TEMPLE, KYOTO, ON JUNE 21, 1582
THE LAST MINUTES OF
ODA NOBUNAGA'S LIFE
So, very early in the morning of June 21, 1582, when the Honno temple of Kyoto had just waken up, what they found wasn't the usual tranquility of Spring but Akechi Mitsuhide's soldiers setting fire everywhere. Oda Nobunaga died after everyone in his size-S escort had. Akechi Mitsuhide never laid hands on him, not like some moviemakers tried to cajole us into believing. He committed the samurai honorable suicide ('seppuku' in Japanese). Mori Ranmaru was badly wounded, but he kept on fighting until Oda was no more. In a blink, just like Oda wanted it to be, the room was on fire -- this time it was Mori who set it. Oda specifically asked him to burn his remains so that no Akechi soldier could claim his head. Mori died afterwards. Oda Nobutada did, too, in another temple nearby.
Even though he died while still being surprised at Akechi's attack, Oda Nobunaga wasn't overcome with any other emotion. When Akechi soldiers broke into the place and tried to pass Mori Ranmaru, they heard Oda's last words spoken out loud: "No regret!" (click here for story and pictures of why).
Besides Mori Ranmaru, his younger brothers Mori Nagataka (born in 1566) and Mori Nagauji (born in 1567) died fighting until their last. So in one single strike the Mori clan lost their best kids there at Honno temple.
Oda Nobunaga's youngest son Oda Katsunaga died near his daddy -- the boy was only 14 years old.
Died, too, Oda Nobunaga's African servant that the Roman Catholic priests said was 'liked very much' by the master (Oda Nobunaga's retort in 1575 was famous: "Well, I like you all, don't I?").
Tokugawa Ieyasu happened to be around the area when all those happened. He got a timely news in the wind and at once prepared to get back to his own territory in Mikawa -- that's the one and only safe place now that his mightier ally was no more, and the overall situation could just spark a mass rampage among warlords that used to fear Oda Nobunaga's wrath. But it wasn't a piece of cake to journey on. Akechi soldiers had gotten orders to give Tokugawa men no way out. But Tokugawa Ieyasu had his best ninjas with him; Hattori Hanzo and his clansmen of Koga (click here for story and pictures) somehow managed to drag everyone home via backways that maybe only birds knew. Almost everyone, at least. Some of Tokugawa's escort died fighting along the way.
THE UNPRETTY (AND
UNPREDICTABLE) END OF AKECHI MITSUHIDE
PLUS A BIZARRE AFTERMATH
INVOLVING AKECHI MITSUHIDE'S DAUGHTER AND THE ROMAN CATHOLIC POPE
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