Sunday, June 3, 2018

Nobunaga Festival at Azuchi Castle


Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) was a power military leader of the late 16th century. He is regarded as a great unifier of Japan. During his life he built at Azuchi, near lake Biwa, which was a strategic point in overseeing the lake and passage into the capital of Kyoto. Azuchi was also far enough away from Kyoto to avoid political strife and urban fires. Nobunaga struggled to build a castle town and develop a city in his day and the town remains relatively small, being a local train stop near Omi-Hachiman station, where the landscape is cover with rice and wheat fields.
Interesting points about Nobunaga were his ambitious building projects, military campaigns, patronage of the arts, trade with foreigners and interest in foreign culture (or, at least material goods).
Nobunaga's ambition ("Nobunaga's Ambition" is also the title of a video game series) ended in 1582 at Honno-ji temple in Kyoto when Akechi Mitsuhide turned against Nobunaga. In the following struggle to control the Omi area Azuchi Castle was destroyed by Akechi forces (in the summer of 1582, soon after Nobunaga's death).

This power vacuum and the resulting turbulence of the period lead to the widespread warfare and the rise of major Sengoku-era leaders such as Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

The town of Azuchi has an annual festival to celebrate Nobunaga, Azuchi Castle and to draw attention to the numerous museums which are built around the town. The festival is features a parade of people in samurai armor and a demonstration of matchlock guns.

The following 

Wearing a kawa-kabuto (decorated helmet) with an emblem for the Amago clan (four squares arranged in a square shape).

An unusual crest on his helmet, a crescent moon with a stylized sword). Most of these costumes represent specific individuals, the tag on their shoulders indicate who they are dressed as.

Tokugawa gunmen. Note the "Maru-ni-mitsu-aoi mon" crest on their helmets.

A very large mawari-kabuto.
There were many versions of Oda Nobunaga represented in the Nobunaga festival. Note the identifying hairstle and mustache of Nobunaga. You can also see the "kiri-mon" crest on his surcoat (note that this is the 3-5-3 variation of the kiri-mon).

Portuguese traders of the late 16th century. They appear often in images of the "Nanban" ("southern barbarians) from the art of that period.

Different versions of Lady Nene, Nobunaga's wife. Note the identifying hairstyle.

Various naginata wielding warriors from the Mori clan with Mori Ranmaru leading the way.

Another variation of Oda Nobunaga. Note the western style cape and steel breastplate. This armor appears in many later images of Nobunaga but is difficult to find in contemporary images from his life.

Note the crane crest. This seems to be a simplified version of the crest used by Mori Ranmaru.

A samurai carrying a club-like weapon.
He is carrying a book about the siege of Osaka.
The identification strip on the armor has a crest (? I don't recognize it).
The helmet has a vajra emblem (a traditional Buddhist icon).

The building in the background is "the Azuchi Mariet" which is a community center with a large gymnasium/Auditorium.

Samurai carrying a parasol with the Oda clan's "Mokko-mon" crest. Hanging under that is the butterfly crest of the Taira clan.

The parade passing through the yattai food stalls.

Another person in an Oda Nobunaga costume leads a samurai cheer. Note the banners with the Mokko-mon crest behind him.

Taiko drummers performing with various types of drums.

Another building modeled after a European church. This building houses a large pipe organ and is used for Opera performances.

This person seems to be wearing a costume with an unsual head scarf (of Tokugawa Ieyasu?)

Samurai in colorful armor.

This geometric pattern appears on traditional fabrics. It is probably not connected to the "Star of David."

Another person wearing the western style armor of Oda Nobunaga.

Mori Ranmaru with his crane crest.

A replica pf Azuchi Castle housed in Nobunaga-kan (Nobunaga Hall).

The golden level of Azuchi Castle.

A diorama showing the building of Azuchi Castle. The is particularly large stone in one part of the castle foundation. This scene imagines how the stone was moved into place.

A cute car version of the mythical ninja Jiraiya, who could summon giant magical toads.

Cute characters. The one on the right reminds me of Finn from Adventure Time.

A group preparing a demonstration of matchlock guns.

A very large caliber gun.

The gunpowder expels a large amount of smoke.

Firing from a ceremonial position.

Note the jet of hot gas shooting from the gun.

A missfire. Note the dense, curling smoke that is slowly rising from the pan.
This gunner tried again with multiple shots but without any better results.

An unusual rocket round loaded into the gun barrel.

Leaning into the shot.

Visitors try to hold up one of the guns.

A particularly fine example of a large gun from the period. Note the pitted steel (?) of the barrel and the brass (?) firing mechanisms.

Azuchi has a new (bouncy) castle.

Azuchi Castle falls again...