Home   AbarenboGaijin   Kyoto    Monogatari   Flicks   Musashi   Career   Romances    Awesome     Links

Hi everyone! Hihihihihihihihi! It's me, Hikonyan, hereditary vassal of the glorious Ii family and protector of Hikone Castle. I'm so thrilled all my friends in America and the west have shown such interest in Japanese culture and history over the years, but you know, there is still quite a lot of misinformation out there in English. So, I'm going to be setting the record straight on ALL KINDS of topics! Nyan nyan! First off, let me introduce you all to some of my friends:

One of the more common questions I get asked is "Hikonyan, how in the world is it that a cat such as yourself came to be the protector of Hikone Castle? Isn't it really all just a big scheme to bring in tourist and merchandising yen? Aren't you bastardizing Japanese culture and showing absolutely no respect for history?" Well-bullshit! I came by my position in an honorable and just manner. And you can read about it right here, in excerpts from my best selling book Hikone No Yoi Nyanko No Ohanashi (available on Amazon Japan-get yours now!).



And before we get started in ernest, I'd like to thank my friend Koyori McBurly for making her husband give me space on his website to help educate and enlighten my friends from the west. And to Brick, who swore that "No fat ass cat would ever be bogartin' webspace on MY site"...well, loudmouth, I guess we know who wears the pants in your family, huh? Nyan nyan! 

And he thinks he's quite the ladies man, too. Well, I have news for him-he's not the only one! I have girls lining up day after day to see me dance and cavort, and they even send me elaborate love letters and artwork too!





Hey! Who wants to watch me get ready to kick that big pussy Sentokun's butt? Everyone does, of course! Watch the drama unfold!


 The Battle Of Okehazama 1560

Okehazama is traditionally painted as a brilliant victory won by a severly outnumbered Oda Nobunaga against the powerful daimyo Imagawa Yoshimoto. But if you've been around history as long as I have, you'll quickly realize that this opinion of the battle looks like hero-worshipping PR bullshit. For starters, who would even want to kill such a wonderful man as Yoshimoto-a man who ran his lands efficiently and fairly, and made friends with all his neighbors like those nice Takeda and Hojo? And more to the point, how could a clown like Nobunaga pull it off?

Well, these questions have baffled historians for ages. But a few months back, I stumbled across the answers while we were doing our annual airing of the vintage books in Hikone Castle's library. I dropped a whole stack of them and hurried to gather them back up before anyone noticed. While picking up one of the books that had fallen open to expose its inner pages, I noticed the name 'Oda Nobunaga'. But when I shut the cover, it said it was a history of the Shokyu Disturbance. Huh? What gives? There was a folded sheet of paper stuck inside the book that explained everything. Nyan nyan!

Most of you have heard about the Shinchoko-ki....a biography of Oda Nobunaga written by one of his retainers, Ota Gyuichi. What you may not know (unless you've seen the TV show 'Nobunaga's Coffin') is that what has survived to today is NOT the original manuscript. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi took the reins of power after Nobunaga's death, he pressured Ota to change certain passages to glorify the Oda and specifically Hideyoshi's feats. This is the version that survives today-but the original version was kept in the library of Hideyoshi's Osaka Castle. When it fell in 1615, my clan the Ii was among the first to reach the castle keep. Before burning it down, they decided to borrow some books from the library (along with a bunch of treasure from the castle) and the original manuscript was one of them. Ii Naotaka wanted to preserve this rare tome, but worried about metsuke inspectors finding it in his library and deeming it seditious. Y'see, the original manuscript was highly critical of Tokugawa Ieysau (accusing him of 'eating too many snacks', among other things). So he took the simple precaution of hiding it in plain sight after remounting it in a Shokyu Disturbance cover, knowing that no one would ever bother reading that.

But I found it! Nyan nyan! And I read it, too-and what tales it told! I'm happy to print here the excerpt that deals with Okehazama and give the world a look at the true course of the battle!

