Shinchoko-ki (A Biography of Lord Nobunaga) (信長公記)

Shinchoko-ki (Nobunagako-ki) is a biography of Nobunaga ODA, a feudal lord in the Azuchi-Momoya period in Japan. It was written by Gyuichi OTA who was Nobunaga's retainer. It was completed in the early Edo period.


At Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's behest, the Shinchoko-ki was apparently compiled on the basis of Gyuichi OTA's diary records. It has been regarded as an indispensable source material for tracing Nobunaga's footsteps since its contents are very accurate with a few exceptions. It covers the period from Nobunaga ODA's arrival in Kyoto under the command of Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA in 1568 up to his death in 1582. It consists of 16 volumes (books) and is also called Azuchi-ki (A Diary of Azuchi).

There are more than 20 different versions, including the manuscripts, with various titles as "Eiroku Juichinen Ki" (A Diary of the Year 1586)," "Azuchi Nikki" (A Diary of Azuchi), "Nobunaga-ki" (A Biography of Nobunaga), "Shinchoko-ki," "Azuchi-ki" and the like. The introductory volume appears to have been written after the volumes 1 to 15. The following were Gyuichi OTA's original.

"Eiroku Juichinen Ki" (1 volume): the part of year 1586 only. Owned by Sonkeikaku-bunko Library.

Untitled (1 volume): May to June 1576, September to October 1580, June to July 1582. Owned by the Oda family.

"Nobunaga-ki" (15 volumes) in the Ikeda Family Collection. This has no introductory volume. Important cultural property.

"Shinchoko-ki" (15 volumes) in the Kenkun-jinja Shrine. This has no introductory volume. Important cultural property.

Masayuki FUJIMOTO discusses in his "Nobunaga no senso" (Nobunaga's Battles) that Nobunaga is variously called 'Ue-sama' (my lordship), 'Nobunaga-ko' (Lord Nobunaga), or 'Nobunaga' even in the same text. He also refers to the fact that Ieyasu TOKUGAWA is sometimes called simply 'Ieyasu,' and sometimes called with titles of honor, such as 'Ieyasu-ko' (Lord Ieyasu), 'Ieyasu-kyo' (Sir Ieyasu), or 'Ieyasu-dono' (Mr Ieyasu). He therefore surmises that the redactor brought together different notes written at various times to compile the text.

Differences between Gyuichi OTA's "Shinchoko-ki" and Hoan OZE's "Nobunaga-ki" and the Valuation of Each

While Gyuichi's "Shinchoko-ki" was only read by a few feudal lords and court nobles in the Edo period, Hoan OZE's "Nobunaga-ki" was widespread among the public. Unlike Gyuichi who sought to provide accurate descriptions as a 'historian', Hoan was a 'writer of historical fiction' who included many fictional elements to make his story more interesting. Thus, Gyuichi's work is called "Shinchoko-ki" to be distinguished from Hoan's work, which is called "Nobunaga-ki" or "Hoan's Nobunaga-ki."

[Original Japanese]