Mon monshō, kamon, are Japanese emblems used to decorate and identify an individual, a family, or an institution or business entity. While mon is an encompassing term that may refer to any such device and mondokoro refer to emblems used to identify a family. An authoritative mon reference compiles Japan's 241 general categories of mon based on structural resemblance, with 5116 distinct individual mon; the devices are similar to the badges and coats of arms in European heraldic tradition, which are used to identify individuals and families. Mon are referred to as crests in Western literature, another European heraldic device similar to the mon in function. Mon may have originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals or signify membership of a specific clan or organization. By the twelfth century, sources give a clear indication that heraldry had been implemented as a distinguishing feature for use in battle, it is seen on flags and equipment. Like European heraldry, mon were held only by aristocratic families, were adapted by commoners.
On the battlefield, mon served as army standards though this usage was not universal and uniquely designed army standards were just as common as mon-based standards. Mon were adapted by various organizations, such as merchant and artisan guilds and shrines, theater troupes and criminal gangs. In an illiterate society, they served as useful symbols for recognition. Japanese traditional formal attire displays the mon of the wearer. Commoners without mon used those of their patron or the organization they belonged to. In cases when none of those were available, they sometimes used one of the few mon which were seen as "vulgar", or invented or adapted whatever mon they wished, passing it on to their descendants, it was not uncommon for shops, therefore shop-owners, to develop mon to identify themselves. Rules regulating the choice and use of mon were somewhat limited, though the selection of mon was determined by social customs, it was considered improper to use a mon, known to be held by someone else, offensive to use a mon, held by someone of a high rank.
When mon came into conflict, the lower-ranked person sometimes changed their mon to avoid offending their superior. The mon held by the ruling clans of Japan, such as Tokugawa's hollyhock mon and the Emperor's chrysanthemum mon, were protected from unauthorized usage. Patron clans granted the use of their mon to their retainers as a reward. Similar to the granting of the patron's surnames, this was considered a high honor. Alternatively, the patron clan may have added elements of its mon to that of its retainer, or chosen an different mon for them. There are no set rules in the design of a mon. Most consist of a roundel encircling a figure of plant, man-made, natural or celestial objects, all abstracted to various degrees. Religious symbols, geometric shapes and kanji were used as well. Similar to the blazon in European heraldry, mon are named by the content of the design though there is no set rule for such names. Unlike in European heraldry, this "blazon" is not prescriptive—the depiction of a mon does not follow the name—instead the names only serve to describe the mon.
The pictorial depictions of the mon are not formalized and small variations of what is supposed to be the same mon can sometimes be seen, but the designs are for the most part standardized through time and tradition. The degree of variation tolerated differ from mon to mon as well. For example, the paulownia crest with 5-7-5 leaves is reserved for the prime minister, whereas paulownia with fewer leaves could be used by anyone; the imperial chrysanthemum specifies 16 petals, whereas chrysanthemum with fewer petals are used by other lesser imperial family members. Japanese heraldry does not have a cadency or quartering system, but it is not uncommon for cadet branches of a family to choose a different mon from the senior branch; each princely family, for example, uses a modified chrysanthemum crest as their mon. Mon holders may combine their mon with that of their patron, benefactor or spouse, sometimes creating complicated designs. Mon are monochrome. All modern Japanese families have a mon, but unlike before the Meiji Restoration when rigid social divisions existed, mon play a more specialized role in everyday life.
