Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀)

Mitsuhide AKECHI was a warrior who lived in both the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. He typically went by the name of Jubei. His pseudonym was Shoan.

His lawful wife was Norihiro TSUMAKI's daughter, Hiroko AKECHI. Mitsuhide and his wife had two daughters, Nobusumi ODA's wife and Tadaoki HOSOKAWA's wife Garasha (Christian name Gracia) HOSOKAWA, and a son, Mitsuyoshi (Jugoro) AKECHI.

Before Serving the ODAs

Mitsuhide was born to the Akechi clan, a branch of the Toki clan of Seiwa Genji, his father was Mitsutsuna AKECHI. There are two theories about the year of his birth, 1528 and 1526. There are also two theories about his birthplace, putting it at Akechi-jo Castle in Akechi, Kani City, Gifu Prefecture, or at Miyama, Yamagata-shi. His childhood name was Monomaru.

The details of his adolescence are unclear; according to common belief, he was from the Toki clan, a constable of Mino Province, and while serving Sengoku Daimyo Dosan SAITO, he took Dosan's side in the battle between Dosan and Yoshitatsu in 1556, in which AKECHI-jo Castle was attacked, resulting in the breakup of the clan. After that, he was sheltered by the Wakasa Takeda clan, on his mother's side, and then served the Asakura clan in Echizen Province. In addition, interpreting "Akechi" in 'Eiroku Rokunen (1563) Syoyakunin pu' to mean Mitsuhide, some theories suggest that he had been serving Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA after leaving Mino Province until he served the Asakura clan.

When Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA escaped to Wakasa Province for Yoshizumi TAKEDA's help, and then, to Echizen Province for ASAKURA's help, Mitsuhide made contact with Yoshiaki. It is thought that Mitsuhide's mother was Yoshizumi TAKEDA's sister and Yoshikage ASAKURA's mother was from the Takeda clan of Wakasa TAKEDA, which allowed Mitsuhide to serve as an entertainer for Yoshiaki. Yoshiaki expected ASAKURA to move to Kyoto, but Yoshikage did not. Yoshiaki, accordingly, requested through Mitsuhide for Nobunaga ODA to attack Kyoto and to appoint Yoshiaki to Seii Taishogun. Yoshiaki did so because Mitsuhide's aunt might be Dosan SAITO's wife and Mitsuhide himself might be a cousin of Nobunaga's lawful wife, a daughter of Dosan SAITO or Princess Noh, on which relationship Yoshiaki depended.

While Serving the ODAs

According to reliable, historical materials, Mitsuhide assumed governmental duties for the neighborhood of Kyoto, which the ODA clan was dominating, with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI (later changed to HASHIBA) and others in 1569. When Yoshiaki began to conflict with Nobunaga, Mitsuhide left Yoshiaki and became a direct subordinate to Nobunaga. Achieving a lot of good results in battles, Mitsuhide was given Shiga District, Omi Province in 1572, where he built Sakamoto-jo Castle and occupied it. In 1575 he was given a surname of the Koreto clan and the government post of the Junior 5th Rank, Minor, Hyuga no kami, calling himself Hyuga no kami Koreto.

The castellan Mitsuhide, in charge of attacking Tamba Province, continued to do battle in many areas in Kinki region, for example, with Murashige ARAKI and Hisahide MATSUNAGA, who disobeyed Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple and Nobunaga, and subjugated the Province before 1579. Given the whole Province of Tamba, Mitsuhide built Tamba Kameyama-jo Castle (in Tamba Province), Fukuchiyama-jo Castle and Shuzan-jo Castle. It can be understood that Mitsuhide held an important post in the ODA administration since he was given the ends of two of the roads leading into Kyoto, Tokaido and San'indo. Further, in addition to the right to govern Tamba Province, he was given the right to direct ODA Daimyos in the Kinki region, including Yusai HOSOKAWA in Tango Province and Junkei TSUTSUI in Yamato Province. Modern historians refer to the post as "Kinki Kanrei," comparing it to Kanto Kanrei. In 1582, Mitsuhide was put in charge of Nobunaga's military demonstration, "Kyoto On'uma-soroe," to be staged in Kyoto, and he completed it.

Honno-ji no Hen

On June 2, 1582, when, ordered by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI to help subjugate the Mori clan, Mitsuhide was heading for the battle early in the morning, he said "the enemy is in Honno-ji Temple," in entering Kyoto after crossing Katsura-gawa River, which completed his desire to assassinate the monarch Nobunaga. According to Honjo Soemon Oboegaki, however, rank and file soldiers were not informed of Mitsuhide's intention to kill Nobunaga. In this way, Mitsuhide attacked Honno-ji Temple, where Nobunaga was lodging, quickly with two groups of his soldiers and so surrounded Nobunaga. This pushed Nobunaga, protected by only a few guards, to commit suicide. Mitsuhide also killed Nobunaga's son Nobutada ODA, Sadakatsu MURAI of Kyoto Shoshidai and others in Nijo Gosho.

His name was to remain in history as a traitor since he overthrew his monarch Nobunaga, who promoted Mitsuhide, in Honno-ji no Hen. However, because Nobunaga's body had disappeared, Mitsuhide, could not get Nobunaga's head. On the other hand there are many who consider Mitsuhide's true intention, and the background of the incident was not clear, which allowed literary works to be published that portray Mitsuhide as a good or a bad person.

