Oda Nobunaga

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Oda Nobunaga
Oda Nobunaga in a 16th-century portrait by Kanō Motohide
Minister of the Right
In office
Monarch Ōgimachi
Preceded by Konoe Taneie
Succeeded by Konoe Sakihisa
Personal details
BornJune 23, 1534
Nagoya Castle, Owari Province, Ashikaga shogunate
DiedJune 21, 1582(1582-06-21) (aged 47)
Honnō-ji, Heian-kyō
Spouse(s) Nōhime
Mother Tsuchida Gozen
Father Oda Nobuhide
Relatives Lady Otsuya (aunt)
Saitō Dōsan (father-in-law)
Oichi (sister)
Azai Nagamasa (brother-in-law)
Shibata Katsuie (brother-in-law)
Oda Nobuhiro (brother)
Oda Nobuyuki (brother)
Oda Nobukane (brother)
Oda Nagamasu (brother)
Oda Nobuharu (brother)
Oda Nobutoki (brother)
Oda Hidetaka (brother)
Chacha (niece)
Ohatsu (niece)
Oeyo (niece)
Ashikaga Yoshiaki (adopted son)
Military service
Allegiance Mon-Oda.png Oda clan
Imperial Seal of Japan.svg Imperial House of Japan
Rank Daimyō
Unit Mon-Oda.png Oda clan
Battles/warssee below

Oda Nobunaga(織田 信長,Oda Nobunaga, Loudspeaker.svg listen ; June 23, 1534 – June 21, 1582) was a powerful daimyō (feudal lord) of Japan in the late 16th century who attempted to unify Japan during the late Sengoku period, and successfully gained control over most of Honshu. Nobunaga is regarded as one of three unifiers of Japan along with his retainers Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. During his later life, Nobunaga was widely known for most brutal suppression of determined opponents, eliminating those who by principle refused to cooperate or yield to his demands. His reign was noted for innovative military tactics, fostering free trade, and encouraging the start of the Momoyama historical art period. He was killed when his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide rebelled against him at Honnō-ji.

<i>Daimyō</i> powerful territorial lord in pre-modern Japan

The daimyō were powerful Japanese feudal lords who, until their decline in the early Meiji period, ruled most of Japan from their vast, hereditary land holdings. In the term, dai (大) means "large", and myō stands for myōden(名田), meaning private land.

Japan Country in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

Sengoku period Period in Imperial Japan

The Sengoku period is a period in Japanese history marked by social upheaval, political intrigue and near-constant military conflict. Japanese historians named it after the otherwise unrelated Warring States period in China. It was initiated by the Ōnin War, which collapsed the Japanese feudal system under the Ashikaga shogunate, and came to an end when the system was re-established under the Tokugawa shogunate by Tokugawa Ieyasu.


Historical context

Site of Nagoya Castle (Na Gu Ye Cheng Ji ). Nagoyajou1.JPG
Site of Nagoya Castle (那古野城跡).

The goal of national unification and a return to the comparative political stability of the earlier Muromachi period was widely shared by the multitude of autonomous daimyōs during the Sengoku period. Oda Nobunaga was the first for whom this goal seemed attainable. Nobunaga had gained control over most of Honshu (see map below) before his death during the 1582 Honnō-ji incident, a coup attempt executed by Nobunaga's vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide. Nobunaga was betrayed by his own retainers who set the Honno-Ji temple on fire; then, instead of burning in flames, Oda Nobunaga had committed seppuku to escape the flames. The motivation behind Mitsuhide's betrayal was never revealed to anyone who survived the incident, and has been a subject of debate and conjecture ever since the incident. [1]

Muromachi period division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573

The Muromachi period is a division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573. The period marks the governance of the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate, which was officially established in 1338 by the first Muromachi shōgun, Ashikaga Takauji, two years after the brief Kenmu Restoration (1333–36) of imperial rule was brought to a close. The period ended in 1573 when the 15th and last shogun of this line, Ashikaga Yoshiaki, was driven out of the capital in Kyoto by Oda Nobunaga.

Honshu Largest island of Japan

Honshu is the largest and most populous island of Japan, located south of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait, north of Shikoku across the Inland Sea, and northeast of Kyushu across the Kanmon Straits. The island separates the Sea of Japan, which lies to its north and west, from the North Pacific Ocean to its south and east. It is the seventh-largest island in the world, and the second-most populous after the Indonesian island of Java.

