Oda, Tokugawa, Toyotomi  

Popular Profile & Summary of Bio
Oda Nobunaga
..... Toyotomi Hideyoshi
..... Tokugawa Ieyasu

If you are in a hurry, click one of the names above. Every important fact is already there in brief, and you might find some fun and weird truths that are not dished out within the 'scientific' biography.



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




Oda Nobunaga's daddy got beaten up again like last year by both the Imagawa and Matsudaira clans that cleverly made a temporary alliance this year.

As a warranty of faith in the alliance, the Mikawanese Matsudairas sent Tokugawa Ieyasu to the Imagawa HQ in Suruga as a hostage.

But some Oda supporters mugged the caravan and took over Tokugawa Ieyasu. So for a while the little Tokugawa was Oda's hostage, although nobody so far testified of having witnessed the two little boys meeting each other, since the Odas of course put the abducted kid away from everybody in a separate castle.

Meanwhile, Oda Nobunaga got a new younger brother who would outlive him for a very long time, and who would secure his own fame in the direction that no one could have predicted now: Oda Nagamasu.

Oda Nobunaga's Family Tree: Click Here

At 14, Nobunaga still lived by himself, away from his dad and mom and daddy's concubines, so the procreation business that kept getting him new brothers didn't really matter to him -- yet. He had been, besides the champ in horse-race and archery and swordsplay and spearing, taking much interest in what went on in Japanese politix and warfare, but hid it from Hirate Masahide, Oda Nobuhide, and all people around him. To him it was a too-crowded world for sharing anything like a fantastic private ambition that had shaped itself at the back of his mind.

His own crowded little hut in Nakamura gnawed at Toyotomi Hideyoshi's conscience, for obvious reasons. A 12 year-old boy was almost an adult in the Japanese social system where samurai kids came of age at 15 and working-class boys even much earlier. He should have made his own living.

After getting himself kicked out of the monastery and several establishments in and around the village, he was sent to town to get apprenticeship in a rice shop, while his mom and everyone else started to count the days of how long this time he would remain where he was at.

All these times, as a hostage, though he was still no older than 5 years old, Tokugawa Ieyasu had been quietly learning to subdue every natural instinct in his fibers, to resign to fate, and to clam up about everything. The only thing that a bit cheered him up was martial art lessons, but he couldn't get that here in confinement.



Oda meets Saito

Oda Nobunaga (standing) surprised Saito Dosan (sitting) at their first meeting. Saito expected 'the Lord Fool' to get to the formal banquet dressing awfully kinky as usual.

Click the pic for story and pictures about this meeting.

Why was Oda Nobunaga nicknamed 'the Lord Fool'? Click here.


Oda Nobunaga at his daddy's funeral

Oda Nobunaga (standing behind the priest) arriving at his dad's funeral. He didn't even dress up to suit the occasion.

(diorama at the Azuchi Museum, 2004)



For pictures of the real place
where this episode happened,
plus pictures of Oda Nobuhide,
pictures of Nobuhide's grave,
and so on: click here.


Hirate Masahide
Hirate Masahide


Saito cenotaphs

Cenotaphs of the Saito clan



Oda Nobuhide fell seriously ill.

Worse, Tokugawa Ieyasu's dad, Matsudaira Hirotada, refused to bargain with the Odas around the abducted kid that the Odas blackmailed the Matsudaira clan for peace with.

And this was a final word on the matter, because soon afterwards Matsudaira Hirotada died, leaving his underage heir alone.

In Suruga, Imagawa Yoshimoto waited in vain for his hostage's arrival. Having got wind of the abduction, the Imagawa army spread its net and caught Oda Nobunaga's older brother, Oda Nobuhiro -- by besieging the ex-Matsudairan castle Anjo where the teenage lived at.

The Odas wanted Nobuhiro back alive, so the 6 years-old Tokugawa Ieyasu -- new Chief of the Matsudaira clan -- was turned over to the 'rightful abductor' Imagawas, who, for their part, kept the promise to lift up the siege and let go of Oda Nobuhiro once Tokugawa was back on the road to Suruga.

Oda Nobunaga was 15 this year when he took up decision-making of Nobuhiro's fate, release of Tokugawa Ieyasu, ceasefire for the entire family, and everything else.

