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It will be presently seen that the
inveterate hostility shown by the Buddhists to Nobunaga was largely
responsible for his favourable attitude towards Christianity.

THE CASTLE OF AZUCHI

The lightness and flimsiness of construction in Japanese houses has
been noted already several times. Even though there was continual
warfare in the provinces of family against family, the character of
the fighting and of the weapons used was such that there was little
need for the building of elaborate defenses, and there was
practically nothing worthy the name of a castle. Watch-towers had
been built and roofs and walls were sometimes protected by putting
nails in the building points outward,--a sort of chevaux de frise.
But a system of outlying defenses, ditch, earthen wall and wooden
palisade, was all that was used so long as fighting was either
hand-to-hand or with missiles no more penetrating than arrows. But
when fire-arms were introduced in 1542, massively constructed castles
began to be built. These were in general patterned after Western
models, but with many minor modifications.

The first of these fortresses was built at Azuchi, in Omi, under the
auspices of Oda Nobunaga. Commenced in 1576, the work was completed
in 1579. In the centre of the castle rose a tower ninety feet high,
standing on a massive stone basement seventy-two feet in height, the
whole forming a structure absolutely without precedent in Japan. The
tower was of wood, and had, therefore, no capacity for resisting
cannon. But, as a matter of fact, artillery can scarcely be said to
have been used in Japan until modern days. Nobunaga's castle is
stated by some historians to have been partially attributable to
Christianity, but this theory seems to rest solely upon the fact that
the central tower was known as Tenshu-kaku, or the "tower of the lord
of Heaven." There were more numerous indications that the spirit of
Buddhism influenced the architect, for in one of the highest storeys
of the tower, the four "guardian kings" were placed, and in the lower
chamber stood an effigy of Tamon (Ananda). The cost of constructing
this colossal edifice was very heavy, and funds had to be collected
from the whole of the eleven provinces then under Nobunaga's sway.

NOBUNAGA AND IEYASU

It has already been noted that Ieyasu was Nobunaga's sole ally in the
east of Japan at the time of the fall of the Imagawa clan. It has
also been noted that Ujizane, the son of Imagawa Yoshimoto, was a
negligible quantity. During many years, however, Ieyasu had to stand
constantly on the defensive against Takeda Shingen. But, in 1572,
Shingen and Ieyasu made a compact against the Imagawa, and this was
followed by a successful campaign on the part of the Tokugawa leader
against Ujizane. The agreement between Shingen and Ieyasu lasted only
a short time. In November, 1572, Shingen led a large force and seized
two of the Tokugawa castles, menacing the third and most important at
Hamamatsu, where Ieyasu himself was in command. Nobunaga thereupon
despatched an army to succour his ally, and in January, 1573, a
series of bloody engagements took place outside Hamamatsu. One
of Nobunaga's generals fled; another died in battle, and Ieyasu
barely escaped into the castle, which he saved by a desperate
device--leaving the gates open and thus suggesting to the enemy that
they would be ambushed if they entered. This battle, known in history
as the War of Mikata-ga-hara, was the greatest calamity that ever
befell Ieyasu, and that he would have suffered worse things at the
hands of Takeda Shingen cannot be doubted, had not Shingen's death
taken place in May, 1573.

Various traditions have been handed down about the demise of this
celebrated captain, undoubtedly one of the greatest strategists Japan
ever possessed. Some say that he was shot by a soldier of Ieyasu;
others that he was hit by a stray bullet, but the best authorities
agree that he died of illness. His son, Katsuyori, inherited none of
his father's great qualities except his bravery. Immediately on
coming into power, he moved a large army against the castle of
Nagashino in the province of Mikawa, one of Ieyasu's strongholds.
This was in June, 1575, and on the news reaching Nobunaga, the latter
lost no time in setting out to succour his ally. On the way a samurai
named Torii Suneemon arrived from the garrison of Nagashino with news
that unless succour were speedily given the fortress could not hold
out. This message reached Ieyasu, who was awaiting the arrival of
Nobunaga before marching to the relief of the beleagured fortress.
Ieyasu assured the messenger that help would come on the morrow, and
urged Suneemon not to essay to re-enter the fortress. But the man
declared that he must carry the tidings to his hard-set comrades. He
was taken prisoner by the enemy and led into the presence of
Katsuyori, who assured him that his life would be spared if he
informed the inmates of the castle that no aid could be hoped for.
Suneemon simulated consent. Despatched under escort to the
neighbourhood of the fort, he was permitted to address the garrison,
and in a loud voice he shouted to his comrades that within a short
time they might look for succour. He was immediately killed by his
escort.

