Oda Nobunaga in a 16th-century portrait
June 23, 1534|
Nagoya Castle, Owari Province
June 21, 1582
Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長 , June 23, 1534 – June 21, 1582) was a powerful samurai daimyo and warlord of Japan in the late 16th century who initiated the unification of Japan near the end of the Warring States period. He lived a life of continuous military conquest, eventually conquering a third of Japan before his death in a 1582 coup. His successors were Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a loyal Oda supporter who would become the first man to unify all of Japan and was thus the first ruler of the whole country since the Ōnin War, and later Tokugawa Ieyasu, who would consolidate his rule under a shogunate, which ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu
- 3 Policies
- 4 Culture
- 5 Legacy
- 6 Family
- 7 In popular culture
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Oda Nobunaga was born on June 23, 1534, in the Owari domain, and was given the childhood name of Kippōshi (吉法師). He was the second son of Oda Nobuhide, a deputy shugo (military governor) with land holdings in Owari Province. He is said to have been born in Nagoya Castle, although this is subject to debate. Through his childhood and early teenage years, he was well known for his bizarre behavior and received the name of Owari no Ōutsuke (尾張の大うつけ, The Fool of Owari). He was known to run around with other youths from the area, without any regard to his own rank in society. With the introduction of firearms into Japan, though, he became known for his fondness of tanegashima firearms.
Unification of Owari Province
In 1551, Oda Nobuhide died unexpectedly. Nobunaga was said to have acted outrageously during his funeral, throwing ceremonial incense at the altar. This convinced many Oda retainers of Nobunaga's mediocrity and lack of discipline. Alienated, they then began to side with his soft-spoken and well-mannered brother, Nobuyuki. Hirate Masahide, a valuable mentor and retainer to Nobunaga, was ashamed by Nobunaga's behavior and performed seppuku. This had a huge effect on Nobunaga, who later built a temple to honor Masahide.
Though Nobunaga was Nobuhide's legitimate successor, the Oda clan was divided into many factions, and the clan was technically under the control of Owari's shugo, Shiba Yoshimune. Oda Nobutomo, the deceased Nobuhide's brother and deputy to the shugo, used the weak Yoshimune as his puppet and challenged Nobunaga's place as Owari's new ruler. Nobutomo murdered Yoshimune when it was discovered that he supported and attempted to aid Nobunaga.
Nobunaga persuaded Oda Nobumitsu, a younger brother of Nobuhide, to join his side and, with Nobumitsu's help, slew Nobutomo in Imagawa clan of Suruga Province and the Kira clan of Mikawa Province, as both clans had the same shugo and would have no excuse to decline. This also ensured that the Imagawa clan would have to stop attacking Owari's borders.
Though Nobuyuki and his supporters were still at large, Nobunaga brought an army to Mino Province to aid Saitō Dōsan after Dōsan's son, Saitō Yoshitatsu, turned against him. The campaign failed, as Dōsan was killed, and Yoshitatsu became the new master of Mino in 1556.
A few months later Nobuyuki, with support from Shibata Katsuie and Hayashi Hidesada, rebelled against Nobunaga. The conspirators were defeated at the Battle of Inō, but were pardoned after the intervention of Tsuchida Gozen, the birth mother of Nobunaga and Nobuyuki. The next year, Nobuyuki again planned to rebel. Nobunaga was informed of this by Shibata Katsuie, then faked illness to get close to Nobuyuki and assassinated him in Kiyosu Castle.
By 1559, Nobunaga had eliminated all opposition within the clan and Owari Province. He continued to use Shiba Yoshikane as a pretext to make peace with other daimyo, though it was later discovered that Yoshikane had secretly corresponded with the Kira and Imagawa clans, attempting to oust Nobunaga and restore the Shiba clan's place. Nobunaga eventually cast him out, voiding alliances created in the Shiba clan's name.
