Oda Nobunaga's letters

The picture above contains real letters written by Oda Nobunaga (left/back), Tokugawa Ieyasu (center) and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (right).


Letter to
Lord of Mino

'Immoral clan': Oda referred to Saito's daddy, Saito Yoshitatsu, who waged war against his father Saito Dosan, who was Oda's father in-law. Yoshitatsu finally killed Dosan. Patricide is one of the capital sins to Buddhism. Saito Dosan wasn't Yoshitatsu's biological father -- but it was just the same to Oda for he only sought some pretext.

Saito Tatsuoki was only 13 years old when ascending the 'throne' as chief of the clan. Yet at this age he had already been a veteran when it came to women, alcoholic beverages, and such; his late-night parties were infamous.

Click here for the Saito clan's connexion with Oda Nobunaga.

Click here for the war of Saito versus Oda.


Today, Your Lordship's immoral clan is devoured by the fire of the gods, and it will soon get utterly crushed by my men.

You are my wife's nephew. For years I have been grieving to witness your cowardice and shallowness, and I didn't have the heart to unsheath my sword against you.

Not even now.

I am willing to concede a reward for your surrender, and I suggest that you do that if you still wish for another day.

I am waiting for your submission at my camp.

(signature & seal: Oda Nobunaga)


After receiving this letter, Saito did what Oda wanted him to do; he surrendered.

Oda fulfilled his promise for a 'reward', i.e. some lands; but it was located far away from everything -- Saito got the lands in exile.


Memo to
Commander of Sunomata

Gifu: Oda clan's HQ at the time, and the place where most of Oda's greatest victories were achieved from.

Oda Nobunaga was really unpredictable. Whenever he asked for people's opinions, it was most of the time just to see what the people were made of -- something that, however, didn't necessarily have anything to do with the question or the answer.

But everybody knew that flattery would only triggered Oda's notorious anger. People who tried to lick butts found the trick didn't work. Yet, those who honestly replied according to their own minds got similarly rebuked. That's an impossible kind of atmosphere.

Toyotomi's meteoric rise within the Oda clan had a lot to do with communication, so he somehow -- and inimitably -- could get his stuff across to Oda like normal people do.


After relaxing, all of a sudden I am bored with Gifu.

The wind and the clouds are full of peace; I want to see it all again once more.

The beauty of nature hasn't yet been my friend.

What's in your mind for this year?

(signature & seal: Oda Nobunaga)


Toyotomi's reply to Oda's memo was only this:
"I am thinking of being a good neighbor, My Lord."

It coincidentally was what Oda himself was thinking of, without showing painstaking efforts to fit his answer to what he guessed as Oda's state of mind at the time.

The manifestation of the 'good neighbor' policy was soon to be seen by all Japan: the castle of Gifu got busy with weddings and engagement parties -- Oda gave his adopted daughter to the son of Takeda Shingen, his own daughter to Tokugawa Ieyasu's son, and his son to Takeda's daughter. All in one single autumn.

Click here for pictures of Oda's Gifu.

Click here for the incredible story & pictures of how Toyotomi built the 'magic castle' of Sunomata.

Click here for the war of Sunomata.


Greeting card for
Lord of Mikawa

Totomi was a part of Lord Imagawa Ujizane's territory.

The patriarch of the clan, Imagawa Yoshimoto, had of course been dead for a decade -- he got killed in the Okehazama battle against Oda Nobunaga in 1560.

While Oda was busy in Kyoto, Tokugawa finally seized the remaining lands of the Imagawa clan.


Last year, I have let out what I had been having in mind for so long, and I've been pocketing small victories since, but there is nothing happier to me than to see you adding the great land of Totomi into your domain. Collectively, we are all stronger than before. My congratulations, and Happy New Year.

(signature & seal: Oda Nobunaga)


Click here for story & pictures of Tokugawa Ieyasu's years as hostage of the Imagawa clan of Suruga.

Click here for pictures of the famous Okehazama battle that Oda Nobunaga won with 3,000 men against 25,000 of Imagawa soldiers.


Memo to
Lord of Nagahama

'Extraordinary wisdom': Oda meant "by those tricks".

Toyotomi usually started his wars by trying every kind of tricks to win it without actual bloodspill when Oda Nobunaga was still around, so he got the reputation as a much more lenient and generous person than his infamously impatient boss.

Anyway, this time Oda Nobunaga told him to march to the Bizen province, against the Ukita clan, deep in the Western Japan, and Toyotomi managed to get the target without fighting at all.

Click here for All of Oda Nobunaga's Wars.


You have shown an extraordinary wisdom in the situation (of Bizen). I'm looking forward to get the details of your strategy next time we meet. For the time being, here is something to represent my gratefulness that things go on this way.

(signature & seal: Oda Nobunaga)


Toyotomi cut the ties around the Ukita clan one by one via diplomacy and bribery, gaining new vassals for Nobunaga, such as the normally far-from-meek Akashi clan.

The "something" that was supposed to represent Oda Nobunaga's thank-you note in this case was hitherto burdening an army messenger with constant anxiety until he could unload it at Toyotomi's camp: a bagful of gold coins.

Bizen and its surrounding areas were still not Oda Nobunaga's or Toyotomi Hideyoshi's playground those days. Oda planned to conquer this part of Japan last. It was crowded with independent warlords, a good number of which were Christian warlords, and they didn't bow to Oda or anyone else from Central Japan, except of course the Emperor.

Click here for story and pictures of these 'untouchable' warlords of Oda Nobunaga's.


Memo to
Lord of Tamba

This was the last memo Oda Nobunaga ever wrote to Akechi Mitsuhide.

Akechi produced this memo in his secret meeting with his clan's Generals and family members, as one irrefutable proof of how unjust Oda Nobunaga was to him.

He took the second line in the memo ("wait for further order from Hideyoshi") as a deliberate personal insult, since to him Toyotomi was not only equal in ranks with him at the Oda joint army but lesser than him -- genealogically speaking.


You can be a more effective backup between Bizen and Bingo if you march directly from your own province in the next few days, so you'll get there before I do.

When you arrive, wait for further order from Hideyoshi.

(signature & seal: Oda Nobunaga)


That was just Akechi's stuff. Oda Nobunaga didn't intend to snub him, or, even if he did, he had done that two years before this memo was even written.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi was the commanding officer of the Oda joint army at the Western Japan campaign, that was something everyone had been knowing since it began. So, whoever the backup Generals were, even Oda Nobunaga's own sons, they were under Toyotomi's coordination as long as Oda Nobunaga himself was not present (Oda Nobutada and Oda Nobutaka were sent to Toyotomi's camp previously, and Akechi knew the rule of the game).

Anyway, on June 23, 1582, a few days after receiving this memo, Akechi Mitsuhide led his army to Kyoto, and attacked Oda Nobunaga who was resting at Honno temple.

Click here for story and pictures about Akechi's attack and Oda Nobunaga's death.





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