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 known as: Amitabha, Buddha of Infinite Light and Life
A celestial buddha described in the scriptures of the Mahayana school of Buddhism who became a buddha after achieving infinite merits from good deeds in countless lives as a monk named Dharmakara. He created the Pure Land, where those who called upon him could go after rebirth and be instructed in the Dharma, thereby becoming bodhisattvas and buddhas in their turn.
Ashikaga Yoshiaki was installed by Oda Nobunaga as the 15th shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate after the death of his brother Ashikaga Yoshiteru, the 13th shogun in 1565 followed by the death of their cousin, Ashikaga Yoshihide, in 1568.
At first Yoshiaki was grateful towards Nobunaga, but began to chafe at remaining a puppet to him. He secretly communicated with Kennyo of Hongan Temple and Takeda Shingen about the formation of an anti-Nobunaga coalition. The coalition was later joined by such generals as Azai Nagamasa, Matsunaga Hisahide, and Miyoshi Yoshitsugu.
However, Yoshiaki was driven out of Kyoto in 1573 by Nobunaga after the death of Shingen, effectively ending the Ashikaga Shogunate.
Raw horseflesh served as salami in thin slices dipped in soy sauce, often with ginger and onions added. In Japan, Matsumoto is one of the places famous for this dish.
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.
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 called: Chuunichi, Dragons, Ryuu (which is "dragon" in Japanese)
A baseball team in the Japanese Central League, founded in 1936 and based in Nagoya City. "Chuunichi" literally means "central Japan", because Nagoya is the chief city in the Central Region of Japan.
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.
A station on the main line of the local electric railway, located in Uozu City. It is an overhead station, built in 1936, located on the 3rd floor of the Dentetsu-Uozu Station Building.
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: 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.
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. "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.
「羯締羯締 波羅羯締 波羅僧羯締 菩提娑婆訶 般若心経」
Also known as: The Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra / Heart Sutra / Essence of Wisdom Sutra
Said to be the best known and most popular of all Buddhist scriptures, the Heart Sutra contains a mantra which is described as "The great mantra, the mantra of great knowledge, the utmost mantra, the unequalled mantra, the allayer of all suffering."
The mantra itself is read "Gate gate Pāragate Pārasaṃgate Bodhi svāhā" (in Japanese: "Gyateigyatei haragyatei harasougyatei bojisowaka hannyashingyou") and can be translated "Oh she who is gone, gone! / Gone beyond / Gone completely beyond / Hail to awakening (enlightenment)".
A province of ancient Japan which is Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyuushuu today. It bordered the provinces of Chikugo, Bungo, Hyuuga, Osumi, and Satsuma, and was held by the lords of those provinces during the Sengoku Period until Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Higo. He gave the province to Sassa Narimasa, then Kato Kiyomasa, then the Hosokawa Clan.
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.)
Also known as: Hiroshima, Carp, Koi ("carp" in Japanese)
A baseball team in the Japanese Central League, founded in 1949 and based in Hiroshima City. The team was founded with the name "Hiroshima Carp"; the "Touyou" part of the name came from the Touyou Kougyou Company (now Mazda), which became the team's chief sponsor in 1968.
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.
Lit.: "Single-minded Revolt", largely disorganized mobs of peasant farmers, monks, Shinto priests and local nobles who rose up against samurai rule in the 15th and 16th centuries following the ideologies of the Ikkou School. Rennyo, the head abbot of the True Pure Lands School at Hongan Temple might be called their nominal leader, but the revolt continued after his death in 1499. Kennyo, who became head abbot of Hongan Temple in 1554, led the Ikkou Sect and directed the Ikkou-ikki in the late 1500s.
Lit.: "One-minded School/Sect", a small, militant, antinomian offshoot of True Pure Land Buddhism founded by 13th-century monk Ikkou Shunjou. Its ideologies provided the basis for a wave of uprisings against feudal rule in the late 15th and 16th centuries, such as the Ikkou-ikki revolts. Oda Nobunaga eventually destroyed the sect's two large temple-fortresses, Nagashima and Ishiyama Hongan Temple and slaughtered most of its sectarians in those areas. Tokugawa Ieyasu defeated the followers of the sect in Mikawa in 1564 in the Battle of Azukizaka. The last of the Ikkou sect fought alongside Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 1580s.
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.
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.
A province of ancient Japan that is today a part of southern Ishikawa Prefecture which once bordered on the provinces of Echizen, Ecchuu, Hida, and Noto. The priest Rennyo of Hongan Temple arrived in the 15th century to preach the tenets of True Pure Land Buddhism, which spread rapidly among the samurai and peasants of the region. They banded together into the Ikkou Sect to create a "Peasant's Kingdom", which lasted for a hundred years until Sakuma Morimasa overthrew it by order of Oda Nobunaga in 1580.
Three years later, Maeda Toshiie invaded the province and took it for Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The Maeda Clan ruled it thereafter, focusing on culture and art instead of military and warfare, and developed the province into the richest domain outside of Tokugawa Shogunate. Kaga was famous for its gold-leaf, inlaid work, and calligraphy, promoted by its Maeda lords.
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.
Kanazawa is the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture and sits on the Sea of Japan. It was formerly a castle town known as Ishiura Village, which was built around Kanazawa Castle, a center of power for the Ikkou-ikki.
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).
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.
Also known as: Hongan-ji Kennyo, Hongan-ji Kousa
Chief Abbot of Ishiyama Hongan Temple, fortress of the Ikkou-ikki, Kennyo became the 11th head of the Hongan Temple in Kyoto upon his father Shounyo's death in 1554, when he was 12. Kennyo was renowned as a strategist who engineered many alliances in the Sengoku Era and made Ishiyama Hongan Temple virtually unbreachable. His wife was the third daughter of Sanjou Kinyori (sister to Takeda Shingen's wife, Sanjou-no-kata), and they got along very well.