Lord Nobunaga grew more pensive by the moment. The mounting reports made it increasingly apparent that the forces of Suruga No Kami (Imagawa Yoshimoto) were entering his lands uninvited. He summoned his closest vassals to hear their opinions and solicit their strategies. Among them were his most trusted retainers-Shibata Katsuie, Maeda Toshiie, Kinoshita Tokichiro, and Akechi Mitsuhide (Hiko's note-WOW! Mitsuhide, Maeda, and 'Hideyoshi' were there? What a revelation!).

"Lord Imagawa DARES to invade my lands? How does such a soft and lazy elitist expect to conquer the rough warriors of Owari?" scoffed the Lord. "I'll tear that rich and titled fool to pieces!!!!"

“But my Lord…aren’t we part of the same rich and titled elite, living off the sweat and hard work of the peasants and merchants whilst we laze about the castle? Isn’t it true that the only real difference between yourself and the Imagawa is that they have worked harder and been wiser at managing their lands, while you have wasted your time in idle self-indulgent pursuits and unproductive infighting with the rest of your clan?” asked Tokichiro.

“Err…uhhh….well…that is…,” stammered the Lord. “Even though we’re rich and titled, we are redneck country samurai and not nearly as smart as the Imagawa. So in my eyes, that makes them elite and me the champion of the common man.”

“So being inept is what differentiates us from the elite?” questioned Katsuie.

“Wellllllllll….yes. The greater wealth of our provinces in both rice and sea trade has nothing to do with being elite. It’s all about not being some Mr. Fancy-pants who knows a bunch of stuff we don’t. You’ll never see me playing kemari, dancing, or reciting poetry!” shouted Lord Nobunaga.

Toshiie exclaimed, “My Lord, did you not just perform ‘Atsumori’? Granted, your recital and dancing were of poor quality, but…”

“Be silent! The point is, is that you’ll never see me take on airs like SOME people,” pouted our Lord.

“So we shall never see you pour a fortune into a grand and opulent castle more ostentatious than any built before, be it by Emperor or Shogun? You will not turn the simple act of drinking tea into a ridiculously formal ceremony fit only for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder? It will not be decreed that the peasants worship a rock as your namesake and that they treat you as a God? And…” rattled off Mitsuhide.

With a frown the Lord cut Mitsuhide off. “I warn you, Mitsuhide, stop that now. You are revolting”.

Mitsuhide mumbled, “Well, the thought has crossed my mind…”

"And aren't you supposed to be one of the Viper's (Hiko's note-Saito Dosan of Mino) vassals anyway? Or hanging out with that big sissy (Asakura) Ujikage?" mused the Lord.

"Errrr...Lord Dosan is dead, my Lord. And how could I be serving the Asakura when I'm here?" calmy replied Mitsuhide.

"Hmm...makes sense," said the Lord while cocking his head. "Moving right along, what are the forces arrayed against us? Do they contain any women or children?"

"No, my lord" answered Katsuie.

"How about unarmed monks? Helpless villagers?" entreated Lord Nobunaga in a hopeful tone.

"No, my lord. Lord Yoshimoto's samurai are all battle hardened, capable fighting men-such as Matsudaira Motoyasu (Hiko's note-the future Tokugawa Ieyasu). Even though he eats too many snacks, he easily defeated our forces when resupplying an Imagawa fort some time ago" said Toshiie.

"Gods!" exclaimed Lord Nobunaga. "Well, we certainly don't want any of that action. Send an envoy to Lord Yoshimoto's camp and inform him that we would like to submit. And by the way, Toshiie, aren't you banned from the clan?"

Toshiie stammered, "Uhhhhh-I will personally go and deliver the message myself, Lord Nobunaga! Nobunaga no tame!"

Some time later, Toshiie returned. The wise Lord Yoshimoto had honored the Oda by sending the master archer, samurai cat Sunpunyan (Hiko's note-my great-great-grandfather, a retainer of Yoshimoto's vassal Ii Naomori-nyan nyan!) to guide the Oda to his encampment.

Sunpunyan bowed down. "Lord Nobunaga, I bring greetings from Lord Imagawa Yoshimoto. He gratefully accepts your offer of vassalage and will receive you in person at his encampment at Okehazama."