In the same year, the senior advisor of the clan, Hirate Masahide (click here for story, and here for pictures), who was practically the only adult around Oda Nobunaga's house these days, got busy negotiating peace with the much more powerful Saito clan of Mino that had beaten Oda Nobuhide's army. Nobuhide had made it his last wish to get some sort -- any sort -- of peace with Saito Dosan.

This shotgun-peace was to be achieved by a shotgun-wedding, between Oda Nobunaga and Lady Saito Nou. (Click here for story and pictures.) As it was a normal thing in 16th century Japan, nobody raised any objection to politically-motivated nuptials.

And since in 20th century there was still a large chunk of Japanese who got married via traditional matchmakers, both Oda Nobunaga and Saito Nou had no say about it at all; it was an interclan biz, never interpersonal.

And then, Oda Nobuhide died at Suemori Castle.

People said that Oda Nobunaga went to the funeral just right after hanging around with easy riders of the town, and he stayed there just long enough to scoop up the ashes of the incense, and threw it into the vase that contained Oda Nobuhide's remains. Then he disappeared into the streets again. There were cases of heart-attacks in this occasion, and from then on Oda Nobunaga was officially dubbed a moron.

And he loved that.

It was a stigma he deliberately sought after to keep the clan's enemies tricked into believing that he was absolutely incompetent. That way they wouldn't attack him before he was ready.

So he let people to call him 'Lord Fool' ('baka-dono' in Japanese -- click here for story and pictures).



Saito Dosan

Saito Dosan, Lord of Mino, was a colorful individual and an exceedingly eccentric personality. Nobody knew where he came from. When he was younger, people used to see him peddling cooking oil, selling household utensils, teaching kids ABC's, wandering around the countrysides saying loudly that he was looking for some 'enlightenment' that had something to do with swordsmanship (if you buy whatever Miyamoto Musashi said about his own idle roaming, you'd believe Saito, too).

Then all of a sudden he killed the Lord of Mino and married the widow and adopted the kid of the two's. The kid would grow up to be Saito Yoshitatsu. Now you can stop wondering why father and son vowed to whack each other off after Dosan's 50th birthday.

Dosan wanted Owari. He would have been one heck of a happier man by the idea of a nuptial if the candidate son in-law came from the Iwakura Odas -- since they controlled the largest part of the province. But even if they did have such a candidate, the Iwakura Odas had declared themselves to be Imagawa Yoshimoto's vassals, hence Saito Dosan's enemies.

So Saito got to make do with Oda Nobunaga, who, in his eyes, had nothing at all to offer to anyone but good looks.

"That kid is surely very handsome," he said to Hirate Masahide. "But there is something wrong with his head. Did you drop him off the turret when he was a baby?"

Hirate Masahide, despite the fact that he had been near Oda Nobunaga since Oda's birth, never understood him.

He believed that the history of the Oda clan would eventually end with Nobunaga's ascent as chief of the clan.

To Hirate, everything Oda Nobunaga did was 'unbecoming', unreasonable, and wrong. But of course he had to 'sell' Nobunaga to Saito, so he must have been in a lot of pain trying to find anything good about the boy to start advertising him as.

Incident that involved Oda Nobunaga and Hirate Masahide's son Gorozaemon




Still wandering around joblessly (pretending to be a mobile peddlar of household gadgets) in Saito's province of Mino, at this time the 15 years-old Toyotomi Hideyoshi had heard much about Oda Nobunaga's chronic misbehavior and wondered if it all was true -- he had thought of getting himself hired as a servant by the Oda clan, mostly out of provincialism (that's kind of patriotic those days, since nationalism wasn't yet born), but if the Lord was like that, was he worth his sweat?

Even so, and Toyotomi also heard of this, Oda Nobunaga wanted the seat as the head of the family, although his older brother Oda Nobuhiro was around and kicking.

It wasn't an immoderate ambition, and wasn't out of proportion. The Japanese never followed the law of 'first son first' strictly, and most family members and senior retainers never believed that Nobuhiro was a legitimate son anyway, and they showed this by sort of electing Nobunaga (if there were to be a ballot). De facto, such a recognition from family members meant Nobunaga was the head of the family now.

