Oda Hidenobu (織田秀信)

Hidenobu ODA was a busho (Japanese military commander) and a Christian daimyo (Christian feudal lord) who lived from the Azuchi-momoyama period to the Edo period. He was the legitimate son of Nobutada ODA and the legitimate grandchild of Nobunaga ODA. It is said that his mother, Tokujuin, was the daughter of Nagamitsu SHIOKAWA, Yoshinari MORI or Shingen TAKEDA. However, according to "Kosekiko (ancient documents) of the Mino Province," it is said that his mother was the daughter of Magodayu WADA. His younger brother was Hidenori ODA. It is said that his lawful wife was Sadako TOYOTOMI, the daughter of Hidekatsu TOYOTOMI and Sugen-in, however, this theory is not clear. His childhood name was Sanboshi. His common name was Saburo. He was called Gifu Chunagon (vice-councilor of state) because he was a Chunagon as well as the lord of Gifu-jo Castle. He was listed in the Kugyobunin (the name lists of the Imperial Court) under his real name, Hidenobu TAIRA.

The Honnoji Incident and the Kiyosu Conference

H was born out of wedlock in 1580 as the eldest child of Nobutada ODA. His childhood name was Sanboshi. Hidenobu became the legitimate son of Nobutada because Nobutada had no lawful wife as well as no legitimate son when he died.

At the time of the Honnoji Incident in 1582, he was in the Gifu-jo Castle where his father Nobutada lived. However, he escaped to Kiyosu-jo Castle under the protection of Geni MAEDA or Nanigashi KINOSHITA (of the Kinoshita clan). There is an anecdote that Nobutada gave him a short sword made by Yukimitsu MATSUGO when Nobutada was in Nijo-jo Castle during the Honnoji Incident. In the same year, he inherited the estate of the Oda family at the age of 3 and obtained his direct control territory of 30,000 koku (crop yields) in Sakada District, Omi Province due to the assistance of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in the Kiyosu Conference. Hidemasa HORI served him as the local governor. His transfer to Azuchi-jo Castle was determined in this conference, however, Nobutaka ODA made him stay in Kiyosu-jo Castle. This situation triggered the conflict between Hideyoshi and Nobutaka. After Nobutaka was defeated and surrendered, Hidenobu moved to a temporary residence in Azuchi-jo Castle with military equipment and was then placed under the guardian of Nobukatsu ODA.

In 1584, he moved to Sakamoto-jo Castle owned by Nagahide NIWA.

Genpuku (celebration of a boy's coming of age) and Jijuninkan (chamberlain appointment)

In 1588, he called himself Hidenobu SABURO and was appointed Jushijiju (Junior Fourth- Rank Chamberlain) after he moved to Gifu and had his genpuku at the age of 9. He was referred to as Saburo Jiju (chamberlain) Hidenobu Ason (the second highest of the eight hereditary titles) in "Imperial Visit to Jurakudai" (Hideyoshi's residence and office in Kyoto) stating the Jurakudai visit of Emperor Goyozei in April. On this visit, his order of precedence was fifth among the lords who had the official rank of Jiju or Shosho (Major General) and was also after Toshiie MAEDA, Hidekatsu TOYOTOMI and Hideyasu YUKI.

During the Battle of Odawara in 1590, he sent a firearm troop to the battle and also fought as a member of the sixth troop under the command of Hidemasa HORI who was General of the Left Army.

The lord of Gifu-jo Castle

On October 14, 1592, he gained the property of 130,000 koku in Gifu Domain, Mino Province through the assistance of Hideyoshi after Hidekatsu TOYOTOMI died. Mototsuna TSUDA, the old retainer of Nobutaka ODA and Hidekatsu TOYOTOMI was included in his retainers. The old retainers of the Saito clan including Nagasane IINUMA, General of Ikejiri-jo Castle, Seiinken SAITO and Tokugen SAITO from the Saito clan and Sukejuro MUTO from the Toki clan were also included in his retainers. This showed that the retainers of the successive lords of Gifu-jo Castle were reunited.

It is said that his political achievements included the harbor construction of Kagamijima Port and the cultural preservation of cormorant fishing in 1594 in following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Nobunaga ODA. The local record is retained today and it said that there were 12 cormorant fishing boats when Hidenobu was the lord of Gifu. The preservation of cormorant fishing was taken over by the subsequent lords of Gifu.

Gifu Chunagon (vice-councilor of state)

In the Battles of Bunroku and Kicho (the invasion of Korea by Toyotomi HIDEYOSHI) of 1592, he led 8,000 people from Mino Province including Tanenao ENDO and Yoshitaka ENDO and crossed the ocean to Korea as a member of the ninth troop with Hidekatsu TOYOTOMI and Tadaoki HOSOKAWA. His vassal, Satohiro IDO, who participated in the battle, brought a bowl from Korea and it became the original model of the Ido tea bowl.