Akechi Mitsuhide daimyo

Akechi Mitsuhide, first called Jūbei from his clan and later Koretō Hyūga no Kami (惟任日向守) from his title, was a samurai and general who lived during the Sengoku period of Feudal Japan. His full name was thus Akechi Jūbei Minamoto-no-Mitsuhide.

Following the incident, Mitsuhide declared himself master over Nobunaga's domains, but was quickly defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who regained control of and greatly expanded the Oda holdings. Nobunaga's successful subjugation of much of Honshu enabled the later successes of his allies Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu toward the goal of national unification by subjugating local daimyōs under a hereditary shogunate, which was ultimately accomplished in 1603 when Ieyasu was granted the title of shōgun by Emperor Go-Yōzei following the successful Sekigahara Campaign of 1600. The nature of the succession of power through the three daimyōs is reflected in a well-known Japanese idiom:

Toyotomi Hideyoshi Japanese daimyo, warrior, general and politician

Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a preeminent daimyō, warrior, general, samurai, and politician of the Sengoku period who is regarded as Japan's second "great unifier". He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Sengoku period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle. After his death, his young son Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Tokugawa Ieyasu Founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan

Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shōgun in 1603, and abdicated from office in 1605, but remained in power until his death in 1616. His given name is sometimes spelled Iyeyasu, according to the historical pronunciation of the kana character he. Ieyasu was posthumously enshrined at Nikkō Tōshō-gū with the name Tōshō Daigongen (東照大権現). He was one of the three unifiers of Japan, along with his former lord Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

<i>Shōgun</i> de facto military dictator of feudal Japan (1185-1868)

The Shōgun was the military dictator of Japan during the period from 1185 to 1868. In most of this period, the shōguns were the de facto rulers of the country, although nominally they were appointed by the Emperor as a ceremonial formality. The shōguns held almost absolute power over territories through military means.

"Nobunaga pounds the national rice cake, Hideyoshi kneads it, and in the end, Ieyasu sits down and eats it." [2]

All three were born within eight years of each other (1534 to 1542), started their careers as samurai and finished them as statesmen. Nobunaga inherited his father's domain at the age of 17, and quickly gained control of Owari province through gekokujo. Hideyoshi started his career in Nobunaga's army as an ashigaru, but quickly rose up through the ranks as a samurai. Ieyasu initially fought against Nobunaga, but later joined his army. [3] :142

Early life

Oda Nobunaga was born on June 23, 1534, in the Owari domain, and was given the childhood name of Kippōshi(吉法師). [4] He was the second son of Oda Nobuhide, a deputy shugo (military governor) with land holdings in Owari Province. [4] He is said to have been born in Nagoya Castle, although this is subject to debate. Through his childhood and early teenage years, he was well known for his bizarre behavior and received the name of Owari no Ōutsuke(尾張の大うつけ, The Great Fool of Owari ). He was known to run around with other youths from the area, without any regard to his own rank in society. With the introduction of firearms into Japan he became known for his fondness for tanegashima firearms.[ citation needed ]

Oda Nobuhide was a warlord and magistrate of lower Owari Province during the Sengoku period of Japan. His father was Oda Nobusada and Nobuhide was the father of Oda Nobunaga.

Shugo (守護) was a title, commonly translated as "(military) governor", "protector" or "constable", given to certain officials in feudal Japan. They were each appointed by the shōgun to oversee one or more of the provinces of Japan. The position gave way to the emergence of the daimyōs in the late 15th century, as shugo began to claim power over lands themselves, rather than serving simply as governors on behalf of the shogunate.

Owari Province historical province of Japan

Owari Province was a province of Japan in the area that today forms the western half of Aichi Prefecture, including the modern city of Nagoya. The province was created in 646. Owari bordered on Mikawa, Mino, and Ise Provinces. Owari and Mino provinces were separated by the Sakai River, which means "border river." The province's abbreviated name was Bishū (尾州).

Unification of Owari Province

An imagined portrait of Oda Nobunaga, by Jesuit painter Giovanni Niccolo, 1583-1590. Oda Nobunaga-Portrait by Giovanni NIcolao.jpg
An imagined portrait of Oda Nobunaga, by Jesuit painter Giovanni Niccolò, 1583–1590.
Kiyosu Castle (Qing Zhou Cheng ) Kiyosujo2.JPG
Kiyosu Castle (清州城)

In 1551, Oda Nobuhide died unexpectedly. Nobunaga was said to have acted outrageously during his funeral, throwing ceremonial incense at the altar. [5] Hirate Masahide, a valuable mentor and retainer to Nobunaga, performed seppuku to startle Nobunaga into his obligations. [6] :68

Succession dispute

Although Nobunaga was Nobuhide's legitimate heir, some of the Oda clan were divided against him. Collecting about a thousand men, Nobunaga suppressed those members of his family who were hostile to his rule, including his younger brother, Oda Nobuyuki. Then in 1556, he destroyed a rival branch located in Kiyosu Castle. [7] :276

Although Nobuyuki and his supporters were still at large, Nobunaga took an army to Mino Province to aid Saitō Dōsan after Dōsan's son, Saitō Yoshitatsu, turned against him. The campaign failed, as Dōsan was killed in the Battle of Nagara-gawa, and Yoshitatsu became the new master of Mino in 1556. [6]

Elimination of Nobuyuki

In 1557, Nobunaga's brother, Nobuyuki, was defeated in the Siege of Suemori by Ikeda Nobuteru. [6] :69

In 1558, he protected Suzuki Shigeteru in the Siege of Terabe. [6]

By 1559, Nobunaga had eliminated all opposition within the clan and Owari Province. [7] :276

Rise to power

Battle of Okehazama

In 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto gathered an army of 25,000 men [8] and started his march toward Kyoto, with the pretext of aiding the frail Ashikaga shogunate. The Matsudaira clan of Mikawa Province also joined Yoshimoto's forces. Against this, the Oda clan could rally an army of only 2,000 to 3,000. [9] [10] Some of Nobunaga's advisers suggested "to stand a siege at Kiyosu". Nobunaga refused, stating that "only a strong offensive policy could make up for the superior numbers of the enemy", and calmly ordered a counterattack. [7]

Nobunaga's scouts reported that Yoshimoto was resting at the narrow gorge of Dengaku-hazama, ideal for a surprise attack, and that the Imagawa army was celebrating their victories while Yoshimoto viewed the heads. Nobunaga moved towards Imagawa's camp and set up a position some distance away. An array of flags and dummy troops made of straw and spare helmets gave the impression of a large host, while the real Oda army hurried round in a rapid march to get behind Yoshimoto's camp. The heat gave way to a terrific thunderstorm. As the Imagawa samurai sheltered from the rain Nobunaga deployed his troops, and when the storm ceased they charged down upon the enemy in the gorge, so suddenly that Yoshimoto thought a brawl had broken out among his men, only realizing it was an attack when two samurais charged up. One aimed a spear at him, which Yoshimoto deflected with his sword, but the second swung his blade and cut off Imagawa's head. [11] [12]

Rapidly weakening in the wake of this battle, the Imagawa clan no longer exerted control over the Matsudaira clan. In 1561, an alliance was forged between Oda Nobunaga and Matsudaira Motoyasu (who would become Tokugawa Ieyasu), despite the decades-old hostility between the two clans. Nobunaga also formed an alliance with Takeda Shingen through the marriage of his daughter to Shingen's son. A similar relationship was forged when Nobunaga's sister Oichi married Azai Nagamasa of Ōmi Province. [7] :277–78 [3]

Tradition dates this battle as the first time that Nobunaga noticed the talents of the sandal-bearer who would eventually become Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Siege of Inabayama Castle

Statue of Oda Nobunaga at Kiyosu Castle. Oda Nobunaga statue in Kiyosu park.jpg
Statue of Oda Nobunaga at Kiyosu Castle.

