Search glossary

Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀)
1526 - 1582

Title: Hyuga no Kami
Also known as: Koreta Mitsuhide

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).

Araki Murashige (荒木村重)
1535 - 1586

Title: Settsu no Kami

A vassal of Oda Nobunaga, born in what is now Ikeda City in Osaka as eldest son and heir to Araki Yoshimura (some say Araki Takamura). He served as vassal to Ikeda Katsumasa and married the daughter of Ikeda Nagamasa. He later served the Miyoshi Clan when they took over the Ikeda Clan, but was noticed by Nobunaga and allowed to become a vassal of the Oda Clan.

Nobunaga gave him Settsu Province as well as several castles, and Murashige fought in many of Nobunaga's wars, including the ten-year siege of Ishiyama Hongan Temple.

In October of 1578, Murashige suddenly revolted against Nobunaga. (Opinions differ on why he did so; Nobunaga apparently held Murashige in high esteem, and his betrayal came as a shock.) Oda's army besieged Murashige at Itami Castle, and he resisted bitterly for the space of a year. However, when his attendants Nakagawa Kiyohide and Takayama Ukon betrayed him, he was left at a severe disadvantage. Thereafter he fled alone to the Mouri Clan. His wife and children as well as soldiers and everyone else left behind at Itami Castle (some 600 people) were executed at Kyoto.

In 1582, after Oda's death and Toyotomi Hideyoshi came to power, Murashige returned to Sakai City in Osaka as a master of the tea ceremony. In the beginning he called himself Araki Douhun (荒木道糞), formed of the characters for "road" and "excrement" in remorse for abandoning his wife and children. Later, Hideyoshi forgive him his past errors and gave him the name Doukun (道薫), with "excrement" changed to "fragrance".

He died in Sakai at the age of 52.

ari nari tonari anaro nabi kunabi ()

In the 26th chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the dharani given by Bishamonten to the followers of Buddhism for protection. A distance of one hundred "yojanas" is specified for the radius of protection.

Ashikaga Shogunate (足利幕府)
1336 - 1573

Also known as: Muromachi shogunate (室町幕府)

A military dictatorship which ruled Japan from 1336 to 1573, following the three-year Kenmu Restoration during which the Emperor Go-Daigo attempted to restore the Imperial House to power after almost a century and a half of military rule under the Kamakura Shogunate. The Kamakura bakufu ordered Ashikaga Takauji to quash the emperor's revolt, but Ashikaga betrayed the bakufu and fought for the emperor, successfully overthrowing the Kamakura bakufu in 1336. Ashikaga Takauji then set up his own dynastic shogunate based in Kyoto, with 15 Ashikaga shoguns ruling the country until the last Ashikaga shogun, Ashikaga Yoshiaki, was driven out of Kyoto by Oda Nobunaga in 1573.

Ashikaga Yoshiteru (足利義輝)
1536 - 1565

The 13th shogun of the Ashikaga Shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshiteru became shogun at the age of 11 and reigned from 1546 to 1565. During a period when the shogun was a puppet to the powerful daimyo around him, Yoshiteru was nevertheless respected for his displomacy, and many famous daimyo such as Oda Nobunaga and Uesugi Kenshin traveled to the capital to pay their respects.

Yoshiteru committed suicide in Kyoto when Matsunaga Hisahide invaded with Miyoshi Yoshitsugu and overran his few personal troops.

Ashina Moriuji (蘆名盛氏)
1521 - 1580

Also known as: Shishisai (止々斎)

Son of Ashina Morikiyo and 16th generation lord of the Ashina Clan who probably became head of the clan around 1537, which is around the time that he married a daughter of the Date Clan and formed an alliance with Tamura Takaaki.

He expanded the domain of the Ashina and did much to improve the clan's economic condition, thereby bringing about the golden age of the Ashina.

Moriuji turned over the rule of the clan to his heir Ashina Morioki in 1561 and retired to Iwasaki Castle, shaving off his hair and taking the name of Shishisai. However, he retained power over political and military affairs.

In 1575 when Ashina Morioki died without an heir, and because Moriuji had no other heirs, he adopted a hostage of the clan: Nikaidou Moritaka, the son of Nikaidou Moriyoshi, and married him to Morioki's widow. Moritaka then became Ashina Moritaka and the next clan head.