In 1593, he returned to Japan and visited the Imperial Palace accompanying Hideyoshi on November 25. By this time, according to historical papers, he had already been awarded the Hashiba clan and became Gifu Chunagon. They also show that he was appointed Jusanmi Chunagon (Junior Third-Rank vice-councilor of state).

Over the new year period of 1594, he visited the Imperial Palace as a member of the new court nobles. The statement 'Wife of the vice-councilor of state from Gifu' from the article in March 1594 of the "Diary of KOMAI" shows that he seemed to marry his lawful wife when he was appointed vice-councilor of state.

Over the new year period of 1595, he visited the Imperial Palace accompanying Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI who became Kanpaku (Chief Adviser to the Emperor). On April 17 of the same year, when Hideyoshi visited Hidetsugu in Jurakudai, he led his army and escorted him to the Jurakudai. It is not known whether he was on Hidetsugu's side or Hideyoshi's side at the time, however, it seems he was on Hideyoshi's side because he was not implicated in the Hidetsugu Incident (the incident where Hidetsugu was forced to commit suicide by Hideyoshi due to suspicion of rebellion).

Relations with Christianity and Buddhism

He adopted Christianity and respected Gnecchi-Soldo Organtino.

In 1597, he entered Christianity with his brother, Hidenori ODA. In 1599, he built a church, a priest's house and a medical facility in the castle town of Gifu.

However, he had not fully adopted to Christianity because he also built some temples and protected the temples in Gifu. Zenko-ji Temple (Gifu City) was one of the temples which Hidenobu built and was worshipping Zenko-ji Nyorai's alter ego which was protected by Shingen TAKEDA and Yoshinobu's grandfather, Nobunaga, and was transferred from Shinano Province to Kai Province and then from Kai Province to Mino Province. He also protected Entoku-ji Temple, Hokke-ji Temple (Mino Province) and Sofuku-ji Temple (Gifu City).

He gave the Entoku-ji Temple his autographic signature on intercalary January 1593 and donated the temple property of 20 koku on January 13, 1595 as well as a temple residence to the Hokke-ji Temple on intercalary August 25, 1596. He also issued the notification that the temple was exempt from miscellaneous taxes, and any violence and fights to gain territory were prohibited within the temple grounds. In 1595, the Sofuku-ji Temple and its surrounding area was also exempt from miscellaneous taxes because the Sofuku-ji Temple was the site of a Buddhist mortuary tablet of the ancestors of Nobunaga, Nobutada and the Oda family. These notifications issued for the temples showed that Hidenobu fully governed Gifu around this time. In 1596, he issued the notification for the Sofuku-ji Temple that the temple and its surrounding area was also exempt from miscellaneous taxes and told the temple to feel relief because the notification was certified by Hideyoshi with his red seal. It showed that he valued the Sofuku-ji Temple. He continued to perform his governing policy after Hideyoshi's death. In December 1599, he gave Honsei-ji Temple his autographic signature and also moved Myosho-ji Temple to the site of Hanbei TAKENAKA's house as his donation in 1600. His citation is retained in the Honsei-ji Temple as his relic and shows the deep connection between the temple and Hidenobu.

The Battle of Sekigahara

He seemed to have been arming for the Battle of Sekigahara from the previous year. In intercalary April 1599, he gave a written instruction to Shuzen TAKIGAWA, his vassal in Gifu to build up the defenses in Inabayama and Machiguchi due to Mitsunari ISHIDA's resignation from the position of Toshiyori (Chief Senior Councilor) and house arrest in Sawayama-jo Castle.

In 1600, he frequently met the missionaries of the Society of Jesus and was also granted 200 pieces of gold and 2,000 pieces of army provisions or 3,000 koku after he had an audience with Hideyori TOYOTOMI
He firstly planned to participate in the prelude of the Battle of Sekigahara as a member of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA's army on August 9. However, it took him a long time to prepare his military dress and his departure to the battle was delayed. During this delay, he changed his mind and joined the West Army due to the deal offered by Mitsunari ISHIDA that he would obtain Mino and Owari Provinces if he joined the West Army. Most of the people from Mino Province participated in the battle on the West Army's side due to this deal. There is a strong anecdote that he assisted Kyonyo to go back to Kyoto with his strong protest to Mitsunari during this time to meet the request of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism).