Lord Nobunagha smiled radiantly. "Thank you, Sunpunyan. Truth to tell, I was so frightened of Lord Yoshimoto's wrath that I nearly wet my armor!"

"Errrrr....yes. Well, let's not keep Lord Imagawa waiting-let us start the procession," said Sunpunyan as he wrinkled his nose.

Some time later, the procession found itself lost among the twists and turns of the rugged terrain near Dengakuhazama.

"I believe we've passed this tree twice already," said Tokichiro, pointing to a large cypress tree that had been burned by lightning. "Lord Sunpunyan, are you quite sure this is the way?"

"Ah, yah. Kinda. Sorta. It's like this-I'm a master archer, but not really a tracker. We have dogs for that, like the Yuki clan f'rinstance..." trailed off Sunpunyan. His whiskers twitched as he searched valiantly for another excuse. Not being able to meet the gaze of Lord Nobunaga, he glanced off to the side and down a ravine-and as if by a miracle, he saw the encampment of Lord Yoshimoto! "Praise the gods," he sighed. He quietly thanked Buddha that Lord Yoshimoto was here at Dengakuhazama rather than Okehazama like he thought. "Lord Nobunaga, my unfaltering tracking sense has delivered us safely to Lord Yoshimoto's encampment. I suggest you prepare your gifts for the Lord before we follow the path down the hillside."

Lord Nobunaga waved forth Katsuie, who clutched a large lacquered black box with highlights in gold spackle, and Tokichiro, who carried a large cask of ceremonial sake from the holy breweries of Atsuta Shrine. "Inspect them," instructed the liege. Tokichiro checked the seals on the sake and nodded his head. Katsuie opened the lacquered box. His normally swarthy face turned pale.

"Oh, No!" cried Katsuie.

"Well, actually, it was Oichi who baked them..." patiently explained Lord Nobunaga.

"No, my Lord-Oh, No as in, 'Oh, No, someone's been into the donuts!'" Katsuie held out the box for the Lord's inspection. It contained only a half eaten glazed and a light coating of donut jism. The retainers shuffled their feet and cast guilty looks around. Their collective gaze soon settled on Sunpunayn. Donut crumbs fell from the whiskers of his twitching nose.

"Oh," piped up Sunpunyan. "I'm very sorry-I didn't realize those donuts were for Lord Imagawa. I just assumed it was open season when I saw Lord Maeda in them..."

"Toshiie...you DIDN'T!" roared the Lord.

Toshiie prostrated himself. "I'm sorry, my lord!" he sobbed. "I get so sick of eating nothing but rice-and the smell of those sugary rascals was enough to tempt the Buddha himself! But on my honor, I only had one..."

All eyes returned to Sunpunyan. He glowered at the assembled retainers and his hand dipped towards the sword at his waist. "I assume the 10 I had wasn't a problem?"

The Oda retainers swiftly shook their heads back and forth and mumbled apologies. Sunpunyan relaxed and his hand fell away from his sword. Lord Nobunaga cleared his throat to break the tension and proclaimed, "No matter. It's clearly Toshiie's fault. You have incurred my wrath and will now pay the ultimate price,"

Toshiie's mouth gaped and he choked out "N-n-n-no-you can't mean..."

"Yes. I'm telling Matsu, dead man." Toshiie fainted away and the Lord smiled cruelly. "Tokichiro! Fetch more donuts!"

"My Lord, it's not as if we can just BUY them at a shop. This is the Sengoku, after all," said Tokichiro.

A frustrated Lord Nobunaga gnashed his teeth and swore at the heavens. "Alas, my clan is undone and my life and honor will be forfeit. Would only that there was an establishment open 24 hours that provided the best in fresh pastries year round..."

We now pause for a word from our sponsors:

Ummmm-um! The next time you have a taste for the best in fresh pastries served 24-7, get yourself down to Mr. Donut. Our sugary rascals are so good you'd give up your whole fief for a box of them! Remember, that's Mr. Donut-the official snack food of Brick McBurly.

And now, back to the Shinchoko-ki, starring Oda Nobunaga...