In Mino, Saitō Yoshitatsu died suddenly of illness in 1561 and was succeeded by his son, Saitō Tatsuoki. Tatsuoki, however, was young and much less effective as a ruler and military strategist compared to his father and grandfather. [9] :57

Taking advantage of this situation, Nobunaga moved his base to Komaki Castle and started his campaign in Mino at the 1561 Battle of Moribe. [6] :216 By convincing Saitō retainers to abandon their incompetent and foolish master, Nobunaga weakened the Saitō clan significantly, eventually mounting a final attack in 1567 when he captured Inabayama Castle. [7] :278

After taking possession of the castle, Nobunaga changed the name of both the castle and the surrounding town to Gifu. Remains of Nobunaga's residence in Gifu can be found today in Gifu Park. [13] Naming it after the legendary Mount Qi (岐山 Qi in Standard Chinese) in China, on which the Zhou dynasty is fabled to have started, Nobunaga revealed his ambition to conquer the whole of Japan. He also started using a new personal seal that read Tenka Fubu (天下布武), [14] which means "All the world by force of arms" or "Rule the Empire by Force". [7] :278

Campaign in Kyoto

In 1568, Ashikaga Yoshiaki went to Gifu to ask Nobunaga to start a campaign toward Kyoto. Yoshiaki was the brother of the murdered 13th shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate, Yoshiteru, and wanted revenge against the killers who had already set up a puppet shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshihide. Nobunaga agreed to install Yoshiaki as the new shōgun and, grasping the opportunity to enter Kyoto, started his campaign. An obstacle in southern Ōmi Province was the Rokkaku clan. Led by Rokkaku Yoshikata, the clan refused to recognize Yoshiaki as shōgun and was ready to go to war. In response, Nobunaga launched a rapid attack, driving the Rokkaku clan out of their castles. [7] :278–79

On November 9, 1568, Nobunaga entered Kyoto. Yoshiaki was made the 15th shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate. However, Nobunaga refused any appointment from Yoshiaki, and their relationship grew difficult, though Nobunaga showed the Emperor great respect. [15] [7] :279–281

Campaign against rival daimyōs

Battle of Anegawa

The Asakura clan was particularly disdainful of the Oda clan's increasing power. Furthermore, Asakura Yoshikage had also protected Ashikaga Yoshiaki, but had not been willing to march toward Kyoto. [7] :281

When Nobunaga launched a campaign into the Asakura clan's domain, Azai Nagamasa, to whom Nobunaga's sister Oichi was married, broke the alliance with Oda to honor the Azai-Asakura alliance which had lasted for generations. With the help of Ikko rebels, the anti-Nobunaga alliance sprang into full force, taking a heavy toll on the Oda clan. At the Battle of Anegawa, Tokugawa Ieyasu joined forces with Nobunaga and defeated the combined forces of the Asakura and Azai clans. [7] :282

Oda Nobunaga armor Oda Nobunaga armour.jpg
Oda Nobunaga armor

The Enryaku-ji monastery on Mt. Hiei, with its sōhei (warrior monks) of the Tendai school who aided the anti-Nobunaga group by helping Azai-Asakura alliance, was an issue for Nobunaga since the monastery was so close to his base of power. Nobunaga attacked Enryaku-ji and razed it in October 1571, killing "monks, laymen, women and children" in the process. "The whole mountainside was a great slaughterhouse, and the sight was one of unbearable horror." [7] :284

Siege of Nagashima and Ishiyama Hongan-ji

During the siege of Nagashima, Nobunaga inflicted tremendous losses to the Ikkō-ikki resistance who opposed samurai rule. The siege finally ended when Nobunaga surrounded the enemy complex and set fire to it, killing tens of thousands. [6] :221–25

He later succeeded in taking their main stronghold at Ishiyama Hongan-ji after an 11-year siege that ended with its surrender. [16]

Battle of Nagashino

One of the strongest rulers in the anti-Nobunaga alliance was Takeda Shingen, in spite of his generally peaceful relationship and a nominal alliance with the Oda clan. In 1572, at the urgings of the shōgun, Shingen decided to make a drive for the capital starting with invading Tokugawa territory. Tied down on the western front, Nobunaga sent lackluster aid to Ieyasu, who suffered defeat at the Battle of Mikatagahara in 1573. However, after the battle, Tokugawa's forces launched night raids and convinced Takeda of an imminent counter-attack, thus saving the vulnerable Tokugawa with the bluff. This would play a pivotal role in Tokugawa's philosophy of strategic patience in his campaigns with Oda Nobunaga. Shortly thereafter, the Takeda forces were neutralized after Shingen died from throat cancer in April 1573. [3] :153–56