Battle of Yamazaki

Mitsuhide put Kyoto under control, but Fujitaka HOSOKAWA and Junkei TSUTSUI, to whom Mitsuhide had asked for cooperation, did not answer his request as he had expected. There being little time for restructuring his own administration, on June 13, eleven days after Honno-ji no Hen, in Oyamazaki-cho, which stretched over present Oyamazaki-cho in Kyoto Prefecture and Shimamoto-cho in Osaka Prefecture, Mitsuhide had to intercept Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's army, which had reconciled itself with the Mori clan on hearing of the incident and returned from Chugoku region (Battle of Yamazaki). At the battle, the Hashiba army had 24,000 soldiers (some say from 26,000 to 40,000) to the Akechi army's 12,000 (some say from 16,000 to 18,000). The Akechi army was said to be most skillful with guns among the ODA troops in those days, though it was inferior in number of soldiers. For this reason, the Akechi army was expected to have the advantage (from the uncertain commitment of the leadership and supporting forces of the Niwaka alliance's Hashiba army) if the battle were prolonged; and the Hashiba army could not be optimistic.

When the Hashiba army occupied the key point of Mt. Tennozan to decide the tide of the battle, however, there were only a few of Nobunaga's former vassals on the side of Mitsuhide, who had killed the monarch, and they were unable to overcome the other side's superior numbers.

He is supposed to have been pierced with a bamboo spear by a farmer (Ogurisu no Chobei) and died (in Ogurisu, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City) at midnight on the same day while escaping and making for Sakamoto (3-day conquest).

He is "supposed to have been pierced" because the head assumed to be his rotted in the hot summer and could not be identified; some theories say that Mitsuhide, fatally injured, asked his subordinate Shigetomo MIZOO to cut off his head, which was then buried in a bamboo grove or carried by Shobei MIZOO to Sakamoto-jo Castle or Kokusho-ji Temple.

Farewell Poems

The poem, "There are few differences between rebelling and serving, only because I respect Emperor as my lord. With my ambition of 55 years fading away, I will return to my lord, of every thing" from 'Akechi Gunki' is an imitation of a farewell poem by Masanori OGURI, who committed suicide in "Echigo Sodo," which occurred in Edo Period.

"I don't mind what others say, if they cannot understand my intention. I don't want life nor honor," from the 15th chapter of the sixth volume of Shinsho Taikoki," Mitsuhide AKECHI returning to Sakamoto."

Personality and Estimation

When fighting against Ikko-Ikki adherents in Nishi-Omi, 18 Akechi troops were killed in the battle. After that Mitsuhide donated rice to Saikyo-ji Temple to mourn for the dead. The donation letter is preserved in Saikyo-ji Temple as it was at that time. In addition to this letter, many consolatory letters to his subordinates who were injured in battles are preserved. Such consideration for vassals was rare among other military commanders. Such consideration for subordinates made his direct subordinates swear loyalty to Mitsuhide. Actually there were not any of Mitsuhide's vassals among the traitors in Honno-ji no Hen, and furthermore, they did their best in the Battle of Yamazaki in spite of their inferiority. A report says that about 200 of his mounted vassals rushed at the enemy to allow Mitsuhide to escape after he was defeated in Battle of Yamazaki.

The loyalty (centripetal force) of the Akechi troops cannot be described based solely on such a report but needs to be considered from other points of view.

One point is that many soldiers of the Akechi army were reinforcements sent by Nobunaga and he was their lord to the very end. Another point is that there were few promising supporters of Mitsuhide after Honno-ji no Hen. Still another point is that confusion arose among the Akechi troops after the Incident.

Taking these situations into consideration, it could be concluded that the attractive force of the organization symbolised by Nobunaga ODA was stronger than the centripetal force of Mitsuhide AKECHI.

Mitsuhide AKECHI and his upper officers may have intended by attacking Nobunaga to make the whole Akechi army accomplices and create a situation from which they could not escape.

At the investiture in 1575, only three people were given both a family name and an appointment; these were Mitsuhide AKECHI, Hiromasa YANADA and Naomasa BAN. At this moment, even forgetting Katsuie SHIBATA and Nobumori SAKUMA who had already been given appointments, Mitsuhide could be seen as having a higher position than Nagahide NIWA and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. It is understood that Nobunaga placed great trust in Mitsuhide, who was without doubt one of the top five people in the ODA administration at the time, taking into consideration that YANADA and BAN were Fudai generals.

Even now, there are many areas where they commemorate the long-lasting virtues of the late Mitsuhide, who was a cultured person conversant with many studies and fond of Waka and Chanoyu, and a prominent politician skillful in domestic politics giving good administration out of his love for the people.