Battle of Okehazama
In 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto gathered an army of 25,000 men and started his march toward Kyoto, with the pretext of aiding the frail Ashikaga shogunate. The Matsudaira clan of Mikawa Province also joined Yoshimoto's forces. Against this, the Oda clan could rally an army of only 3,000, and the forces needed to be split up to defend various border forts. Under such circumstances, Nobunaga was said to have performed his favorite Atsumori dance at Kiyosu Castle, before riding off with only a few attendants to pray. Due to the forces unbalance the night before, Shibata Katsuie had tried in vain to change Oda Nobunaga's mind about a frontal attack; he kept reminding Nobunaga of the joint army's lack of manpower compared to Imagawa's numerous soldiers. Hayashi Sado no Kami Hidesada, the remaining advisor from Nobuhide's days, even argued for surrender without fighting, using the same reasoning as Katsuie.
Nobunaga's scouts reported that Yoshimoto was resting at the narrow gorge of Dengaku-hazama, ideal for a surprise attack, and that the Imagawa army were celebrating their victories while Yoshimoto viewed the heads. Nobunaga moved towards Imagawa's camp, and set up a position some distance away. An array of flags and dummy troops made of straw and spare helmets gave the impression of a large host, while the real Oda army hurried round in a rapid march to get behind Yoshimoto's camp. The heat gave way to a terrific thunderstorm. As the Imagawa samurai sheltered from the rain Nobunaga deployed his troops, and when the storm ceased they charged down upon the enemy in the gorge, so suddenly that Yoshimoto thought a brawl had broken out among his men, only realizing it was an attack when two samurai charged up. One aimed a spear at him, which Yoshimoto deflected with his sword, but the second swung his blade and cut off Imagawa's head.
Rapidly weakening, the Imagawa clan no longer exerted control over the Matsudaira clan. In 1561, an alliance was forged between Oda Nobunaga and Matsudaira Motoyasu (who would become Tokugawa Ieyasu), despite the decades-old hostility between the two clans. Tradition dates this battle as the time that Nobunaga first noticed the talents of the sandal-bearer who would eventually become Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
In Mino, Saitō Yoshitatsu died suddenly of illness in 1561, and was succeeded by his son, Saitō Tatsuoki. Tatsuoki, however, was young and much less effective as a ruler and military strategist compared to his father and grandfather. Taking advantage of this situation, Nobunaga moved his base to Komaki Castle and started his campaign in Mino. By convincing Saitō retainers to abandon their incompetent and foolish master, Nobunaga weakened the Saitō clan significantly, eventually mounting a final attack in 1567. Nobunaga captured Inabayama Castle and sent Tatsuoki into exile.
After taking possession of the castle, Nobunaga changed the name of both the castle and the surrounding town to Gifu. Remains of Nobunaga's residence in Gifu can be found today in Gifu Park. Naming it after the legendary Mount Qi (岐山 Qi in Standard Chinese) in China, on which the Zhou dynasty started, Nobunaga revealed his ambition to conquer the whole of Japan. He also started using a new personal seal that read Tenka Fubu (天下布武), which means "All the world by force of arms". In 1564, Nobunaga had his sister, Oichi, marry Azai Nagamasa, a daimyo in northern Ōmi Province. This would later help pave the way to Kyoto.
In 1568, Ashikaga Yoshiaki went to Gifu to ask Nobunaga to start a campaign toward Kyoto. Yoshiaki was the brother of the murdered thirteenth shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate, Yoshiteru, and wanted revenge against the killers who had already set up a puppet shogun, Ashikaga Yoshihide. Nobunaga agreed to install Yoshiaki as the new shogun and, grasping the opportunity to enter Kyoto, started his campaign. An obstacle in southern Ōmi Province, however, was the Rokkaku clan. Led by Rokkaku Yoshikata, the clan refused to recognize Yoshiaki as shogun and was ready to go to war. In response, Nobunaga launched a rapid attack, driving the Rokkaku clan out of their castles.
