Thursday, 24 September 2015

Everything (?) about Nōhime

A few days ago I stumbled upon a documentary about Templars. The afterwords of the lecturer left a big impression on me: she said that "We have to be modest towards history and grateful towards legends", because history is subject to change as soon as new informations and datas are acquired, and because sometimes the first hint to an interesting fact is because we heard about some weird legend about them that left an impression... I thought that it's a wonderful summary of the "spirit" of the scholar, and I was amused about how this principle applies perfectly to the figure of Nobunaga.

Nōhime as played by Mizuki Arisa in the TV specials dedicated to the wife of Nobunaga(2012)
Nobunaga though, is a pretty famous historical personality, and he can sport a good amount of infos about himself-- There are some equally popular characters that we suppose to know everything about, but as soon as we start to move the dirty water of the legend, we realize that there's very little hiding in that huge dark pool: one of these characters is Nōhime, "The Noble Lady from Mino", the legal wife of Nobunaga.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

"Tenka Fubu": when Good Government becomes a Weapon

The motto that Nobunaga came with after his victory in Mino, "Tenka Fubu" is planetary famous, but sometimes its real meaning comes a bit subdued by its implicitly aggressive tones.
Roughly translated as "Unification by Military Rule", it's usually assumed that Nobunaga considered war and aggression as a political statement, a bit like the Roman Empire, that based on war and territorial annexion his purpose and sustenance.
This is, under obvious aspects, true, but it's simplicistic and kinda idiotic to limit the acumen of Nobunaga's government over war alone.
Truth is, if we pay a little more attention to what Nobunaga's social and urbanistic improvement meant, we could find where the modernity of Nobunaga's mindset really was: the use of politics as a weapon.
One of the first economical policies introduced by Nobunaga is the famous rakuichi rakuza (楽市楽座, lit. "Comfortable Market*, Comfortable Guild"), that allowed free distribution and commerce of goods in the provinces controlled by his autority.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Nobunaga in the Art of Tsujimura Jusaburo

As usual, while conducting random researches on Google, I stumbled upon something worth a short post.

Tsujimura Jusaburo is one of those Japanese artisans whose work can't do anything but leave you breathless, a wonderful, creative mix of tradition and revolution, East and West, all of it topped with a love for the precious detail that couldn't help your eyes getting wet with inspiration.
Tsujimura-sensei was born on 1933. He became a professional dollmaker at the age of 27, but only on 1996 he found a special place in Tokyo, in the Ningyocho (no place would be more appropriate, with such a toponomy!), to open his theatre-museum where he still exhibits his skills as an artesan, performer and theatre artist.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Oda Nobumasa, the "Gary Stu" of Edo

Frequently, when talking about Nobunaga's "Demon feats" with people, I couldn't help but ending to repeat "This is probably some Edo fabrication" at least a thousand times for each word, and I know that when I do my listeners tend to hate me, as if I'm "spoiling" their favourite character from a fanfiction.
Truth is, that much about what we consider "historical facts" of Sengoku Era are pretty much legends or details coming straight from popular fiction of the Edo era. One of these examples are the kabuki plots: everytime you hear about Nobunaga beating Mitsuhide, or making him do humiliating things, keep in mind that that's probably some scene from a play.

You can tell that Edo period did to Sengoku era what the Reinassance did to classic culture and what Humanism did to Reinassance: in case of lack of informations, they made up stuff to fill gaps according to their sensitivities.
It's a bit disturbing to realize that probably history is not that "exact science" that scholars assume it is, after all even the most blatant sources must be interpreted and contextualized by a third party, and all the final results would always be "personal" results.

This long introduction served the purpose to create the right mood to talk about this certain guy, Oda Nobumasa.
I stumbled upon this name during one of my usual researches on Nobunaga, and I was surprised to see him listed as Nobunaga's older son, as I never heard of him.
Both curious and perplexed, I tried to find out more, and I saw that Nobumasa was Nobunaga's illegitimate son and, on top of it-- He's an Edo fabrication.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Nouhime (2012, 2013)

Today I'll tell you about the recent TV Asahi TV special in two episodes dedicated to Nouhime, the wife of Nobunaga.
The director here is Gotou Noriko, that on her Wikipedia page is listed as a scriptwriter, and the "author" of the original story is that same Yamaoka Souhachi of another Nobunaga movie, in fact there are lots of similarities between the two plots, with some scenes that looks as if taken directly from the movie of 1959--
It's always interesting for me to look for movies or tv series dedicated to the women of the Sengoku era, as there is very little information about them, and unfailingly I'm disgruntled to waste my time on the usual stereotypes: Nouhime at a gallop in the woods of Mino, Nouhime practicing archery and duelling with her brothers -defeating them, Nouhime who's the only one who can grasp her husband's way of thinking, telling him what he should do and why he did because she knows better. It doesn't matter if it's a movie about Nouhime, Gō or whoever: to make a female character interesting, she must be characterized like this.
--I could stop the review right here, but I won't, as, despite my harsh words there are some very interesting points that deserve a further analysis.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Kiyosu Conference (2013)

Today I'll review a movie where Nobunaga is barely showed and he leaves a lot to be desidered anyway, but can be considered an interesting watch, as it's focused on the events right after Nobunaga's death and shows a good number of Nobunaga's relatives.
Of course the whole thing is very dramatized so it can't be considered historically accurate, and on top of it it's a comedy movie nonetheless, but it's been a really fun watch and I recommend it to you, in case you're curious to get to see more about characters who are usually pretty much ignored on the other dramas focusing on our Nobunaga.
The director of this sparkling movie, and the author of the novel on which it is based, is Mitani Koki, used to jidaigeki movies as he had the chance to direct the taiga drama "Shinsengumi!" (2004).

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Nobunaga "Il Principe"

Time for some of my random dissertations, today focusing on how similar Nobunaga's policy was compared to the one "idealized" by one of his (almost!) contemporaries from the other side of the world, a certain Niccolò Machiavelli.
The Italy of the Reinassance and the Japan of the Sengoku Era were in similar conditions, even if thing were probably worse in Italy because of the persistent invasions of everyone from the rest of Europe and the Middle East, and the neverending (frequently treacherous) mingling affairs between Signorie, Papacy and foreign nobilities creating even more friction and conflicts.