Kennyo aided Shingen by persuading the Ikkou sectarians in Kaga Province to rise up against Uesugi Kenshin. He allied himself with Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki and created an anti-Oda alliance with the Takeda, Asakura, Azai, and Mouri clans. The alliance failed upon Takeda Shingen's death in 1573.
In 1570, Oda Nobunaga laid siege to Ishiyama Hongan Temple, a siege that would last 10 years, the longest in Japan's history. Kennyo left the temple to attempt to raise reinforcements, and his son surrendered to Nobunaga by request of the Emperor.
Kennyo later enlisted the help of Ikkou sectarians for Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who granted Kennyo a new Hongan Temple (now known as Nishi-Hongan Temple) in 1589.
Also called: Kousaka Danjou Masanobu (高坂弾正昌信), Kousaka Danjou Nosuke Masanobu (高坂弾正忠昌信), Kasuga Toratsuna (春日虎綱), Kasuga Gensuke (春日源助)
Title: Danjou Nosuke/Faithful True-Shot (弾正忠)
Kousaka was born in Kai to a wealthy farmer, Kasuga Ookuma (?) (春日大隈). His father died when he was 16, and he lost a lawsuit against his elder sister's husband for ownership of his father's lands. He then enrolled in the service of Takeda Shingen.
Kousaka first served as a messenger for Shingen. He distinguished himself in battle, and rose swiftly through the ranks of Shingen's trusted retainers. He participated in most of Shingen's battles. He did not hesitate to retreat when required, which earned him the nickname of "Escaping Danjou". However, he was calm and logical in the midst of battle, and was perhaps the best of Shingen's generals.
After Shingen's death in 1573, Kousaka continued on to serve Takeda Katsuyori. He sought an alliance between the Takeda clan and their old enemy, the Uesugi clan, in order to unite against the threat of Oda Nobunaga.
Kousaka died in 1578 of illness at the age of 52. He was succeeded by his second son, Kousaka Masamoto (高坂昌元), his first son, Kousaka Masazumi (高坂昌澄) having died in the Battle of Nagashino in 1575.
In Mirage of Blaze: A kanshousha who, along with Sanjou-no-Kata, breaks the barrier over Takeda Shingen's tomb, the Maenduka, in an attempt to resurrect Shingen by using Narita Yuzuru as a vessel for his spirit.
According to Haruie, Kousaka has a high level of spiritual sensing ability (reisa), such that he is able to recognize someone he had met before even after their soul has undergone purification. He warns Naoe that Narita Yuzuru's existence is a threat to the Roku Dou Sekai.
Also known as: Kyuukoku (九国: “nine states”), Chinzei (鎮西: “west of the pacified area”), Tsukushi-shima (筑紫島: “island of Tsukushi”), Saikaidou (西海道: “West Sea Route”).
Lit.: "Nine Provinces", the third-largest and most southerly and westerly island of Japan. Its name comes from the former provinces of Japan situated on the island: Chikuzen, Chikugo, Hizen, Higo, Buzen, Bungo, Hyuuga, Osumi, and Satsuma. It is now comprised of the prefectures of Fukuoka, Kagoshima, Kumamoto, Miyazaki, Nagasaki, Ooita, Saga, and Okinawa.
Lit.: "Pine River"; a tributary of the Jinzuu River in Toyama Prefecture which separates from the main river near Nunose Town. A line of pine trees once stood along its banks; sakura (cherry) trees have now replaced them. Many of the surrounding areas have "sakura" in their name, such as Sakura Bridge Avenue, Sakura Town, New Sakura Town and Sakura Tree Town.
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.
The largest city in Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto is surrounded by mountains and is acclaimed for its beautiful views.
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).
Lit. "Underworld Uesugi Army"; the army formed by Uesugi Kenshin to hunt down the onryou so that the peace of modern-day Japan is not threatened by centuries-old conflicts. It is composed of all the spirits who have some connection to the Uesugi and who were called upon by Kenshin. The Yasha-shuu could be called its commanders, though Uesugi Kagetora is the only person with the authority to lead it.
Born as the second son of Mori Yoshinari, Nagayoshi became head of the Mori clan upon the deaths of both his father and older brother in battle in 1570. He served Oda Nobunaga and participated in the attack and annihilation of the Takeda clan in 1582, capturing Iida Castle and Takatoo Castle in hard-fought battles. He was awarded a 20,000-koku fief of 4 districts of Kawanakajima in Shinano as well as Uozu Castle.
In June of that year, the situation in Shinano became unstable upon Nobunaga's death, and Nagayoshi fled back to his former stronghold, Kaneyama Castle in Mino. He died fighting against Tokugawa's forces in 1584 (it was said that he died instantly from a rifle bullet between the eyes). His younger brother Mori Tadamasa became the next clan head.
Also called: Mori Nagasada (森長定), possibly Shigetoshi (成利), Nagayasu (長康)
Historically: A vassal of Oda Nobunaga who served as his attendant from
an early age. His father, Mori Yoshinari, was also a vassal of Oda Nobunaga. Favored by Nobunaga for his talent and loyalty, he also followed the tradition of shudo with his liege-lord. He and his three younger brothers died with Nobunaga at the Honnou-ji on June 21, 1582.
Literally: "seal"; symbolic gestures usually made with the hands that imparts a specific quality to the user. In Esoteric Buddhism, each deity has his or her own mudra, which is used in conjunction with a mantra to perform a specific spell.