On occasions when the use of a mon is required, one can try to look up their families in the temple registries of their ancestral hometown or consult one of the many genealogical publications available. Many websites offer mon lookup services. Professional wedding planners and other "ritual masters" may offer guidance on finding the proper mon. Mon are seen on stores and shops engaged in traditional crafts and specialties, they are favored by sushi restaurants, which incorporate a mon into their logos. Mon designs can be seen on the ceramic roof tiles of older houses. Mon designs decorate senbei, sake and other packaging for food products to lend them an air of elegance and tradition; the paulownia mon appears on the obverse side of the 500 yen coin. Items symbolizing family crafts, arts or professions were chosen as a mon. A fan design might be chosen by a geisha. A woman may still wear her maiden mon
Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a preeminent daimyō, general and politician of the Sengoku period, regarded as Japan's second "great unifier". He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, brought an end to the Warring Lords period; the period of his rule is called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle. After his death, his young son Hideyori was displaced by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Hideyoshi is noted for a number of cultural legacies, including the restriction that only members of the samurai class could bear arms, he financed the construction and rebuilding of many temples standing today in Kyoto. He is known for ordering the Japanese invasions of Korea. Little is known for certain about Hideyoshi before 1570 when he begins to appear in surviving documents and letters, his autobiography starts in 1577 but in it, Hideyoshi spoke little about his past. According to tradition, he was born in the home of the Oda clan, he was born of no traceable samurai lineage. He had no surname, his childhood given name was Hiyoshi-maru although variations exist.
Yaemon died in 1543, when Hideyoshi was 7, the younger of two children, his sibling being an older sister. Many legends describe Hideyoshi being sent to study at a temple as a young man, but he rejected temple life and went in search of adventure. Under the name Kinoshita Tōkichirō, he first joined the Imagawa clan as a servant to a local ruler named Matsushita Yukitsuna, he travelled all the way to the lands of Imagawa Yoshimoto, daimyō of Suruga Province, served there for a time, only to abscond with a sum of money entrusted to him by Matsushita Yukitsuna. In 1558, he joined the Oda clan, now headed by Oda Nobunaga, as an ashigaru, he became one of Nobunaga's sandal-bearers and was present at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560 when Nobunaga defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto to become one of the most powerful warlords in the Sengoku period. According to his biographers, he supervised the repair of Kiyosu Castle, a claim described as "apocryphal", managed the kitchen. In 1561, Hideyoshi married One, Asano Nagakatsu's adopted daughter.
He carried out repairs on Sunomata Castle with his younger brother Toyotomi Hidenaga and Hachisuka Masakatsu and Maeno Nagayasu. Hideyoshi's efforts were well received, he constructed a fort in Sunomata, according to legend overnight, discovered a secret route into Mount Inaba after which much of the garrison surrendered. Hideyoshi was successful as a negotiator. In 1564, he managed to convince with liberal bribes, a number of Mino warlords to desert the Saitō clan. Hideyoshi approached many Saitō clan samurai and convinced them to submit to Nobunaga, including the Saitō clan's strategist, Takenaka Shigeharu. Nobunaga's easy victory at Inabayama Castle in 1567 was due to Hideyoshi's efforts, despite his peasant origins, Hideyoshi became one of Nobunaga's most distinguished generals taking the name Hashiba Hideyoshi; the new surname included two characters, one each from Oda's two other right-hand men, Niwa Nagahide and Shibata Katsuie. Hideyoshi led troops in the Battle of Anegawa in 1570 in which Oda Nobunaga allied with Tokugawa Ieyasu to lay siege to two fortresses of the Azai and Asakura clans.
He participated in the 1573 Siege of Nagashima. In 1573, after victorious campaigns against the Azai and Asakura, Nobunaga appointed Hideyoshi daimyō of three districts in the northern part of Ōmi Province. Based at the former Azai headquarters in Odani, Hideyoshi moved to Kunitomo and renamed the city Nagahama in tribute to Nobunaga. Hideyoshi moved to the port at Imahama on Lake Biwa. From there he began work on Imahama Castle and took control of the nearby Kunitomo firearms factory, established some years by the Azai and Asakura. Under Hideyoshi's administration, the factory's output of firearms increased dramatically, he fought in the Battle of Nagashino. Nobunaga sent Hideyoshi to Himeji Castle to conquer the Chūgoku region from the Mori clan in 1576, he fought in the 1577 Battle of Tedorigawa, the Siege of Miki, the Siege of Itami, the 1582 Siege of Takamatsu. After the assassinations at Honnō-ji of Oda Nobunaga and his eldest son Nobutada in 1582 at the hands of Akechi Mitsuhide, seeking vengeance for the death of his beloved lord, made peace with the Mōri clan and defeated Akechi at the Battle of Yamazaki.
