mori castles, and tricked the strongest vassal of the Mori clan
into signing a peace treaty by saying that Oda Nobunaga was on his way
with a very large army to help him out.
the ink dried he already marched against Akechi Mitsuhide's army.
battle of Yamazaki, Akechi was finished.
wasn't Toyotomi who killed him.
death was so utterly unpredictable, nastier than anyone could ever wished
it to be (click
here for story and pictures).
Akechi had Japan in his hands for 13 days, and perished in two hours.
Hideyoshi couldn't lead the funeral process for Oda Nobunaga, the man
who lifted him up from a Nobody to General, because he wasn't a family
member. Nonetheless everyone knew who had done the vengeance for Oda
-- and that was one heck of an advantage in power-bargaining.
thing that was just as ugly was the succession issue, although whoever
was the first to hear of and act upon the news of Oda Nobunaga's death
was actually already a victor (and Toyotomi had succeeded in preventing
the leak to the Moris, while all other Oda Generals marched under his
command as he invited them to avenge Oda's death at Yamazaki).
the Oda Generals and family members, and arsenal was of course resorted
to, as usual (click
here for story and pictures).
for the sake of the atmosphere, the entire Oda clan and their vassals
held the meeting at the old seat of Oda Nobunaga's, the Kiyosu castle,
where he started out from.
the following for details and pictures of the battles that were going
on when Oda Nobunaga was attacked by Akechi Mitsuhide in Kyoto:
the two strongest Oda Generals were, when Oda died. They would become
rivals in the succession later.
Click here for all detailed stories, chronology,
and pictures of and around Oda Nobunaga's death