Oda Nobunaga, born in 1534, is the first of the unifying warlords of Japan during the Sengoku period and is often considered as Japan’s most successful warlord. Although he started as the son of a minor daimyo, with a number of factions within his own province opposing him, Nobunaga eventually managed to not only crush those factions but also proceed to conquer over a third of Japan, with the rest well positioned to fall to him. However, this ended in 1582 when one of his trusted retainers, Akechi Mitsuhide, betrayed and killed him at Honnouji.
Nobunaga’s forces, numbering at most 3000, defeated an army of 25,000
Oda Nobunaga was known for his extremely clever use of tactics to outwit his opponents. In the Battle of Okehazama, Nobunaga’s forces, numbering at most 3000, defeated an army of 25,000 through a simple combination of misdirection, surprise attacks, and efficient use of firearms. After Tokugawa Ieyasu’s complete failure to hold back Shingen Takeda’s campaign towards capturing Kyoto, it is said that Oda Nobunaga architected Shingen’s assassination prior to decimating the famous Takeda cavalry army. Such victory is considered the most significant battle in Nobunaga’s life, as no one had crushed the Takeda clan as he had just done. Unfortunately, Nobunaga is not just simply known for his military prowess but also remembered for his extremely ruthless and brutal nature, as depicted by his most infamous deeds of burning Buddhist temples because of their criticism and the slaughter of thousands of men, women, and children that supported those Buddhist beliefs. Due to his greed and ambition, many Japanese folklore and contemporary media often portray him as either a demon or as someone who has made a deal with the devil (which is why not many people wish to use the name ‘Nobunaga’ for their children). Nonetheless, Oda Nobunaga’s legacy can be found in an abundant number of anime, manga, and games, no matter if they were made for Eastern or Western audiences, which serves to convey just how powerful his influence remains.