After attacking Nobunaga and upon arriving at Kyoto, Mitsuhide gave gold and silver to the various powers of Kyoto, such as the Emperor, townspeople, temples and shrines. He also introduced a policy of exempting Rakuchu and Tamba people from their Jishisen (land-tax). In response to Mitsuhide's policy, Emperor Ogimachi dispatched his envoy to Mitsuhide three times in only seven days before the incident. In addition, the envoy who Emperor Ogimachi dispatched was Kanekazu YOSHIDA. Kanekazu YOSHIDA was not a formal Ason, though he was given an official rank from the Emperor as Jingikan.
From these circumstances, Emperor's calm judgment shows that the authority Mitsuhide had was accidental

From then on Mitsuhide was blamed for attacking his monarch Nobunaga, causing him to be mainly estimated to be a mean and sinister traitor until the beginning of the modern period. The Tokugawa Shogunate especially emphasized this view, which respected Confucian control, pointing out that on the very day of Honno-ji no Hen Nobunaga was followed by about 100 people including unarmed women and comrades, and further after the incident, the God Monarch Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was made to run the risk of crossing Iga.

According to "Akechi Mitsuhide ko kafu oboegaki," Mitsuhide visited the Imperial Palace after Honno-ji no Hen and was promoted to Junior 3rd Rank lieutenant and Seiitaishogun.

"Rojin zatsuwa" introduces the following words as Mitsuhide's. He said, "Lies of Buddha are upaya. Lies of samurais are strategy. And lies of farmers are something naïve." Some say that these words display his rationalism. For example, Mitsutoshi TAKAYANAGI says in his book "Mitsuhide AKECHI" that Mitsuhide and Nobunaga, who were both rationalists, could have gotten along well.

"History of Japan" written by Luis Frois depicts Mitsuhide as a person who "likes betrayal and secret assignation... pronounces atrocious punishments... is extremely patient... skillful in schemes and tactics... excellent in building castles... uses experienced soldiers successfully," and so on. Masaya SUZUKI and Masayuki FUJIMOTO inquire in their book "Was Nobunaga killed by the plot?", "Evaluations of Nobunaga by Frois are trusted by the public, whereas evaluations of Mitsuhide were ignored. Mitsuhide's evaluations should be reviewed."

The streets of Kameoka and Fukuchiyama cities that survive today began with the building of the castle by Mitsuhide. Kameoka Mitsuhide Festival is held in Kameoka city to commemorate Mitsuhide. In Fukuchiyama city, Fukuchiyama Ondo is handed down orally to remember Mitsuhide; it says "Leaving Fukuchiyama, crossing Nodano, advancing soldiers fast to Kameyama."


When Mitsuhide was a lower warrior to the Asakura clan, he was envied for his abilities by Asakura's vassals, so as a result he was not promoted to higher positions. It is believed that Mitsuhide left Yoshikage ASAKURA and served Nobunaga because Yoshikage, given wrong information from a man called Fukutomo KURATANI and believing it, gave Mitsuhide the cold shoulder.

He was a skillful rifleman who, while serving Yoshikage ASAKURA, hit a 3cm square target from a distance of about 45.5 meters. Taking the performance of matchlocks and bullets of that time into consideration, he was an extremely excellent gunman. Another anecdote says that he shot down a flying bird.

"When he fires 100 lead bullets, 68 bullets hit the black-marked center and the other 32 bullets fell within the target," from "Akechi Gunki."

He was known to be a devoted husband, and unlike other men he did not have mistresses while his wife Hiroko was alive.

While Hiroko was preparing for homemaking after the engagement, she suffered from chicken pox, and pockmarks remained on her face. Hiroko's father, ashamed of this, sent Hiroko's younger sister to him without informing him, but Mitsuhide learned of the situation and said " I have decided that Hiroko will be my wife not other women," and held a wedding with Hiroko.

Historical Sites

Since cracks appear on Mitsuhhide's grave located in Okunoin of Mt. Koya-san even though it is repaired many times, it is said that the cracks are the curse of Nobunaga.

Tradition says that Mitsuhide took shelter at "Sukematsuan," which was built by Jinkai Sho'nin in the precincts of Rensho-ji Temple, built in Izumiotsu City, Osaka Prefecture by Masanaga MIYOSHI's brother when Masanaga MIYOSHI was dominating Izumi. It is recorded in front of the gate of Koshu-ji Temple in Takaishi City, Osaka Prefecture, that Sukematsuan was transferred to the present location at Koshu-ji Temple, on a stone monument saying "AKECHI Hyuga no Kami Mitsuhide Koen no Tera." Furthermore, according to the "Izumi denshoshi "that was left to the area, since the body thought to be Mitsuhide was revealed to be an imposter or a double in the "Battle of Yamazaki," Mitsuhide ran to Myoshin-ji Temple, where he tried in vain to commit suicide before heading for Izumi Kaizuka. Regarding Mitsuhide's relationship with the Senshu area: a Buddhist memorial service was held for him until 1943 that involved hanging protective lanterns in Joroku Cemetery in Otori Minami-cho-3chome, Nishi Ward, Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, and a service for expressing thanks to him for promising Tokuseirei was held for many years in Toyonaka, Izumi Otsu City, Osaka Prefecture, which is now disappearing.

When Mitsuhide, often visiting the mines in Kuwata District (Hatano-cho, Kameoka-shi) for inspection, approached the mountain path, his horse stopped at a large rock. His horse, whipped by Mitsuhide, kicked the boulder many times with "horsepower" and climbed up with its body shivering. The footprints have since been called "the boulder where Mitsuhide AKECHI's horse slipped." The rock may have been buried when a golf course was built. From Kameoka City Federation of Senior Citizen's Club, "Wisdom of hometown Kameoka," in 1982.