"I know," said Katsuie. "Let's turn out our sleeves and see if we can't raise a nice gift of coinage for Lord Yoshimoto". The retainers grudingly complied, and all dropped their cash into Toshiie's distinctive golden 'catfish tail' helmet. However, when the contributions were tallied, it amounted only to the insubstantial sum of 36 mon.

Lord Nobunaga glared as his vassals. "With what I'm paying you chiselers, this is the best you can do?"

Mitsuhide fell to the ground. "I'm sorry, my Lord-I lost most of this month's koku gambling at dice!" He pointed to Tokichiro. The other vassals began to nod their assent.

"Tokichiro! What have you to say for yourself?" growled the Lord.

"Well, I took their money. And I blew it all on gaining the affections of women of easy virtue. I'm broke too," said Tokichiro with a sparkle in his eyes.

"Ah," said the Lord. "Good man. But being as how we have nothing of value among us, we will be unable to meet with Lord Imagawa. Not bestowing a gift upon him worthy of his stature would be an insult."

"Can't you give him one of those shoddily made tea utensils that you're always trying to pass off as rare collectibles, my Lord?" asked Katsuie with hope in his voice. The look Lord Nobunga shot him spoke louder than any threat could have.

“The situation dictates that as redneck country samurai, there is only one course of action open to us,” said Lord Nobunaga.

“Blowing things up real good?” offered Tokichiro.

“Alas, we have no powder,” sighed our Lord.

“Having sexual intercourse with our siblings?” mused Toshiie, who had emerged from his swoon.

“No-at least, not until later” scolded the Demon King. “No, there is but one thing to do-my vassals, we’re getting drunk! Break out the sake!”

At this, there was great rejoicing amongst the troops and a hearty cheer of appreciation was produced.

After some time, the vassals grew quite inebriated. One of them, a certain Mori Shinsuke, was known to be a rather belligerent drunk. Growing tired of the tedious whining as to the cruel fate delivered upon the Oda, he was heard to blurt out, "Fuggit! Why don't we juschhhh go and kill the damn bashhtard?" And he mounted his horse and set out to do just that.

A horrified Sunpunyan immediately recognized the threat to his Lord and leapt upon his mighty battle steed. He set out down the hill in dogged pursuit of the fool Shinsuke. Indeed, to the observers on the hill it seemed that the spirit of Lord Hogen (Hiko’s note-this is referring to the charge made by Minamoto no Yoshitsune down the hill at Ichi-no-tani in 1184) had possessed the samurai cat. Sunpunyan reached into a quiver high on his back, with arrows all fledged with black banded eagle feathers, and also a deer-horn humming-bulb arrow fledged with hawk feathers and grey-banded white eagle feathers. As the two warriors burst from the hillside into Lord Imagawa's encampment, Sunpunyan began to close the distance between the two riders. With his rattan-wrapped bow extended and his helmet tied to his shoulder-cord, Sunpunyan took out his humming-bulb, fitted it, drew his bow to the fullest, and sent the arrow whizzing on its way. Despite his small stature, the arrow measured twelve handbreaths and three fingers, and the bow was a powerful one. Singing until the hills resounded, the arrow flew straight and true to its target-the back of Shinsuke. However, the drunken Shinsuke chose this most inauspicious of moments to topple from the saddle-and Sunpunyan's shaft instead sunk deeply into the chest of Lord Imagawa, killing him instantly.

Sunpunyan turned to the shocked Imagawa rank and file and said 'Nyan nyan!', but this must have been the wrong thing to say since they descended upon him, took his head, and placed it before the body of Lord Imagawa. Having done their duty by avenging their Lord, the assembled Imagawa retainers began to drift off in order to seek their reward from Yoshimoto's son Ujizane. Soon the encampment was empty save for the bodies of Sunpunyan, Lord Imagawa, and Shinsuke. After some time a thunderstorm broke. This had the effect of rousing the tipsy Shinsuke, who had fallen asleep after dropping from the saddle. He saw the dead body of Lord Imagawa at his feet and bellowed, "Well, I'll be damned! I am the man!" He then did what any respectable samurai would do-he began to cut the head from someone else's kill. As he finished, Lord Oda's procession came clattering down the hill, seeking cover from the rain after having cowered in the shrubberies during Shinsuke's wild ride. Oblivious to what had happened, Lord Nobunaga congratulated Shinsuke and turned to his men. "Listen, my vassals-I have collected the head of Imagawa Yoshimoto! Let all now fear the name of Nobunaga!"

