A large residential and commercial area located in northern Minato, Tokyo.
A talented general and poet who belonged to the inner circle of Oda Nobunaga's vassals. He later ambushed Nobunaga at Honnou Temple in 1582, killing both Nobunaga and his heir, Oda Nobutada. Akechi Mitsuhide then proclaimed himself the new shogun, but soon clashed against Toyotomi Hideyoshi's forces and was defeated in the Battle of Yamazaki only 13 days later. He was killed en route to his stronghold of Sakamoto Castle in the village of Ogurusu by a bandit with a bamboo spear (though an alternate theory states that he was not killed but became a monk instead).
Also know as: Bishamon, Tamonten, Vaiśravaṇa, Kubera
Bishamonten is one of the 12 Deva Guardians, the protector of the North and the most powerful of the Four Heavenly Kings. He is the god of warfare and warriors, sometimes called the "black warrior"; black is his symbolic color, and winter is the season over which he presides. He is often depicted as warrior with a crown on his head, a pagoda in one hand and a trident in the other. He punishes those who do evil and is also the guardian of the places where Buddha preaches. He is one who is all-knowing, who hears everything, who is always listening, and is completely versed in Buddha's teachings. He is one of Japan's Seven Deities of Fortune. The soldiers of his army are the powerful earth deities called Yaksha.
Bishamonten is also called "Tobatsu Bishamonten" (刀八毘沙門天), or "Eight-Sword Bishamonten", because of an error in translation passed down through the centuries. The original name, "Bishamonten of Tobatsu", pointed to a manifestation of Bishamonten which appeared in the Central Asian kingdom of Tou-po or Tobatsu (兜跋) to protect the capital city against invaders. Bishamonten in this form is depicted with a diadem on his head, four hands holding a key, a gem, a pagoda, and a halbert before him and eight arms holding eight swords around him.
The Sword of Bishmonten is an incarnation of Bishamonten, a physical blade which can be summoned only by the general of the Meikai Uesugi Army. It contains the power of «choubuku», and any spirit cut by it is exorcised; however, none-spiritual objects are not harmed by its blade.
A famous noodle dish developed in Nagasaki in which a mixture of fish, vegetables, and meat are tossed together as topping.
Also known as: choubukuryoku (調伏力)
The special power given to the Yasha-shuu to banish onryou to the Underworld using the dharani of Uesugi Kenshin's guardian deity, Bishamonten. The types of choubuku include "kouhou-choubuku", "ressa-choubuku", "kekkai-choubuku", etc. Each choubuku is begun with the incantation "bai" and the ritual hand gesture of Bishamonten's symbol.
Choubuku does not work against kanshousha, who have bodies of their own.
Also known as: Mahavairocana, Dainichi Nyorai, Vairocana, Daibutsu
Mahavairocana is the Cosmic Buddha who represents the center or zenith and is especially important to the Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism. He was worshipped in Japan from as early as the Heian Period, and his Mahavairocana Sutra forms the basis for the rituals of the Shingon School.
Dainichi's characteristic hand gesture is the index finger of the left hand clasped by the five fingers of the right, symbolizing the unity of earth, water, fire, air, and spiritual consciouness.
Also written as: Etchu
An ancient province of Japan bordering on Echigo, Shinano, Hida, Kaga, and Noto, which is now Toyama Prefecture. The territory was contested by the clans of neighboring provinces during the Sengoku Era, the Uesugi Clan among them. The Oda Clan took the province from Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Sassa Narimasa governed the area for a number of years, followed by the Akimoto, Matsudaira, and Hosokawa Clans.
The Edo period in Japanese history, which lasted from 1603 until 1867, was established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and was the period in which Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is seen as the beginning of modern Japan. During this period, the Shogunate perceived Christianity as a threat to the stability of Japan and actively persecuted adherents of the religion until it was almost completely eradicated. During this period Japan also isolated itself from the rest of the world, an isolation ending only with the appearance of Commodore Matthew Perry's ships in Edo Bay in 1853.
Also known as: Gohou Douji of the Sword
Lit.: "Dharma-protecting boy"; a variety of demon-deity in the service of Bishamonten who can be summoned by a high priest with mikkyou to do his bidding. They look like boys of 9 or 10 with red hair and golden skin who wear a thousand swords and ride on top of a magic wheel. Their power and skills are varied and depend on the power of their summoners.
In Mirage of Blaze, Takaya summons the Gohou Douji by writing Bishamonten's mantra on a piece of paper in Sanskrit and wrapping it around a dagger while chanting On beishiramandaya sowaka, then drawing Bishamonten’s seed syllable in the air above the blade before placing the fore- and middle fingers of his right hand against his forehead. He then touches the sword to his fingers, whereupon the paper ignites, and the Gohou Douji appears from the fire.