Moriuji died in 1580 at the age of 60. With him ended the golden age of the Ashina; a mere 9 years later, the clan would be destroyed by Date Masamune.

Ashura Dou (阿修羅道)

Also known as: Shura Dou—The Path of Fighting (修羅道)

Lit. "Path of Ashura"; the third highest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism: the Ashura are semi-gods: powerful, fierce, quarrelsome, both good and evil. The beings of this realm lead a more pleasurable life than humans, but are also plagued with envy of the gods.

Asuka-jidai (飛鳥時代)
592 - 710

Also known as: Hakuhou-jidai (白鳳時代), lit. "White Phoenix Period"

A period in Japanese history which saw significant artistic, social, and political transformations, including the arrival of Buddhism from Korea. Prince Regent Shoutoku, recognized as a great intellectual of the era, was a devout Buddhist, and built many temples, including the Shitennou Temple.

bai ()

Intoned by the Yasha-shuu at the beginning of choubuku, 'bai' is the "seed syllable" for Bishamonten, originally known as Vaiśravaṇa.

Bishamonten (毘沙門天)

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.

Bishamonten-tou (毘沙門天刀)

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.

Its summoning calls upon Namu Tobatsu Bishamonten with the incantation "on beishiramandaya sowaka". Its dismissal uses the incantation of unsummoning, "on basara bokisha boku."

Chikushou Dou (畜生道)

Lit. "Path of beasts"; the third lowest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism, filled with ignorance and servitude.

choubuku (調伏)

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.

Chougaku-ji (長岳寺)

A Kouyan-Shingon temple built in 824 by Kuukai for Emperor Junna with Amida Nyorai as its principle buddha (the first one in Japan to have crystal eyes). The bell tower of the temple, built in the Heian Period (794-1185) is also Japan's oldest and the only structure built by Kuukai from that time period.

The garden of the temple is located just through the bell tower gate, and on the left is the main temple building. The ceiling of the main temple is known as the "bloody ceiling". When Ryuuouzan Castle behind the temple was attacked by Matsunaga Hisahide during the Sengoku Period, there was also fighting within the temple. It's said that the blood of soldiers flowed from the open corridor into the main temple. The floorboards were later used as ceiling boards, and the bloody footprints from that time can still be clearly seen.

Chougosonshi-ji (朝護孫子寺)

Also known as: Shigisan-ji, Shigi no Bishamon-san

Chougosonshi Temple is a famous Shigisan-Shingon temple located about halfway up Mt. Shigi in Nara. The temple is the head temple of Bishamonten and was built by Prince Regent Shoutoku in 594 in the spot where Bishamonten was said to have first appeared in Japan in the month, year, and day of the Tiger.

The temple houses the Shigisan Engi emaki, a scroll painted in the Heian Era.

Daigo-tennou (醍醐天皇)
885 - 930

The 60th emperor of Japan, who ascended to the throne at the age of 12 upon his father Emperor Uda's abdication and reigned for 33 years. He abdicated in 930 due to illness and entered the Buddhist priesthood. He died shortly after.

Daiitoku Myouou (大威徳明王)

Also known as: Yamantaka Vidya-raja, Conqueror of Death, Vajrabhairava, Rokusokuson (六足尊)—"Venerable Six-Footed One".

One of the Five Great Kings of Wisdom, whose direction is the west. He is the wrathful manifestation of Amida Nyorai and is represented with six faces, six arms, and six legs. He rides a sacred cow or buffalo and is worshipped as a god of victory. He fights pain, poisons, snakes, and dragons.

Sometimes represented with the makouin/bakouin, or "horse-mouth mudra" (馬口印).

His wisdom is the pratyaveksana-jnana (妙観察智), or "wisdom of wondrous observation".