Battle of Nagashino in 1575 Nagashino Teppo-Ashigaru.jpg
Battle of Nagashino in 1575

This was a relief for Nobunaga because he could now focus on Yoshiaki, who had openly declared hostility more than once, despite the imperial court's intervention. Nobunaga was able to defeat Yoshiaki's forces and send him into exile, bringing the Ashikaga shogunate to an end in the same year. Also in 1573, Nobunaga successfully destroyed Asakura and Asai, driving them both to suicide. [3] :156 [7] :281,285–286

At the decisive Battle of Nagashino, the combined forces of Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu devastated the Takeda clan with the strategic use of arquebuses. Nobunaga compensated for the arquebus's slow reloading time by arranging the arquebusiers in three lines, firing in rotation. From there, Nobunaga continued his expansion, sending Akechi Mitsuhide to pacify Tanba Province before advancing upon the Mori [7] :287,306

Surrender of Ishiyama Hongan-ji

Japan around 1582. The areas in purple show the areas controlled by the Oda in 1560, and the grey area was the territory Nobunaga controlled at the time of his death in 1582. Azuchimomoyama-japan.png
Japan around 1582. The areas in purple show the areas controlled by the Oda in 1560, and the grey area was the territory Nobunaga controlled at the time of his death in 1582.

In 1574 Nobunaga became Gondainagon and Ukon'etaishō. By 1576 he was given the title of Minister of the Right (Udaijin). [17] The Oda clan's siege of Ishiyama Hongan-ji in Osaka made some progress, but the Mori clan of the Chūgoku region broke the naval blockade and started sending supplies into the strongly fortified complex by sea. As a result, in 1577, Hashiba Hideyoshi was ordered to confront the warrior monks at Negoroji. [7] :288–289 [6] :228

However, Uesugi Kenshin, the rival of Takeda Shingen and Oda, clashed with Oda during the Battle of Tedorigawa. The result was a decisive Uesugi victory. However, Kenshin's sudden death in 1578, ended his movement south. [6] :12–13,228,230 [7] :288

Nobunaga forced the Ishiyama Hongan-ji to surrender in 1580, employed the only retainer (likely equal to a favored ashigaru in status) of African origin, Yasuke in 1581 and destroyed the Takeda clan in 1582. Nobunaga's administration was at its height of power and he was about to launch invasions into Echigo Province and Shikoku.[ citation needed ]

In the 1582 Battle of Tenmokuzan, Takeda Katsuyori committed suicide after his defeat at the hands of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu. [6]

Coup at Honnō-ji and death

Grave of Oda Nobunaga at Mount Koya, Wakayama Prefecture. 20120310-KoyaOdaNobunagaNoHaka.jpg
Grave of Oda Nobunaga at Mount Kōya, Wakayama Prefecture.

In 1582, Nobunaga's former sandal bearer Hashiba Hideyoshi invaded Bitchū Province, laying siege to Takamatsu Castle. The castle was vital to the Mori clan, and losing it would have left the Mori home domain vulnerable. Led by Mōri Terumoto, reinforcements arrived, prompting Hideyoshi to ask for reinforcements from Nobunaga. Nobunaga promptly ordered his leading generals to prepare their armies, the overall expedition to be led by Nobunaga. [12] :241 [7] :307a

Nobunaga left Azuchi Castle for Honnō-ji in Kyoto, where he was to hold a tea ceremony. Hence, he only had 30 pages with him, while his son Nobutada had brought 2000 of his cavalrymen. [12] :243

Death by seppuku

Mitsuhide chose that time to attack. On June 21, 1582, Mitsuhide took a unit of his men and surrounded the Honnō-ji while sending another unit of Akechi troops to assault Myōkaku-ji, initiating a full coup d'état. At Honnō-ji, Nobunaga's small entourage was soon overwhelmed and, as the Akechi troops closed in on the burning temple where Nobunaga had been residing, he decided to commit seppuku in one of the inner rooms. [18] His son Nobutada was then killed. [7] :307–308

The cause of Mitsuhide's "betrayal" is controversial. It has been proposed that Mitsuhide may have heard a rumor that Nobunaga would transfer Mitsuhide's fief to the page, Mōri Ranmaru.