But that was only about the family, or what people called the 'Kiyosu Oda' crowd. There was another branch of the Oda clan in Owari; dubbed the 'Iwakura Oda', they possessed much of the province, a lot bigger than Nobunaga's land. Oda Nobunaga wanted them to move over and unite Owari under one lord, and he meant himself.

His own relatives were the only ones Oda Nobunaga was concerned about, because the Governor of the province -- who was, as the Japanese political structure of 16th century dictated, appointed by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru -- wasn't worth a headache.

This Governor, who was from the clan of Oda Nobuhide's former masters, Shiba Yoshimune, had openly been supporting Nobunaga for the vacant seat as Chief of the United Clan of Oda. Everyone wondered what everybody was thinking, nominating the Lord Fool when there were saner teenagers around. This even puzzled the supporters themselves.

It would characterize the entire career of Oda Nobunaga's later; no one could nail any good reason to let Oda Nobunaga lead, yet somehow they did let him lead. Oda Nobunaga himself had already gotten used to this enigma since he took control of his own household 8 years ago.

In 1551, people listened to stuff such as physiognomy, but psychology wasn't born yet although there was a rich array of psychopaths.

By the way, this was also the first year that Akechi Mitsuhide, 22 years old, was heard of.

Akechi moved from his hometown to Mino's capital city of Mt. Inaba ('Inabayama' in Japanese) to 'continue his study'. There he stayed at his cousin Akechi Mitsuharu's house, and according to Toyotomi's biographers he met the hero there -- more precisely he caught the teenage Toyotomi because the latter roamed around suspiciously around the vicinity.

The Akechi clan was vassal of the Saitos -- the senior Saito, that was, since this year the mutually venomous retorts ping-ponged from Saito Dosan to Saito Yoshitatsu and vice versa had reached their manifestations in deeds. The two had been living in separate castles cut asunder by the Nagara river of Gifu, so both were free to hatch assassination plans and the like.

Toyotomi found a job as the lowest-ranked servant for the Hachisuka clan (the same clan whose Chief was Toyotomi's future Captain and most trusted General, Hachisuka Hikoemon -- click here for story and pictures) only to be sent to their secret mission to support Saito Dosan in his efforts to kill his step-son Yoshitatsu.

That's why Toyotomi lurked around the Akechi mansion; according to legend he was about to burn the city upon order from the Hachisukas, who got the idea from Saito Dosan himself.

Although busy with the internal problems of his own clan's, Oda Nobunaga kept his eyes on the homicidal Saitos without concealing his disgust. He began to think of how to take the territory from the (according to his standard) unworthy present masters of the realm, but kept this thought to himself.

From behind the solid walls of silence and tightly clutched by hostageship, Tokugawa Ieyasu learned about all that from his ninjas. And he learned from that, you'd see.



Oda Nobunaga's wedding

Oda Nobunaga's wedding in1553, to Lady Saito Nou, according to the official guidebook of Gifu museum.

Hirate Masahide is the man standing behind the newly-wed -- but in real life he had already been R.I.P.

How Oda Nobunaga's married life was like


Click here for
pictures of
the Seishu temple.

Click here for
Oda Nobunaga's Places



Senior Advisor Hirate Masahide committed suicide to protest against Oda Nobunaga's 'unbecoming conduct' and nerve-wrecking attitude in general (click here for story and pictures).

According to some optimistic historians, Oda did listen to him and repent this time, and to substantiate the allegation they point at the fact that a temple was built to remember Hirate by (Oda Nobunaga named it 'Seishu', in Kiyosu -- click here for pictures).
Saito Nou
Saito Nou

The death didn't cancel Oda Nobunaga's marriage as planned to Lady Saito.

Around this time, Toyotomi Hideyoshi showed up, after getting himself sacked by his new master, the Matsushita clan of Mino, for refusing to learn martial arts (!!!).

According to Toyotomi, he had to crouch for hours in a swampy spot (it was imperative not to let Oda Nobunaga's soldiers catch him there) for a chance to throw himself right in front of Oda's horse and beg for a job, any job, right when Oda was on his way home after a cavalry-training.

Oda Nobunaga said okay and took him in instantly, no questions asked -- that was the way he did everything, i.e. depending on his mood, or, more precisely, on his instincts.