Date Masamune (伊達政宗)
1567 - 1636

Titles: Echizen no Kami, Mutsu no Kami
Also known as: birth—Bontenmaru (梵天丸), adult—Tojirou (藤次郎), posthumous—Teizan (貞山), self-introduction—Fujiwara no Masamune (藤原政宗), religious—Takeru Hikonomikoto (武振彦命), nickname—One-Eyed Dragon (独眼竜)

Date Masamune was a powerful daimyo in the Northeastern part of Japan during the Sengoku Period. He was the 17th-generation head of the Date Clan and the founding daimyo of Sendai-han. He was the eldest son of Date Terumune and Yoshihime, the daughter of Mogami Yoshimori.

Masamune was born in Yonezawa Castle (modern-day Yamagata Prefecture). He lost the use of his right eye after falling ill of smallpox in his childhood, and would later come to be known as the One-eyed Dragon. However, because of it his mother thought him unfit for rule of the clan, and favored his younger brother. When Date Terumune retired from the position of the clan head in 1584, Masamune killed his brother and became the head of the clan at 18.

Masamune was known as a brilliant tactician. Shortly after he became head of the clan, Oouchi Sadatsuna, a Date vassal, defected to the Ashina Clan in the Aizu region of Mutsu Province. Masamune declared war on the Ashina for the betrayal, but was forced to retreat by the Ashina general, Iwashiro Morikuni. Three months later, Masamune laid seige to Oouchi's stronghold at Otemori. It was said that he put some 800 people to the sword in retaliation for the betrayal. Thereafter the Hatakeyama Clan, the traditional rival of the Date Clan, kidnapped Masamune's father, who was then killed in battle when Masamune and his troops engaged the kidnappers. War ensued between the two clans, and Masamune would ruthlessly subjugate his neighboring clans, even those who were allied by marriage or kinship. He defeated the Ashina Clan in 1589, but was called by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to lay siege to Odawara Castle of the Houjou Clan.

He served both Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, though neither trusted him completely due to his ambition and aggression. Under Tokugawa Ieyasu Masamune controlled one of the largest fiefdoms in Japan and turned Sendai from a small fishing village to a large and prosperous city. He encouraged foreigners and was largely lenient towards Christanity and its practioners. He funded and backed the first Japanese expedition to sail around the world, which visited such places as the Philippines, Mexico, Spain and Pope Paul V in Rome.

He died in Edo at the age of 70 of esophageal cancer, and was entombed in the Zuihouden according to his last will and testament. His second son (eldest son by his legal wife Megohime) Date Tadamune inherited the position of clan head after him.

Ecchuu-no-kuni (越中国)

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.

Echigo-no-kuni (越国)

An ancient province in north-central Japan which was ruled by Uesugi Kenshin during the Sengoku Period. Now a part of Niigata Prefecture.

Fukuukenjaku Kannon (不空羂索観音)

Also known as: Amoghapāśa

Fukuukenjaku Kannon is a manifestation of Avalokiteshvara (Kannon), a compassionate bodhisattva who is a savior from suffering. His name means "not empty/unerring net or lasso" and in this manifestation his eight or twenty arms hold symbolic articles such as the lotus blossom, arrow, bell, noose, prayer wheel, rosary, staff, or whisk. He is sometimes depicted wearing a deerskin.

Gaki Dou (餓鬼道)

Lit. "Path of Hungry Ghosts"; the second lowest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism, filled with craving and eternal starvation.

Gakkou Bosatsu (月光菩薩)

Also known as: Candraprabha

Lit.: "Moonlight/Lunar Radiance Bodhisattva", a bodhisattva whose specialty is moonlight and good health, often seen with her sister Nikkou Bosatsu, the Sunlight Bodhisattva, with whom she serves Yakushirurikou Nyorai, the Medicine Buddha. They are also sometimes attendants of Kannon.

At the Toudai Temple in Nara, she stands to the left of Fukuukenjaku Kannon.

gebaku (外縛)

Also known as: gebakuhou (外縛法), gaibaku

Lit.: "outer bind"; a method of tying a spirit body or physical body to one place such that they cannot move, also commonly called "paralysis". Kagetora and company use gebakuhou when they wish to perform «choubuku» on especially powerful spirits or a large host of spirits during "kouhou-choubuku" or "kekkai-choubuku", etc.

Gohou Douji (護法童子)

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.

goshinha (護身波)

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.

goshinkou (護身光)

Lit. "light of self-protection"; a protective barrier along the lines of the goshinha which looks like a cloak of gold light, used by the Gohou Douji.

