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Oda Nobunaga – Samurai Warrior

oda nobunaga samurai warrior

In the late Sengoku period, the attempted unification of japan by Oda Nobunaga, the great Daimyo of Japan In the late 16th century.

He was given birth to on the 23rd of June 1534, his birth place was in the Owari. Kippōshi was the name given to him as a child. Being the second son to his father Oda Nobuhide, who owned properties and land in Owari Province and was a deputy shugo (military governor). Nagoya Castle was where Oda Nobunaga was born.

All through his formative years his awkward behaviour and actions  got him the name Owari no Ōutsuke which means the big fool, he always hung out with his peers around where he lived, with no care of his societal rank.

After firearms were introduced into japan, tanegashima firearms were his most preferred weapon.

Owari Province Unification

After the unexpected death of his father in 1551, people said Oda Nobunaga acted out by throwing the incense used for the ceremony of his father’s burial.

This action only proved to the retainers that he was lacking in discipline and maturity, this drove them to favour his brother Nobuyuki , who was well-mannered and soft-spoken.

Hirate Masahide,who was a mentor to him was shamed by his behaviour,the  seppuku was performed by him and this affected Nobunaga greatly and a temple was built in his honour.

Hirate Masahide

Hirate Masahide Temple

Succession dispute

The Oda clan has many factions, the rightful heir and legitimate successor was Nobunaga. It was still controlled by Shiba Yoshimune who was also the shugo deputy, he was among those who opposed Nobunaga’s rule, he was later murdered by Nobutomo.

Nobunaga convinced Oda Nobumitsu  into an alliance by supporting him and he did. with the help of Nobumitsu, he killed Nobutomo, where Nobunaga took up residency over the years. Nobunaga joined Imagawa clan and the Kira clan in alliance, the clans shared the same shugo.

This alliance helped stop the attack of Owari’s borders. Taking advantage of the position of Shiba Yoshikane, who was Yoshimune’s son and the legitimate heir to shugo. In 1556, Yoshitatsu became the new master of Mino.

The death of Nobuyuki

Nobuyuki gained the support and help from Hayashi Hidesada and Shibata Katsuie to fight against Nobunaga. Although their conspiration was a fail because they were defeated in battle, although through the intervention of their birth mother who asked for their pardon, they were set free.

After a short time word got out that Nobuyuki was planning another conspiracy against Nobunaga, Shibata Katsuie assassinated him, He did this by faking an illness.

In the Siege of Terabe,Suzuki Shigeteru was protected by Nobunaga. In 1558 and by 1559, Nobunaga killed all opposition. He used Shiba Yoshikane in order to make peace with daimyo but it was reported that Yoshikane was secretly talking with the Imagawa and Kira clans, for the restoration of Shiba clan. when Nobunaga found out he discharged him and cancelled all alliances with Shiba clan’s name.

Okehazama battle

battle of Okehazama

Imagawa Yoshimoto marched with his army of fourty thousand men to Kyoto in the guise of helping Ashikaga shogunate who was sick. Matsudaira clan  were also in alliance with Yoshimoto’s forces. The Oda clan had an army of only two thousand to three thousand men.

Despite the advice from his advisers he launched an attack. After his scouts returned with news that Yoshimoto and his men were at Dengaku-hazama. Nobunaga took advantage of this information and planned a surprise attack.

He planted false troops using straws and helmets with an array of flags in order to fool his enemies to believing he had a large army. While Yoshimoto celebrated their victory, his army crept up behind Yoshimoto’s camp. There was a great thunderstorm that night,

Nobunaga troops were deployed by him when the rain and storm ceased his troops charged and the fight started. Unknowing to Yoshimoto who thought that his men are fighting amongst themselves, it was until two samurai attacked him, one with a spear and the other with a sword, he died with his head cut off.

Having won the battle, Nobunaga gained control of Matsudaira clan, this lead to an alliance between the two clans which was unexpected since both clans has been enemies for decades. Alliance was formed through marriage of Shingen’s son and his daughter. Also Azai Nagamasa of Ōmi Province married Nobunaga  sister .

Nobunaga first noticed the sandal-bearer’s  talent, The sandal-bearer was Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Inabayama Castle Siege

The year 1561 was marked with the sudden death of Saitō Yoshitatsu in Mino. He was succeeded by his son, Saitō Tatsuoki. Compared to his grandfather and his father, Tatsuoki was a less military strategist and effective ruler.

zhou dynasty

Due to this, in the year 1561 Nobunaga moved to the Komaki Castle in Mino where he started his campaign at the Battle of Moribe. the Saitō clan was significantly weakened when Nobunaga successfully convinced the Saitō retainers to leave their foolish and incompetent master. Tatsuoki was captured in the Inabayama Castle after a final attack in 1567, where he was sent into exile.

The name of the castle and other surrounding town was changed to Gifu and thus was done by Nobunaga after he took possession of the castle. Today, the remains of Nobunaga’s residence can be found in Gifu Park.

