Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Akechi Mitsuhide - The Man God Hated (2007)

Time for another review of a movie that I managed to watch thanks to my friend Barbara, so the first line of this post is dedicated to her!

Today I'll talk with you about the tanpatsu "Akechi Mitsuhide - The Man God Hated" aired on Fuji TV on 2007, centered around the man who entered the history books because he killed Oda Nobunaga, his very own Lord.
The movie is well paced and entertaining, and despite a good amount of historical inaccuracies and scenes flavoured in a kabuki fashion, it's very fun to watch, even if not extraordinarily fulfilling.
The director is Nishitani Hiroshi, that from what I get from his curriculum is specialized on police procedural movies and comedy TV series, while the script is by Sogo Masashi, who made a name of himself because he took care of the scripts of a good number of anime.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

[comic] Ware Tada Taru O Shiru

Time ago I wrote you about my contribution to the comic anthology "O, Lux Beatissima", a dounjinshi project of Asaki-san, and finally I found a moment to translate it for your viewing pleasure XD
In case you're wondering, the set is the Battle of Okehazama and the story is based on a legend about Eiroku coins that you can read in great details here-- I suggest you to read this article before facing my comiclet x'D !

The comic must be read from right to left, Japanese style.
--And sorry in advance if my English sounds ridiculous!

1According to the Japanese Era calendar scheme, it was year 1560.
2The daimyo that controlled the provinces of Suruga, Totomi and Mikawa (the modern Shizuoka prefecture and part of the Aichi prefecture), one of the contestant for the Shogunate. A fierce enemy of the Oda Clan, Yoshimoto was the arch-enemy of Nobunaga's father, Nobuhide.
3The province controlled by Nobunaga, it's part of the modern Aichi prefecture, the one where the city of Nagoya is located.
4Two strongholds located in modern Odaka township of Midori ward.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Nobunaga's favourites: hawks, archery and horses

As we know, Nobunaga, faithful to his portrait of a "countryman", has aways been depicted as someone who enjoyed outdoor activities, expecially if it could offer a proper contrast to some of his enemies, expecially to Takeda Shingen, who enjoyed poetry and the study of Classics.
The "Shinchokoki" offers a good sample case of Nobunaga's favourite past times, expecially as a youngster: swimming and entertaining himself with never-ending horse riding.

Later on these healthy hobbies would develop in typical past times for the adult bushi, centering around the art of hunting.
If riding horses across his province would proven a crucial point when it came to the art of war, it's interesting to see how, besides getting to know the shape of its territory for military purposes, these "inspections" would later be functional to the reasearch for decent hunting places.
Hunting doesn't feel like the mere fact of killing animals to eat, it develops the vibe of the "acquisition", the "conquest", the need to do something "familiar" in a newly acquired territory as to "mark" that territory as his own: a ride followed by a hunting session rather than a visit to a famous temple to lazy it off was pretty much Nobunaga's standard behaviour after the conquest of a new land.

When it came to hunting, archery was the standard, an activity where Nobunaga excelled and that we know he was quite fond of.
Another favourite "tool" for hunting, though, were Nobunaga's prized hawks, as he was an enthusiastic "collector" of these precious birds of prey, and a famed pratictioner of takagari (鷹狩), the Japanese falconry.

Falconry was imported from Korea around the IV century, and it became an immediate status symbol for the Imperial Court.
It later spread to the kuge class of warriors, turning into the expensive and popular past time of Nobunaga's times.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Nagoya Omotenashi Busho-tai @ EXPO 2015

Yesterday was the last day of the Festival of Aichi and Nagoya in Milan (あいち・なごやフェア in ミラノ), an event of the Japanese Pavillion during Expo 2015.
Among various shows to promote the culture and treasures of Aichi prefecture, was the exhibition of the Nagoya Omotenashi Busho-tai (名古屋おもてなし武将隊), the "Promotional Army" of Nagoya featuring the most prominent historical figures of the prefecture, among which was our favourite, Nobunaga!
I was lucky enough to attend the event with a friend, and so are a few pictures of the Devil King & Co.!

The above pictures were taken by and with my friend Matteo, who graciously allowed me to share them with you ^^

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Nobunaga's Unexpected Allies pt.II: Pirates, Ikko Ikki and Warrior Monks

--Sorry for the recent lack of updates, guys! For this post I decided to resume the talk about those unexpected allies that Nobunaga got to gather around himself in peculiar times of his life, expecially those that can be considered as his mortal enemies and focus their "good name" on it.