Within a short amount of time, Nobunaga had reached Kyoto and driven the Miyoshi clan out of the city. Yoshiaki was made the 15th shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. Nobunaga refused the post of Kanrei and eventually began to restrict the powers of the shogun, making it clear that he intended to use him as a facade to justify his future conquests. Yoshiaki, however, was not pleased about being a puppet and secretly corresponded with various daimyo, forging an anti-Nobunaga alliance.
The Asakura clan was particularly disdainful of the Oda clan's increasing power because, historically, the Oda clan had been subordinate to the Asakura clan. Furthermore, Asakura Yoshikage had also protected Ashikaga Yoshiaki, but had not been willing to march toward Kyoto. Thus, the Asakura clan also despised Nobunaga the most for his success.
When Nobunaga launched a campaign into the Asakura clan's domain, Azai Nagamasa, to whom Oichi was married, broke the alliance with Oda to honor the Azai-Asakura alliance which had lasted for generations. With the help of Ikko rebels, the anti-Nobunaga alliance sprang into full force, taking a heavy toll on the Oda clan. At the Battle of Anegawa, Tokugawa Ieyasu joined forces with Nobunaga and defeated the combined forces of the Asakura and Azai clans.
Nobunaga waged war against Buddhists. The Enryaku-ji monastery on Mt. Hiei, with its sōhei (warrior monks) of the Tendai school who aided the anti-Nobunaga group by helping Azai-Asakura alliance, was an issue for Nobunaga since the monastery was so close to his residency. Nobunaga attacked Enryaku-ji and burnt it to the ground in 1571, even though it had been admired as a significant cultural symbol at the time, and killed between 3,000 and 4,000 men, women and children in the process.
During the siege of Nagashima, Nobunaga suffered tremendous losses, including the death of a couple of his brothers, to the Ikkō-ikki resistance, a coalition of peasant farmers, monks, Shinto priests and local nobles that opposed samurai rule. The siege finally ended when Nobunaga surrounded the enemy complex and set fire to it, killing tens of thousands of non-combatants, including women and children. He later succeeded in taking their main stronghold at Ishiyama Hongan-ji after an 11-year siege that ended with its surrender.
One of the strongest rulers in the anti-Nobunaga alliance was Takeda Shingen, in spite of his generally peaceful relationship and a nominal alliance with the Oda clan. In 1572, at the urgings of the shogun, Shingen decided to make a drive for the capital starting with invading Tokugawa's territory. Tied down on the Western front, Nobunaga sent lackluster aid to Ieyasu, who suffered defeat at the Battle of Mikatagahara in 1573. However, after the battle, Tokugawa's forces launched night raids and convinced Takeda of an imminent counter-attack, thus saving the vulnerable Tokugawa with the bluff. This would play a pivotal role in Tokugawa's philosophy of strategic patience in his campaigns with Oda Nobunaga. Shortly thereafter, the Takeda forces retreated after Shingen died of illness in 1573. This was a relief for Nobunaga because he could now focus on Yoshiaki, who had openly declared hostility more than once, despite the imperial court's intervention. Nobunaga was able to defeat Yoshiaki's forces and send him into exile, bringing the Ashikaga shogunate to an end in the same year.
Also in 1573, Nobunaga successfully destroyed the Asakura and Azai clans, leading Azai Nagamasa to send Oichi back to Nobunaga and commit suicide. With Nagashima's destruction in 1574, the only threat to Nobunaga was the Takeda clan, now led by Takeda Katsuyori.
At the decisive Battle of Nagashino, the combined forces of Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu devastated the Takeda clan with the strategic use of arquebuses. Nobunaga compensated for the arquebus' slow reloading time by arranging the arquebusiers in three lines. After each line fired, it would duck and reload as the next line fired. The bullets were able to pierce the Takeda cavalry armor, who were pushed back and killed by incoming fire. From there, Nobunaga continued his expansion, sending Shibata Katsuie and Maeda Toshiie to the north and Akechi Mitsuhide to Tamba Province.
In 1574 Nobunaga accepted the title of kuge (court noble), then in 1577 he was given the title of udaijin (or Minister of the Right), the third highest position in the Imperial court.
