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Oda Nobunaga
..... Toyotomi Hideyoshi
..... Tokugawa Ieyasu



ODA-TOYOTOMI-TOKUGAWA 1534 - 1545 1546 - 1560 1561 - 1570 1571 - 1582 1583 - 1615



Oda Nobunaga  


This was a very busy year for Oda Nobunaga. He was in too many battles all in one row.

Click here for details and pictures of the battle at Mt. Hiei, versus the warrior-monks of Hongan Temple ('Hongan-ji' in Japanese).

Click here for details and pictures of the Oda battle in Nagashima, also against warrior-monks.




Oda 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.

Takeda gave 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.



Takeda Shingen

Takeda Shingen, Lord of Kai mountains

Click the pic for the real-life battle of Nagashino


Yoshiaki out

Oda finally kicked Ashikaga Yoshiaki out of the Nijo Palace, out of Kyoto, out of his domain, but not out of this world.

Ashikaga got back to his previous way of life: nomadic bum with incurable manic for deadly conspiracies and unquenchable illusion of grandeur.

He kept on begging military assistance from warlords since. But nobody took him seriously.


Takeda Shingen's death

Takeda Shingen's death, 1573

Pictures of Takeda Shingen & his Kai



Tension 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.

Ashikaga, of course, never had anything to fight anyone with; he, as usual, relied on conspiracies.

This 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.

But 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.

Ashikaga 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 to Kyoto.

Oda 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.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Oda Nobutada ended the battle against the Asakura and Asai clans, too, with victory.

Postscript: 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.



Oda Nobunaga's 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, Ise, perished.

In Mikawa, 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.




Oda Nobunaga's 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.

Oda Nobunaga came to help with a lot more soldiers than the Takedas expected.

The Takeda clan of Kai was politically no more after the famous battle of Nagashino (click here for movie scenes or here for the real thing).

Yet, fightings between the Takedas and Tokugawas were still extant and both sides became engrossed in mutual raiding expeditions to and fro betwen Mikawa and Kai.

Toyotomi 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 battle.

Click here for details and pictures of Oda Nobutada's battle of Iwamura in the same year.



Oda Nobunaga building Azuchi

Oda 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 Heihachi.

At 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.

Click here for profile and pictures of Honda Heihachi, the best of all Tokugawa's Generals


Azuchi castle

Azuchi outer chamber

Azuchi main hall


Azuchi castle, its outer chamber and main hall (reconstructions)

Click here for photos of Azuchi



In 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.

Oda Nobunaga didn't go to war by himself for some time.

This year was architecture year; he started to build his pet-fort Azuchi (click here for story and complete pictures).

His 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.

Day 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Mori 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.

But, 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.

Oda 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.

Oda's 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.

So 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.

To everybody's surprise, though, Nobunaga's official letter of assignment pointed at Toyotomi Hideyoshi as the Chief of Staff for the whole operation.

That 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.

But 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.

Tokugawa 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.

On 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.



Uesugi kenshin

Uesugi Kenshin



Oda 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 such.

Oda 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.

Even 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.

Toyotomi 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.

Although under Oda's command, Toyotomi mostly used his own resources in the prolonged Western campaign against the Moris, in which his well-known-in-his-times-but-all-forgotten-today advisor/tutor Takenaka Hanbei (click here for story and pictures) also participated even though being at the last stage of TB.

Takenaka, 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).

Besides the Moris, Oda also got to fight another legendary warlord, Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo.

They 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.

Uesugi 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.

So 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.



Azuchi shop
Shops in Azuchi, 1580



Oda Nobunaga celebrated his 44th birthday in his 'dream-house' this year.

The 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.

His 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.

Then, 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.

Meanwhile, 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 said.

Click here for details and pictures of the famous battle of Miki castle.

It's the place where the Oda army met one of the legendary Japanese samurai who in the end valiantly fought and died there: Bessho Nagaharu.


Grave of Tokugawa Nobuyasu



Second 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 here).

It, 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).

"Why 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.

The 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.

Another ugly domestic scene this year involved Nobunaga's son in-law, the 19 years-old Tokugawa Nobuyasu.

Oda got reports that Tokugawa entered a dead-secret pact with Takeda Katsuyori of Kai, with the purpose to -- what else? -- assassinate Oda Nobunaga.

It 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.

The 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 people).

So, without further ado, Tokugawa Nobuyasu committed 'seppuku' and the case was closed.

Nobody knew what's really going on, not even today.

The Takeda clan was noncommittal. And they are still, now.





For some 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.

Probable cause was, if not sheer paranoia, another suspicion of espionage and plan of assassination. The Takedas and others were still at large, after all.

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 pictures). The others might have been just victims of Oda's drastic measure to refresh the HQ.

The good news this year was that some Honganji warrior-monks had sued for peace.




Maeda 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.

Yet, the 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)."

Meanwhile, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Akechi Mitsuhide were fighting hard in the Western area. Tokugawa 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.




Takeda 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 'great victory'.

All people 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.

Oda happened 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.

Only he never got back.

Not alive.

Akechi Mitsuhide, 55 years old, with his piles of personal grudges (click here for profile and pictures), suddenly ambushed the Honno temple ('Honno-ji' in Japanese) where Oda Nobunaga took a night off.

One whole 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.

In Nijo 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 (click here for story and pictures).

Tokugawa 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 off, too.

Safely 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.

The same happened with Oda Nobunaga's relative and senior vassal, General Shibata Katsuie, after getting the news at his own castle in Echizen.

This bloody 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.

Everywhere 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.

But you forgot there was Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The minute 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.

And before the ink dried he already marched against Akechi Mitsuhide's army.

At the battle of Yamazaki, Akechi was finished.

But it wasn't Toyotomi who killed him.

Akechi's death was so utterly unpredictable, nastier than anyone could ever wished it to be (click here for story and pictures).

This man Akechi had Japan in his hands for 13 days, and perished in two hours.

Toyotomi 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.

The next 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).

This divided the Oda Generals and family members, and arsenal was of course resorted to, as usual (click here for story and pictures).

Probably 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.

Click the following for details and pictures of the battles that were going on when Oda Nobunaga was attacked by Akechi Mitsuhide in Kyoto:

That's where 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


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ODA-TOYOTOMI-TOKUGAWA 1534 - 1545 1546 - 1560 1561 - 1570 1571 - 1582 1583 - 1615




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