This dramatic episode became a household tradition in Japan. Side by
side with it may be set the fact that Hideyoshi, who accompanied
Nobunaga in this campaign, employed successfully against the enemy
one of the devices recommended by the Chinese strategists, whose
books on the method of conducting warfare were closely studied in
those days by the Japanese. Sakuma Nobumori, one of Nobunaga's
captains, was openly, and of set purpose, insulted and beaten by
orders of his general, and thereafter he escaped to the camp of the
Takeda army, pretending that the evil treatment he had undergone was
too much for his loyalty. Katsuyori, the Takeda commander, received
the fugitive with open arms, and acting in accordance with his
advice, disposed his troops in such a manner as to forfeit all the
advantages of the position. The battle that ensued is memorable as
the first historical instance of the use of firearms on any
considerable scale in a Japanese campaign. Nobunaga's men took
shelter themselves behind palisades and fusilladed the enemy so hotly
that the old-fashioned hand-to-hand fighting became almost
impossible. The losses of the Takeda men were enormous, and it may be
said that the tactics of the era underwent radical alteration from
that time, so that the fight at Takinosawa is memorable in Japanese
history. Hideyoshi urged the advisability of pushing on at once to
Katsuyori's capital, but Nobunaga hesitated to make such a call upon
the energies of his troops, and the final overthrow of the Takeda
chief was postponed.

MILITARY TACTICS

The Mongol invasion should have taught to the Japanese the great
advantages of co-operating military units, but individual prowess
continued to be the guiding factor of field tactics in Japan down to
the second half of the sixteenth century, when the introduction of
firearms inspired new methods. Japanese historians have not much to
say upon this subject. Indeed Rai Sanyo, in the Nihon-gwaishi, may
almost be said to be the sole authority. He writes as follows: "The
generalship of Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin was something quite
new in the country at their time. Prior to their day the art of
manoeuvring troops had been little studied. Armies met, but each
individual that composed them relied on his personal prowess and
strength for victory. These two barons, however, made a special study
of strategy and military tactics, with the result that they became
authorities on the various methods of handling troops. In reference
to the employment of cavalry, the Genji warriors and the first of the
Ashikaga shoguns made use of horses largely, but in later days the
Ashikaga did not move away from Kyoto and had no use for horses.
Nobunaga, being near Kyoto, and most of the wars in which he engaged
involving no very long marches, relied almost solely on infantry.
Both Takeda and Uesugi were well supplied with mounted troops, but
owing to the hilly nature of their territories, they made no special
study of cavalry exercises and, almost invariably, the soldiers
employed their horses solely for rapid movement from one place to
another; when a battle commenced they alighted and fought on foot. It
is therefore correct to say that at this time cavalry had gone out of
use. Bows and arrows were, of course, superseded when firearms came
into use.

"Thenceforth, the gun and the long spear were the chief weapons
relied on. Peasants did not rank as soldiers, but their services were
variously utilized in time of war. They were trained in the use of
muskets, and of bows and arrows on hunting expeditions, and thus,
when hostilities broke out, they were able to render considerable
assistance in the defense of their houses. Highwaymen were frequently
employed as spies and scouts. Both Takeda and Uesugi sanctioned this
practice. These two generals also agreed in approving the following
tactical arrangement: the van-guard, consisting of musketeers,
artillerymen, and archers, was followed by companies of infantry
armed with long spears. Then came the cavalry, and after them the
main body, attached to which were drummers and conch-blowers. The
whole army was divided into right and left wings, and a body of men
was kept in reserve. At the opening of the battle, the horsemen
dismounted and advanced on foot. This order was occasionally modified
to suit altered circumstances, but as a rule, it was strictly
followed."*

*Quoted by W. Dening in A New Life of Hideyoshi.

The artillery mentioned in the above quotation must be taken in a
strictly limited sense. Indeed, it would be more correct to speak of
heavy muskets, for cannon, properly so called, may scarcely be said
to have formed any part of the equipment of a Japanese army until
modern times. When the Portuguese discovered Japan, in 1542, they
introduced the musket to the Japanese, and the weapon was long known
as Tanegashima, that being the name of the island where the
Portuguese ship first touched.



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