Lit. "five-stripe robe", a simple ceremonial mantle worn by Buddhist priests over their monk's robes, it is traditionally made by sewing together five pieces of rectangular cloth and represents Shakyamuni Buddha's original robe.
Lit. "wave of self-protection"; the goshinha is a protective mesh spun from fine strands of spiritual energy which surrounds the caster and protects from an opponent's spiritual as well as physical attacks. The mesh gains strength and stability when it is multi-layered and becomes the goshinheki. The goshinha is Naoe's forte.
A city located in Nagasaki which comprises the south-west half of the Gotou-Retto Islands in the South China Sea.
Also known as: Kotenmyou Hiragumo (古天明平蜘蛛)
Lit.: "flat spider"/"ancient dawn flat spider": a priceless Sengoku-era tea kettle owned by tea-master Matsunaga Hisahide which Oda Nobunaga coveted, so named because it was shaped like a crouched spider. The hiratagumo (written with the same characters) is a type of spider (uroctea compactilis) found throughout Japan.
When Nobunaga besieged Hisahide's castle at Shigisan with 20,000 troops, he declared, "If you should give the Hiragumo kettle over to me, I shall spare your life"—to which Hisahide replied, "Nobunaga shall have neither my head nor the Hiragumo kettle!"
Hisahide smashed the kettle before he committed seppuku to prevent Nobunaga from taking possession of it (another account says that he filled it with gunpower and blasted it along with his head over the castle walls).
(Though in the present era rare tea implements are valued highly, in the Sengoku era they were worth entire fiefdoms. One could not be a first-class tea master without owning one of these items.)
A brief list of honorifics used in address:
san (さん) - the most common honorific, usually used to address someone outside one's immediate circle with respect
kun (君) - usually used towards boys and men of junior status or equal age and status
chan (ちゃん) - a diminutive used mainly towards children, and intimate friends, especially women; also used as an endearment for girls
sama (様) - the formal form of "san", showing a high level of respect
senpai (先輩) - used to refer to someone with a more senior status, such as a freshman towards a senior
sensei (先生) - often translated as "teacher", but can actually be used to show respect for anyone with superior knowledge in a field, including doctors and writers
dono/tono (殿) - an antiquated term which roughly translates to "lord", used to show great respect for the addressee, who can be of equal or higher status than the speaker
uji/shi (氏) - in ancient times, carried the meaning "of the ~ clan" or "of the ~ surname"; now used in formal speech and writing to refer to someone unfamiliar to the speaker.
Historically: In the Sengoku era, he served three generations of the Nagao Clan: Nagao Tamekage, Nagao Harukage, and Uesugi Kenshin and was master of Hirabayashi Castle. He was one of Kenshin's most respected generals and Kenshin's military chief of staff. He was killed at the siege of the rebellious Honjou Shigenaga's castle.
In Mirage of Blaze: One of the Yasha-shuu under Uesugi Kagetora's command. He is the only one out of the five Yasha-shuu who survives the battle with Oda Nobunaga thirty years before the start of Volume 1, and carries on the mission alone while the others are reborn. He is a baby when Naoe finds Kagetora again thirty years later, having only performed kanshou two years previously.
A city located in Nagasaki Prefecture.
The robe normally worn by Buddhist monks, usually made of dark cloth.
The Jinguu Gaien is the garden surrounding the Meiji Jinguu, which is the largest Shinto shrine in Tokyo. It is also called the Outer Garden, encompassing 70 acres of forest land with more than 100,000 trees from hundreds of species from all over Japan.
The capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture, it is the city in which Francis Xavier, the first Christian to arrive in Japan, landed in 1549.
Lit.: "Fire demon"; clumps of pathos left behind by those who died in fires. They are an immaterial type of tsukumogami which invite disasters associated with fire.
Historically: the son of Kakizaki Kageie. He was sent to Odawara Castle in Sagami when the Kenshin and the Houjou clans struck a peace treaty in an exchange of hostages with Houjou Saburou (Uesugi Kagetora). The fate of Kakizaki Haruie was unknown when his father was accused of treason. There are theories that he either died in 1575 along with his father, or that he was murdered by Uesugi Kagekatsu's faction in 1578 during the Otate no Ran.
In Mirage of Blaze: He was one of Uesugi Kagetora's most loyal followers as well as the leader of his faction in the Otate no Ran, and was killed by Uesugi Kagekatsu's followers. He is now one of the Yasha-shuu under Kagetora's command. Haruie possesses female bodies (the only member of the Yasha-shuu to do so) in search of a lover who died two hundred years ago.