This, though, was a whimsical decision that Oda would never regret.



monument for the 'Iwakura Oda'

Monument for the forgotten
'Iwakura Oda' in 2002


Oda Nobutomo's grave

The grave of Oda Nobutomo is at some back alley, in the middle of lower-middleclass urban clot of dwellings, on a private property.



Governor Shiba Yoshimune was killed by Oda Nobutomo from the 'Iwakura Oda' family, because the Governor took Nobunaga's side in the (actually had been concluded) succession battle.

Oda Nobutomo then moved into the Governor's Kiyosu castle and declared it his own; he challenged the 'Kiyosu Odas' to defy him if they could.
Oda Nobutomo

Oda Nobunaga took it as some heaven-sent pretext to seize the Kiyosu castle and moved in himself (click here for story and pictures). After he got rid of Oda Nobutomo and all his army, of course. It was a more or less 'good war' even though from the eyes of 21st century caucasian familypersons it would have been nothing but fratricide.

Oda Nobunaga had a legitimate reason to do what he did, i.e. 'punishing the murderers of the Governor' which was equal to 'rebels against the Shogun', which left absolutely no room for discussion because anyone who acknowledged the authority of the Shogun had it as his duty to whack off anybody who committed anything against the shogunate.

That's why no one even thought of chastising Oda Nobunaga for wiping the Iwakura Odas off the planet this year, and no one would, as long as the Japanese people is concerned.




Uncle Oda Nobumitsu of Mt. Mori castle died without any warning. Some rumors started to get circulated, saying that it was Oda Nobunaga's doing. Such a thing was common in 16th century Japan, though; people only cared of how and what for. The 'how' wasn't clear, and the suspicion of Nobunaga's hands in it never got substantiated by any evidence at all. The 'what for' was, nonetheless, if it was him whodunit, very clear -- eliminating a rival. However, the case was inconclusively closed.

Some time later, another uncle, named Oda Nobutsugu, killed his nephew Oda Hidetaka (Nobunaga's own brother). Or actually it was an accident; they were hunting together when it happened. Since Nobunaga was said to be such a brutal man (he's 21 by now, not exactly a kid), the uncle ran away from the province. But Nobunaga didn't even try to get him, so he got back again. This uncle was officially pardoned by Nobunaga and resuming his life like he used to.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi was now 19 years old and had been supporting his mom's household for several years (she bragged about it everywhere). Oda Nobunaga found him very useful, no matter what job he gave. So from being everybody's servant, some sort of errand-boy and bell-boy and janitor condensed, Toyotomi was now Oda Nobunaga's personal attendant.

Far away in Suruga, Tokugawa Ieyasu got his 12th birthday in silence as usual. He wondered (and everyone who was concerned did, too) whether he would one day be able to get back to Mikawa and be a master instead of a constantly-nodding hostage. Faithful Generals and Captains of the future Tokugawa army, like Sakai Tadatsugu (click here for story and pictures), tried everything they could to keep Tokugawa's spirit up despite the decidedly sombre atmosphere of confinement. When they thought Tokugawa was now able to lead the Matsudaira clan directly, a regular dispatch of Mikawanese ninja to sneak into the Imagawa castle was established, so that Chief Hostage could get his files of Japanese politics routinely updated.

Imagawa Yoshimoto of course didn't treat Tokugawa in any vulgar way, since he was supposed to be an ally; but he didn't let him go either for unclear reasons. As far as it was about latest news from the outside world, Tokugawa could only rely on his clan's ninjas -- Imagawa had made it very very clear that he wouldn't relay any newsworthy piece to the hostage's ears.



Oda Nobuyuki
Oda Nobuyuki


Shibata katsuie

Shibata Katsuie


Saito Yoshitatsu

Saito Yoshitatsu


Oda Nobunaga

Oda Nobunaga
in his twenties



Just before Oda Nobunaga's 22nd birthday, his younger brother Oda Nobuyuki, favorite of his mom, conspired with his cousin Shibata Katsuie and the senior vassal of Oda Nobuhide's Hayashi Sado to kill Nobunaga and snatch the head-of-family title.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was now Oda Nobunaga's 20 years-old personal servant (his official title was 'sandal-bearer') and thus stayed around him 24/7, was constantly in alert and worrying about the boss' safety, while Oda himself seemed to care not a fig about things planned toward him those days until the plans were manifested. Whether because he didn't care or because he wanted to stretch the rope as long as he could, Oda Nobunaga even gave Hayashi Sado a new job of mastering the Nagoya castle -- where all secret meetings of rebellion and assassination plans had been discussed at.

