S H I N C H O U - Oda Nobunaga Fixation


Azuchi (+ Kyoto)

The last day of our tour was indeed a busy one.
We got up early in the morning to reach Azuchi to visit the ruins of the castle and the various museums.

When you get off from the train station, it's quite obvious that the "Nobunaga business" here is quite popular-- Almost every sign points to something Nobunaga-related, being it a temple or a ramen shop!

Of course we're greeted again by a Nobunaga's statue; probably this one is the one that I liked the least, but I think that it portrays a mature Nobunaga adequately--

I got the suggestion to get to the castle ruins by bike, it's quite easy to rent one (let's say that the locals FORCE YOU to rent one); unfortunately our horrifying sense of direction made us ride in circle for hours, wasting lots of precious time T_T;
But it was fun, definitely a nice way to visit the city (and to get lost)!

Of course, a picture of Azuchi's manhole's cover. For the sake of compulsive collection XD

So, after various trials we finally managed to reach the ruins; at the top of the mountain we could check the locations of many Nobunaga's retainers' houses, like Hideyoshi's, Katsuie's and Toshiie's.

We had the chance to have some tea in the teahouse of the castle.
It was a moving experience...

...Even if I couldn's sit seiza for more than 2 seconds!

The teahouse hosted a little exhibitions of reproductions of documents and other memorabilia.
The place itself was decorated with peculiar rooms and themes:

I had some cultural moments about Buddhism thanks to Teap's patronage.

These were the grounds of Nobutada's residence; as you see from the signs, the honmaru was a few meters ahead (NOT REALLY).

We reached the ninomaru with the headquarter for Nobunaga's planning of operations:
Note the sign with mysterious kanjis meaning "Do not enter".

We finally reached the donjon's foundations; stepping all over it was quite adventurous!

The view from the there:

--The trees cover all the view of Biwa lake T_T;

While getting down we stumbled upon these funerary stones... We tried to read the sign, but we couldn't recognize any name...

We reached the ground of the Sokenji (総見寺) in Azuchi; from there we could finally enjoy a proper view of the Biwa lake:

There're only ruins left of the temple, but the stupa and the main gate are still there in their original form:

Our adventurous descent:

Once we got off from the castle's ruins, we rode our bikes to the close-by museums:
I loved the Westerned style of the buildings, as to try to remind us how Azuchi looked like back then, thanks to the Portuguese missionaries' influence and Nobunaga's curiousity about it.

After ignoring the protests of Teap (who wanted to check out the actual museum first) I decided to go to check the Nobunaga-kan (信長の館) first, the building that contains the reproduction of the Azuchi's castle's donjon:

The building was filled with interesting reproductions and scale models concerning the castle's history:

These ones, featuring the construction of the Azuchi castle were quite stunning!

But what drove me crazy was obviously the donjon *_*

And here you go with a thousand random pictures of the whole thing:

Another lovely feat of the place was the collection of Nobunaga's life scenes featuring dolls:
These ones shows Nobunaga's family: his three Mori pages, Oichi and her daughters (the younger being Go).

A close-up of Nobu and Ran ♥

For the pictures with descriptions of the whole thing, please check the Story of Nobunaga page.

--Among the souvenirs, I finally spotted a Nobunaga-styled Hello Kitty!

We entertained ourselves with a quick, un-characteristic lunch:
The Hida beef and Nobunaga-inspired dishes were all out of order-- Ironically enough, there was another restaurant next to the museum, specialized in Hida beef dishes; NUOOOOO T_T !!

So, our next stop was the Azuchi Castle Archaelogical Museum, where we also visited a special exhibition about the relationship between Nobunaga and his legendary enemy once ally, Takeda Shingen.
It was an interesting exhibition, mostly focusing on a collection of original letters between the two generals and respective armies and generals, covering the span of time from their temporary alliance against Uesugi to the battle of Nagashino.
It was interesting but it was quite difficult to try to understand everything T_T;
Taking pictures inside of the museum was obviously forbidden, but here you go with the poster of the exhibition.

We got back to the rental service to return the bikes (and pay the extra!) and visit the Azuchi Castle Museum, a picturesque building located on he other side of the station:

The mascottes of the place are the three Mori brothers' kitty selves--
A cute rendition for sure!

The vibe of the museum is quite informal:

It's a little place, and its main feats are a little cafe, a library and the impressive 1/20 scale Azuchi's castle reproduction:

It's impressive because-- IT OPENS and you can take a peek into the rooms!

I spent HOURS in the library, checking out these wonderful comics about Nobunaga's life...
..The image above shows us a young Nobunaga before meeting with Dosan to discuss his marriage with Kichou.

Of course another picture of this kind:
By the time I completely grasped Nobunaga's personality for a perfect acting XD

We were quite late on our schedule, but we had a final stop to do!
In a rushed adventure against time, we reached for Kyoto! We had to visit the real location of Honnoji (本能寺) (the temple was moved from its original location once it was burned own during the "Honnoji Incident"), the temple where Mitsuhide killed Nobunaga so to properly close our tour.

We got to the touristic information office to figure out where this place was, because it was impossible to find on internet-- After a few minutes of explanations and THREE DIFFERENT MAPS, we finally reached the location!

The place was marked by a memorial stone:
Unfortunately it was quite late already, so the pictures we took are quite obscene-- We spent a few minutes in front of it thinking about Nobunaga and his feats and how life is truly "a fleeting dream" compared to such a wonderful figure's ambition...

We wanted to visit the actual temple too, but it was already quite late and it was far from our location, so, on a little melanchonic note and my personal dealing with fever (that damn cold that I got on Nagara river got worser and worser!) we had some dinner at the Kyoto station and then waited for our bus.
--What better way than concluding our trip with a chocolate ice-cream..?

"A man's life of fifty years under the sky
is nothing compared to
the age of this world.
Life is but a fleeting dream, an illusion --
Is there anything that lasts forever?"