Also known as: Kanzeon, Kwannon (Japan), Kuan Shi Yin, Kuan Yin (China), Avalokiteśvara, Avalokiteshvara, Lokeshvara (India)
Kannon, represented in both male and female forms, is the Goddess and Bodhisattva of mercy, or Lord of Compassion whose name means "observing the sounds of the world". She is one of the most widely worshiped divinities in Japan and mainland Asia, and has many manifestations, such as Fukuukenjaku Kannon, Juuichimen Kannon, Juntei, Senjuusengan Kannon, etc. According to the Mahayana school of Buddhism, Kannon made a vow to listen to the prayers of all sentient beings in times of strife and to postpone his own perfect enlightenment until he has helped every being on earth achieve nirvana.
During the Tokugawa Shogunate, when Christianity was punishable by death in Japan, some underground Christian groups disguised the Virgin Mary as statue of Kannon; these statues are known as "Maria Kwannon".
A castle originally built by Tsutsui Junkei in 1580, who made it his stronghold as governor of Yamato under Oda Nobunaga's "one province one castle" law. After his death, Toyotomi Hidenaga, half-brother of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, made it his residence.
Also known as: 深志城 (Fukashi-jou), 鴉城 (Karasu-jou)
A castle in Matsumoto which was built by the Ogasawara Clan during the Sengoku Period (then called Fukashi-jou). It was captured by Takeda Shingen in 1550 and recaptured by Ogasawara Sadayoshi in 1582, who changed the castle's name to Matsumoto Castle. Later it came under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Hideyoshi appointed Ishikawa Kazumasa the new lord of Matsumoto Castle, and he and his son, Ishikawa Yasunaga, maintained the castle and town. Yasunaga greatly expanded the castle probably around the years 1593-1594, adding the three towers tenshu (danjon tower), inui-kotenshu (small tower in the northwest), and watari-yagura (connecting scaffold), as well as the goten (residence), taikomon (drum gate), kuromon (black gate), yagura (scaffold), hori (trench), honmaru (the main wing), ninomaru (the second wing), and sannomaru (the third wing).
Matsumoto Castle is one of the best-preserved castles in Japan and is one of the designated national treasures. It is also called "Crow Castle (Karasu-jou)" for its black walls.
Also known as: Matsunaga Danjou Hisahide (松永弾正久秀), Matsunaga Soutei (松永霜台)
Initally a vassal of the Miyoshi Clan who served Miyoshi Nagayoshi as his private secretary, Hisahide was both a warrior and a tea master who would be regarded by history as a schemer and something of a villain.
Miyoshi Nagayoshi gave his daughter to Hisahide in marriage, but Hisahide turned against his master. He was rumored to have poisoned Nagayoshi's son and heir, Miyoshi Yoshioki, and Nagayoshi's three brothers died under mysterious circumstances between 1561-1564. In 1564 at Nagayoshi's death, all that stood between Hisahide and the Miyoshi domain was the young Miyoshi Yoshitsugu, whom Nagayoshi had seleted as heir, and his guardians the "Miyoshi Triumvirate", Miyoshi Nagayuki, Miyoshi Masayasu, and Iwanari Tomomichi.
Hisahide briefly joined forces with the Triumvirate against the Shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, who was forced to commit suicide. Thereafter he fought against the Miyoshi Clan and later submitted to Oda Nobunaga and served him for a few years after 1568.
In 1573, however, he was already conspiring against Nobunaga with Miyoshi Yoshitsugu—then turned back to Nobunaga and destroyed the remaining Miyoshi Clan. In 1577, he rebelled against Nobunaga again and in the end committed suicide at Shigisan Castle when besieged by Oda's army (though first smashing a priceless tea kettle, the "Hiragumo", which Nobunaga had coveted).
Historically: A warlord from Awa in Shikoku who destroyed the Hosokawa and Hatakeyama families by valor and treachery, thus establishing his dominance over Awa, Sanuki, Awaji, Yamashiro, Yamato, Kawachi, Settsu, and Izumi.
The Miyoshi family grew greatly in power during Nagayoshi's time as head of the clan and held the Ashikaga Shogunate under its thumb. In 1564, he had his younger brother Atagi Fuyuyasu killed due to slander from his vassal Matsunaga Hisahide and died of illness soon after (there are also theories that he was murdered by either Hisahide or the Miyoshi Triumvirate he appointed as guardians for his son). His son Miyoshi Yoshitsugu succeeded him as head of the clan after his death.
