In the twentieth year of the reign of Emperor Haisan-jo, the Daimyo of Mino, Akechi Jinsai, feared for his life, for he knew of the suspicions of the Shogun Oda Nobunaga. Hence, Jinsai sought to gain his favor by offering his beautiful daughter to the Shogun, and though the Shogun was much attracted to Akechi Mariko, his first thoughts were always political. For he hath many a beautiful women besides him, but what he sought more was the security of the Empire after his death.
Akechi “Matsuhide” Jinsai, the man who betrayed Nobunaga
And Nobunaga could see that the young eyes of Maeda Kaeji burned with passion for Mariko, and so did the uncouth General Toyotomi Hideyoshi. For she was as fair as Lady Uesungi Sakura in her younger days. But though Nobunaga had great respect for Hideyoshi, he made fun of him by the nickname “Monkey”.
The dangers to the Oda Shogunate were few in those days, what he needed was a young man like Kaeji to serve his son Nobukatsue when his day as Shogun came. And so, it was in this manner that Nobunaga gave Akechi Mariko in marriage to Kaeji.
Now, Kaeji was a powerfully built man who could shoot arrows beyond the river and best hundreds of warriors in combat. His courageous exploits even before rising to the daimyoate was legendary, and now his great loyalty for the Shogun was greatly cemented. In light of this, Nobunaga forgot his suspicions for Jinsai and promoted him to Daimyo of all lands formerly held by the Hosokawas. He also awarded him with 100 pairs of silk and the honorary title of Matsuhide. Such was the joy of the Shogun as he hosted this glorious marriage himself.
Now, the lands that Akechi “Matsuhide” Jinsai ruled were beautiful, and in the spring, the blossoming of the sakura (cherry blossoms) were truly thing of poetry. So Jinsai invited the Lord Shogun and his son Nobukatsue to visit the Osana Orchards that he tended to with expert care, and the two men were greatly overjoyed by this invitation.
Little did they know of Jinsai’s malicious intent towards them, and so he lured him deeper and deeper into the Osana Orchards. And Nobunaga was unsuspecting for the
interior of the Osana Orchards were more beautiful than the heavens where the gods dwelled in Fuji. But then, suddenly, the armed men of Mino surrounded the Lord of Japan, and Nobunaga’s quick mind realized that he hath been tricked and betrayed.
Nobunaga: “Why have you done this, Matsuhide? You were a mere regent of Mino, and I raised you to this position of glory. Yet, you will betray me!?”
Jinsai: “How dare you ask me of such thing, Lord? Did the Minamoto clan from which I and Tokugawa Ieayasue were descended from not enemies of your ancestors the Tairas? Did you not kill my mother in the Battle of Hononji? How can I forgive you for such things?”
Nobunaga: “I see, so you will betray me as the Minamotos betray the Tairas? Then, raise your sword and fight, for I am Se-i-Tai-Shogun Lord of Japan. The Unifier who hath defeated all of Honshu and Hokkaido in the most turbulent times, and I will not beg thee, thou worthless dog unfit to smell my shoe, for mercy.”
And so, Nobunaga and his retainers fought, and one by one, they were cut down by Jinsai’s men, including Nobunaga’s eldest son Nobukatsue. Finally, Nobunaga was left alone in the fight.
At this point, he said, “My younger son Nobonori remains well and alive. He will be Shogun after me and with the help of Hideyoshi and Kaeji, he will avenge me”
To which, Jinsai replied, “Do you not forget that Kaeji is my son-in-law and how much he loves Mariko, my daughter. The Oda Shogunate will fall once you die. The Empire of Blood stands only with your strength, Devil of Owari. Now, with my holy Tensho Sword, I will bring the vengeance of thousands (including my mother) upon you and rename it the Nobunaga Sword.”
But Jinsai never had the chance, for Shogun Nobunaga took his own life. And so, it was in this manner that Nobunaga, probably the greatest warlord of the Sengoku period, perished. The unity of Japan depended on strong hands as his, and now with Nobunaga’s death, another epic struggle for power would begin.