Militarily, Nobunaga changed the way war was fought in Japan. His matchlock armed foot soldiers displaced mounted soldiers armed with bow and sword. He built iron plated warships and imported saltpeter and lead for manufacturing gunpowder and bullets respectively, while also manufacturing artillery. His ashigaru foot soldiers were trained and disciplined for mass movements, which replaced hand-to-hand fighting tactics. They wore distinctive uniforms which fostered esprit de corps. He was ruthless and cruel in battle, pursuing fugitives without compassion. Through wanton slaughter, he became the ruler of 20 provinces. [7] :309–310

After consolidating military power in provinces he came to dominate, starting with Owari and Mino, Nobunaga implemented a plan for economic development. This included the declaration of free markets (rakuichi), the breaking of trade monopolies, and providing for open guilds (rakuza). Nobunaga instituted rakuichi rakuza(楽市楽座) policies as a way to stimulate business and the overall economy through the use of a free market system. [13] These policies abolished and prohibited monopolies and opened once closed and privileged unions, associations and guilds, which he saw as impediments to commerce. Even though these policies provided a major boost to the economy, it was still heavily dependent on daimyōs' support. Copies of his original proclamations can be found in Entoku-ji in the city of Gifu. [13] [7] :300

Nobunaga initiated policies for civil administration, which included currency regulations, construction of roads and bridges. This included setting standards for the road widths and planting trees along roadsides. This was to ease the transport of soldiers and war material in addition to commerce. In general, Nobunaga thought in terms of "unifying factors," in the words of George Sansom. [7] :300–302


Nobunaga watching a sumo tournament Oda Nobunaga sumo.jpg
Nobunaga watching a sumo tournament

Nobunaga initiated a period in Japanese art history known as Fushimi, or the Azuchi-Momoyama period, in reference to the area south of Kyoto. He built extensive gardens and castles which were themselves great works of art. Azuchi Castle included a seven-story Tenshukaku, which included a treasury filled with gold and precious objects. Works of art included paintings on movable screens ( byōbu ), sliding doors ( fusuma ), and walls by Kanō Eitoku. During this time, Nobunaga's tea master Sen no Rikyū established key elements of the Japanese tea ceremony. [7] :380–382 Nobunaga was also famous for the meibutsu-gari policy by which he collected tea ceremony objects with famous poetic or historic lineages.

Additionally, Nobunaga was very interested in European culture which was still very new to Japan. He collected pieces of Western art as well as arms and armor, and he is considered to be among the first Japanese people in recorded history to wear European clothes.[ citation needed ] He also became the patron of the Jesuit missionaries in Japan and supported the establishment of the first Christian church in Kyoto in 1576, [19] although he never converted to Christianity. [20]


The Swallowtail butterfly mon of the Taira is called Ageha-cho (Yang Yu Die ) in Japanese. Ageha-cho.svg
The Swallowtail butterfly mon of the Taira is called Ageha-chō (揚羽蝶) in Japanese.

Depending upon the source, Oda Nobunaga and the entire Oda clan are descendants of either the Fujiwara clan or the Taira clan (specifically, Taira no Shigemori's branch). His lineage can be directly traced to his great-great-grandfather, Oda Hisanaga, who was followed by Oda Toshisada, Oda Nobusada, Oda Nobuhide, and Nobunaga himself.[ citation needed ]

Immediate family

Nobunaga was the eldest legitimate son of Nobuhide, a minor warlord from Owari Province, and Tsuchida Gozen, who was also the mother to three of his brothers (Nobuyuki, Nobukane, and Hidetaka) and two of his sisters (Oinu and Oichi).[ citation needed ]


Nobunaga married Nōhime, the daughter of Saitō Dōsan, as a matter of political strategy; however, she was unable to give birth to children and was considered to be barren. It was his concubines Kitsuno and Lady Saka who bore his children. Kitsuno gave birth to Nobunaga's eldest son, Nobutada. Nobutada's son Hidenobu became ruler of the Oda clan after the deaths of Nobunaga and Nobutada. His son Oda Nobuhide was a Christian, and took the baptismal name Peter; he was adopted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and commissioned chamberlain.[ citation needed ]