At a meeting at Kiyosu to decide on a successor to Nobunaga, Hideyoshi cast aside the apparent candidate, Oda Nobutaka and his advocate, Oda clan's chief general, Shibata Katsuie, by supporting Nobutada's young son, Oda Hidenobu. Having won the support of the other two Oda elders, Niwa Nagahide and Ikeda Tsuneoki, Hideyoshi established Hidenobu's position, as well as his own influence in the Oda clan. Tension escalated between Hideyoshi and Katsuie, at the Battle of Shizugatake in the following year, Hideyoshi destroyed Katsuie's forces. Hideyoshi had thus consolidated his own power, dealt with most of the Oda clan, controlled 30 provinces. In 1582, Hideyoshi began construction of Osaka Castle. Built on the site of the temple Ishiyama Hongan-ji destroyed by Nobunaga, the castle would become the last stronghold of the Toyotomi clan after Hideyoshi's death. Nobunaga's other son, Oda Nobukatsu, remained hostile to Hideyoshi, he allied himself with Tokugawa Ieyasu, the two sides fought at the inconclusive Battle of Komaki and Nagakute.
It resulted in a stalemate, although Hideyoshi's forces were delivered a
Oda Nobunaga was a powerful daimyō of Japan in the late 16th century who attempted to unify Japan during the late Sengoku period, gained control over most of Honshu. Nobunaga is regarded as one of three unifiers of Japan along with his retainers Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. During his life, Nobunaga was known for most brutal suppression of determined opponents, eliminating those who by principle refused to cooperate or yield to his demands, his reign was noted for innovative military tactics, fostering free trade, encouraging the start of the Momoyama historical art period. He was killed; the goal of national unification and a return to the comparative political stability of the earlier Muromachi period was shared by the multitude of autonomous daimyōs during the Sengoku period. Oda Nobunaga was the first for. Nobunaga had gained control over most of Honshu before his death during the 1582 Honnō-ji incident, a coup attempt executed by Nobunaga's vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide. Nobunaga was betrayed by his own retainers.
The motivation behind Mitsuhide's betrayal was never revealed to anyone who survived the incident, has been a subject of debate and conjecture since the incident. Following the incident, Mitsuhide declared himself master over Nobunaga's domains, but was defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who regained control of and expanded the Oda holdings. Nobunaga's successful subjugation of much of Honshu enabled the successes of his allies Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu toward the goal of national unification by subjugating local daimyōs under a hereditary shogunate, accomplished in 1603 when Ieyasu was granted the title of shōgun by Emperor Go-Yōzei following the successful Sekigahara Campaign of 1600; the nature of the succession of power through the three daimyōs is reflected in a well-known Japanese idiom: "Nobunaga pounds the national rice cake, Hideyoshi kneads it, in the end, Ieyasu sits down and eats it." All three were born within eight years of each other, started their careers as samurai and finished them as statesmen.
Nobunaga inherited his father's domain at the age of 17, gained control of Owari province through gekokujo. Hideyoshi started his career in Nobunaga's army as an ashigaru, but rose up through the ranks as a samurai. Ieyasu fought against Nobunaga, but joined his army. Oda Nobunaga was born on June 23, 1534, in the Owari domain, was given the childhood name of Kippōshi, he was the second son of a deputy shugo with land holdings in Owari Province. He is said to have been born in Nagoya Castle. Through his childhood and early teenage years, he was well known for his bizarre behavior and received the name of Owari no Ōutsuke, he was known to run around with other youths from the area, without any regard to his own rank in society. With the introduction of firearms into Japan, however, he became known for his fondness of tanegashima firearms. In 1551, Oda Nobuhide died unexpectedly. Nobunaga was said to have acted outrageously during his funeral, throwing ceremonial incense at the altar. Hirate Masahide, a valuable mentor and retainer to Nobunaga, performed seppuku to startle Nobunaga into his obligations.