The path along which Mitsuhide walked from Kameoka Basin to Mt. Atago at Atago-Hyakuin is called "Akechigoe" and is now a hiking course.

"Akechi-modoriiwa" is left on the Hoki Pass (Sogabe-cho, Kameoka-shi), where the first troops proceeding from Tamba Kameyama-jo Castle to Route 423 turned toward kyoto right before Honno-ji no Hen.

There is a grave for Mitsuhide AKECHI's head in Kokusho-ji Temple (Miyamae-cho, Kameoka City) where Shobei MIZOO brought it.

The Christian Theory

It has become evident that the seal that Mitsuhide used had a pattern related to Christianity. Some support the theory because there were many Christians among people close to Mitsuhide's daughter Garasha HOSOKAWA and subordinate Daimyo (Yoriki) Ukon TAKAYAMA.

The Truth about Atago-Hyakuin

Atago-Hyakuin was poetry club that Mitsuhide held in Atago-jinja Shrine in Mt. Atago (Kyoto-shi) before he instigated Honno-ji no Hen. Mitsuhide is said to have expressed his intention to rebel in that meeting, but this leaves many questions. In addition, people at the meeting other than Mitsuhide, such as Jo SATOMURA, exhibited many inexplicable behaviors. The following describes inexplicable or as-yet not understood aspects of Atago-Hyakuin.

Mitsuhide chanted in the meeting, "The time is now, May, when raindrops fall." This verse sounds in Japanese like the verse "Toki now knows heaven governs our land, in May," and so, some theory says that the verse was intended to mean Mitsuhide, from Toki, would lead the whole land. There is another opinion that the phrase "heaven governs our land" was based on the idea of the "Emperor's land and Emperor's people," meaning the Emperor should govern the whole land.

On the other hand, another theory says that Mitsuhide chanted at that moment, "The time is now, raindrops fall less, in May."

Others emphasize that if the verse was intended to mean Mitsuhide's intention to rebel, not only the first phrase but also the second phrase, "Minakami Masaru Niwa no Matsuyama," should be considered. First, the phrase "Minakami Masaru" means "the Genji clan is superior" on the premise that Mitsuhide is a Genji and Nobunaga a Taira. "Niwa" was used to mean the Emperor from ancient times. "Matsuyama" is a cliché used to say someone is hoping. The second phrase, therefore, can be interpreted to mean that the Emperor hopes that the Genji clan (Mitsuhide) will win.

The reason why the second phrase is seldom mentioned is thought to be the same as the issue of the Emperor's involvement (described later) in the incident, as emphasized by Kyoko TACHIBANA.

Cause of Honno-ji no Hen

The causes or reasons of Mitsuhide's rebellion against Nobunaga in Honno-ji no Hen have not been settled, though various reasons have been suggested. Theories suggested now will be described below.

The Grudge Theory

There are rumors and fables saying that Mitsuhide may have been treated mercilessly because the monarch Nobunaga was short-tempered and fierce. Examples will be described below.

Forced to drink Sake by Nobunaga, teetotaler Mitsuhide refused. Then Nobunaga said, "You don't drink my sake, so drink this", holding his sword to Mitsuhide's throat.

When Mitsuhide was about to leave the banquet discreetly, Nobunaga shouted, "This bald head," and hit Mitsuhide on the head ("bald head" may have been a pun based on recombination of Chinese characters from "Mitsuhide")

Nobunaga killed two former masters of Yagami-jo Castle in Tamba, brothers Hideharu HATANO and Hidehisa HATANO, whom Mitsuhide had forced to surrender by leaving his mother at the castle as a hostage to assure their safety. Vassals Yagami-jo Castle became furious and killed his mother (a fiction from Ehon Taikoki).

Nobunaga threw away the food that Mitsuhide had laboriously prepared, saying that it was rotten, to pick a fight with Mitsuhide, who had been asked to prepare some Kyoto cooking for the banquet in Azuchi-jo Castle held to reward the efforts of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who destroyed the Takedas. Another story says that rotted fish filled the whole Azuchi-jo Castle with fishy smell. Still another theory says that Nobunaga did not like the lightly seasoned foods, unique to Kyoto cooking, since, being from Owari, he liked salty foods. Owing to this case, Mitsuhide was ordered by Nobunaga to go to assist Hideyoshi.

Mitsuhide was informed that he could have two Provinces in the Chugoku region (Izumo and Iwami Provinces) if he could win the battles, but at the same time he would be ousted from Tamba Province in Shiga District (Omisakamoto).

When on the way to attack the Takeda clan, Mitsuhide said, "our efforts have been rewarded"; seeing powerful anti-Takeda families in Shinano Province gathering around the Nobunaga army, Nobunaga became furious, asked "what have you done ?" and ordered a page boy Ranmaru MORI to hit Mitsuhide with an iron fan, which humiliated Mitsuhide (Akechi Gunki).

Luis Frois also said in his writings that Nobunaga had thought lightly of Mitsuhide.

