Posts tagged sengoku

Samurai fiction wish list: Actually depict them as humans, not tropes

Sengoku samurai are now being treated as celebrities, and it’s almost difficult to really find them depicted as actual human beings in media/fiction. In the mainstream/popular media, anyway. There’s probably a lot of works that I’m not familiar with.

They’re often portrayed as “larger than life” characters, some sagely adviser from ye olde tymes spouting fortune cookie-esque words of wisdom. These has been the “staple” of the genre since… maybe the Edo era, as portrayed in Bunraku and Kabuki. They’re using these historical figures as mouthpieces for their own ideas and thoughts, to lend the words more weight. Why? This is the modern times! Do we not have more information now? With new discoveries of artifacts? With modern science? Even psychologists have jumped in, psycho-analyzing various historical figures.
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Ye Olde Samurai Sauna

I first saw a samurai in sauna in the manga Tenkaichi! by Pink Aomata.


The poor flustered heroine serving as Nobunaga’s attendant in male disguise, LOL

I thought that was weird, but it’s a romance manga with time-travelling involved, and some weird bunny telling the heroine to change history and save Nobunaga from Honnoji, so… I ignored it. The premise is so zany that I just can’t be bothered to worry about this kind of detail.

Later on I stumbled into Aomata’s blog, and she seemed to be a really big history enthusiast (she and her husband bought the DIY Azuchi castle set and it makes me boil with frustration and utter envy) and is well-read about things, but still. Knowing history doesn’t necessarily mean sticking straight to it when writing fiction.

Then I encountered a sauna scene AGAIN, this time in a manga called Daireokuten Maou Nobunaga (didn’t catch the mangaka’s name this time):

So I thought, damn, I need to find out more about samurai sauna. Is it a bandwagon like the epic scene of Matsunaga Hisahide blowing himself up by stuffing the kettle Hiragumo with gunpowder and lighting it up? That was an exaggeration, but it was partially based on truth (Hisahide did destroy the Hiragumo), so… the random sauna scenes must have a reason for it. It’s definitely not fanservice, after all. Is it ritualistic? Leisurely?

The only clue I have to it is the term listed in Tenkaichi: Yudono no Tomo. Unfortunately, even with the name and kanji provided, I can’t find anything about it. The closest thing I managed to find was a Japanese dictionary entry for O-yudono (御湯殿). Even so, it wasn’t helpful because it was talking about the emperor’s bathrooms, even if it did include steam baths.

Then somehow I managed to locate a research paper titled “Washing off the Dust: Baths and Bathing in Late Medieval Japan” by Lee Butler. It mentioned that Hideyoshi owned a steam bath in his Jurakudai palace.


Hideyoshi’s steam bath, Oukakudai, currently located in Nishi-Honganji

That’s a lead. So I started looking around for that.

And then, BOOM! This article turned up. An archaeological team has excavated a steam bath in the ruins of Nobunaga’s Nijo mansion. It looks like it was not so different from modern day sauna in function. You entertain guests and socialize in them, so it’s pretty much just regular past-time activity.

Now to see if I can find the proper steps for using a sauna. Manga is hardly the best reference, but both scenes featured attendants accompanying Nobunaga in the steam bath. What were they supposed to be doing? Wiping off the lord? Just as conversation partner? If there had been more people using the steam baths, would there be more attendants?

Also, the article about Nobunaga’s Nijo steam bath mentioned that it has “nearly-identical structure” to Hideyoshi’s one. I’m not sure if it means the style of architecture is similar, or if the arrangements  and placements of the rooms/walls/etc are nigh-identical. According to this post, Hideyoshi once had a residence next to Nijo, so perhaps the one at Jurakudai had been inspired by Nobunaga’s one? Interesting.


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No Love for Hideyoshi?

Everywhere I turn, I see Nobunaga all over the place. So many manga and anime and movies with him as the main focus! Nobunaga no Chef, Onna Nobunaga, Nobunaga the Fool, Mister Zippangu, Blazing Nobunaga, etc etc etc, oh dear make it stop. Even Akechi has some love (The Man God Hated, Haou no Tsuki, Kanashi no Homura). And Masamune proudly graces the covers of a whole lot of Sengoku books.

I haven’t seen a Hideyoshi manga or anime yet. Not unless you count Hide Yoshino from Sengoku Otome, but that’s kind of a stretch.

Samurai otome games are popping up left and right and I barely see Hideyoshi ever. Surprise! The womanizer type are actually popular among otome fans, yanno, so why not? Rather than shoving in Yukimura or Masamune anachronistically. And why is he always yellow? Like yellow hair or yellow clothes or both. I know he liked gold and his golden gourd insignia is famous, but come on. Doesn’t mean he has to look and/or act like Naruto all the time.

It’s not that hard to dress him in colours that isn’t yellow

Nothing against the other folks, but Hideyoshi is more influential than Masamune historically. Ieyasu may have maintained the peace for 260 years, but Hideyoshi was still the one who finished the unification. Give the guy a little credit. He went kind of bonkers at the end, but… Nobunaga was bonkers too. A lot of people still love him regardless. And if I’m just missing out on things, it still means that there ain’t much attention being put on the things.

I woulda thought the rags-to-riches story would have attracted people more. Guess not. What, because there’s too little info on him? Gotta admit that a lot of the stuff we have on him are questionable as heck… But lack of information hasn’t stopped people from creative. And people got creative even when the info WAS there (Sengoku Basara, Sengoku Otome, Sengoku Strays, Nobuna no Yabou). Soooo…

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The Honnoji Incident places

While in Kyoto last time, I failed to locate the Honnoji landmarks and it aggravated me to no end.

Now I’m armed with maps and IF I ever have a chance to go there again, I will make sure to visit them properly goshdarnit.

Honnoji incident map

This map was based on the pre-existing Japanese maps I saw online and the notes in the Shinchou-Ko ki. Because it’s not like there are anything left to see there anymore it doesn’t actually matter XD

But some folks still think that the present-day Myokakuji is THE Myokakuji that Nobunaga’s son had stayed in during the incident, and that’s not right. So, you know, just in case. The present-day Myokakuji is, like, a few miles north from this area, so if Nobutada really had stayed there it makes no sense for him to run down to Nijo and fight. He might as well just run out of Kyoto altogether and not die.

Ack, if my annotations aren’t clear, Nijo is the one with Manga Museum. Myokakuji is the one next to it. Depending on which map you look at the area of Myokakuji is either the circled area, the dotted area, or BOTH.

Honnoji incident map 2

The Honnoji landmarks are a bit tricky to find, but… one of them is located in front of an office/building. One of the blogs I saw suggested that if anyone’s trying to look for it, it might be better to look for the building instead: [京都市立堀川高校本能学舎].  I tried Google-mapping it, but I can’t find that place either, so… er… You’ll just have to loo around and try.

The Nijo castle landmark is supposedly somewhere in the area of the Manga Museum. Do not mistake this for the “Old Nijo” that was built for shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (there’s actually more than one Nijo around here). But if you want to see the Old Nijo anyway, this landmark is located in Heian Jogakuin University [平安女学院大学入学センター]

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