Although Nobunaga was Nobuhide's legitimate heir, some of the Oda clan were divided against him. Collecting about a thousand men, Nobunaga suppressed those members of his family who were hostile to his rule, including his younger brother, Oda Nobuyuki. In 1556, he destroyed a rival branch located in Kiyosu Castle. Although Nobuyuki and his supporters were still at large, Nobunaga took an army to Mino Province to aid Saitō Dōsan after Dōsan's son, Saitō Yoshitatsu, turned against him; the campaign failed, as Dōsan was killed in the Battle of Nagara-gawa, Yoshitatsu became the new master of Mino in 1556. In 1557, Nobunaga's brother, was defeated in the Siege of Suemori by Ikeda Nobuteru. In 1558, he protected Suzuki Shigeteru in the Siege of Terabe. By 1559, Nobunaga had eliminated all opposition within Owari Province. In 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto gathered an army of 25,000 men and started his march toward Kyoto, with the pretext of aiding the frail Ashikaga shogunate; the Matsudaira clan of Mikawa Province joined Yoshimoto's forces.
Against this, the Oda clan could rally an army of only 2,000 to 3,000. Some of Nobunaga's advisers suggested "to stand a siege at Kiyosu". Nobunaga refused, stating that "only a strong offensive policy could make up for the superior numbers of the enemy", calmly ordered a counterattack. Nobunaga's scouts reported that Yoshimoto was resting at the narrow gorge of Dengaku-hazama, ideal for a surprise attack, that the Imagawa army was celebrating their victories while Yoshimoto viewed the heads. Nobunaga set up a position some distance away. An array of flags and dummy troops made of straw and spare helmets gave the impression of a large host, while the real Oda army hurried round in a rapid march to get behind Yoshimoto's camp; the heat gave way to a terrific thunderstorm. As the Imagawa samurai sheltered from the rain Nobunaga deployed his troops, when the storm ceased they charged down upon the enemy in the gorge, so that Yoshimoto thought a brawl had broken out among his men, only realizing it was an attack when two samurais charged up.
One aimed a spear at him, which Yoshimoto
Battle of Sekigahara
The Battle of Sekigahara was a decisive battle on October 21, 1600, that preceded the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. Tokugawa Ieyasu took three more years to consolidate his position of power over the Toyotomi clan and the various daimyō, but Sekigahara is considered to be the unofficial beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate, the last shogunate to control Japan. Oda Nobunaga had consolidated control over much of Japan and was in control of the Shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshiaki. Yoshiaki tried to escape this predicament in 1573 by attacking Nobunaga, but failed and was exiled, thus ending the Ashikaga shogunate. Nobunaga ruled unopposed until he was betrayed by his own retainer Akechi Mitsuhide and died at the Honnō-ji Incident of 1582. Toyotomi Hideyoshi avenged his master and consolidated control over Japan. Hideyoshi had risen from humble roots – his father was an ashigaru – to become the ruler of Japan, his death created a power vacuum, resolved by the outcome at Sekigahara. Though Toyotomi Hideyoshi unified Japan and consolidated his power following the Siege of Odawara in 1590, his failures in his invasions of Korea weakened the Toyotomi clan's power as well as the support of the loyalists and bureaucrats who continued to serve and support the Toyotomi clan after Hideyoshi's death during the second invasion.
The presence of Hideyoshi and his brother Hidenaga kept the two main factions of the time, which rallied behind Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu from anything more than quarrelling, but when both of them died, the conflicts were exacerbated and developed into open hostilities. With no appointed shōgun over the armies, this left a power vacuum in the Japanese government. Most notably, Katō Kiyomasa and Fukushima Masanori were publicly critical of the bureaucrats Ishida Mitsunari and Konishi Yukinaga. Tokugawa Ieyasu took advantage of this situation, recruited them, redirecting the animosity to weaken the Toyotomi clan. Tokugawa Ieyasu was unrivalled in terms of seniority, rank and overall influence within the regency of the Toyotomi clan after the death of regent Maeda Toshiie. Rumours started to spread stating that Ieyasu, at that point the only surviving contemporary ally of Oda Nobunaga, would take over Hideyoshi's legacy just as Nobunaga's was taken; this was evident amongst the loyalist bureaucrats, who suspected Ieyasu of agitating unrest amongst Toyotomi's former vassals.