The Oda clan's siege of Ishiyama Hongan-ji in Osaka made some progress, but the Mori clan of the Chūgoku region broke the naval blockade and started sending supplies into the strongly fortified complex by sea. As a result, in 1577, Hashiba Hideyoshi was ordered to expand west to confront the Mori clan.
However, Uesugi Kenshin, said to be the greatest general of his time since the demise of Takeda Shingen, took part in the second anti-Nobunaga alliance. Following his conquest of neighboring forces, the two sides clashed during the Battle of Tedorigawa which resulted in a decisive Uesugi victory. It was around this time that Uesugi forces began preparations to march on Kyoto.
Due to his defeat, Nobunaga's expansion in Noto, Kaga, and Etchū Province area stagnated. But Kenshin, who prepared to move his armies again after the battle, died from a possible cerebral hemorrhage before moving them. After Kenshin's death and much confusion among his successors, Nobunaga started his campaign again on this area.
Nobunaga forced the Ishiyama Hongan-ji to surrender in 1580 and destroyed the Takeda clan in 1582. Nobunaga's administration was at its height of power and he was about to launch invasions into Echigo Province and Shikoku.
Incident at Honnō-ji and death
In 1582, Nobunaga's former sandal bearer Hashiba Hideyoshi invaded Bitchu Province, laying siege to Takamatsu Castle. However, the castle was vital to the Mori clan, and losing it would leave the Mori home domain vulnerable. Led by Mōri Terumoto, reinforcements arrived outside Takamatsu Castle, and the two sides came to a standstill. Hashiba asked for reinforcements from Nobunaga.
It has often been argued that Hideyoshi had no need for reinforcements, but asked Nobunaga anyway for various reasons. Most believe that Hideyoshi, envied and hated by fellow generals for his swift rise from a lowly footman to a top general under Oda Nobunaga, wanted to give the credit for taking Takamatsu to Nobunaga so as to humble himself in front of other Oda vassals.
In any case, Nobunaga ordered Niwa Nagahide to prepare for an invasion of Shikoku, and Akechi Mitsuhide to assist Hideyoshi. En route to Chūgoku region, Nobunaga stayed at Honnō-ji, a temple in Kyoto. Since Nobunaga would not expect an attack in the middle of his firmly controlled territories, he was guarded by only a few dozen personal servants and bodyguards. His son Nobutada stayed at Myōkaku-ji, a temple on the grounds of Nijō Palace, the forerunner to Nijō Castle.
Mitsuhide chose that time to take a unit of his men and surrounded the Honnō-ji while sending another unit of Akechi troops to assault Myōkaku-ji, initiating a full coup d'état. At Honnō-ji, Nobunaga's small entourage was soon overwhelmed and as the Akechi troops closed in on the burning temple where Nobunaga had been residing, he decided to commit seppuku in one of the inner rooms. Unknown to Nobunaga, his son Nobutada died in the fighting before the temple where he was staying. At Honnō-ji, only his young page, Mori Ranmaru, remained at his master's side; he was still in his teens. Ranmaru's loyalty and devotion to his lord were widely known and praised during the Edo period. He attended to Nobunaga as he sought a moment of peace to carry out his last act, then Ranmaru likewise killed himself in the same way.
The cause of Mitsuhide's "betrayal" is controversial. It has been proposed that Mitsuhide may have heard a rumor that Nobunaga would transfer Mitsuhide's fief to the page, Mori Ranmaru, with whom Nobunaga is alleged to have been in a ritualized homosexual relationship, a form of patronage, known as shudō. Other motives include revenge for Nobunaga's numerous insults and derisive treatment of Mitsuhide, or Mitsuhide's jealousy as Nobunaga had shown greater favor toward another vassal, Hashiba Hideyoshi. Another possible motive is for revenge as Akechi Mitsuhide's mother (or perhaps aunt) was killed because Nobunaga had gone against a peace treaty that he had previously agreed to.
