Oda Nobuhide: The Tiger of Owari

The history of Japan was shaped by several formidable people, both men and women. These people, along with their friends or alliances, sought to make a change in their country. One of the many people that played key roles during the history of Japan when the country was ruled by a military government was none other than Oda Nobuhide.

Oda Nobuhide As the Overlord of the Nobuhide Clan

By Base64 edit by Noodle snacks [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Born in the year 1510, Oda Nobuhide served as a warlord as well as a magistrate in the lower portion of the province of Owari. He lived and served during the Sengoku period. His father was known as Oda Nobusada. While Nobuhide was known for his conquests and his intellect, he was most famous for being the father of Oda Nobunaga.

The oldest son of Oda Nobusada, Nobuhide was born inside the Shobata Castle located in the province of Owari. Even though Nobuhide did not become a daimyo in his own right, he was still well-known within the province of Owari as an influential and powerful man. Instead of being the lord of the Oda clan, Nobuhide was considered as one of the “elders” of the family.

Nobuhide was known to be strong-spirited. Showcasing his great leadership, he led several raids into the province of Mikawa. He fought against both the Matsudaira clan and the Imagawa clan. He also conducted raids in the province of Mino and fought against the Saito clan. Nobuhide was indeed well-regarded by several members of the Oda clan.

He, later on, became the head of the Oda family. Nobuhide participated in open warfare against the three clans mentioned above. To the north, Nobuhide was fronted by the daimyo of the province of Mino known as Saito Dosan. To the east, he was also fronted by the daimyo of the provinces of Mikawa, Totomi, and Suruga known as Imagawa Yoshimoto.

While he was constantly victorious in his quests and was able to hold his own when fighting against his enemies, Nobuhide was not fully accomplished. This was because he was not truly able to consolidate the province of Owari as one. Despite his victories against his external enemies, there were still internal struggles that occurred within the Oda clan.

Nobuhide was finally defeated by Saito Dosan in the Battle of Kanoguchi in the year 1547. Instead of trying to exact revenge yet again and instigate war, Nobuhide decided to make peace with the Saito clan. A political marriage between his eldest son Nobunaga and the daughter of Saito known as Nohime was arranged. With the Saito clan as an ally, Nobuhide shifted his focus to his other enemy Imagawa.

One of his great victories was Nobuhide being able to kidnap Matsudaira Motoyasu when the latter was on his way to the Imagawa clan. Motoyasu was taken as a hostage as well as a collateral. Through this capture, Nobuhide was able to gain a certain foothold in the province of Mikawa. Today, the remains of Nobuhide can be found interred in an alley located close to Osu Kannon Temple situated in Nagoya.

Details of Quests of Oda Nobuhide

By 立花左近 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Born in the province of Owari located in the western portion of Aichi Prefecture in the year 1510, Oda Nobuhide was also known as the Tiger of Owari. He was a famous warlord in his jurisdiction. Nobuhide also served as a magistrate as well as a Buddhist monk. He went on to become the head of the Oda clan, a family that was powerful and influential for a certain period of time.

The Oda family ruled a majority of the province of Owari. However, despite this immense power that Nobuhide was able to hold and use, he was not successful in gaining full control of the province. This may be due to the internal conflicts amongst various members occurring within the clan itself. If Nobuhide was known as the Tiger of Owari, his opponent Saito Dosan was known as the Viper of Mino.

It was in the year 1532 that Nobuhide was able to seize Nagoya Castle from the Imagawa clan. His son Nobunaga was born in their current home at the time, in Shobata Castle. Soon after, they relocated to Nagoya Castle. Nobuhide also participated in the Battle of Anio Castle in the year 1540. In the First Battle of Azukizaka in the year 1542, Nobuhide was able to emerge victorious against Imagawa Yoshimoto.

Within a span of five years, Nobuhide got involved in several battles. These include the Attack of Mino in the year 1544; the Siege of Yasuyoshi Castle in the year 1545; the Attack on Mikawa, the Siege of Inabayama Castle, the Battle of Kanoguchi, the Battle of Ogaki, the Battle of Furuwatari, and the Battle of Okazaki in the year 1547. He lost in the Second Battle of Azukizaka against Imagawa Yoshimoto in the year 1548. He was also part of the Battle of Kasugaihara in the year 1549.

The Battle of Kanoguchi occurred in November in the year 1547. It was one of the most painful battles that Nobuhide was involved in. He lost around 5,000 men in this battle against Saito Dosan. Two of his close relatives were also slain during this battle. Saito Dosan walked away from this battle with a more fearsome reputation.

Rather than trying to fight Saito Dosan one more time, Nobuhide decided to concede defeat. Peace was forged between the two when they arranged a political marriage between Nobuhide’s son and Dosan’s daughter. Thanks to this, the strength of Nobuhide doubled with the help and support of the Saito clan.

Nobuhide managed to kidnap the young Matsudaira Takechiyo in the year 1548 when the child was only five years of age. The child was supposedly on his way to the Imagawa clan to serve as a hostage when Nobuhide intervened. He kept the child in his castle located in Nagoya. Later on, he transferred the child to a fortress house located south of Atsuta Shrine.

Because of a short illness, Nobuhide eventually passed away at the age of 41. He left 12 sons and 2 daughters. Before his passing, he proclaimed his son Nobunaga as his heir. However, Nobunaga did not grow up with his father and hardly knew the man. He committed disrespectful acts during his father’s funeral, which caused an uproar in a supposedly solemn event.