The first "misfit" of this historical adventure is the figure of the "pirate".
Not so different from the image of the Western corsair, Japanese pirates were pretty much warriors who preferred to attack from the coast, usually profiting of the convenient opening on the sea of their hometowns.
Talking about "pirates" is then just an improper way of talking about naval forces, and when talking about a powerful navy, the reference by default is one of the arch-enemy of Nobunaga, the Mouri clan of Aki.
The Mouri became the impressive powerhouse that they were because of their massive naval force. Its bulk was composed by the Murakami clan, that in 1576 contributed to the defeat of the Oda during the first Battle of Kizukawaguchi.
Another famous "pirate" who gave Nobunaga some headaches was Ohama Kagetaka, seated in Shima Province, allied with both the Takeda and the Uesugi and related to the Kitabake clan of Ise, the very clan that Nobunaga bent to his will on 1569, imposing Nobukatsu as its adopted son-- From these premises you may feel that pirates were pretty much Nobunaga's enemy, expecially if you consider the design on certain videogames when it comes to the Mouri clan.
In reality, Nobunaga could boast some resourceful "pirate ally" in the figure of Kuki Yoshitaka too.
Yoshitaka allied with Nobunaga on 1574, providing naval support during the Siege of Nagashima, where Nobunaga could finally defeat the last rebels of his very own Owari province.
He gave his support again on the above mentioned first Battle of Kizukawaguchi, where the Murakami defeated his fleet by using lighted arrows to set the ships on fire. It's from this defeat and the unreasonable request of Nobunaga to come up with a ship that could resist fire attacks that Yoshitaka is usually credited with the invention of the "iron ships" (tekkousen), ships constructed on an unflammable iron structure that would later develop in the atakebune of the Invasion of Korea, which were covered in metal plates.
Thanks to this intuition, the fleet of Yoshitaka would defeat the naval force of the Mouri, giving a huge blow to the resistance of the Ishiyama Honganji.

Speaking of Nagashima and the Ishiyama Honganji, we enter the second "misfits" of this peculiar circle of allies of Nobunaga, the infamous Ikko Ikki.
Literally, ikko ikki means "One Opposition, One Riot" and were sort of "confederates" composed of warrior monks, commoners and ji-samurai, all grouped together to protect their interests and independence from the strong powers of the daimyo. From Nobunaga's perspective, just "rebels" and a huge pain in the ass.
He spent 4 years to defeat the Ikko Ikki of Nagashima, and over 10 when it came to the Ishiyama Honganji.
Beside them, another terrible bother for Nobunaga were the Ikko Ikki from Saika, the so-called Saika Ikki, allies of the Ishiyama Honganji and the Mouri; the Saika Ikki were quite bothering expecially because they were leaders when it came to the use of firearms.
Their leader was the famous Saika Magoichi, another arch-enemy of Nobunaga, a character surrounded by so much mystery to paint him almost as some kind of ninja in some variations of the story.
Ironically, one of first Ikko Ikki to collaborate with Nobunaga starting 1577 would come exactly from that oh-so-incorruptible Saika team.
To get the idea, we have to understand how the Saika Ikko was organized: located in Ota, the area, developed around the Kinokawa river and influenced by the Negoro-ji, was composed of five different groups, roughly based around five castles of the area. This organization was called the Saika Gorakami (雑賀五緘衆), the "Five Linkage of Saika".
Saika Magoichi was the leader of one of them, the Jikkago (十ヶ郷), and his rival, a certain Tsuchibashi Heiji, was the leader of Saika-no-Sho (雑賀荘).
The other three groups, shockingly, on 1577, decided to join Nobunaga's cause, providing help to invade the area.
Ota Gyuichi in his Shinchokoki reports that thanks to them "acting as their guides in the mountains, Sakuma Uemon, Hashiba Chikuzen, Araki Settsu-no-kami, Bessho Kosaburo, Bessho Magoemon and Hori Kyuutaro struck deep into Saika and visited even the remote borderlands of the territory with fire and destruction".
On the same year, "fearing the devastation of the entire province", seven leaders of the Saika Ikki, included Magoichi and Heiji, surrended to Nobunaga, who pardoned them, pacificating the area.

This story is usually omitted when it comes to Saika Magoichi, everywhere portrayed as the epitome of freedom and rebellion against a devilish Nobunaga.
Another story that you'd rarely hear is how Magoichi asked for Nobunaga's help against Heiji on 1582 to eradicate his influence over the area: the leader of the Tsuchibashi clan was thus erased, and his son, part of the Negoro-ji, was forced to diminish his power within the organization.

We mentioned the Negoro-ji a few times already, so you may have guessed from where the third "misfits", the Warrior Monks (souhei, 僧兵) who supported Nobunaga, came.
In fact, when the "Three Linkage of Saika" decided to give their support to Nobunaga on 1577, even a certain Sugi-no-bo from Negoro-ji (根来寺の杉の坊) was there.
But, again, let's go in order.
The Negoro-ji was another Buddhist temple filled with fierce and proud Warrior Monks, who just like their laic counterpart were quite skilled with firearms, expecially when it came to guns of Tanegashima manifacture.
The "leader" of this revolution is to find in the figure of Tsuda Kenmotsu (Sanchou), who on 1543 went to Tanegashima himself to learn about the new weapon imported by the Westerners; he would develop the Tsuda-ryu school of gunnery, which secrets would be inherited by his second son, Tsuda Shozan, together with the leadership of the above mentioned Sugi-no-bo which is nothing else but a rectory within the precints of the Negoro-ji.
Warrior Monks from there would follow the Ikko Ikki to support Nobunaga's men in their raids. This kind of behaviour is not to judge too harshly, in fact both Ikko Ikki and Warrior Monks, expecially when so specialized in warfare, would easily act as mercenaries if required and profitable.
It's ironic to see the son allying with his father's arch-enemy, but it must be noted that Negoro-ji never bothered Nobunaga ever again after the pacification of the area, and viceversa.
Was it because of foresight on Shozan's part or the fear inspired by the still vivid scene of the burning of Mount Hiei on 1571..?

Whatever the case, it sure came in handy here.