Tadachika KUWATA advocated, in his book entitled Akechi Mitsuhide, a "Grudge Theory of Honno-ji no Hen," based on his own research.

The Ambition Theory

A theory that Mitsuhide was aiming at governing the whole country. One opinion on this theory is that such a masterful intellect as Mitsuhide would not think that he could come into power through such a rebellion, and that it was the best chance for Mitsuhide to kill Nobunaga quickly because Mitsuhide had more than 100 times as many soldiers as Nobunaga did. Akechi Mitsuhide, by Mitsutoshi TAKAYANAGI, uses this explanation.

In addition, Mitsuhide himself may have joined to go against his dismissal by Nobumori SAKUMA. Sakuma Gunki suggests that the incident of his dismissal may have been plotted by someone who lied to entrap Nobumori, and says in the chapter on Nobuhide (Masakatsu) of Kansei choshu shokafu that later Mitsuhide AKECHI escaped to Mt. Koya with his father Nobumori after a betrayal. After Nobumori died, and knowing that there had not been a betrayal, Ufu (Nobunaga) was remorseful and forgave Masakatsu, incorporating him into Jonosuke Nobutada's army. He may have caused Honno-ji no Hen fearing that he would be punished if Nobunaga were to find out from later investigation that Mitsuhide did such a thing out of his desire to be promoted.

The Fear Theory

This is the theory that Mitsuhide killed Nobunaga out of fear that he would soon be dismissed if he did not achieve good results, just as Mobumori SAKUMA and Hidesada HAYASHI, who had served Nobunaga for many years, had been dismissed.

In another respect, unlike Nobunaga, who adopted nonstandard reform policies such as the new political and military policies, Mitsuhide had an idea of respecting traditional authority.

The Shogun's Order Theory/Muromachi Shogunate Restoration Theory

Since Mitsuhide had become Nobunaga's vassal to intermediate between Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA and Nobunaga, he could not refuse the offer from Yoshiaki, to whom he was indebted and closely related.

The Emperor's Order Theory

The Emperor, who thought that Nobunaga was thinking of replacing the Inner Palace, ordered Mitsuhide to stop him, resulting in Mitsuhide's committing treason. The premise of this theory is the claim by some that Nobunaga started to forcibly lobby Emperor Seishincho for transfer of political power around 1582, recent discovery of the remains of Azuchi-jo Castle Honmaru Goten, which may have been built after the Dairi Seiryoden.

Recently, Kyoko TACHIBANA has pointed out in her various papers based on "Tensho Junen (1582) Natsuki" and others that the Emperor, or Prince Sanehito and Sakihisa KONOE, were the key persons. "Tensho Junen Natsuki", on which the so-called "Imperial Puppet theory" was based, is part of the diary of Haretoyo KAJUJI, Buke Tenso and Prince Sanehito's step brother, and is highly reliable as historical material. According to the Tachibana theory, although it may be a fact that Emperor Seishincho recovered from a poor financial situation by creating a mutually dependent relationship with Nobunaga, it cannot be concluded that Nobunaga and the Emperor were on good terms. Taking into account the problem of the recommendation of Nobunaga for the three positions, it would seem that the Emperor saw a crisis in Nobunaga's series of actions. In the same book, however, the rumor that Maehisa KONOE was involved in Mitsuhide's rebellion is described as "HIKIYO," and if this is to be understood as "nonsense," the highly reliable Maehisa Connection theory disappears (Masanobu HASHIMOTO Theory). The value of the historical materials depends on whether "HIKIYO" is understood to mean outrageous/violent, or nonsense.

The idea of a connection with the Emperor or the imperial family is often argued along with the idea of a plot by Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA and a plot involving Atago Hyakuin poet Jo-SATOMURA, using contemporary historical materials as proof. For that reason much attention has been paid to these ideas, but no conclusion has been reached because of the complicated historical situation of those times.

The Shikoku Theory

A relatively new theory. Nobunaga ordered Mitsuhide to reconcile with the Chosokabe clan of Shikoku. Mitsuhide was also instrumental in getting Toshimitsu SAITO's sister married to Motochika CHOSOKABE, but in 1580 Nobunaga changed his policy and tried to govern Shikoku with force, for which Mitsuhide lost face. Another theory says Mitsuhide (actually Toshimitsu) attacked Honno-ji Temple right before troops gathered in Osaka to attack Shikoku.

The Jesuit Theory

This is the theory that the real powers that helped Nobunaga govern the whole country were the church and Southern European forces, which were at that time looking to make inroads into Asia with Jesuits in the lead. Since Nobunaga implemented policies which deviated from the plans of the Jesuits, Spain and Portugal to expand their colonies, Mitsuhide directed Honno-ji no Hen with Christianized warriors. Though this theory includes an alliance between Yoshishige OTOMO and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, there is another theory that Jesuit troops plotted to kill Nobunaga with other Christian Daimyos. Whether those theories are true or not, each has an issue of profit brought about by trading of niter, new guns and so on in addition to religious issues.

The Control by Warriors Theory

This is the theory that warriors surrounding the ODAs were the brains behind a plot. The names of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and Hideyoshi HASHIBA are mainly mentioned.

