Since the special occasion, it was decorated with Gifu's Golden Statue of Nobunaga.
It was quite the task to visit the four locations in just two days, but this is how much time I had and I made sure to visit them in chronological order considering Nobunaga's conquests.
So, the first stop was Kiyosu Castle (清洲城):
After the death of Nobunaga's father, Nobuhide, the entire clan was dragged into an inner war for succession: besides his uncle, Nobunaga had to kill his younger brother and defeat part of his own vassals before claiming his legitimate role as Nobuhide's successor.
On 1560, when the forces of Suruga led by Yoshimoto Imagawa tried to cross the borders of Owari to reach Kyoto, Nobunaga led his men in the desperate surprise attack named The Battle of Okehazama: the powerful Yoshimoto met his death right there. This turned Nobunaga into a proper daimyo and a contendant for shogunate.
This attack started first hours in the morning from Kiyosu Castle, and this is where Nobunaga is said dancing his "Atsumori".
Komakiyama Castle (小牧山城):
Yoshitatsu's father, Dosan, was Nobunaga's father-in-law. Nobunaga married Nouhime, Dosan's wife, under his vassal Masahide Hirate's suggestion as an attempt to stop the conflict between Owari and Mino, destined to torn out both armies.
It's said that Dosan admired Nobunaga, and this led to peaceful relationships between the two clans.
Unfortunately inner turmoil was unavoidable during those times, and Yoshitatsu killed his own father and entitled himself head of the Saito clan.
Nobunaga, out of respect of his father-in-law and because it looked like a good chance to put his hands on the land that his father desperately tried to conquer for so long, thus turned into Yoshitatsu's worst nightmare.
Since Mino's province was difficult to deal with because of its mountainous landscape, Nobunaga built Komaki castle on a hill, so to connect to Inabayama castle, Yoshitatsu's residence.
It's said that Nobunaga brought Kitsuno here with him, his favourite concubine; unfortunately she died of childbirth troubles on 1566 right here.
Nobunaga's attack on Mino would succeed on 1567.
Gifu Castle (岐阜城)
Gifu is extremely important as a turning point of Nobunaga's life as a warlord and politician; here he defined the rakuichi rakuza policies, that freed local merchants from strict rules and allowed flourishing city markets; he abolished custom points in his lands; he applied the "Tenka Fubu" ideal, "One Land Under Military Rule", that contributed to a first quick unification of Japan, and, well, he finally started to enjoy life: during his trips to Kyoto he would start to collect ceramics, swords and spread the art of tea ceremony-- This social vivacity contributed to make of Gifu an "ideal city" which model Nobunaga wished to import all around Japan.
Azuchi Castle (安土城)
On there he would start his pet project, the amazing Azuchi Castle, symbol of Nobunaga's ambitions and visions of the future: the place was original and bizzare in his magnificient decorations, using gold, precious Chinese lacquer and colourful tones.
He would make his son Nobutada head of the Oda Clan, while he would take care of political matters and enjoy his life there.
It took three long years, but finally Azuchi Castle was completed on 1579, and it instantly became an attraction of the surrounding area due to its luxury.
Unfortunately, it wouldn't last long: it was destroyed by a fire after Nobunaga's death on 1582, due to panic in the area.
Nothing is left but reconstructions: the most impressive pertains the donjon, the main tower of the castle, preserved in the Nobunaga no Yakata (信長の館) museum in Azuchi.
I just wanted to take my stamp and keep the whole thing as a souvenir, but one of the guys of the historical site of the Azuchi ruins' entrance noticed my completed pamphlet, presented me a memorial pen and forced me to enter the contest so to win a selection of the "Tenka"'s delicacies... I wonder if they'll ship to Italy (well, the guy looked positive about it) XD !