Gouzanze Myouou (降三世明王)

Also known as: Trailokyavijaya Vidya-raja, Conqueror of the Three Worlds

One of the Five Great Kings of Wisdom, whose direction is the east, his name signifies victory over enemies of the three worlds of the manifested universe, which are the celestial, earthly, and infernal realms. He is a wrathful god whose color is blue. He is generally depicted with three faces, eight arms, and two of his hands crossed at his breast in the mudra known as vajrahumkara (dairikikei 大力契, or "vow of immense strength" in Japanese).

His wisdom is the adarsa-jnana (大円鏡智), or "great perfect mirror wisdom", which is the wisdom to clearly elucidate all things.

hakonha (破魂波)

The "soul-ripping attack" with which Oda Nobunaga defeated Kagetora, said to be capable of destroying the soul itself, removing it from the wheel of reincarnation.

Hanshin Tigers (阪神タイガース)

A professional Japanese baseball team based in Nishinomiya, Hyougo Prefecture, founded in 1935. It is one of the oldest baseball clubs in Japan and is owned by the Hanshin Electric Railway Company. It is part of the Japanese Central League.

Heian-jidai (平安時代)
794 - 1184

Literally: "Era of Peace and Tranquility"; a period in Japanese history in which Chinese influences on Japanese culture, such as Confucianism, were at their height. The imperial court was at the peak of its power, and the capital was moved from Nara to Heian (now Kyoto). This era is greatly admired for its art, including poetry and literature (The Tale of Genji was written during this period). Buddhism, primarily in the form of two esoteric schools, Tendai and Shingon, began to spread throughout Japan.

Hiei-zan (比叡山)

Mt. Hiei is a mountain to the northeast of Kyoto on which the Buddhist Tendai Enryaku Temple was founded by Saichou in 788. Oda Nobunaga razed its temples and towns and massacred its inhabitants in 1571 to check the power of the Tendai warrior monks, who had long been his enemies due to their strength and independence.

The temple was rebuilt and is still the Tendai headquarters.

Hiragumo (平蜘蛛)

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.)

Hirahata-eki (平端駅)

A station on the north/south-bound railway line located in Yamato-Kooriyama, Nara, operated by Kintetsu Corporation. It open in 1915 and served around 4500 people per day in 2005.

Honnou-ji (本能寺)

A Nichirenshu Buddhist temple located in Kyoto, famous for being the site at which Oda Nobunaga was betrayed and murdered by his vassal Akechi Mitsuhide.


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.

Horie Munechika (堀江宗親)

Title: Suruga no Kami

A vassal of the Uesugi Clan, master of Samegao Castle.

At the outbreak of the Otate no Ran after Uesugi Kenshin's death, he fought on the side of Uesugi Kagetora with his troops. After the surrender of the clan's main castle, Kasugayama Castle, to Uesugi Kagekatsu, he welcomed Kagetora and his family into Samegao Castle, from which they would attempt to escape into Sagami. But by the time they entered the castle he had already made a secret pact with Yasuda Akimoto to set fire to the outer citadel once Kagetora was in the castle and evacuate. Kagetora and his wife and children committed suicide during Kagekatsu's general offensive thereafter, ending the war.

There have been no records found of what happened to Horie Munechika after the war other than the fact that his territory was seized.

Houjou Ujimasa (北条氏政)
1538 - Aug. 10, 1590

Title: Sagami no Kami
Also known as: Matsuchiyomaru (松千代丸—childhood), Shinkurou (新九郎—nickname), 慈雲院松巌傑公 (posthumous)

Ujimasa was born in 1538 as the second son of Houjou Ujiyasu and his principle wife Zuikeiin, daughter of Imagawa Ujichika, and was older brother of Houjou Ujiteru, Houjou Ujikuni, Houjou Ujinori, Houjou Ujitada, Houjou Saburou (Uesugi Kagetora), and Houjou Ujimitsu. He became heir to the clan when his older brother Shinkurou died before reaching adulthood.