In 1579, Nobunaga captured Yakami Castle from Hatano Hideharu by promising Hideharu peace terms. This accomplished Mitsuhide's goal, although Nobunaga betrayed the peace agreement and had Hideharu executed. According to several stories, this displeased the Hatano family, and a short while later several of Hideharu's retainers murdered Akechi Mitsuhide's mother (or aunt). The situation was fueled through several public insults Nobunaga had directed at Mitsuhide that even drew the attention of some Western observers. However, the reason Mitsuhide killed Nobunaga at the Incident at Honnōji on June 21, 1582 (Japanese: 6th month 2nd day) is not known.
Just eleven days after the coup at Honnō-ji, Mitsuhide was killed at the Battle of Yamazaki and his army was defeated by Hashiba Hideyoshi, who eventually became heir to Nobunaga's legacy. He is more widely known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi. At the time of Nobunaga's death, he was in control of more than half of the provinces in Japan, the majority of which were in the Kyoto region.
Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified Japan in 1590, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603, were loyal followers of Nobunaga. These two were able to build a unified Japan on the basis of Nobunaga's previous achievements. There was a saying: "Nobunaga pounds the national rice cake, Hideyoshi kneads it, and in the end Ieyasu sits down and eats it."
Hideyoshi was brought up from a nameless peasant to be one of Nobunaga's top generals. When he became a grand minister in 1586, he created a law that the samurai caste became codified as permanent and heritable, and that non-samurai were forbidden to carry weapons, thereby ending the social mobility of Japan from which he himself had benefited. He was even said to divert rivers to flood enemy villages and clans. These restrictions lasted until the dissolution of the Edo Shogunate by the Meiji Restoration revolutionaries. Hideyoshi secured his claim as the rightful successor of Nobunaga by defeating Akechi Mitsuhide within a month of Nobunaga's death.
It is important to note that the distinction between samurai and non-samurai was so obscure that during the 16th century, most male adults in any social class (even small farmers) belonged to at least one military organization of their own and served in wars before and during Hideyoshi's rule. It can be said that an "all against all" situation continued for a century. The authorized samurai families after the 17th century were those that chose to follow Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu. Large battles occurred during the change between regimes and a number of defeated samurai were destroyed, became ronin or were absorbed into the general populace.
Ieyasu had shared his childhood with Nobunaga as a hostage of the Oda clan. Though there were a number of battles between Ieyasu and the Oda clan, Ieyasu eventually switched sides and became one of Nobunaga's strongest allies.
Nobunaga's dominance and brilliance was not restricted to the battlefield, for he also was a keen businessman and understood the principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics. First, in order to modernize the economy from an agricultural base to a manufacture and service base, castle towns were developed as the center and basis of local economies. Roads were also made within his domain between castle towns to not only facilitate trade, but also to move armies great distances in short timespans. International trade was also expanded beyond China and the Korean peninsula, while nanban (southern barbarian) trade with Europe, the Philippines, Siam and Indonesia was also started.
Nobunaga also instituted rakuichi rakuza (楽市楽座) policies as a way to stimulate business and the overall economy through the use of a free market system. These policies abolished and prohibited monopolies and opened once closed and privileged unions, associations and guilds, which he saw as impediments to commerce. Even though these policies provided a major boost to the economy, it was still heavily dependent on daimyos' support. Copies of his original proclamations can be found in Entoku-ji in the city of Gifu. He also developed tax exemptions and established laws to regulate and ease the borrowing of debt.
As Nobunaga conquered Japan and amassed a great amount of wealth, he progressively supported the arts for which he always had an interest, but which he later and gradually more importantly used as a display of his power and prestige. He built extensive gardens and castles which were themselves great works of art. Azuchi Castle on the shores of Lake Biwa is said to have been the greatest castle in the history of Japan, covered with gold and statues on the outside and decorated with standing screen, sliding door, wall, and ceiling paintings made by his subject Kanō Eitoku on the inside. During this time, Nobunaga's subject and tea master Sen no Rikyū established the Japanese tea ceremony which Nobunaga popularized and used originally as a way to talk politics and business. The beginnings of modern kabuki were started and later fully developed in the early Edo period.
