Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kyoto: Honno-ji

v Honno-ji
· 1582- The forced suicide of Nobunaga by his general Akechi Mitsuhide.  Nobunaga had just destroyed the Takeda family earlier that year, and Uesugi Kenshin had just died.  He sent Hideyoshi to attack the Mori, Niwa Nagahide to invade Shikoku, Takigawa Kazumasu to keep an eye on the Hojo, and Shibata Katsuie to invade Echigo/the rest of the Uesugi.  He asked Mitsuhide to go help Hideyoshi, while he went to rest at his temporary residence, Honno-ji.  Instead, Mitsuhide went to his castle in Sakamoto, gathered an army and surrounded Honno-ji.  Nobunaga committed suicide, and Ranmaru followed suit.  Mitsuhide burned the temple to the ground.  No one ever found Oda’s remains.  After Honno-ji, Mitsuhide attacked Nobutada, who committed suicide as well.
· Historians are mixed as to why Mitsuhide turned on Oda.  Theories include:
§ Loss of his post as official in charge of catering to Ieyasu’s party. And embarrassment for Nobunaga yelling at him about serving rotten fish
§ The threat of loss of his land because he was an older samurai (in his 50’s).  Nobunaga had already sent two other older retainers into exile for “poor performance”.
§ To convince a clan to surrender, he sent his mother as a hostage.  Nobunaga, however, had the clan heads executed, and in retaliation the clan killed Mitsuhide’s mom.
§ The culmination of being insulted, kicked, and forced to drink (he wasn’t a drinker) by Nobunaga.

· Honno-ji itself was founded in 1415, by the Nichiren Buddhist sect.  After Mitsuhide burned it down, Nobutaka Oda rebuilt the temple, and Hideyoshi later moved it in 1589 to its current location.  Honnoji was destroyed in a fire again in the 19th century, and rebuilt in 1928.

Another temple that you won't find on the Kyoto tourist maps is Honno-ji.  Which is a little surprising considering that it was the great Oda Nobunaga's hang out spot, and he even died there.

The current Honno-ji is a re-build, and not in the original location of the first.  The current temple is actual smack dab in the middle of a shopping arcade, which is interesting.  Like Mibu-dera and it's bikes and cars, modern life has intermingled with the ancient.

You can kinda see the entrance of the temple on the left side.
I like this - old structure in the foreground with a modern construction backdrop.
Sak walked into a modern looking office to get his goshuin, while I sat outside the temple trying to picture what it was like on that fateful turning point of history - when Nobunaga's retainer Mitsuhide Akechi turned on him, forcing Nobunaga and others to commit seppuku while the temple burned down in flames.
Goshuin office.
In another modern building was a small "treasure house" - a tiny museum with a few artifacts from Nobunaga's era.
Nobunaga replica armor.
We paid the 500 yen to get in, even though very little was in English and no pictures were allowed.
Pictures of the english pamphlet.

I think it was well worth it though - because among the calligraphy scrolls and various laquerware were two swords.  One, a katana belonging to Ranmaru Mori, Nobunaga's page.  It was a very impressive, lengthy sword, just like the one he has in the samurai warriors/sengoku mousou videogames (haha, sorry, my otakuness is seeping out again).

The other was a small wakizashi.. belonging to Mr. Oda himself! It was kind of beat up looking - maybe it had been used? Who knows, but theres just something fascinating about connecting legendary historical figures to tangible objects.  One's inner-Indiana Jones I suppose.  It was enough for me to momentarily want to give up engineering and become a historian instead.

According to the pamphlet, this is Nobunaga's mausoleum, built at his son's request.
Anyway, after marveling at ancient weapons, Sak and I left Honnoji and wandered the shopping arcade in search of a snack.
Temple exit back out to the shopping district

I don't think there was a day in Japan where we didn't eat some sort of sushi/sashimi. Stereotypical, but hey, I love me some fish.


  1. Fascinating! Thanks for the history lesson! Mmm that sushi looks good (and fresh)!

  2. Great photography skills indeed. I would love to visit this place when I finish my review on Edubirdie and really have a good time :D

  3. I had a great time reading this kind of valuable post. Please keep sharing and enlightening your readers' minds. Visit my Lawrence Todd Maxwell pinterest page when you have some spare time.


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