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.

Contents

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.

あけちむほんいたし、のぶながさまニはらめさせ申候時、
ほんのふ寺へ我等よりさきへはい入候などゝいふ人候ハゞ、
それハミなうそにて候ハん、と存候。

其ゆへハ、のぶながさまニはらさせ申事ハ、
ゆめともしり不申候。

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.

其折ふし、たいこさまびつちうニ、
てるもと殿御とり相ニて御入候。

それへ、すけニ、あけちこし申候由申候。

At that time, Taiko (honorary title given to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI) had moved to Bicchu Province to attack Terumoto MORI. Mitsuhide AKECHI was on route to help Hideyoshi's forces.

山さきのかたへとこゝろざし候へバ、
おもひのほか、京へと申し候。

我等ハ、其折ふし、いへやすさま御じやうらくにて候まゝ、
いゑやすさまとばかり存候。

ほんのふ寺といふところもしり不申候。

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.

人じゅの中より、馬のり二人いで申候。

たれぞと存候へバ、さいたうくら介殿しそく、
こしやう共ニ二人、ほんのぢのかたへのり被申候あいだ、
我等其あとニつき、かたはらまちへ入申候。

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.

それ二人ハきたのかたへこし申候。

我等ハミなみほりぎわへ、ひがしむきニ参候。

Then, the two on horseback headed north. We all proceeded east along the moat.

ほん道へ出申候、其はしのきわニ、人一人い申候を、
其まゝ我等くびとり申候。

We reached the main road. There was a man near the bridge, and we cut off his head right away.

それより内へ入候へバ、もんハひらいて、
ねずミほどなる物なく候つる。

其くびもち候て、内へ入申候。

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.

さだめて、弥平次殿ほろの衆二人、きたのかたよりはい入、
くびハうちすてと申候まゝ、だうの下へなげ入、
をもてへはいり候へバ、ひろまニも一人も人なく候。

かやばかりつり候て、人なく候つる。

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.

くりのかたより、さげがミいたし、しろききたる物き候て、
我等女一人とらへ申候へバ、さむらいハ一人もなく候。

うへさましろききる物めし候ハん由、申候へ共、
のぶながさまとハ不存候。

其女、さいとう蔵介殿へわたし申候。

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.

御ほうこうの衆ハはかま・かたぎぬにて、
もゝだちとり、二三人だうのうちへ入申候。

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.

そこにてくび又一ツとり申候。

其物ハ、一人おくのまより出、おびもいたし不申、
刀ぬき、あさぎかたびらにて出申候。

其折ふしハ、もはや人かず入申候。

それヲミ、くずれ申し候。

我等ハかやつり申候かげへはいり候へバ、
かの物いで、すぎ候まゝ、うしろよりきり申候。

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.

其時、共ニくび以上二ツとり申し候。

ほうびとして、やりくれ被申候。

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.

のゝ口ざい太郎坊ニい申候。

That was when I served under Nonoguchi Zaitarobo.