A prefecture on the south-western coast of Kyushu Island; its capital is the City of Nagasaki. It has had close ties with foreign cultures for centuries and was a major center for foreign trade. It was also where most Christian missionaries landed during the sixteenth century, and is still the area with the largest concentration of Christians in Japan.
Historically: Son of Nagao Akikage, he became head of the Sousha-Nagao Clan at a young age. He later (around 1545) passed the position to his younger brother Nagao Kagefusa. When the clan was destroyed by Takeda Shingen and their territory lost, the family escaped into Echigo. There Kagefusa became a monk, and Kagetaka was adopted by Naoe Sanetsuna when he married Sanetsuna's daughter, Osen-no-Kata. He succeeded his adopted father as master of Yoita Castle in 1577 and was a vassal of Uesugi Kenshin. He promptly took the side of Uesugi Kagekatsu during the war for succession after Kenshin's death and mobilized the members of the Naoe Clan at the castle to subdue Kagetora's troops.
After the intra-house war and Kagekatsu's victory, a question of reward was called into question. Yasuda Akimoto, one of Kagekatsu's trusted commanders, had promised rewards to Shibata Shigeie, Mouri Hidehiro, and others to convince them to join Kagekatsu's side. However, Yamazaki Hidenori, Naoe, and others objected, for they had risked life and limb at Kasugayama Castle from the very beginning of the battle, while Shibata Shigeie and the others had been lured by promise of reward from Yasuda Akimoto.
Yasuda Akimoto committed suicide when he could not keep his promise of reward. Later, Mouri Hidehiro, carrying a grudge for his death, murdered Yamazaki Hidenori at Kasugayama Castle; Naoe, who was with him at the time and took up a sword to defend himself, was killed as well. His death ended the Naoe line, which Kagekatsu later resurrected by marrying Naoe's widow, Osen-no-Kata to Higuchi Kanetsugu and commanding him to take the Naoe name.
In Mirage of Blaze: According to Kousaka Danjou, and Houjou Ujiteru he was the ringleader of Uesugi Kagekatsu's forces in the Otate no Ran. He is now Uesugi Kagetora's protector and one of the Yasha-shuu under his command. He alone, as Kagetora's protector, was given the power to perform kanshou on other souls, a power he used to force Kagetora's soul into Minako's body.
A prefecture on Honshu Island; its capital is the City of Nara. Historically the site of many famous and powerful Buddhist temples.
A mantra of and reverence to Butsugen Butsumo, the Buddha-eye.
Also: "onii-san (お兄さん)", "onii-sama (お兄さま)", "onii-chan (お兄ちゃん)", "nii-sama (兄さま)", "nii-san (兄さん)", "nii-chan (兄ちゃん)"
"Older brother"—one of those very simple terms which is unfortunately difficult to translate because of the differences in usage between English and Japanese. In Japanese, it is much more natural to call your (older) brother "nii-san" or "onii-san" rather than by their given name. It connotates a degree of respect and at the same time a certain closeness. ("Onii-sama" indicates more formality, "onii-chan" indicates more familiarity.) This is the same reason most children in both cultures call their parents "Mom" and "Dad" instead of by their given names.
One can also use "onii-san" to refer politely to an unrelated slightly older male.
Lit. "western hill"; the hill in Nagasaki City where six European priests and twenty of their followers were crucified in Feb. 5, 1597 under Hideyoshi's ban on Christianity. Pope Pius IX canonized them as the "twenty-six saints of Japan" in 1862, and a memorial with images of the twenty-six was erected at the site in 1962.
Lit. "roof monkey"; Uesugi Kenshin's ninja, who used a special technique which involved traveling on rooftops and entering houses from above. Their forte was hunting down other ninja, such as the Fuuma of the Houjou Clan and the Toppa of the Takeda Clan.
In Japanese mythology, the nue is a chimera formed from the head of a monkey, the body of a tanuki, the legs of a tiger, and a snake-tail. The nue can transform into a black cloud and brings illness and misfortune.
Historically: The first of the "Three Unifiers"; born in Owari to a samurai, his unbridled, ruthless ambitious and military tactical genius enabled him to gain control of the imperial court in 1573 after having driven the shogun out of Kyoto. His seal read "the realm subjected to military power". Murdered at the age of forty-nine by his vassal Akechi Mitsuhide in the Honnou-ji in Kyoto.
Lit.: "vengeful general": the spirits of the warlords of the Sengoku period, who continue their battles even in modern-age Japan.
Lit. "onshou-extermination": exorcism of the onshou