Ujimasa married Oubaiin, eldest daughter of Takeda Shingen and Sanjou-no-Kata, on the occasion of the three-way alliance between the Takeda, Imagawa, and Houjou clans in 1554. Their marriage was thought to be a happy one.

Ujimasa succeeded his father as the fourth head of the Sagami Houjou Clan in 1559 upon Ujiyasu's retirement. His first task upon becoming heir of the clan, per clan convention, was a a land survey evaluating how the Houjou lands were being used and the condition of the people serving on those lands. His relationship with his brothers was good throughout, and they were be a huge help to him in the governing of the clan.

In 1561, Uesugi Masatora (Uesugi Kenshin) of Echigo laid siege to Odawara Castle with a huge army gathered from the Kantou and south Mutsu. Under the leadership of his father Ujiyasu, Ujimasa was able to drive back the army. After the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima, he was able to take back a large part of North Kantou from the Uesugi in concert with Shingen.

In 1568, seizing the opportunity presented by the decline of the Imagawa Clan after Imagawa Yoshimoto's death at Oda Nobunaga's hand, Takeda Shingen invaded Suruga, laying siege to Yoshimoto's heir, Imagawa Ujizane in Kakegawa Castle. Ujimasa led the Houjou forces to repel the Takeda army and formed an alliance with Tokugawa Ieyasu of Mikawa in order to rescue Ujizane (his brother-in-law by way of his younger sister Hayakawadono). Ujimasa then had Ujizane adopt his son Ujinao as his heir, thus giving the Houjou Clan a legitimate claim to the territory of Suruga. In order to hold back Takeda, he formed an alliance with his old enemy Uesugi Kenshin, giving his younger brother Saburou (Uesugi Kagetora) as hostage. The severing of ties with the Takeda Clan, however, meant the dissolution of his marriage with his beloved wife Oubaiin.

In 1569, Takeda Shingen laid siege to Odawara Castle, delivering a crushing defeat to the Houjou Clan (though recent analysis by historians indicate that Shingen lost a great many men as well). In 1570, Suruga belonged almost wholly to Shingen.

In October of 1571 upon his father's death, Ujimasa broke off his alliance with Kenshin and reformed the alliance with Shingen in accordance with his father's will, after which fighting between the Houjou and Uesugi clans flared up again.

Kenshin's death in 1578 triggered a fight for succession to the Uesugi Clan between his two adopted sons, Uesugi Kagekatsu and Uesugi Kagetora (the Otate no Ran). Ujimasa was tied up at that time in a confrontation with Satake Yoshishige and Utsunomiya Kunitsuna in Shimotsuke, so sent his brother Houjou Ujikuni to their brother's aid in his place while asking Takeda Katsuyori for reinforcements. Katsuyori betrayed the Houjou and formed an alliance with Uesugi Kagekatsu, and the Otate no Ran ended with Kagetora's death and Kagekatsu's succession.

Ujimasa broke off the alliance with the Takeda clan a second time and formed an alliance with Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu to attack the Takeda territory in a pincer movement, but shifting alliances and hard fighting left the conclusion unclear. In 1580 Ujimasa proposed to Oda Nobunaga, who had just taken Ishiyama Hongan Temple, that the Houjou Clan become a vassal of the Oda Clan, but Takeda Katsuyori managed to form an alliance with Oda first. Ujimasa retired from the position of clan head in the same year, but like his father before him still held onto the government and military affairs of the clan.

In the following years, the Houjou Clan managed to gain control over a vast territory: Sagami, Izu, Musashi, Shimousa, Kazusa, Hitara, Shimotsuke, and a part of Suruga. Interestingly, however, Ujimasa did not seem to hold the ambition of ruling the entire country, a tradition passed down from the founder of the Late Houjou Clan, Houjou Souun. Instead, Ujimasa concentrated on independence for the 8 Kantou provinces under Houjou rule and alliances with other strong warlords such as Tokugawa Ieyasu and Date Masamune.

In 1589, using Ujimasa's refusal to proceed to the capital to attend him as pretext, Toyotomi Hideyoshi gathered an army of 220,000 to lay siege to Odawara Castle. It overran castles in the Houjou territory in quick succession. The siege against Odawara Castle lasted from May to August. On August 4, Ujimasa offered to surrender his life for the lives of his men. Toyotomi demanded the lives of both Ujimasa and his brother Ujiteru, as well as the lives of their vassals Matsuda Norihide and Daidouji Masashige. Ujimasa and Ujiteru committed seppuku on August 10.