Other relatives

One of Nobunaga's younger sisters, Oichi, gave birth to three daughters. These three nieces of Nobunaga became involved with important historical figures. Chacha (also known as Lady Yodo), the eldest, became the mistress of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. O-Hatsu married Kyōgoku Takatsugu. The youngest, O-go, married the son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa Hidetada (the second shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate). O-go's daughter Senhime married her cousin Toyotomi Hideyori, Lady Yodo's son.[ citation needed ]

Nobunaga's nephew was Tsuda Nobuzumi, the son of Nobuyuki. Nobusumi married Akechi Mitsuhide's daughter and was killed after the Honnō-ji coup by Nobunaga's third son, Nobutaka, who suspected him of being involved in the plot.[ citation needed ]

Later descendants

Nobunaga's granddaughter Oyu no Kata, by his son Oda Nobuyoshi, married Tokugawa Tadanaga.

Nobunari Oda, a retired figure skater, claims to be a 17th generation direct descendant of Nobunaga. [21] [22] The ex-monk celebrity Mudō Oda also claims descent from the Sengoku period warlord, but his claims have not been verified.[ citation needed ]


Nobunaga appears frequently within fiction and continues to be portrayed in many different anime, manga, video games, and cinematic films. Many depictions show him as villainous or even demonic in nature, though some portray him in a more positive light. The latter type of works include Akira Kurosawa's film Kagemusha , which portrays Nobunaga as energetic, athletic and respectful towards his enemies. The film Goemon portrays him as a saintly mentor of Ishikawa Goemon. Nobunaga is a central character in Eiji Yoshikawa's historical novel Taiko Ki, where he is a firm but benevolent lord. Nobunaga is also portrayed in a heroic light in some video games such as Kessen III , Ninja Gaiden II , and the Warriors Orochi series.[ citation needed ] While in the anime series "Nobunaga no Shinobi" Nobunaga is portrayed as a kind person as well as having a major sweet tooth.

By contrast, the novel and anime series Yōtōden portrays Nobunaga as a literal demon in addition to a power-mad warlord. In the novel The Samurai's Tale by Erik Christian Haugaard, he is portrayed as an antagonist "known for his merciless cruelty". [23] He is portrayed as evil or megalomaniacal in some anime and manga series including Samurai Deeper Kyo and Flame of Recca . Nobunaga is portrayed as evil, villainous, bloodthirsty, and/or demonic in many video games such as Ninja Master's , Sengoku , Maplestory , Inindo: Way of the Ninja and Atlantica Online , and the video game series Onimusha , Samurai Warriors , Sengoku Basara (literally demonic and heartless) (and its anime adaptation), and Soulcalibur .[ citation needed ]

Nobunaga has been portrayed numerous times in a more neutral or historic framework, especially in the Taiga dramas shown on television in Japan. Oda Nobunaga appears in the manga series Tail of the Moon , Kacchū no Senshi Gamu , and Tsuji Kunio's historical fiction The Signore: Shogun of the Warring States. Historical representations in video games (mostly Western-made strategy titles) include Shogun: Total War , Total War: Shogun 2 , Throne of Darkness , the eponymous Nobunaga's Ambition series, as well as Civilization V [24] and Age of Empires II: The Conquerors . Kamenashi Kazuya of the Japanese pop group KAT-TUN wrote and performed a song titled "1582" which is written from the perspective of Mori Ranmaru during the coup at Honnō temple. [25]

Nobunaga has also been portrayed fictively, such as when the figure of Nobunaga influences a story or inspires a characterization. In James Clavell's novel Shōgun , the character Goroda is a pastiche of Nobunaga. In the film Sengoku Jieitai 1549 , Nobunaga is killed by time-travellers. Nobunaga also appears as a major character in the eroge Sengoku Rance and is a playable character in Pokémon Conquest , with his partner Pokémon being Hydreigon, Rayquaza and Zekrom. [26] In the anime Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox , in Sengoku Collection , and the light novel and anime series The Ambition of Oda Nobuna , he is depicted as a female character. He is the main character of the stage action and anime adaptation of Nobunaga the Fool .[ citation needed ] In Kouta Hirano's Drifters , Nobunaga rescued before the moment of his death and is sent to another world to fight against other historical figures. Therein, he displays equal parts tactical brilliance and gleeful brutality. In the 2014 anime Nobunaga Concerto , and its 2015 film adaptation, he is the subject of a complex plot involving time travel and alternate history.

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