A supposed conspiracy to assassinate Ieyasu surfaced, many Toyotomi loyalists, including Maeda Toshiie's son, were accused of taking part and forced to submit to Ieyasu's authority. However, Uesugi Kagekatsu, one of Hideyoshi's appointed regents, defied Ieyasu by building up his military; when Ieyasu condemned him and demanded that he come to Kyoto to explain himself, Kagekatsu's chief advisor, Naoe Kanetsugu responded with a counter-condemnation that mocked Ieyasu's abuses and violations of Hideyoshi's rules, Ieyasu was infuriated. Afterwards, Ieyasu summoned the help of various supporters and led them northward to attack the Uesugi clan. Many of them were at that moment besieging Hasedō though. Ishida Mitsunari, grasping the opportunity created by the chaos, rose up in response and created an alliance to challenge Ieyasu's supporters. Ishida, in his home Sawayama Castle, met with Ōtani Yoshitsugu, Mashita Nagamori, Ankokuji Ekei. Here, they forged the alliance, invited Mōri Terumoto to be its head.
Thus formed what came to be referred to as the Western Army. Mōri seized Osaka Castle for their base of operations, since most of Tokugawa’s forces had vacated the area to attack Uesugi. Ishida wanted to reinforce Mōri at the impregnable Osaka Castle; this would let Ishida challenge the Tokugawa. To this end, Ishida’s forces headed for Gifu Castle in order to use it as a staging area to move on Kyoto, since it was controlled by his ally Oda Hidenobu. Back in Edo, Tokugawa Ieyasu received news of the situation in the Kansai region and decided to deploy his forces. Ieyasu himself commanded his subordinates led another 40,000 men; this made up the bulk of what would be called the Eastern Army. He had some former Toyotomi daimyō engage with the Western Army, while he split his troops and marched west on the Tōkaidō towards Osaka. Since the Tokugawa army departed from Edo, it could only take two roads, both of which converged on Gifu Castle. Ieyasu marched on Gifu; this fortress was a halfway point between Osaka and Kyoto and was controlled by the Tokugawa ally Torii Mototada.
Ishida could not risk leaving a force that could attack his rear, so he marched on it. It took him ten days to capture Fushimi, in that time Gifu Castle had fallen; this forced Ishida Mitsunari to retreat southward in the rain. Tired from a day's march and their gunpowder wet from the rain and his forces stopped at Sekigahara. "Ishida deployed his troops in a strong defensive position, flanked by two streams with high ground on the opposite banks." His right flank was reinforced by daimyō Kobayakawa Hideaki on Mount Matsuo. On October 20, 1600, Ieyasu learned that Ishida Mitsunari had deployed his troops at Sekigahara in a defensive position, they had been following the Western Army, benefited from better weather. At dawn of the next day, the Tokugawa advance guard stumbled into Ishida's army. Neither side saw each other due to the dense fog caused by the earlier rain. Both sides panicked and withdrew, but this resulted in both sides being aware of their adversary's presence. Ishida held his current defensi
Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south; the kanji that make up Japan's name mean "sun origin", it is called the "Land of the Rising Sun". Japan is a stratovolcanic archipelago consisting of about 6,852 islands; the four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan's land area and are referred to as home islands. The country is divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions, with Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture and Okinawa being the southernmost one; the population of 127 million is the world's tenth largest. 90.7 % of people live in cities. About 13.8 million people live in the capital of Japan. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world with over 38 million people. Archaeological research indicates; the first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD.