Ujimasa left behind the following tanka verses for his death poem:

「雨雲の おほえる月も 胸の霧も はらいにけりな 秋の夕風」
「我身今 消ゆとやいかに おもふへき 空よりきたり 空に帰れば」

translated (Sadler 1978, pp. 160–161):

Autumn wind of eve,
blow away the clouds that mass
over the moon's pure light
and the mists that cloud our mind,
do thou sweep away as well.

Now we disappear,
well, what must we think of it?
From the sky we came.
Now we may go back again.
That's at least one point of view.

There is another verse which is sometimes attributed to his brother Ujiteru, but is most often attributed to Ujimasa:

「吹くと吹く 風な恨みそ 花の春 もみじの残る 秋あればこそ」

which may be translated:

The wind's resentment—
Oh, see how it blows against
The flowering spring.
Yet it will leave us anon
The bright colors of autumn.

Houryuu-ji (法隆寺)

Also known as: Houryuu Gakumonji (法隆学問寺), Ikaruga-dera (斑鳩寺)

Built by Prince Shoutoku in 607, Houryuu Temple is one of Japan's most celebrated temples and contains some of the oldest wooden structures in the world. It is a National Treasure of Japan and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Iga-no-kuni (伊賀国)

A small mountain-ringed province located on the main island of Honshuu famous for its clan of ninja. It is considered one of the birthplaces of the ninja arts, and was at one time a kind of republic which lived outside of feudal rule. However, Oda Nobunaga invaded the province with an overwhelming force of 40,000 - 60,000 troops in 1581, two years after a failed invasion by his son Oda Nobukatsu, ruthlessly slaughtering many of its inhabitants, thus putting an end to the independence of the Iga Republic.

Irobe Katsunaga (色部勝長)
1493? - 1569

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.

Ishiyama Hongan-ji (石山本願寺)

A fortified Buddhist temple established in 1496 which was home to warrior monks, priests, peasants, and local nobles (Ikkou-ikki) who opposed samurai rule. Oda Nobunaga, who feared the power and influence of the monks, set siege to the fortress in 1570 while Kennyo was its chief abbot. The siege lasted for 10 years, and the temple finally fell in 1580.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi began construction of Osaka Castle on the same site three years later.

jibakurei (地縛霊)

Lit. "earth-bound spirit"; a spirit who has a strong attachment to the place of its death and is therefore bound to it as a spirit. The attachment is usually an intense hatred towards someone or something. This bound is not easily broken, and requires the use of very strong powers in a ceremony such as reidouhou.

Jigoku Dou (地獄道)

Lit. "Path of Hell"; the lowest, cruelest realm of the Six Realms of Buddhism, filled with torture and aggression.

kaki (火鬼)

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.

Kakizaki Haruie (柿崎晴家)
? - 1578?

Titles: Izumi no Kami

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.

Of the Yasha-shuu, he is the one who excels most at the spiritual sensing ability called reisa.

kanrei (管領)

"Shogun's Deputy", a high political post in feudal Japan.

kanshou (換生)

To possess another's body, driving out their soul, so as to be reborn with memories intact. Only Naoe of all the kanshousha has the power to perform kanshou on another soul.

kanshousha (換生者)

Those who possess others by driving out the soul from a body and making it theirs.

Unlike normal spirits, kanshousha cannot exchange bodies at will; they can only switch to another host body when their current body dies. Because kanshousha become the owners of their bodies, choubuku does not work on them. It is, however, still possible to exorcise kanshousha when they are in spirit-form (i.e. between possessions).

Kasugayama-jou (春日山城)

Also known as: Hachigamine-jou

Kasugayama Castle was Uesugi Kenshin's primary fortress, located in present-day Niigata Prefecture. It was built by the Nagao clan, and Kenshin became its lord in 1548 (some say Kenshin built the castle). Uesugi Kagekatsu won control of the castle in the Otate no Ran after his adopted father's death.