The remains of Oda Nobuhide was interred in the Banshoji Temple. The temple was originally 100 meters away from the west of the Sakura Dori. However, the temple, along with the grave of Nobuhide, was transferred to the area of Osu, which can be found in the city of Nagoya in the year 1610. This relocation was under the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

The Succession to His Son Oda Nobunaga

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nobuhide had several children before he died. His sons include Nobuhiro, Nobunaga, Nobuyuki, Nobukane, Nobuharu, Hidetaka, Nobutoki, Nobuoki, Nobuteru, and Nobumasu. Out of all of them, he chose Nobunaga to be his heir. Born on the 23rd of June in the year 1534, Oda Nobunaga grew up to become a powerful feudal lord in the country. He was among the unifiers of Japan, along with his retainers Tokugawa Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Nobunaga accomplished a lot of things while he was serving as a feudal lord in Japan. He was considered as one of the lords in the country that could brutally suppress the forces of his enemies who were determined to bring him down. He had people who refused to meet his demands eliminated.

Aside from being a skilled leader, Nobunaga was also a smart businessman as well as an economic reformer. He thought of strategies not just at the microeconomic level but also at macroeconomic scales. Unfortunately, Nobuhide was slain when one of his retainers who went by the name of Akechi Mitsuhide started a rebellion against him at Honno-ji.

Initially, the Oda clan did not approve of Nobunaga to become the next leader of their clan. This was due to the misbehavior of Nobunaga during Nobuhide’s funeral. His actions showed mediocrity as well as a lack of discipline. The members wanted Nobuyuki, one of Nobuhide’s other sons, to become their leader instead.

Because of Nobunaga’s actions, an important mentor and retainer of Nobunaga who went by the name of Hirate Masahide committed seppuku in shame and dishonor. This act somehow wakened Nobunaga to see the repercussions of his actions. He valued this mentor of his. Later on, Nobunaga had a temple built in dedication and to honor Masahide.

Even though Nobunaga was the legitimate successor of Nobuhide, the clan was in fact separated into several factions. In actual, the Oda clan was being controlled by the Shugo of Owari, Shiba Yoshimune. Being weak, he was used by his deputy, Nobuhide’s brother, Oda Nobutomo to challenge Nobunaga’s right as the next ruler of Owari. The Shugo was eventually assassinated by Nobutomo upon learning that Yoshimune wanted to support Nobunaga.

By Fess-dew [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons

Nobunaga recognized his need for support and went to his great-grandfather, Nobuhide’s grandfather, to ask for help. Together, they were able to defeat Nobutomo in Kiyosu Castle. The castle eventually served as the residence of Nobunaga for more than ten years. Nobunaga also forged an alliance with the Imagawa clan and the Kira clan. As allies, there was a guarantee that the Imagawa clan would put a stop to their attacks on the borders of Owari.

Nobuyuki and his supporters were still free during this time. They formed a rebellion against Nobunaga but were defeated at the Battle of Ino. Instead of killing them, Nobunaga opted to pardon the traitors due to his and Nobuyuki’s mother Tsuchida Gozen. However, Nobuyuki’s plot against Nobunaga did not stop. Upon hearing this, Nobunaga ended Nobuyuki’s life thereafter to put a stop to this betrayal.

Suzuki Shigeteru was also among the people that Nobunaga protected during the Siege of Terabe in the year 1558. A year later, Nobunaga had already removed all oppositions against him within the Oda clan as well as the province of Owari. He made use of Shiba Yoshikane as a way to forge peace with other clans.

However, it was found out that Yoshikane actually corresponded with other clans like the Kira clan and the Imagawa clan in secret. He wanted to remove Nobunaga from the latter position as well as restore his own clan. Yoshikane was eliminated by Nobunaga. Furthermore, all alliances that were forged using the name of the Shiba clan were also voided.

Shimazu Iehisa: A Witness to Nobunaga’s Return

Several autonomous daimyos had the same idea in mind during this time: to unify Japan as a nation. However, it was during the time of Nobunaga that this goal seems to be achievable. Prior to his death in the year 1582, he was already able to control a majority of the region of Honshu.

However, this unification was not completed during the time of Nobunaga due to his retainer’s betrayal. Akechi Mitsuhide turned his back on his overlord and created a rebellion. The reason behind this betrayal was not known and has been subject to debate to this day. On the day that he returned at Sakamoto, there were actually several witnesses to his return.

One of these witnesses was Shimazu Iehisa. The fourth son of Shimazu Takahisa, Iehisa was the younger half-brother of Shimazu Yoshihisa. Iehisa was also a famous Shimazu commander known to be a great leader and fighter in battles. He was among the witnesses who saw Oda Nobunaga and his army coming back from Osaka. At the time, Nobunaga and his men were being entertained courtesy of Mitsuhide.

After the betrayal, Mitsuhide pronounced himself as the ruler of the domains of Nobunaga. Fortunately, he was immediately defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who also played an instrumental role in the expansion of the domains of the Oda clan. Nobuhide’s son Nobunaga truly had a great vision not just for his clan but also for the country. Even though he stumbled at first, Nobunaga had truly made his father Oda Nobuhide proud of all the goals that he had achieved for the Oda clan.