The Zhou dynasty started, when it was named after the legendary Mount Qi in China. It was after Nobunaga’s plan of conquering the whole of Japan was revealed. He had his own popular seal that read Tenka Fubu, this means “Rule the Empire by Force” or “All the world by force of arms”.

Campaign in Kyoto

In the year 1568, Nobunaga was approached with an opportunity of starting a campaign toward Kyoto by Ashikaga Yoshiaki in Gifu. Yoshiaki was the brother of Yoshiteru, the thirteenth shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate who was murdered, Yoshiaki wanted to avenge his brother’s death.

He took the opportunity to gaining entry to Kyoto by installing the new shogun to be Yoshiaki. The only obstacle was the Rokkaku clan found in southern Ōmi Province.

This clan was led by Rokkaku Yoshikata and they refused to see Yoshiaki as shogun and were prepared for battle. Nobunaga launched an attack on the clan and took over their castles.

In the shortest time possible, he reached Kyoto and drove the Miyoshi clan from the city. After this, Yoshiaki became the 15th shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate.

the post of Kanrei (Shogunal deputy) was offered to Nobunaga but he refused and soon he restricted the authority of the shogun. He also made it clear that he was using Yoshiaki a façade for his future conquests. The idea being a puppet did not sound pleasing to Yoshiaki at all, so he secretly formed an anti-Nobunaga alliance with various daimyo.

Battle of Anegawa

Battle of Anegawa

Due to the increasing power of the Oda clan, it brought about the disdain of the Asakura clan. Ashikaga Yoshiaki was protected by the Asakura Yoshikage. But Asakura Yoshikage was not interested in moving toward Kyoto.

The alliance that had lasted for generations with Oda to honor the Azai-Asakura alliance was broken by Azai Nagamasa to whom Oichi was married. This occurred when he attacked the Asakura clan’s domain.

The Oda clan was attacked by the powerful anti-Nobunaga alliance with the aid of the Ikko rebels. Tokugawa Ieyasu joined forces with Nobunaga to defeat the Asakura and Azai clans at the Battle of Anegawa.

Tendai school with its warrior monks, were involved with the anti-Nobunaga group. This was a big deal for Nobunaga because the monastery was very near to his power base. In Oct. 1571, Nobunaga fought against the Enryaku-ji, killing women, monks, children and laymen in the process. all the mountainside bled and it was among the horrifying terror of all time.

Siege of Nagashima and Ishiyama Hongan-ji

Nobunaga faced lousses to the Ikkō-ikki resistance during the siege of Nagashima. After the siege, Nobunaga set the enemy complex ablaze and tens of thousands lost their lives in the siege.

After an 11-year siege, he succeeded in taking over the Ishiyama Hongan-ji after its surrender.

Battle of Nagashino

Takeda Shingen was the most powerful rulers in the anti-Nobunaga alliance. Despite, his strong relationship and nominal alliance with the Oda clan. He decided to go after the capital by invading the Tokugawa territory, in the year 1572. He did so at the urgings of the shogun.

A lackluster aid was sent to Ieyasu by Nobunaga, in 1573 Ieyasu suffered defeat at the Battle of Mikatagahara. When the battle was over Tokugawa’s forces sent night raids and warned Takeda of the soon coming counter-attack. This bluff ended up saving the vulnerable Tokugawa and serve as a vital key in his belief of strategic patience in his campaigns.

In April 1573, Shingen died from a shot to the head his death caused the Takeda forces to be neutralized.

Nobunaga was reliefed after this occurance because he could focus on Yoshiaki, who had more than once declared hostility towards him even after the imperial court’s intervened. In later years, Yoshiaki’s forces was defeated by Nobunaga and he also brought exile to the Ashikaga shogunate that same year.

takeda clan

The Asakura and Azai clans were successfully destroyed in 1573, by Nobunaga. This lead Azai Nagamasa to send Oichi back to Nobunaga. The year 1574 marked Nagashima’s destruction, leaving the Takeda clan as the only only threat to Nobunaga. Takeda Katsuyori was the current leader of the Takeda clan.

The combined forces of Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu led to the devastated deafeat of the Takeda clan with the strategic use of arquebuses at the Battle of Nagashino. By arranging the arquebusiers in 3 lines, Nobunaga made up for the weapon’s slow reloading time.

As each line fired , they ducked to reload as the next line fired and vice versa. the Takeda cavalry armor was pierced in by the bullets, then they were killed by the incoming fire. Nobunaga popularity and power grew the more as he sent Akechi Mitsuhide, Maeda Toshiie and Shibata Katsuie to Tamba Province and the north respectively.

Ishiyama Hongan-ji‘s Surrender

The title of the court noble known as kuge was given to Nobunaga in 1574. The third highest position in the Imperial court’s known as Udaijin was also given to him in 1577. The picture shows the territory, the area coloured in purple was controlled by the Oda in 1560, and the grey area was controlled by Nobunaga in 1582.

