Honjo Soemon Oboegaki (本城惣右衛門覚書)
The Honjo Soemon Oboegaki is a record sent by Soemon HONJO, a samurai serving Mitsuhide AKECHI during the Honnoji Incident, to three people who are thought to be his relatives, during his late years in the Edo period. The records are kept at the Tenri Central Library in Nara Prefecture.
The Honjo Soemon Oboegaki is considered a valuable resource since it is the only firsthand account available from one of the participants from the Akechi forces in the Honnoji Incident. The record became known when the full text appeared in bulletin No.57 of the Tenri Central Library, 'Biblia' in June 1974.
Events following the discovery
In January, 1930, Wakaki HAYASHI, a collector of historical books, purchased the Honjo Soemon Oboegaki from an unknown person and published it in the magazine 'Nihon oyobi Nihonjin' (Japan and the Japanese); it's existence finally becomes known. After his death, the books owned by Wakaki HAYASHI were cleared and resold.
The Tenri Central Library purchased the Honjo Soemon Oboegaki in 1966, and has retained it since then.
The following are excerpts from the record, which described the scene where Soemon was first to break into Honno-ji Temple.
Incidentally, Honno-ji Temple at the time was used as an exclusive guesthouse for Nobunaga and thus the monks were temporarily removed; with only about one hundred men on the premises of the vast temple, Honno-ji Temple was nearly deserted.
If someone were to claim that he broke in the Honno-ji Temple earlier than ourselves, when Akechi revolted against Nobunaga and forced him to commit seppuku (suicide by disembowelment), that would be a complete lie.
This is because we never dreamed Akechi would target Nobunaga ODA.
Akechi was expected to proceed to the Yamazaki region, but instead headed for Kyoto. We were thinking Akechi was going to attack Ieyasu TOKUGAWA because Ieyasu had visited Kyoto. We did not even know about our destination, the Honno-ji Temple.
Two people on horseback came up from the army band. I wondered who they were, and it tuned out they were Kurasuke (Toshimitsu) SAITO and his pageboy. We followed them during the expedition to the Honno-ji Temple and entered Katahara-cho.
Then, the two on horseback headed north. We all proceeded east along the moat.
We reached the main road. There was a man near the bridge, and we cut off his head right away.
We entered inside (the premises of the Honno-ji Temple) across the bridge; the gate was open and not even a mouse was to be seen. We brought the severed head in.
Yaheiji (Mitsuhide AKECHI) and a member of the horo shu (elite courier guards), who had probably entered the premises of the temple from the north side, told us to discard the head, and so we followed his order and threw the head under the temple; we entered the temple from the front entrance, but could not see anyone in the main hall. We saw mosquito nets hung in the hall, but not a single person.
We captured one woman in kimono (traditional Japanese clothing) with hair hanging down her back in the kuri (monk's living quarters or the kitchen at a temple), but not a single samurai.
The woman said to us, 'Uesama (honorific title for emperors or shoguns) wears white kimono,' but we did not know she was referring to Nobunaga ODA.
We turned her over to Kurasuke (Toshimitsu) SAITO.
Two or three members of the hokoshu (a military post in Muromachi Shogunate), Nobunaga's retainers, entered the temple in hakama (pleated and divided skirt made in fine stripes) and kataginu (short sleeveless garment made of hemp), tucking the sides of the hakama around the gaps, called momodachi, into the obi (kimono sash) to shorten the length.
We cut another person's head off there.
Coming out of the backroom by himself, the person did not even wear an obi.
He appeared in light yellow katabira (unlined garment for summer) with his sword drawn.
At the same time, quite a few members on our side showed up.
Seeing them, the enemy collapsed.
We hid behind the hanging mosquito nets and slashed the person, coming out of the backroom, from behind when he passed by us.
We cut off two heads in total: one from a person in the hall and one from a person who was in front of the temple earlier. We received spears as a reward.
That was when I served under Nonoguchi Zaitarobo.