On September 29 of the same year, he positioned the spearhead with 2,500 horsemen including Tsunaie DODO, the main retainer and Nagasuke IINUMA, the captain of the great guards, along the Kiso-gawa River in Komeno after having a support army from Mitsunari which was led by Hikoemon KASHIWAGI and Hidariuma KAWASE. He then positioned 1,000 horsemen led by Nagamasa KOZUKURI in Nakano-mura Village and another 1,000 horsemen led by Katamasa SATO as a flying squadron in Shinkano-mura Village to create a defense line along the Kiso-gawa River and fought with the East Army led by Terumasa IKEDA and Masanori FUKUSHIMA (the Battle of Komeno). It is said that he had a total of 6,530 horsemen. Hidenobu also led 1,700 horsemen to Enma-do Temple in Kamikawate-mura Village and was Chief Commander. There are some documents existed including the prohibition letter issued for Yokyo-ji, Zenpuku-ji and Mandara-ji Temples regarding the battle, along with the letter issued to his country warriors from his chief retainer regarding his stay in Enma-do Temple during the battle. Nagasuke IINUMA (Kokanpei), a 'Gifu Shitenno' (the four famous warriors in Gifu) fought bravely and well, killing Gondayu OOTSUKA, the chief retainer of the Hitotsuyanagi family, and sending his severed head to Hidenobu at Enma-do Temple. However, the strength of his army was not enough and he was defeated in the battle. In the evening on the same day, Shigekatsu SUGIURA was killed after the Takegahana-jo Castle protected by him was surrendered.

When he was pushed to the edge by his enemy, he called for support arms on Oogaki-jo and Inuyama-jo Castles and was besieged in the Gifu-jo Castle. Sending Umanokami (Captain of Right Division of Bureau of Horses) SHIMAZU to support Hidenobu was decided but later cancelled. The battle in the besieged castle lasted the whole day of September 30. However, his losing battle didn't seem to turn around due to the shortage of drinking water in the castle, the inappropriate design of Gifu-jo Castle to be besieged and Terumasa IKEDA in the West Army who was the lord of Gifu-jo Castle. Hidenobu and his brother Hidenori tried to kill themselves, however, they surrendered and gave Gifu-jo Castle to Terumasa on September 30 due to Terumasa's conviction.

It is said that this besieged battle was severe and his brother Hidenori along with his retainers fought bravely, including Hyobu ODA, Tokugen SAITO, Nagamasa KOZUKURI, Tsunaie DODO, Saijiro KAJIKAWA, Sukejuro MUTO (the Toki family), Sakon IRIE, Kanpei IINUMA, Chusho ADACHI, Matazaemon YAMADA, Jihei TAKIGAWA, Magodayu WADA, Toemon TSUDA, Sahei TSUNASHINO, Heiemon IDE and Samanosuke OOKA. The column in "Butoku Anminki" on October 5 also said that Masanori FUKUSHIMA's army severed 430 heads, Mitsumasa IKEDA's army severed 490 and Yoshinaga ASANO's army severed 308 heads. The Sofuku-ji Temple keeps a floor board called the "Bloody Ceiling" on the ceiling; it is the floor board on where Hidenobu's 38 retainers killed themselves after Gifu-jo Castle was surrendered. It shows how severe the battle was. It is said that the severed heads of his retainers who were killed in the battle of the besieged Gifu-jo Castle were sent to Edo and their memorial service was held in the tomb of the heads in Azabuhara. However, as of 2008, the tomb hadn't been found.

After he left Gufu-jo Castle, he became a monk in Josen-bo Temple in Kamikano and was later sent to Chita, Owari Province. There is an anecdote that his retainer, Shinrokuro KOBAYASHI, was a guide for Yoshihiro SHIMAZU's retreating army after Gifu-jo Castle was surrendered. Some people said not to save Hidenobu's life after his surrender, however, Hidenobu forfeited 130,000 koku of Gifu and was sent to Mt. Koya after the battle ended because Masanori FUKUSHIMA who had many relatives of Hidenobu's retainers, said 'Please save his life as my reward in the battle' and claimed to save his life (many people had to fight with their relatives in the battle including parents, brothers, uncles and nephews). Most of Hidenobu's retainers who had survived the battle of the besieged Gifu-jo Castle were sent to the Fukushima clan.

Banishment from Mt. Koya

After Hidenobu lost his position and property, he was going to take ascetic practices at Mt. Koya. However, he actually couldn't enter the mountain until December 3 due to the conquest of Kishu by his grandfather, Nobunaga. He was permitted to enter the mountain, but was later persecuted. During this period, he held a memorial service for his aunt, Sannomaru-dono, who died in 1603.

On June 24, 1605, he was finally banished from Mt. Koya. There is a theory that his banishment was caused by his own immorality such as killing a monk. However, there is also another theory that his banishment was just harassment from the perspective of his protection for the temples in Mino Province including the exemption of miscellaneous taxes for Sofuku-ji Temple and the donations to Hokke-ji Temple, which was the family temple of Oda.