The coup was not to be, and after waging a war that they couldn't win Oda Nobuyuki, Shibata, and Hayashi surrendered. But Nobunaga pardoned them all. He didn't let Shibata to 'shave his head and go to Buddha' -- some self-inflicting monkship that was always rampant in Japan as long as there were war losers who didn't have the guts to commit suicide, defeated soldiers who still harbored political and military ambitions, and restarting warriors would continue warring in the new 'profession'.

Meanwhile, Nobunaga's father in-law Lord Saito Dosan was finally killed by his step-son Saito Yoshitatsu (click here for story and pictures of Saito Dosan and family).

Only through the persistence of Tokugawa ninjas the exiled Lord of Mikawa could get the news about the Saito tragedy. And he always nearly 'interrogated' the newsbearer every time, of all things that he wanted to know; as a result Tokugawa's archives was obese compared to Imagawa Yoshimoto's anorexic files. What Tokugawa asked his ninjas about was especially about Oda Nobunaga.

According to Tokugawa's biographers, he had already seen Oda as something like a rival or alternately someone to look up to, or at any rate someone not to get dismissed whenever there was a talk of wars and political constellation of Japan. It could have been true because Tokugawa Ieyasu was much younger than Oda. Older warlords never took Oda Nobunaga seriously those days.

Tokugawa had developed a complicated codes of conduct regarding his dependence on ninjas by now, a habit he kept on until his death; while on the other hand Oda Nobunaga had started to be kind of phobic to ninjas, something that he also would keep on feeling until his death.




Oda Nobunaga turned 23 this year. While Oda Nobutada, his first son from Lady Ikoma Kitsuno (click here for story and pictures of this woman), was born, Oda Nobunaga's brother in-law Saito Yoshitatsu of Mino conspired with Oda Nobunaga's older brother, Oda Nobuhiro, to assassinate Nobunaga.
Oda Nobuhiro
Oda Nobuhiro

The conspiracy was blown up before the plan came to anything.

Instead of cutting Nobuhiro's head, Nobunaga gave him amnesty.

Nobody knew then, and no one knows now, why he got so lenient, while at the same time his ne'er-do-well brother Oda Nobuyuki was repeating his own conspiracy to kill Nobunaga, and once more their mom was behind the fresh attempt at Oda Nobunaga's life.

After secret plans failed to achieve that goal, Nobuyuki resorted again to something he was never good at: open war.

After Nobuyuki's army repeatedly attacked his men, Nobunaga decided to wipe the brother's supporters off completely, and he did just that. But he took care of his nephews and nieces.




Oda Nobunaga got two sons at once from his concubines when he turned 24 this year. Oda Nobutaka from Lady Ikoma, and Oda Nobuo from Lady Ikeda Mikoto (click here for story and pictures of this woman).

Emperor Ogimachi ascended this year. Although living in the same city, the Shogun let him live in shameful poverty while himself still dabbling in the last scraps of the wealth of the Ashikaga clan. The poverty of the Emperors since 1500 had been so grotesque that they died of malnutrition and untreated illnesses, and even couldn't afford funerals so that the corpse of the Emperor was left just like that for two whole months for lack of money (see History of Japan).

It was a petty warlord who enabled Emperor Nara II, Ogimachi's predecessor, to live like normal; Oda Nobuhide of Nagoya, father of Oda Nobunaga. Though wasn't a rich man himself, Nobuhide made it a point of duty to send whatever he could spare to the Imperial treasury. The Emperor would never forget this, and his successor was similarly attached to the Oda clan. Oda Nobunaga continued his father's policy of sending a little money to the Imperial Treasurer since he became Chief of the clan, and now he financed Emperor Ogimachi.

This year, for the first time, Oda Nobunaga met Tokugawa Ieyasu -- who was now 15 years old -- at war.