Lord Nobunaga then gazed upon the fallen form of the warrior Sunpunyan. “Truly, it is an auspicious day for the Oda when we were able to overcome the might and bravery of warriors such as this. It would cast shame upon our clan were we not to honor the valor of such a foe. My vassals, look upon Sunpunyan and strive to emulate his example in all things. In this, I will endeavor to take the lead. Let it be known that Nobunaga will become the biggest pussy in the whole of Japan!”

And he did.

Wow! That was really something! I'm hoping you learned as much from this lost work as I did! Well, that's it for this installment of Hikonyan's Guide To Japanese History-The Battle Of Okehazama. Look for more startling insights soon! Until then, have a Hiko-tastic day-and nyan nyan!


A lot of you are now probably wondering why my clan was of lowly ronin status in 1623. Well, I'm glad you asked! It helps introduce our next topic! 

The Battle Of Sekigahara 1600 

The battle of Sekigahara was the culmination of a web of political intrigue and complex schemes between the so-called 'Western Army' of Ishida Mitsunari and the 'Eastern Army' of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the wake of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's death. For those of who who'd like to refresh your memories of the situation before we get started, Hikonyan recommends:

The forces of the Western Army were made up largely of Toyotomi retainers. However, many of Ieyasu's forces were Toyotomi retainers he had swayed to his side-men like Ikeda Terumasa, Yamauchi Kazutoyo, Kuroda Nagamasa,  Hosokawa Tadaoki, and Fukushima Masanori. Ieyasu had cleverly used Ishida as a lightning rod to gather all that would oppose him under one banner-and just as cleverly fielded an army to fight them composed mainly of troops that didn't belong to him. Loyalties were so mixed that in Osaka, Lady Yodo and Hideyoshi's heir Hideyori 'officially' considered it a conflict between vassals and didn't take a direct part (so as not to end up on the losing side). The fighting started when Naoe Kanetsugu (a vassal of the Uesugi) wrote a letter to Ieyasu that said, in effect, "You suck, Ieyasu". Ieyasu left Osaka and headed east to ostensibly mount a campaign against the Uesugi, but was really trying to draw out Ishida's army. Ishida took the bait and sent out a call to his allies, who slowly and somewhat reluctantly began to gather. At this point, the campaign saw a series of castle sieges as the two armies tried to firm up their lines of communication.

The armies of the two sides slowly began to converge on Ishida's Ogaki Castle and Tokugawa's Kiyosu Castle. The Tokugawa forces took Gifu castle to the east of Ogaki while the Ishida forces took several scattered castles in the west such as Fushimi. On October 20 (western calender), there was a small skirmish when the Western forces raided the Tokugawa at Akasaka. In response, rather than mount an assault on Ogaki, Ieyasu bypassed it and moved as if to threaten Ishida's home castle of Sawayama. At this point, Shimazu Yoshihiro was said to have suggested a night attack on the Eastern forces. Most western accounts have this event reported incorrectly, but F. W. Seal, co-founder of the Samurai Archives, is one of the few that went to the original source documents:


From the little-known Edo work, 'Secret History of Tôshô Daigongen'-it has this to say about the leadup to the Sekigahara battle...