Influence from other regions China, followed by periods of isolation from Western Europe, has characterized Japan's history. From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military shōguns who ruled in the name of the Emperor. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West. After nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection, the Imperial Court regained its political power in 1868 through the help of several clans from Chōshū and Satsuma – and the Empire of Japan was established. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism; the Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II in 1941, which came to an end in 1945 following the Japanese surrender. Since adopting its revised constitution on May 3, 1947, during the occupation led by SCAP, the sovereign state of Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with an Emperor and an elected legislature called the National Diet.
Japan is a member of the ASEAN Plus mechanism, UN, the OECD, the G7, the G8, the G20, is considered a great power. Its economy is the world's third-largest by nominal GDP and the fourth-largest by purchasing power parity, it is the world's fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer. Japan benefits from a skilled and educated workforce. Although it has renounced its right to declare war, Japan maintains a modern military with the world's eighth-largest military budget, used for self-defense and peacekeeping roles. Japan is a developed country with a high standard of living and Human Development Index, its population enjoys the highest life expectancy and third lowest infant mortality rate in the world, but is experiencing issues due to an aging population and low birthrate. Japan is renowned for its historical and extensive cinema, influential music industry, video gaming, rich cuisine and its major contributions to science and modern technology; the Japanese word for Japan is 日本, pronounced Nihon or Nippon and means "the origin of the sun".
The character nichi means "sun" or "day". The compound therefore means "origin of the sun" and is the source of the popular Western epithet "Land of the Rising Sun"; the earliest record of the name Nihon appears in the Chinese historical records of the Tang dynasty, the Old Book of Tang. At the end of the seventh century, a delegation from Japan requested that Nihon be used as the name of their country; this name may have its origin in a letter sent in 607 and recorded in the official history of the Sui dynasty. Prince Shōtoku, the Regent of Japan, sent a mission to China with a letter in which he called himself "the Emperor of the Land where the Sun rises"; the message said: "Here, I, the emperor of the country where the sun rises, send a letter to the emperor of the country where the sun sets. How are you". Prior to the adoption of Nihon, other terms such as Yamato and Wakoku were used; the term Wa is a homophone of Wo 倭, used by the Chinese as a designation for the Japanese as early as the third century Three Kingdoms period.
Another form of Wa, Wei in Chinese) was used for an early state in Japan called Nakoku during the Han dynasty. However, the Japanese disliked some connotation of Wa 倭, it was therefore replaced with the substitute character Wa, meaning "togetherness, harmony"; the English word Japan derives from the historical Chinese pronunciation of 日本. The Old Mandarin or early Wu Chinese pronunciation of Japan was recorded by Marco Polo as Cipangu. In modern Shanghainese, a Wu dialect, the pronunciation of characters 日本; the old Malay word for Japan, Japun or Japang, was borrowed from a southern coastal Chinese dialect Fukienese or Ningpo – and this Malay word was encountered by Portuguese traders in Southeast Asia in the 16th century. These Early Portuguese traders brought the word
Tokugawa Ieyasu was the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shōgun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but remained in power until his death in 1616, his given name is sometimes spelled Iyeyasu, according to the historical pronunciation of the kana character he. Ieyasu was posthumously enshrined at Nikkō Tōshō-gū with the name Tōshō Daigongen, he was one of the three unifiers of Japan, along with his former lord Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. During the Muromachi period, the Matsudaira clan controlled a portion of Mikawa Province. Ieyasu's father, Matsudaira Hirotada, was a minor local warlord based at Okazaki Castle who controlled a portion of the Tōkaidō highway linking Kyoto with the eastern provinces, his territory was sandwiched between stronger and predatory neighbors, including the Imagawa clan based in Suruga Province to the east and the Oda clan to the west.