As for Ieyasu, it can be said to be because his oldest son Nobuyasu MATSUDAIRA and his wife Tsukimiyadono were forced to commit suicide by Nobunaga's order. Later, Ieyasu recommended Fuku (Kasuga no Tsubone), Toshimitsu SAITO's child by his wife, and Mitsuhide AKECHI's cousin (child of Mitsuhide's sister), to be Iemitsu TOKUGAWA's nurse (actually, Katsushige ITAKURA, the Kyoto Shoshidai, recommended Fuku).

As for Hideyoshi, some say that he felt uneasy about the future since Nobumori SAKUMA and Hidesada HAYASHI were dismissed (the fact that his return from the Chugoku region was so conveniently timed is a basis for suspicion).

One of other minor opinions is a theory that Yusai HOSOKAWA and Nobutada ODA were brains.


In addition to the theories outlined above, there is also a theory that says that Akechi's subordinate Kokuninshu made a request, which is the result of relatively recent research and the "control by Hongan-ji Temple theory."

Whether that is reliable or not, Nobunaga's various revolutionary policies may have been unacceptable to vassals of Mitsuhide. As seen in the governing of the Hokuriku region by Katsuie SHIBATA, one of Nobunaga's warriors, it can be imagined that changing the provinces all the time placed a heavy burden and great anxiety on those warriors. Nobunaga, who had himself changed his province several times, moved them to new provinces to develop the province, which may not have been a difficult matter for Nobunaga, but more so for his vassals, and was a possible cause of friction. Although there are few documents about the Akechi clan, their vassals and their followers, oral traditions spread by word of mouth; since there is so little direct evidence in the form of documents, it is necessary to analyze the authenticity of which cannot be verified.

With regard to the siege of Yagami-jo Castle that appears in the long-held-grudge theories, Mitsuhide's mother, who was held as a hostage, may have been an impostor (Mitsuhide's aunt). Though this idea has been picked up by several books, it has been transmitted orally that Mitsuhide's mother was held and protected in Tamba Midono, and if we believe this, this theory can be discounted as a major cause of Honno-ji no Hen, though Mitsuhide sacrificed his aunt as a hostage.

These reasons are not convincing because these theories are mainly based on episodes from books written in the middle of the Edo Period or later (that is, speculation from later days -
for example, the incident with Hideharu HATANO is now considered to have been a surrender due to internal strife, which does not require Mituhide's mother for a hostage), and academic rationality was put aside in favor of government policy starting in the Meiji Period, when Nobunaga ODA and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI were honored as heroes (although there are some materials from, such as Luis Frois's writings).

Mitsuhide was not only promoted by Nobunaga to the extent that he would not seem like a masterless samurai, but also rescued by Nobunaga in the Ishiyama Hongan-ji war; when Mitsihide was surrounded by 15,000 soldiers; Nobunaga rescued him with about 3,000 soldiers, himself taking blows at the front line; Mitsuhide seems to have been favored by Nobunaga after this episode. At the time of Honno-ji no Hen, Mitsuhide had 300,000 or 500,000 koku around Nobunaga's base in Azuchi and Kyoto, which is, historically, incredibly large, except for when Hideyoshi gave his brother Hidenaga one million koku in Yamato next to Osaka. This placement shows that Nobunaga placed great trust in Mitsuhide (this ultimately backfired). In Akechi Kaho it says, "I was promoted by Mr. Nobunaga from a status like a stone and given too much benefit. We vassals should not forget to serve Nobunaga even to our descendants." Some historians criticize Mitsuhide for this by saying "Mitsuhide is a fool who returned evil for good."

In an excavation of Honno-ji Temple, trench marks and a lot of burned tiles which seemed to have existed at the same time as Honno-ji no Hen were found, which scholars pointed out signal a possibility that Honno-ji may have been reconstructed for use as a fortress.

There are many opinions which say that Honno-ji no Hen was, somehow or other, too artless for Mitsuhide, who was honored as a intellectual warrior. It is demonstrative of this that when Mitsuhide instigated Honno-ji no Hen, Geni MAEDA and Nagamasu ODA (Urakusai) escaped from Kyoto.

Based on an anecdote about Mitsuhide drawing lots three times before Honno-ji no Hen, some say that Mitsuhide had difficulty in deciding to do it.

The words "Our enemy is at Honno-ji" were not spoken by Mitsuhide, but written years later by San'yo RAI.

The Nankobo-Tenkai Theory

A different theory says that Mitsuhide did not die in Ogurisu but became Nankobo Tenkai. Tenkai was a priest who worked brilliantly on the military staff of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA early in the Edo Period, but his career is full of unknowns.

Some other opinions on the matter:

There are many sculptures of Chinese bellflower, which is Mitsuhide's family crest, in Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine.

There is an area called Kegon Falls in Nikko.

It is speculated that the "hide" in the name of Hidetada TOKUGAWA and "mitsu" in Iemitsu TOKUGAWA may have come from Mitsuhide, and likewise with "tsuna" of Ietsuna TOKUGAWA from Mitsuhide's father Mitsutsuna AKECHI, "tsugu" of Ietsugu TOKUGAWA from Mitsuhide's grandfather Mitsutsugu AKECHI.