Additionally, Nobunaga was very interested in European culture which was still very new to Japan. He collected pieces of Western art as well as arms and armor, and he is considered to be among the first Japanese people in recorded history to wear European clothes. He also became the patron of the Jesuit missionaries in Japan and supported the establishment of the first Christian church in Kyoto in 1576, although he remained an adamant atheist and never converted to Christianity. During a visit by the Jesuits in March 1581, Nobunaga's interest was piqued by a slave in the service of a Jesuit inspector of missions, and it was requested that he be left in Nobunaga's service. This slave, later called by the Japanese name Yasuke, was highly favored by Nobunaga and fought in the final battle at Honnō-ji. During that time, the persecution of Buddhists was motivated mostly by separating politics from religion. Though it was not fully realized under Nobunaga's rule, he attempted to create a public, rational political authority. The concepts brought up during this change had the potential to radically change society in Japan. The new ideas that came forth were either incorporated into common discourses without changing it fundamentally, built upon at a later time, or opened up new options in the later Tokugawa era that were expanded on.
Nobunaga is remembered in Japan as one of the most brutal figures of the Sengoku period and was recognized as one of Japan's greatest rulers. Nobunaga was the first of three unifiers during the Sengoku period. These unifiers were (in order) Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (also called Hashiba Hideyoshi above) and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Oda Nobunaga was well on his way to the complete conquest and unification of Japan when Akechi Mitsuhide, one of his generals, forced Nobunaga into committing suicide in Honnō-ji in Kyoto. Akechi then proceeded to declare himself master over Nobunaga's domains, but was quickly defeated by Hideyoshi.
Depending upon the source, Oda Nobunaga and the entire Oda clan are descendents of either the Fujiwara clan or the Taira clan (specifically, Taira no Shigemori's branch). His lineage can be directly traced to his great-great-grandfather, Oda Hisanaga, who was followed by Oda Toshisada, Oda Nobusada, Oda Nobuhide and Nobunaga himself.
Nobunaga was the eldest legitimate son of Nobuhide, a minor warlord from Owari Province, and Tsuchida Gozen, who was also the mother to three of his brothers (Nobuyuki, Nobukane and Hidetaka) and two of his sisters (Oinu and Oichi).
- Father: Oda Nobuhide (1510-1551)
- Mother: Tsuchida Gozen (d.1594)
Nobunaga married Nōhime, the daughter of Saitō Dōsan, as a matter of political strategy; however, she bore him no children and was considered to be barren. It was his concubines Kitsuno and Lady Saka who bore him his children. It was Kitsuno who gave birth to Nobunaga's eldest son, Nobutada. Nobutada's son, Oda Hidenobu, became ruler of the Oda clan after the deaths of Nobunaga and Nobutada. His son Oda Nobuhide was a Christian, and took the baptismal name Peter; he was adopted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and commissioned chamberlain.
- Oda Nobutada (1557-1582)
- Oda Nobukatsu (1558-1630)
- Oda Nobutaka (1558-1583)
- Hashiba Hidekatsu (1567-1585)
- Oda Katsunaga (died 1582)
- Oda Nobuhide (1571-1597) -
- Oda Nobutaka (1576-1602)
- Oda Nobuyoshi (1573-1615)
- Oda Nobusada (1574-1624)
- Oda Nobuyoshi (died 1609)
- Oda Nagatsugu (died 1600.9.15)
- Oda Nobumasa (1554-1647, illegitimate child)
- Tokuhime (1559-1636), married Matsudaira Nobuyasu
- Fuyuhime (1561-1641), married Gamō Ujisato
- Hideko (died 1632), married Tsutsui Sadatsugu
- Eihime (1574-1623), married Maeda Toshinaga
- Hōonin, married Niwa Nagashige
- Sannomarudono (died 1603), concubine to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, married Nijō Akizane
- Tsuruhime, married Nakagawa Hidemasa
One of Nobunaga's younger sisters, Oichi, gave birth to three daughters. These three nieces of Nobunaga became involved with important historical figures. Chacha (also known as Lady Yodo), the eldest, became the mistress of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. O-Hatsu married Kyōgoku Takatsugu. The youngest, O-go, married the son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa Hidetada (the second shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate). O-go's daughter Senhime married her cousin Toyotomi Hideyori, Lady Yodo's son.