Hirotada's main enemy was the father of Oda Nobunaga. Tokugawa Ieyasu was born in Okazaki Castle on the 26th day of the twelfth month of the eleventh year of Tenbun, according to the Japanese calendar. Named Matsudaira Takechiyo, he was the son of Matsudaira Hirotada, the daimyō of Mikawa of the Matsudaira clan, Odai-no-kata, the daughter of a neighbouring samurai lord, Mizuno Tadamasa, his mother and father were step-siblings. They were just 17 and 15 years old when Ieyasu was born. In the year of Ieyasu's birth, the Matsudaira clan was split. In 1543, Hirotada's uncle, Matsudaira Nobutaka defected to the Oda clan; this gave Oda Nobuhide the confidence to attack Okazaki. Soon afterwards, Hirotada's father-in-law died, his son Mizuno Nobumoto revived the clan's traditional enmity against the Matsudaira and declared for Oda Nobuhide as well; as a result, Hirotada sent her back to her family. As both husband and wife remarried and both went on to have further children, Ieyasu had 11 half-brothers and sisters.
As Oda Nobuhide continued to attack Okazaki, in 1548 Hirotada turned to his powerful eastern neighbor, Imagawa Yoshimoto for assistance. Yoshimoto agreed to an alliance under the condition that Hirotada send his young heir to Sunpu Domain as a hostage. Oda Nobuhide, learned of this arrangement and had Ieyasu abducted from his entourage en route to Sunpu. Ieyasu was just five years old at the time. Nobuhide threatened to execute Ieyasu. Despite this refusal, Nobuhide chose not to kill Ieyasu, but instead held him as a hostage for the next three years at the Mansho-ji Temple in Nagoya. In 1549, when Ieyasu was 6, his father Hirotada was murdered by his own vassals, bribed by the Oda clan. At about the same time, Oda Nobuhide died during an epidemic. Nobuhide's death dealt a heavy blow to the Oda clan. An army under the command of Imagawa Sessai laid siege to the castle where Oda Nobuhiro, Nobuhide's eldest son and the new head of the Oda, was living. With the castle about to fall, Sessai offered a deal to Nobuhide's second son.
Sessai offered to give up the siege. Nobunaga agreed, so Ieyasu was taken as a hostage to Sumpu. At Sumpu, he remained a hostage, but was treated well as a useful future ally of the Imagawa clan until 1556 when he was 15 years old. In 1556 Ieyasu came of age, with Imagawa Yoshimoto presiding over his genpuku ceremony. Following tradition, he changed his name from Matsudaira Takechiyo to Matsudaira Jirōsaburō Motonobu, he was briefly allowed to visit Okazaki to pay his respects to the tomb of his father, receive the homage of his nominal retainers, led by the karō Torii Tadayoshi. One year at the age of 13, he married his first wife, Lady Tsukiyama, a relative of Imagawa Yoshitmoto, changed his name again to Matsudaira Kurandonosuke Motoyasu. Allowed to return to his native Mikawa, the Imagawa ordered him to fight the Oda clan in a series of battles. Motoyasu fought his first battle in 1558 at the Siege of Terabe; the castellan of Terabe in western Mikawa, Suzuki Shigeteru, betrayed the Imagawa by defecting to Oda Nobunaga.
This was nominally within Matsudaira territory, so Imagawa Yoshimoto entrusted the campaign to Ieyasu and his retainers from Okazaki. Ieyasu led the attack in person, but after taking the outer defences, grew fearful of a counterattack to the rear, so he burned the main castle and withdrew; as anticipated, the Oda forces attacked his rear lines, but Motoyasu was prepared and drove off the Oda army. He succeeded in delivering supplies in the 1559 Siege of Odaka. Odaka was the only one of five disputed frontier forts under attack by the Oda which remained in Imagawa hands. Motoyasu launched diversionary attacks against the two neighboring forts, when the garrisons of the other forts went to their assistance, Ieyasu's supply column was able to reach Odaka. By 1560 the leadership of the Oda clan had passed to the brilliant leader Oda Nobunaga. Imagawa Yoshimoto, leading a large army invaded Oda clan territory. Motoyasu was assigned a separate mission to capture the stronghold of Marune; as a result, he and his men were not present at the Battle of Okehazama where Yoshimoto was killed in Nobunaga's surprise assault.
