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Akechi Mitsutoshi's seppuku poem

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  • Akechi Mitsutoshi's seppuku poem

    Greetings all. A few days ago I received a private message from one lwegerich asking about the poem that's mentioned in my signature - for the unfamiliar of you:

    After the battle of Yamazaki in 1582 Akechi Mitsutoshi performed the unprecedented act of committing seppuku and writing a poem on the door with the blood from his abdomen, using a brush.

    lwegerich was interested in just what that poem was and whether I had a translation. Unfortunately I had to send him off empty handed because I only picked up the fact from a website. I've tried googling for the subject, but other than a small handful of pages making reference to the poem (usually not in a very certain sense), but nothing concrete. We've speculated that it might just be a myth. lwegerich said he'd make a post in a Japanese newsgroup on the subject and suggested that I do a similar thing here.

    So! By incredible fluke, does anyone here know anything about the supposed incident, or know of someone/somewhere that an answer might be found? I'm dubious that there's a lot of information to find on such an obscure incident in history, but I have to agree with lwegerich that it would certainly be very interesting to read. I wonder what one writes at a moment like that???

  • #2
    "Honnoji no Hen" is the event you are after. Maybe you can find some general history books around the Sengoku / Aduchimomoyama period?

    The person you are refering to... His name is Akechi Mitsuhide. This is the poem:

    逆順無二門  大道徹心源 五十五年夢  覚来帰一元

    and this is the best (Japanese) site I found about the related incidents:
    http://www.inv.co.jp/~yoshio/HJ/

    (HTH ...these are just from one google search, and I personally don't know anything about Japanese History )

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by mingshi
      "Honnoji no Hen" is the event you are after. Maybe you can find some general history books around the Sengoku / Aduchimomoyama period?

      The person you are refering to... His name is Akechi Mitsuhide. This is the poem:

      逆順無二門  大道徹心源 五十五年夢  覚来帰一元

      and this is the best (Japanese) site I found about the related incidents:
      http://www.inv.co.jp/~yoshio/HJ/

      (HTH ...these are just from one google search, and I personally don't know anything about Japanese History )

      My japanese isn't very good, What does that mean in English?

      Comment


      • #4
        Honnoji no Hen is actually the poem by Oda Nobunaga on his death.

        It is translated quite eloquently numerous times in William Scott Wilson's translation of Taiko by Yoshikawa Eiji. I don't know his translation off the top of my head. It is something along the lines of (and this is hard because _I think_ it is written in chinese, so all i can do is translate characters and try to remember william scott wilson's version. Nobunaga was a great fan of Chinese):

        I have peerlessly followed a contrary path
        My life's (main path) complete origin of spirit (mind/heart)
        These 55 years are but a dream
        Returning to my original form

        Honnoji (which can be found on Kawaramachi and Shijo in Kyoto - although this is the rebuilt by Hideyoshi version, which has Nobunaga's grave) is where Nobunaga committed seppuku as the temple was put to the torch by his disloyal retainer Akechi Mitsuhide (funny thing is my kendo sensei is actually related to Akechi). In a conversation I had with a monk there, he told me the original location was actually further north in the city, past the current city hall. I have never been to the old location of Honnoji, and for all I know it is a parking lot.

        Hope this helps.

        Comment


        • #5
          Wow! Arigato, tetsuoxb! Arigato, mingshi! I honestly didn't expect to get any replies to this post at all, it's really cool to get so much info, even if there does seem to be a general lack of agreement...

          Mingshi: I'm not sure Akechi Mitsuhide is the samurai involved -[ URL=http://www.samurai-archives.com/mitsuhide.html]this article[/URL] says that "Mitsuhide himself was killed while attempting to make his way to Sakamoto, which was held by his brother, Hidemitsu (1560-1582)." Clearly not a case of seppuku. The Honnoji no Hen poem was very interesting though - thanks to tetsuoxb for the translation.

          We still don't seem any closer to finding the actual seppuku poem, though. Perhaps it's just a myth, or some such...

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          • #6
            Gimme a few months and I'll be able to check out some primary and detailed version of the story and names. Can someone else help?? I hate it when brothers and sons were involved in history... Everyone seems to have the same name!! (especially they only have ONE different character for their name...)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mingshi
              Gimme a few months and I'll be able to check out some primary and detailed version of the story and names. Can someone else help?? I hate it when brothers and sons were involved in history... Everyone seems to have the same name!! (especially they only have ONE different character for their name...)
              Try contacting Mary Elizabeth Berry at Stanford. She is the preeminent name in Hideyoshi research, and is a Sengokujidai specialist. If anyone would know, it would be her.

              A very quick, polite email would be the best way of asking.

              Worth a shot.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally Posted by mingshi:
                The person you are refering to... His name is Akechi Mitsuhide.
                Akechi mitsuhide was Akechi Mitsutoshi's cousin. He was a great warrior, but he didn't write a poem in his own blood. That was Akechi Mitsutoshi, or Akechi mitsuharu, as he was also known.

                Does anyone know an english translation of the poem?

                Comment

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