Friday, 11 April 2014

Nobunaga the Tourist

What's the point of unifying the country is you can't walk around it freely and visit its wonderful spots to enrich your soul?
It's probably a question that rose in Nobunaga's mind after he befriended the shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki in 1568 and entered in touch with the Imperial court and the merchants of Sakai and Osaka.

Nobunaga remained a warrior through the most of his life, and if in the Chronicles of Lord Nobunaga there are many reports about various field trips and excursions, those were mostly for military purposes, studies of the terrain frequently sprinkled by energic hunt sessions or horseback rides.

We had a first attempt at what looked like a "touristic deed" in 1572, during the fortification of Mount Toragoze, part of the preparations that led to the siege of Odani castle and the fall of the Azai and the Asakura.
As the massive job came to a conclusion, Nobunaga and his generals stopped to savour the view of the mountains, and even if their pride was still directed to the wonderful engineering work, the passage of the Chronicles showed an unusual lyrical tone:
"It was difficult to find words to describe the beautiful scenery stretching before one's eye in every direction, or to describe how well Nobunaga had constructed his sturdy castle."
The Chronicles of Lord Nobunaga, Ota Gyuuchi - as translated by JSA Elisonas, JP Lamers, p.174

Ota took also his time to pinpoint the various places of interestes that one could enjoy from the top of the mountain: the lake Biwa, the mountaintops of Hiei and Hachiouji, and the Ishiyama temple, one of the Thirty-three Pilgrimage Sites of the Western Provinces.
It's worth noting that this same spot is now part of a touristic hiking track where visitors can imagine the flavour of the siege. You can find informations on this website.

Another interesting bit of tourism happened in 1575, after Nobunaga managed to seize the provinces of Kaga and Echizen.
It's mentioned that on the 12th day of the 10th month, on the way to Kyoto, he took his time to inspect some works of reconstruction on the Seta bridge that started a few months earlier, "for the sake of the realm and out of compassion for the travellers coming and going" (p.232).
Ota reported his impressions: "The bridge was indeed something stupendous, and all were amazed" (p.241).
Nobunaga visited again this important spot, part of the Eight Views of Omi: in 1579, when he lodged in a nearby teahouse.

On the same period, during his stay in Kyoto he profitted to visit the beautiful complex of Kiyomizudera.
This temple, founded in the early Heian period, is now one of the Thirty-three Kannon Pilgrimage of Chugoku.

Taking glimps of touristic spots while on the battlefield will become more frequent from now on.

In 1579, while busy on the Itami front in Settsu province, he found the time to go hawking frequently, and he enjoyed a view of the Minoo waterfall, a popular sightseeing spot even now, on the last day of the Third Month.

In 1580, after he got rid of the Honganji, on his way from Kyoto to Osaka he stopped to view the Uji bridge, profitting to proceed by boat from there to Osaka.
This famous bridge was built in 646 and appeared in various works of art and literature, including the Genji monogatari and Kokinshû.
It's been also the scene of battles (at least three have been recorded) because if its important strategic spot.

But it's in 1581 that Nobunaga staged his first properly called "tour" of a province, profitting of a pacificated land of Iga by the hands of his son Nobukatsu, to discover the beauties of this mysterious land.
Accompanied by his son Nobutada and his nephew Nobusumi, he started with a tour of Mount Hando and the Handoji, a temple affiliated with the Tendai sect of Buddhism.
Then he proceeded from Ichinomiya to Mount Kunimi (probably the modern mount Nangu, nicknamed "The Little Mount Fuji") to view the landscape, where Takigawa Sakon and Niwa Gorozaemon prepared some accomodations for his stay.
The tour ended with an inspection of the headquarters of his son Nobukatsu and his generals Tsutsui Junkei and Niwa Gorozaemon, ending his tour to a place called Obata before heading back to Azuchi via Ichinomiya.

This was just a first rehearsal for what would be the most intense tour of Nobunaga, the one in Kai, Suruga and Totomi provinces after the definitive defeat of the Takeda clan.
The tour started on the 2nd of the Fourth month, and ended on the 21st of the same month.
Nobunaga was entertained along the way by Ieyasu, and many other daimyo made an appearance here and there, bringing gifts or taking care of the accomodations.
In this extremely long report, Ota made sure to record the details of Nobunaga's visits, and how Ieyasu answered and explained facts and curiousities about the places to Nobunaga, who showed great interest in everything.