With Yoshimoto dead, the Imagawa clan in a state of confus
Seppuku, sometimes referred to as harakiri, is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. It was reserved for samurai, but was practiced by other Japanese people on to restore honor for themselves or for their families. A samurai practice, seppuku was used either voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies, as a form of capital punishment for samurai who had committed serious offenses, or performed because they had brought shame to themselves; the ceremonial disembowelment, part of a more elaborate ritual and performed in front of spectators, consists of plunging a short blade, traditionally a tantō, into the belly and drawing the blade from left to right, slicing the belly open. If the cut is performed enough it can sever the descending aorta, causing a rapid death by blood loss; the term "seppuku" is derived from the two Sino-Japanese roots setsu 切 and puku 腹. It is known as harakiri. Harakiri is in reverse order with an okurigana. In Japanese, the more formal seppuku, a Chinese on'yomi reading, is used in writing, while harakiri, a native kun'yomi reading, is used in speech.
Ross notes, It is pointed out that hara-kiri is a vulgarism, but this is a misunderstanding. Hara-kiri is Kun-yomi of the characters. So hara-kiri is a spoken term, but only to commoners and seppuku a written term, but spoken amongst higher classes for the same act; the practice of performing seppuku at the death of one's master, known as oibara or tsuifuku, follows a similar ritual. The word jigai means "suicide" in Japanese; the modern word for suicide is jisatsu. In some popular western texts, such as martial arts magazines, the term is associated with suicide of samurai wives; the term was introduced into English by Lafcadio Hearn in his Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation, an understanding which has since been translated into Japanese. Joshua S. Mostow notes that Hearn misunderstood the term jigai to be the female equivalent of seppuku; the first recorded act of seppuku was performed by Minamoto no Yorimasa during the Battle of Uji in the year 1180. Seppuku was used by warriors to avoid falling into enemy hands, to attenuate shame and avoid possible torture.
Samurai could be ordered by their daimyō to carry out seppuku. Disgraced warriors were sometimes allowed to carry out seppuku rather than be executed in the normal manner; the most common form of seppuku for men was composed of the cutting of the abdomen, when the samurai was finished, he stretched out his neck for an assistant to sever his spinal cord. It was the assistant's job to decapitate the samurai in one swing, otherwise it would bring great shame to the assistant and his family; those who did not belong to the samurai caste were never expected to carry out seppuku. Samurai could carry out the act only with permission. Sometimes a daimyō was called upon to perform seppuku as the basis of a peace agreement; this weakened the defeated clan so that resistance ceased. Toyotomi Hideyoshi used an enemy's suicide in this way on several occasions, the most dramatic of which ended a dynasty of daimyōs; when the Hōjō were defeated at Odawara in 1590, Hideyoshi insisted on the suicide of the retired daimyō Hōjō Ujimasa, the exile of his son Ujinao.
The practice was not standardised until the 17th century. In the 12th and 13th centuries, such as with the seppuku of Minamoto no Yorimasa, the practice of a kaishakunin had not yet emerged, thus the rite was considered far more painful. Seppuku's defining characteristic was plunging either the tachi, wakizashi or tantō into the gut and slicing the abdomen horizontally. In the absence of a kaishakunin, the samurai would remove the blade, stab himself in the throat, or fall with the blade positioned against his heart. During the Edo Period, carrying out seppuku came to involve a detailed ritual; this was performed in front of spectators if it was a planned seppuku, not one performed on a battlefield. A samurai was bathed, dressed in white robes, served his favorite foods for a last meal; when he had finished, the knife and cloth were given to the warrior. Dressed ceremonially, with his sword placed in front of him and sometimes seated on special clothes, the warrior would prepare for death by writing a death poem.
He would be dressed in the shini-shōzoku, a white kimono worn for death. With his selected kaishakunin standing by, he would open his kimono, take up his tantō or wakizashi —which the samurai held by the blade with a portion of cloth wrapped around so that it would not cut his hand and cause him to lose his grip—and plunge it into his abdomen, making a left-to-right cut. Prior to this, he would consume an important ceremonial drink of sake, he would give his attendant a cup meant for sake. The kaishakunin would perform kaishaku, a cut in which the warrio