There is a stone monument on Mt. Hiei that was donated in the name of Mitsuhide after 1582, when Mitsuhide was supposed to have died.

There remains armor that Tenkai, regarded as a learned priest, is supposed to have worn.

A daughter of Toshimitsu SAITO, Mitsuhide's chief retainer, became a nurse (Kasuga no Tsubone) for Iemitsu TOKUGAWA.

Mitsuhide's grandchild Masazumi ODA (daughter's child) participated in the Siege of Osaka on the Toyotomi side, but was rescued after the Siege (it is unknown whether Tenkai involved in it or not).

such as above are mentioned.

But many warriors such as Kiyomasa KATO wore Chinese bellflower crests, not confined to Mitsuhide's, and it is not unnatural that Tenkai wore armor at a time as a priest soldier. Some say that the stone monument in Mt. Hiei is a forgery. If Tenkai was Mitsuhide AKECHI, he would have died at age 116 (recorded as 108), which is difficult to believe judging from the average life span at that time. However, handwriting verification done on a TV Tokyo program concluded that Tenkai was the same person or very close.

In reference to the relation between the priest and Mitsuhide, Mitsuhide's only portrait hangs in Kaiun-ji/Hontoku-ji Temple (Kishiwada-shi), and on the backside of Mitsuhide's memorial tablet in this temple are carved the words, "at this temple a grave was made in Keicho 4." The relation between these words and the memorial tablet is not known at present (some say it means Mitsuhide was alive until Keicho era).


According to "Akechi Keizu," the Akechi clan is a branch clan of the Toki clan, which is in the line of first-class Settsu Genji of Seiwa Genji. The Akechi clan originated in Akechisho, Mino Province (present-day Kani City, Gifu Prefecture-ken).


MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu - MINAMOTO no Yorikuni - MINAMOTO no Kunifusa - (6th omitted) - Yorisada TOKI - Yorimoto TOKI - Yorishige AKECHI - (7th omitted) - Mitsutsugu AKECHI - Mitsutaka AKECHI - Mitsuhide AKECHI


Mitsutsuna AKECHI

Omaki no Kata


Mitsuhide AKECHI

Nobutaka AKECHI

Yasuhide AKECHI


Lawful wife: Hiroko AKECHI


1st son: Mitsuyoshi AKECHI 2nd son: Sadayori TSUTSUI

1st daughter, 2nd daughter, Mitsutada AKECHI's wife and 3rd daughter: Garasha HOSOKAWA (aka Tama)
Tadaoki HOSOKAWA's wife

5th daughter

Unknown: Sadatsugu TSUTSUI's 2nd wife



Mitsuyasu AKECHI - Mitsuhide's uncle
After Mitsutsuna's death, Mitsuyasu led the Akechis, and some say he participated in the battle between Yoshiryu and Dosan on the side of Dosan and died; others say he was adopted by the Akechi Toyama clan and changed his name to Kageyuki TOYAMA.

Omi no Kata - Mitsuhide's aunt
Dosan SAITO's wife, mother of Nohime, Nobunaga ODA's wife.

Mitsuharu AKECHI - thought to be the daughter of Mitsuyasu AKECHI and Mitsuhide's uncle, though this is not clear. He is typically referred to as Hidemitsu AKECHI (Yaheiji MIYAKE).

Mitsutada AKECHI - Mitsuhide's uncle, son of either Mitsuhisa AKECHI or Mitsuyasu

Mitsuchika AKECHI - referred to as both Mitsuhide's cousin and Mitsutada's son, though this it is not clear.

Shigetoshi MIYAKE - Yoshimitsu AKECHI's son.
Amakusa Tomioka-jo Castle Chamberlain
Defeated and killed by Shiro AMAKUSA's Ikki army.


Tadaoki's successor and lord of the Kumamoto Domain Tadatoshi HOSOKAWA was the 3rd son of Garacha, but the blood relation was broken until Morihiro HOSOKAWA because of adoption.

Tadataka HOSOKAWA - Tadaoki HOSOKAWA's 1st son. Later he was disinherited and his ancestors became the Naizen family, vassals of Hosokawa, but carried on the lineage of Garasha.

Tadatoshi HOSOKAWA - Tadaoki HOSOKAWA's 3rd son
The 1st lord of Kumamoto Domain

Morihiro HOSOKAWA - ancestor of Tadatoshi HOSOKAWA, 18th of the Higo HOSOKAWAs
The 79th Prime Minister of Japan

Ryugen HOSOKAWA and Ryuichiro HOSOKAWA - descendants of Tadataka HOSOKAWA. Ryuichiro HOSOKAWA is Ryugen's nephew.

Descendants are many, if families of the 1st and 2nd daughters are included
The crest of Ryoma SAKAMOTO's family has bellflowers at the intersections, but since the crest when the family name was Ohama, before it became SAKAMOTO, had a 田 character with a circle, there is no relation to the Akechi clan.


Hidemitsu AKECHI

Toshimitsu SAITO

Hirotada TSUMAKI

Shigetomo ASAO

Mitsutada AKECHI


Masachika MATSUDA


Dengoro FUJITA

Sadayuki ATSUJI

Kaneaki MIMAKI

Kunitsugu YASUDA


Sadaoki ISE

Yoshikiyo KIMURA

Nobusada IKAI - Yoriki

Literature and Drama

Ehon taikoki (Japanese puppet show)

"Yuki" by Yasushi INOUE Shincho Sha (Paperback) 1968
contained in short-story collection "Roran."

