Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Mitsuhide's Road to Infamy, Part III



Not far beyond Kami-Katsura station is Goryo-Jinja.  There are a number of these shrines around Japan, usually dedicated to appeasing restless spirits.  The most famous of course is in the north of Kyoto, where the Onin War broke out.  There is no telling if Mitsuhide stopped here to pray to his ancestors for guidance, as he was now only about 90 minutes away from his target.  And perhaps his spirit too has now been added to the pantheon of those who died in misery in this world.  

This little spur of road was lined with old houses dating back to the Edō Period, low and squat and with the tell-tale false second floor.  I hit Gōjō Boulevard at an angle, which outside the city takes another form as the Sanin-dō, stretching along the Sea of Japan to the grand Izumo Shrine, and beyond. 

Before long I cross the Katsura river.  There had probably been a bridge here in Mitsuhide's day, for ferry crossings would have very time consuming, if not impossible in the pre-dawn hour. The river now is a shadow of what it must've once been.  Dozens of old farmers have staked out grids on which to grow vegetables, at the moment winter grow: Chinese cabbage, daikon.  The snowy head of Mt. Atago promises a steady supply of water.     

My own passage across is accompanied by the consistant hiss of traffic. One landmark Mitsuhide certainly didn't have was the rail line, which allowed me to cut diagonally across the city on a small lane that shadowed it.  That begs the question:  How did Nobunaga's guard not notice an army marching into the city?  These troops had been ordered to assist Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the siege of Takamatsu, but Mitsuhide's men were marching the wrong direction.  Did they enter in dribs and drabs so as to avoid suspicion? Knowing the mindset of the day, they probably came in as a single body, with all the accompanying pomp and circumstance.  This would have been spurred on by Mitsuhide's pronouncement while crossing the Katsura, "The enemy awaits at Honnō-ji!"




On the turntable:  Ahmad Jamal, "The Best of Ahmad Jamal"

No comments: