ODA NOBUNAGA'S
A---Z---U---C---H---I


Oda Nobunaga walked this way in 1570's: the remains of his greatest castle of Azuchi today (in Mie according to contemporary map of Japan). It's a gross historical blunder that the castle was burnt to the ground during the confusion after his death. Oda put everything he got in the design and building of this place; synthesizing the Japanese, Chinese, and 'barbarian' styles he habitually felt most at home in. His valet extraordinaire Mori Ranmaru helped with the architectural plans of the Azuchi castle -- his dad Mori Yoshinari was the judge at the town's court.

Here is the castle's tower if reconstructed today:

Azuchi

 

This temple was already there when the first stone of the Azuchi castle was laid, lending a domestic touch to the multicultural site as a whole. Before dwelling here, Oda's HQ was in Nagoya (at 15 years old, as the head of the family after the death of his father Oda Nobuhide), Kiyosu (at 21, as head of the clan), Komaki, and Gifu (32, as master of two provinces, Owari and Mino), chronologically. General Akechi Mitsuhide helped designing some parts that Oda Nobunaga was most pride of -- one of which was the five-storeys tower ('donjon' in Japanese). Such a thing was a curious architectural item in Japan at the time. Most towers only got as high as three floors.

Another reconstruction via computer graphix yields this picture of the Azuchi castle:

Azuchi

Click here for more pictures of Azuchi, including the scary official Oda Nobunaga Museum and so forth.

 

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Browsing through the Azuchi site today, only a truly great 'fan' of Oda Nobunaga could still imagine that it was the most magnificent architectural masterpiece of its time in 1500's. Oda Nobunaga died without realizing his lifelong dream of sailing across the ocean and see the real-life 'barbarian' architecture where it's at.

His interest in the Northern Hemispheric cultures was one of the reasons why he welcomed the Portuguese missionaries.

The other reason was to somewhat 'utilize' them against his domestic enemies: the warlike Buddhist monks who kept attacking his men in whichever battle they were in.

Don't get fooled by the word 'Buddhist' here; these monks didn't even observe Buddhist creeds -- they ate meat, they kept concubines, and they waged real war against anyone they disliked. They were actually militiamen, not the kind of Buddhist bonzes you know today.

In the war against the warrior-monks of Honganji, Nobunaga lost his younger brother Oda Nobuharu. He also lost another brother, Oda Nobuoki, and Mori Ranmaru lost his father Mori Yoshinari.

Click here for story and pictures of the Buddhist warrior-monks, who had made Oda Nobunaga be seen as Evil since 1600 until today.


This is where exhausted guests used to be ushered to, late at night during a visit to Azuchi; a rather frequent guest was Oda's great ally, Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu.

One of those party-nights, General Akechi was in charge of everything to make Tokugawa felt at home (or rather felt at a much-better home!), and he blew it.

He never forgot how mad Oda was that night; Akechi was instantly dismissed and ordered to go back to his own province (the General was the Lord of Tamba), even before the party began.

The guest of honor Tokugawa knew what went on, because Oda never concealed his anger any time.

It was one of the myriad personal grievances Akechi kept piggybanking until the fateful morning when he led his entire Army to attack Oda who was, in contrast, accompanied by no more than twenty people.

This is a usual irony, but it was the 32 years-old Oda Nobunaga who took the homeless, jobless 38 years-old Akechi Mitsuhide in, when the man came to the Oda castle of Gifu with nothing whatsoever but the clothes he was wearing.

Click here for history & pictures of Akechi Mitsuhide and his weird daughter.


This part of Azuchi castle was once very lively with the presence of Oda's own Generals. At this particular spot Toyotomi Hideyoshi got some rest after a journey from his own castle Nagahama, and his best buddy Maeda Toshiie exhaled for a while nearby. Toyotomi built several castles during his career as an Oda General; he also strengthened the Kiyosu castle that got sort of wobbly after so many interclan wars. But Oda didn't live long enough to see Toyotomi's masterpiece, the Osaka castle.

Click here for story and pictures of Oda Nobunaga's Generals and how his relationship was with them.




ODA NOBUNAGA'S
OTHER PLACES

O W A R I

N A G O Y A
K I Y O S U
K O M A K I
G I F U
K Y O T O
AZUCHI TOWN
WHERE HE DIED

 


Oda Nobunaga's Azuchi of 1500's must have looked like what it does today, around the outskirt.



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