One of the most innovative and daring warlords of the Sengoku or Warring States Period, Oda Nobunaga was the first of the Three National Unifiers. Born in Aichi Prefecture to a provincial warlord, he distinguished himself in 1560 at the Battle of Okehazama defeating the invading Imagawa army at an estimated ratio of 10 to 1. His military tactics and developments greatly influenced warfare and future samurai castle design. Nobunaga was killed in the Honno-ji Incident of 1582 when one of his most trusted generals inexplicably turned and attacked.
The second of the Three Unifiers, Toyotomi Hideyoshi was born to a farming family in modern-day Nakamura Ward of Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Highly trusted by his master, Oda Nobunaga, he proved himself time and again in battle. Through his intellect and political abilities, Hideyoshi managed to take control following Nobunaga’s death in the Honno-ji Incident, before continuing Nobunaga’s dreams of unifying the nation from his castle in Osaka.
The third of the Three Unifiers, Tokugawa Ieyasu was born in Okazaki Castle, Aichi Prefecture. From the age of three until 19, he was a political hostage. Ieyasu allied himself with Oda Nobunaga, and later with Nobunaga’s successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Following the death of Hideyoshi, the nation split into two factions, the pro-Toyotomi Western, and the Tokugawa Ieyasu led Eastern forces. The decisive Battle of Sekigahara, (1600) saw victory for Ieyasu who then became first of the Tokugawa Shogun dynasty that ruled for 260 years.
Known as a samurai among samurai, the popular Kato Kiyomasa was born in what is now Nakamura Ward of Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. Being related to Toyotomi Hideyoshi he was raised by Hideyoshi and his wife, O-Ne. Distinguishing himself in the Battle of Shizugatake (1583), Kato Kiyomasa also made a name for himself as an architect of particularly strong castles, such as Kumamoto Castle.
Hailing from Ama City in Aichi Prefecture, Fukushima Masanori was related to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and like Kato Kiyomasa, served Hideyoshi from a young age. Masanori was instrumental in many of Hideyoshi campaigns, particularly the 1583 Battle of Shizugatake. Fukushima Masanori was responsible for the creation of Nagoya’s Horikawa, a protective river linking Nagoya Castle with the ocean to the south, and with construction of various sections of stone wall around Nagoya Castle.
He later became master of Hiroshima Castle.
Born in Arako Castle, currently Nakagawa Ward of Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture, Maeda Toshiie served Oda Nobunaga from childhood, and through his martial prowess quickly rose to become one of the Oda clan’s leading generals. After Nobunaga’s assassination he served Toyotomi Hideyoshi loyally, becoming one of the Council of Five Elders, established to take care of Hideyoshi’s young son upon Hideyoshi’s passing. Maeda Toshiie was the first lord of the affluent Kaga Domain and Kanazawa Castle.
Chris Glenn is a bilingual radio DJ, TV presenter, producer, narrator, MC, copywriter, author and columnist, and Japanese historian, specializing in samurai castles, battles, armor and weapons. He is an inbound tourism advisor, and is often called upon as a lecturer and speaker on Japanese history and topics. He was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1968, and has spent over half his life in Japan, most of that time in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Chris is dedicated to promoting and preserving Japans’ long history, deep culture, traditions, arts and crafts.