Tokugawa managed to halt and finally cancel Oda's attempted seizure of one of the Matsudaira's castles. For this he obtained a special permit from Imagawa Yoshimoto to get back to Mikawa just for a fortnight, so to speak, to defend his clan's territory. By forcing Oda Nobunaga to halt, Tokugawa had validated his clansmen's ushaken faith in his leadership despite his seemingly endless absence.

After Tokugawa got back to Suruga and into being a hostage, Soldiers of Owari and Mikawa kept on with their routine skirmishes around and across the borders, just like how it was when Oda Nobuhide and Matsudaira Hirotada were still around.

At this time, Toyotomi Hideyoshi had been the supervisor of supplies, where Oda Nobunaga put him in -- a jump in his career, the pace of which would keep people gasping for years and years ahead.




In Suruga, Tokugawa Ieyasu woke up to find a prospect that was just as unpalatable as a war: he was ordered to marry Imagawa Yoshimoto's adopted daughter.

But such a thing could be seen as a generosity on Imagawa's part, so Tokugawa couldn't say no. He married this Lady Imagawa Tsukiyama.

Together they lived the unhappiest marriage you could imagine; Lady Tokugawa did nothing but spying on the younger husband (she was a few years older than Tokugawa, who was 16) and then writing long reports addressed to her father.

That's something she had in common with Oda Nobunaga's wife (click here for story and pictures).



Imagawa Yoshimoto

Imagawa Yoshimoto


Oda Nobunaga in Okehazama battle

Oda Nobunaga (on horseback)
at the famous battle of Okehazama

Click the picture for details and pictures of Okehazama battle.

Click here for details of what Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu did in this battle, and pictures of where Tokugawa waited for the final hours of it to be over.



Tokugawa Ieyasu got his first son, Tokugawa Nobuyasu -- a miraculous event considering how busy Lady Tokugawa had been with paperwork for her daddy's Central Intelligence Agency.

A very cold father (he was cold towards everybody, as a matter of fact), Tokugawa Ieyasu nonetheless wrote to his Mikawanese faithfuls that it gave him some sort of pain -- at least to his pride -- to see the kid being born in and raised as a hostage. The baby was an additional hostage to the Imagawa clan, you know. That's how the rule in hostagedom was.

Oda Nobunaga had been called 'Lord Daddy' for some years, and he didn't belong to the category of Tokugawa's fatherhood, but he wasn't a family man either. Like his own dad, he seldom spent time with his kids. Only, unlike his dad, he seldom spent time with his women, either.

Now Tokugawa's 'protector', Lord Imagawa Yoshimoto of Suruga, decided that this was the time for him to be the greatest warlord of Japan. To do this he must get to Kyoto, to get the Emperor's blessing face-to-face. That's how things were done those days.

So, 'marching to Kyoto' equals to taking control of the entire country (this 'entire country' only consisted of a third or so of today's Japan anyway).

But to travel to Kyoto from Sumpu (imagine today's railway from Shizuoka), whatever that for, meant crossing several unfriendly warlords' territories, including Oda Nobunaga's Owari.

A piece of cake, this one; so he thought.

He brushed aside Tokugawa Ieyasu's warning that he had underestimated Oda Nobunaga.

Imagawa had a solid reason as far as the eye could see: there outside his HQ more than 25,000 soldiers were waiting, and all of them would stay with him in this 'journey'.

In Owari, Oda Nobunaga had called up everybody in his territory to defend the borders, yet the total number of the men was no more than two thousand.

But Oda had all the luck. Somehow he whacked a great chunk of those 25,000 Imagawa soldiers off, and, more than that, Imagawa himself got killed. This was the immortalized battle of Okehazama. Oda's first great war, and the mental landmark of the point of no return in his career as the so-called 'unifier of Japan'.

Tokugawa Ieyasu also scored his own pivotal point at exactly the same time and in the same event.

Tokugawa had deliberately avoided to get himself and his clansmen involved in this battle, because he never believed what Imagawa did -- namely that they would easily crush Owari since the ruler there was Lord Fool.

That way he survived, and after hearing of Imagawa's death, he dashed quickly back to his beloved Mikawa, a free man at last.


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