In 1577, Hashiba Hideyoshi on orders,  confronted the Mori clan in order to expand the west. There was some progress by Ishiyama Hongan-ji the siege in Osaka, but the naval blockade was broken and supplies were distributed into the strongly fortified complex on the sea by the Mori clan.

Uesugi Kenshin referred Takeda Shingen as the the greatest general of his time, ever since the mishap in the second anti-Oda alliance. The final Uesugi victory was as a result of his conquest of the neighboring forces, both sides fought during the Battle of Tedorigawa. The preparations to march on Kyoto was made around this time by the Uesugi forces.

After his defeat, Nobunaga’s expansion in Etchū, Kaga and Noto Province area . after the battle, Kenshin prepared to mobilise his armies again but died from a possible cerebral hemorrhage before the battle could occur. Kenshin’s death caused much confusion among his successors and this lead Nobunaga to start his campaign again on the area.

in 1580, Ishiyama Hongan-ji was forced to surrender by Nobunaga and in 1582, the Takeda clan was destroyed and his administration was at its peak. Nobunaga had his eyes on the Echigo Province and Shikoku province and he was about to invade their territory.

Coup at Honnō-ji and death

Hashiba Hideyoshi who was Nobunaga’s former sandal bearer, invaded Bitchū Province In 1582 by laying siege to the Castle of Takamatsu. Mōri Terumoto led his troop, both sides stopped as reinforcements was delivered at Takamatsu Castle, Hideyoshi asked Nobunaga for reinforcements. Mori clan valued the castle and losing it would make Mori home domain vulnerable.

Most are of the view that he was disliked and envied by other officials for a speedy rise to his current position under Oda Nobunaga from being a lowly footman. Some believed that he did not need the reinforcements, but he still asked for them. For series of reasons like to humble himself in front of other Oda vassals and to give the credit to Nobunaga for taking Takamatsu.

However, Nobunaga ordered Niwa Nagahide to assist Hideyoshi in conquering Akechi Mitsuhide and Shikoku. On his way to Chūgoku region, he stayed at Honnō-ji, a temple in Kyoto while his son named Nobutada went to Myōkaku-ji, which was also a temple. He was guarded by only a few dozen bodyguards and personal servants. He never expected any attack in the middle of his firmly-controlled territories

coupe at honno-ji

The Honno-ji temple

In1582, he carefully planned his attack, he initiated a full coup d’état as he took  troops to murder Myōkaku-ji, while a unit of his men and surrounded the Honnō-ji. As his troops closed in on the temple where Nobunaga was residing, Nobunaga’s small entourage was soon overwhelmed.

Nobutada son died in the fighting before the temple where he was staying at Honnō-ji, while he did the seppuku in one of the inner rooms and only his young page who was still in his teens, Mori Ranmaru, remained at his master’s side.

during the Edo period, Ranmaru’s loyalty and devotion to his lord were widely known and praised. Nobunaga was killed as he sought a moment of peace and this led to Ranmaru committing sucide.

There are controversial views for the reason of Mitsuhide’s “betrayal”.many believe that Mitsuhide betrayal was caused by a rumor that Nobunaga would give his fief to Mori Ranmaru the page, with whom Nobunaga is alleged to have been in a ritualized homosexual relationship, a form of patronage, known as shudō.

Others believe it was because of jealousy for  Hashiba Hideyoshi, and the favours he receives from Nobunaga, others believe it was a pay back for all the insults and harsh treatment he received from Nobunaga.

Another motive is for revenge as Akechi Mitsuhide’s mother/ aunt was murdered because Nobunaga backed out from a peace treaty to which he had already agreed on.

The Yakami Castle was captured by Nobunaga from Hatano. Nobunaga promisied him peace terms in 1579. although Nobunaga betrayed the peace agreement and had Hideharu executed. Many believe that this act was not acceptable to the Hatano family and many of his retainers killed Mitsuhide’s mother/aunt.

Mitsuhide received several public insults from Nobunaga, so much that even some Western observers noticed this. The fact still remains, that the actual motive for his attack at Honnō-ji is still a mystry. Mitsuhide died in the battle, just barely eleven days after the coup at Honnō temple and Hashiba Hideyoshi deafeated his army and took over Nobunaga’s legacy.

He later became known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, half of the provinces in Japan was controlled by him at the time of Nobunaga’s death especially the ones in the Kyoto region.


Nobunaga always supported arts for which he always had an interest, as he amassed a great amount of wealth by conquering Japan, he used arts to display of his prestige and power. extensive gardens and castles were built under his direction, even the greatest castle in the history of Japan known as the Azuchi Castle on the shores of Lake Biwawas commissioned by him.

The castle is made from gold and decorated with walls, sliding door, standing screen and statues on the outside with several ceiling paintings made by his subject Kanō Eitoku. At this time, Sen no Rikyū who was Nobunaga’s subject and tea master established the Japanese tea ceremony which he popularized by using it as a way to talk business and politics.

In the early Edo period, the modern beginnings of kabuki started and later developed fully.