Nobunaga's nephew was Tsuda Nobusumi, the son of Nobuyuki. Nobusumi married Akechi Mitsuhide's daughter, and was killed after the Incident at Honnō-ji by Nobunaga's third son, Nobutaka, who suspected him of being involved in the plot.
Nobunari Oda, a competitive figure skater in Japan, claims the 17th direct descendant of Nobunaga. The Japanese ex-monk celebrity Mudō Oda also claims descent from the Sengoku period warlord, but his claims have not been verified.
In popular culture
Nobunaga appears frequently within fiction and continues to be portrayed in many other anime, manga, video games, and cinematic films. Many depictions show him as villainous or even demonic in nature, though some portray him in a more positive light. The latter type of works include Akira Kurosawa's film Kagemusha, which portrays Nobunaga as energetic, athletic and respectful towards his enemies. The film Goemon portrays him as a saintly mentor of Ishikawa Goemon. Nobunaga is a central character in Eiji Yoshikawa's historical novel Taiko Ki, where he is a firm but benevolent lord. Nobunaga is also portrayed in a heroic light in some video games such as Kessen III, Ninja Gaiden II and the Warriors Orochi series.
By contrast, the novel and anime series Yōtōden portrays Nobunaga as a literal demon in addition to a power-mad warlord. In the novel The Samurai's Tale by Erik Christian Haugaard, he is portrayed as an antagonist "known for his merciless cruelty". He is portrayed as evil or megalomaniacal in some anime and manga series including Samurai Deeper Kyo and Flame of Recca. Nobunaga is portrayed as evil, villainous, bloodthirsty, and/or demonic in many video games such as Ninja Master's, Sengoku, Maplestory, Inindo: Way of the Ninja and Atlantica Online, and the video game series Onimusha, Samurai Warriors, Sengoku Basara (and its anime adaptation) and Soulcalibur.
There are also numerous examples of his portrayal in a more neutral or historic framework, especially in the Taiga dramas shown on television in Japan. Oda Nobunaga appears in the manga series Tail of the Moon, Kacchu no Senshi Gamu, and Tsuji Kunio's historical fiction The Signore: Shogun of the Warring States. Historical representations in video games (mostly Western-made strategy titles) include Shogun: Total War, Total War: Shogun 2, Throne of Darkness, the eponymous Nobunaga's Ambition series, as well as Civilization V and Age of Empires II: The Conquerors. Kamenashi Kazuya of the Japanese pop group KAT-TUN wrote and performed a song titled "1582" which is written from the perspective of Mori Ranmaru at the Incident at Honnouji.
There are also more fictive portrayals, in which the figure of Nobunaga influences a story or inspires a characterization. In James Clavell's novel Shōgun, the character Goroda is a pastiche of Nobunaga. In the film Sengoku Jieitai 1549 Nobunaga is killed by time-travellers. Nobunaga also appears as a major character in the eroge Sengoku Rance and is a playable character in Pokémon Conquest. In the anime Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox, in Sengoku Collection, and the light novel and anime series The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, he is depicted as a female character. He is the main character of the stage action and anime adaptation of Nobunaga the Fool.
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"Erik Christian Haugaard" (1984). The Samurai's Tale. Houghton Mifflin Books. p. ix.
Lord Oda Nobunaga - Lord Takeda Shingen's rival and enemy, well known for his merciless cruelty
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- Oda Nobunaga at the Samurai Archive
- Oda Nobunaga at the Internet Movie Database