'Katsushige [Mitsunari] was known to have a love for confections. He was also very severe about proper proportions. But he was capable of great patience. At the time of the council in Omi, while debating strategy, he noticed Shimazu Yoshihiro helping himself to the delicacies provided for the refreshment of the samurai. Some time passed and again Mitsunari noted Yoshihiro scarfing 'donuts' [I'm assuming that is the rough translation here.] This angered Mitsunari very much but he was inclined to let the matter go given the important issues at hand. Yet it happened that Shima, who had been so engaged in the discussion at hand that he had delayed in partaking of the confections, now realized that none remained to be had. Shima was inwardly furious but also said nothing. Then Shimazu rose and, pleading a tummy ache, announced that he was retiring for the night.
At this Shima became very angry. 'Shimazu brings only 200 men and yet eats all our donuts? His insolence is unforgivable.'
Chosokabe Morichika then spoke up and demanded to know where all the sake had gone. At his words a general clamor ensued.'

'Mitsunari attempted to calm those present and asked Shimazu if he might retire to spare tensions while strategy was being plotted. Yoshihiro was rising to leave when the folds of his kimono became undone. More donuts and a gourd of sake intended for the meeting fell out before all present. The monk Jotei says that Ukita Hideie drew his sword and would have cut Shimazu down had not he been restrained.'

'Fearing that the honor his family had been tarnished by his actions, Yoshihiro then offered to lead a night raid on the Tôshô Daigongen's camp and return with sake and, he hoped, more donuts.
Mitsunari remarked, 'Your lordship is in his cups. I suggest you go to bed.' At this, Yoshihiro became very angry and said, 'I'll tell you when I'm drunk; I know when I'm drunk. You...don't know when I'm drunk...'
However, almost as soon as he had made this statement, Yoshihiro became ill and at length had to be carried from the meeting and left outside in the grass. At some later point he rose, disoriented, and was eventually found by his nephew Toyohisa the next morning in a horse stall with a common footsoldier and an old peasant woman, all insensible from drink. Toyohisa decided not to question his uncle on the matter.'

'This is what occured before the great battle.'


Ishida instead moved the bulk of his forces to Sekigahara to block these movements, playing right into Ieyasu's hands.

The forces of Ishida were arranged roughly to the northwest, west, and south, with the Tokugawa in the northeast. The battle began early in the morning of October 21, and this is where my clan enters the story. My father, Sawanyan, had been a retainer and best friend of Ishida Mitsunyan and his strategist Shima Sakonyan. In disguise, he had been sent to the camp of the Ii in order to spy on the Eastern army and also to spread disinformation among the ranks. Sawanyan completed his mission and began to move back towards his own lines-however, Ii Naomasa and Matsudaira Tadayoshi saw this and came to the conclusion that the fight was on! The Ii charged the lines of the Ukita, and a highly pissed off Fukushima Masanori (who was supposed to have led the first charge) decided to follow suit, setting off a spontaneous chain reaction all along the line. Sawanyan had no choice but to join the fighting as part of the Ii contingent so as not to blow his cover, as shown in an old folding screen of the battle:


The battle raged back and forth for some time, and there was some doubt as to who would emerge victorious. Tony has a great account of the fighting in his book, so go buy it if you haven't already. Ultimately, things were decided when Kobayakawa Hideaki turned on Ishida and was joined by several smaller clans. The battle became a rout with the Eastern army in control. Sawanyan, still fighting for the Ii, decided he might as well stick with a winner and impulsively charged the positions of the Shimazu (who had not moved at all during the battle, as Yoshihiro was still brooding about being called a drunk).

The Ii's leader Naomasa rode into the front ranks to berate Sawanyan for disobeying orders, and it turns out his horse was afraid of cats. Naomasa was thrown and when Sawanyan helped him up and began to dust him off, one of the Shimazu took this opportunity to shoot Naomasa in the shoulder. Oops! Sawanyan turned to the shocked Ii rank and file and said 'Nyan nyan!', but this must have been the wrong thing to say since they descended upon him, took his head, and presented it to Ieyasu after the battle. The Eastern forces had won, and in short order captured Ishida Mitsunari, burned his castle, and gave it to none other than Ii Naomasa-putting my family without a lord and making us ronin. Sekigahara was to firmly establish Ieyasu as the preeminent force in Japan, a process he cemented 15 years later at Osaka Castle.


I hope you enjoyed the initial offering for Hikonyan's Guide To Japanese History, and all the secret behind-the-scenes information you just don't see in western books on Japan! Nyan nyan!