The tour started from Daigahara, from where Nobunaga had the delight to see Mount Fuji from the first time, accompanied by his retainers Niwa Gorozaemon, Hori Kyutaro and Taga Shinzaemon.
Ota marked like this the first wondrous impressions on his Chronicle: "Mount Fuji, there was no mistaking it, covered with a dazzling blanket of snow! Stunned by its truly wondrous, fascinating form, all gazed at the mountain in amazement." (p.449)
After this, Nobunaga proceeded to see the burn-out ruins of Takeda Katsuyori's Sunpu castle and then made his way to Kofu to see the residence of Shingen, temporary reconstructed by Nobutada to please him.
After dealing with some issues, he left Kofu to see Fuefuki river, settling to Ubaguchi, where he was amazed by Ieyasu's hospitality.
He went on, touring the mountains of the province, sprinkled with teahouses set up by Ieyasu per time.
As he got closer to the "extraordinary and glorious mountain which was the Fuji, Nobunaga took his time to visit Hitoana cave and the Shiraito waterfalls.
Nobunaga took rest at the Omiya shrine grounds (recognized as the modern Fujisan Hongu Sengen shinto shrine, located in Miya town), to leave the day after for Kanbara, after crossing the Fuji river.

Here he enquired about some popular spots there, the Fukiage no Matsu, a beach where the young Minamoto no Yoshitsune was abandoned and buried, Ropponmatsu, the pine grove where his lover Joruri was buried, and the shinto shrine of Wakamiya, where the famous poet Yamabe no Akahito composed the waka about the loftiness of Mount Fuji.

From this point Nobunaga followed the Tokaido west.
He "wet his sleeves" (p.456) in the waves of Kanbara seaside and he passed Kiyomigaseki where he got a clear view of the shoreline and the foaming sea.
From there he got a view of Miho no Matsubara and Hagoromo no Matsu, places made famous by the No play Hagoromo.
He rested at Eijiri castle, and the day after, after being entertained by a wonderful Ieyasu, he visited some of the forts that Katsuyori left behind, then made his way to Utsunoya, famous for being mentioned in the Ise Monogatari.
He came upon another site, The Bridge of Falsehood, made famous by a poem of the time about belated filial piety.
He spent the night at Tanaka castle, then departed the day after to continue the tour.

He had the chance to try some "jasmine-coloured dried rice cakes" called Seto dyed rice (p.458).

On horseback, he checked on Sayo no Nakayama, another spot celebrated by classic poetry.
Nobunaga kept his pace, and he got impressed by a bridge constructed by the vassals of Ieyasu to let him cross by horseback the vigorous Tenryu river.
On the 17th Ieyasu prepared a "barge of state" and various ships to let Nobunaga and his entourage follow the Imagire route by waters.
From there Nobunaga spotted the Hamana bridge, celebrated in the Heike Monogatari. He was entertained about its story and others by a vassal of Ieyasu, a certain Watanabe Yaichiro, whose outstanding storytelling was rewarded by Nobunaga with gold and words of praise.
Nobunaga and his entourage were incredibly impressed by Ieyasu's organizative skills: he provived spendid teahouses all along their way and even fixed bridges and roads for their tour on horseback.
As Ota wrote, "to sum up, Nobunaga left people in awe along every road he took, and mere words cannot express the measure of his glory; but words also fail to describe the joy he felt at what Ieyasu did for him." (p.460)

On the 18th Nobunaga reached Yoshida river by horse, and later he got entertained by Ieyasu who gathered local delicacies for him to try.
They reached the Pure Land sect buddhist temple of Hozoji, where Nobunaga was greeted and welcomed by the whole corpus of monks there, even young pupils who yet had to get their tonsure, and Ieyasu set another teahouse.
From there Nobunaga reached Chiryu, the last Tokaido stop for this account and spent the night there, welcomed by a local daimyo. From where he moved to Kiyosu and Gifu, had another round of meals, teas and entertainment, after which he finally reached Azuchi, concluding his campaign and tour.

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