"Kunitori Monogatari" by Ryotaro SHIBA Shincho Sha 1971 (Paperback)

"Kikyo no Hatakaze" (the flying flag with the balloon flower crest) by Norio NANJO Bungei Shunju

"Mitsuhide AKECHI" by Shin'ichiro TOKUNAGA PHP Lab. 1988 ISBN 4569564054

"Mitsuhide AKECHI" by Mitsugu AKECHI Bungei Shunju 1991 ISBN4167230240

"Hangyaku" by Shusaku ENDO Kodansha 1991 (Paperback)

"Kodansha Hi no Tori Denki Bunko Akechi Mitsuhide - Honno-ji no Hen" by Takuya HAMANO Kodansya 1991 ISBN4061475789

"Han Taikoki - Mitsuhide Haoden" by Sakujin KIRINO Gakushu Kenkyu Sha 1995

"Zehi ni oyobazu" by Bintaro YAMAGUCHI Seirindo 2006 ISBN44792603862

"Naniwa no Yume" by Bintaro YAMAGUCHI Seirindo 2006 ISBN4792603935

"Mrs. Garasha HOSOKAWA" by Ayako MIURA

"Oni to Hito to - Nobunaga to Mitsuhide" by Taichi SAKAIYA

"Sasara Sasabune" by Takarazuka Revue

"Tengan - Mitsuhide Fusui Kidan" by Manabu TOYA Kawadeshobo Shinsha 2007

And others

Motion Pictures

"Teki wa Honno-ji ni Ari" (The enemy is at Honno-ji) (1960 Mitsuhide: Koshiro MATSUMOTO Shochiku).

TV Dramas

NHK Televised Epic Drama "Kunitori Monogatari" (1973 Mitsuhide: Masaomi KONDO)

The motive for Honno-ji no Hen was made to be that Mitsuhide was deprived of his territory of Omi and Tamba by Nobunaga (Hideki TAKAHASHI) when Mitsuhide was suffering from neurosis.

NHK Televised Epic Drama "Kasuga no Tsubone" (1989, Mitsuhide: Hiroshi ITSUKI).

Depicted the scenes of Atago Hyakuin, and when Mitsuhide drew lots three times before Honno-ji no Hen.

NHK Televised Epic Drama "Nobunaga King of Japan" (1992, Mitsuhide: Michel TOMIOKA)

Overwork and insomnia, which were social issues at the time of broadcasting, were presented as the cause of Honno-ji no Hen. When Mitsuhide was informed that Nobunaga's (Naoto OGATA's) head was taken, he uttered "I have just been allowed to sleep.

NHK Televised epic Drama "Hideyoshi" (NHK Televised epic Drama) (1996, Mitsuhide: Kenichi HAGIWARA.

Mitsuhide was characterized as being tender toward family, especially to his mother. The cause of Honno-ji no Hen was presented as Nobunaga's (Tetsuya WATARI) leaving Mitsuhide's hostage mother (Yoko NOGIWA) to die.

NHK Televised epic Drama "Toshiie to Matsu Kaga hyakumangoku monogatari" (2002 Mitsuhide: Kenichi HAGIWARA)

Fear of Nobunaga (Takashi SORIMACHI) was presented as the cause of Honno-ji no Hen.

TV Tokyo New Spring Wide Samurai Drama "Kunitori Monogatari Shinshun waido jidaigeki ban," (2005, Mitsuhide: Atsuro WATABE).

NHK Televised epic Drama "Komyo ga Tsuji" (2006 Mitsuhide: Mitsugoro BANDO the 10th).

The relation between Mitsuhide and Nobunaga's (Hiroshi TACHI) lawful wife Nohime (Emi WAKUI) was spotlighted.

TV Asahi Sunday Western Movie Theater Special Edition "Nobunaga no Yakata" (2006 Mitsuhide: Fumiyo KOHINATA).

Fuji TV "Mitsuhide - Kami ni Aisarenakatta Otoko" (2007 Mitsuhide: Toshiaki KARASAWA).

Judging that Nobunaga (Takaya KAMIKAWA) would not create a peaceful land, Mitsuhide raised Honno-ji no Hen in the hope that Hideyoshi (Toshiro YANAGIBA) would cut off his head and govern the land.

TV Asahi Sunday Western Movie Theater Special Edition "Teki wa Honno-ji ni ari" (2007 Mitsuhide: Baijaku NAKAMURA).


"Kanashi no Homura: Yume Maboroshi no Gotoku" by Eri TOMOMURA (2007- on FlexComix Flare).


"Samurai Warriors" series by Koe

"Devil Kings" series (CAPCOM)

Popular Songs

"Akechi Mitsuhide" by Koji HAMAKITA.


"Commander of the Nobunaga forces" by Katsuhiro TANIGUCHI, Chuo Koron Shinsha Chuko Shinsho 1782, 2005 ISBN 4-12-101782-X

[Original Japanese]