O D A-----N O B U N A G A

T H E---' L O R D---F O O L '


Before you're getting anywhere, first of all bear in mind that the 'title' of 'Lord Fool' ('baka-dono' in Japanese) was deliberately sought after by Oda Nobunaga. He wanted to portray himself as one colossal pain in wherever it hurts, a totally incompetent ass, an absolute moron, an unworthy enemy to any warlord nearby. He kept on with this until after his 19th birthday, and stopped it entirely by the time he turned 21. Why? He had already been the head of the Oda clan by then, and had had enough military training that he always did in secret all those years whenever everybody thought he got frozen in a stupor somewhere inland.

So, was Oda Nobunaga's 'fool time' really necessary? Oda tended to get dramatic, but that's a personality and no one could have changed it. It looks like that his years were effective after all.

Remember, he only inherited two districts in the poor province of Owari, when his daddy died as he turned 15.

Fifteen years old, lord of two mere dots on the map, surrounded by great warlords -- the Imagawas of Suruga, the Saito clan of Mino, the Takedas of Kai, the Uesugi clan of Echigo, etcetera -- what would you have done then to be able to celebrate your 16th birthday? (Click here to see the map of warlords and their territories in Japan in 1550's and 1560's -- you'll see at once that Oda Nobunaga got a very good reason for 'Lord-Fool'-ing himself!)

Once you showed a little byte of political or military talent, one or the other or all of your mighty neighbors would instantly crave your head. So, Oda Nobunaga waited until he was ready. Until his army was ready. Just long enough for that; he never had Tokugawa Ieyasu's infinite patience.

Of all people, it seemed like the only persons who're never fooled into believing that Oda Nobunaga was the Lord Fool were Toyotomi Hideyoshi (click here for story and pictures) and Tokugawa Ieyasu of Mikawa (click here).

Toyotomi came there begging to be given any lowest kind of job as long as he could serve the Oda clan -- something that surprised even Oda Nobunaga himself, who was still 'Lord Fool' by then, at 19 years old of age.

Compare this page with formal history of Oda Nobunaga's
'Lord Fool' years.
Click here.


The picture shows Oda Nobunaga when he came to his daddy's funeral in 1549, when Nobunaga himself was 15 years old, in his daily outfit of loose kimono, disregarding the custom of wearing the full-formal-dress. Once he got there, he didn't sit and listen to the priests chanting Buddhist psalms like the rest of the audience. He passed the audience, walked straight to the altar, scooped up ashes of incense with bare hand, and flung it into the vase that contained his dad's ash. Of course an uproar ensued at once, but Oda didn't even linger one second longer than he wanted to.


The picture shows Oda Nobunaga in his daily routine after the 15th birthday -- after he again shocked everyone by refusing to shave his head like was usually done by a samurai, instead he kept his ponytail tied with colorful ribbons -- claiming out loud that his idea of having fun is to get neverending supply of alcoholic substances, night and day.


Oda Nobunaga at 15-17 by Kimura takuya

Picture of Oda Nobunaga between 15-17, as interpreted by actor Kimura Takuya
-- those days, Oda Nobunaga carried a spear everywhere like a masterless samurai.


Before designing his own clothes, Oda Nobunaga usually kept the right sleeve of his ready-to-wear shirt hanging by his side, as was the way archers and spearmen did in Japan. So, just in case you got the wrong idea out of the picture, this temporary one-sleeve thing was not considered weird. Even the super-square Tokugawas were like that when hunting or practicing martial arts.


Oda Nobunaga at 36 Oda Nobunaga

Pictures of Oda Nobunaga after 30 years old, as portrayed by actor Ryu Daisuke
-- notice the shirt -- this is a day for riding and practicing archery.


However, a permanent one-sleeved jacket like Oda Nobunaga would always wear later (probably he started to design his own clothes after he turned 19) was inconsistently seen as moronic. Oda shortened and tightened the sleeves of his shirts except those of the mandatory formal robe to attend Imperial ceremonies, for obvious practical reasons; he's always on the move and he always got his combats on horseback. (For the same reasons he used 'Europeanist' armor, too; click here). According to tradition, "I don't know how you all cope with it," he once said to Toyotomi Hideyoshi; "But I surely can't move an inch in those traditional dresses."

As far as Oda Nobunaga's preferences in the dept. of garments, his personal taste was forever 'weird' to all Japanese in his times and today alike -- and most likely even to you right now. There's nothing to say about that. He's free to wear whatever he liked; a style is a style -- it certainly can't be judged by moral standards.


The picture shows Oda Nobunaga and his companions, the downtown brat pack; none of whom was deemed 'appropriate' to hang out with, by anybody but Oda himself. He refused every advice even before it was offered. He was supposed to marry Lord Saito Dosan's daughter those days (the one videogamers are familiar with: the future Lady Oda Nou), but Oda didn't even like the girl, and didn't care a fig of what his would-be father in-law was thinking about him. (Click here for story and pictures.). It was an arranged nuptial like the custom of the days. The late Oda Nobuhide hoped for a few bytes of peace between his realm and that of the Saito clan, by ordering his second son Nobunaga to marry into Saito's family. But getting engaged didn't change a thing.

Strutting around town, on foot or most frequently on horseback, Oda Nobunaga had started to dress whichever way that suited his everchanging mood. Sometimes he carried his favorite falcon on one arm, eating watermelons along the way while singing something loudly and spitting the seeds of the fruit he's munching to every direction.


The picture shows the unspeakable degree of worry Oda Nobunaga's advisors like Hirate Masahide got from observing how Oda seemed to have been squandering away his days and warlike inheritance for nothing. Hirate committed suicide in 1553 as a protest against Oda Nobunaga's 'misdemeanor'. He thought Oda was incurable, never learnt to rule, and the only thing Oda cared about seemed to be his favorite horse. He always galloped fastly somewhere before anybody even knew he was about to.

Oda Nobunaga was 19 that year. He mourned for Hirate, and built a temple to remember him by, but it's unlikely that Oda Nobunaga then 'sobered-up' afterwards or 'repented' because of Hirate's death.

It didn't have anything to do with anybody; when Oda decided that he had been hiding long enough behind the mask of the Lord Fool, he got rid of it and started to be himself for all the world to see.






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