Kogen Bukan (the Directories of Bakufu Officialdom)

The Kogen Bukan evaluated as an apocryphal book and the materials equivalent to the Kogen Bukan stated Hidenobu ODA and his retainers after his banishment from Mt. Koya as below.

About 30 members of his retainers accompanied him to Mt. Koya, including Heiemon DATE, Chusho ADACHI, Sankuro TAKENAKA, Mokuzaemon ARAKAWA, Unemenosho YAMAI, Ittokusai TAKAHASHI, Samon MORI and Tazaemon KOSHIJI (It is also said that 14 pageboys actually accompanied him.)

Hidenobu's mother, wife and daughter were captured in Osaka during the Battle of Sekigahara. His retainer Magodayu WADA, who was the old retainer of the Rokkaku clan, rescued them after Gifu-jo Castle was surrendered. However, WADA killed Hidenobu's mother and wife who was also WADA's daughter and sent their severed heads to Hidenobu because it was impossible for them to run away to Gifu during the night. Wada carried the little daughter of Hidenobu on his shoulders and survived. She was raised by a farmer in Omi and later had her son, Ujisato ROKKAKU, after she married Yoshisato ROKKAKU.

Hidenobu then moved to Zenpuku-ji Temple in Mukasoi-mura Village (Hashimoto City) and he and a daughter of the Nishiyama family who was the magnate in that area had their son, Hidetomo ODA. He then married his second wife, Machino ONJI, the daughter of Masumi ONJI from the local ruling family which was a branch family of the Minamoto family in Omi Province (or a descendant of SAKANOUE no Tamuramaro), and they had their son, Tsunenao ODA. Tsunenao later had two sons, and his second son who called himself Naonobu ODA lived in Mukasoi-mura Village. It is thought that he became a country warrior because he used his family name. His direct-line descendants were alive in the area until the beginning of the Showa period with the ODA family still existing today. It is said that he also had a child who was secluded in Mino Province and Shindo TSUBOI was his fifth-generation descendant. He never appeared before public thereafter and died in Mukasoi-mura Village. He died at the age of 26. His ancestral tablet was enshrined at Kanon-ji Temple in Mukasoi-mura Village (Hashimoto City). In the Taisho period, the chief priest of Entoku-ji Temple built a stone monument in the graveyard stating Hidenobu's achievements.

Another theory

In addition to the theory that he died, there is also the statement in some books that he became a feudal lord of the property of 10,000 koku in Tanakura, Mutsu Province, however, this remains unknown. His descendants were stated in the thesis 'The Last Lord of Gifu-jo Castle - Hidenobu IDA's Death and his Descendants' which was written by Hiroyuki KANO and posted in the 13th edition of "The Unification of Japan" in 2000.

Record of offices and ranks held

Dates written according to the old lunar calendar.


Jushijiju (Junior Fourth-Rank Chamberlain)
He was transferred to Major General of the Left Side Guards.

May 10, 1592

In the same year, the lord of Gifu-jo Castle in Mino Province (133,000 koku)


Jusanmi Chunagon (Junior Third-Rank vice-councilor of state)


Retained his position as Senior Third-Rank Provisional Vice-Councilor of State.

August 23, 1600

He was besieged in Gifu-jo Castle during the Battle of Sekigahara, but later surrendered.


It is said that he liked colorful clothes like his grandfather Nobunaga and was generally well-dressed. In his portrait in Entoku-ji Temple, he wore a light blue kimono with paulownia patterns and a purple Japanese male skirt. There is a theory that Hidenobu and Nobunaga were seemingly alike and it is said that Hidenobu wore armor which was similar to Nobunaga's and came out into the field during the prelude of the Battle of Sekigahara. However there is an anecdote that he wrote a citation and gave it to all of his retainers when Gifu-jo Castle was surrendered.


There was no record that any big uprising or riot occurred when he was the lord of Gifu-jo Castle. He also followed Nobunaga's policy including the protections of the temples which were previously protected by Nobunaga (The Zenko-ji Nyorai's alter ego in the Zenko-ji Temple in Gifu was also protected by Shingen TAKEDA and it showed the merciful side of the old Takeda family), Rakuichi-rakuza (free markets and open guilds policy) and cormorant fishing. He installed no tyranny and valued the protection of temples and civil administrations including water transport to follow Nobunaga's administrative policy. Hidenobu's notice board stating the prohibitions in Rakuichi-rakuza (free markets and open guilds policy) is retained in Entoku-ji Temple in Gifu City with the notice boards of his grandfathers, Nobunaga and Terumasa IKEDA.

Capability as a busho (military commander)

Hidenobu was often considered a busho with low capability due to his surrender of Gifu-jo Castle.
He was also criticized that 'he was only good at arts.'
However, Masanori FUKUSHIMA, who was the commander of the East Army during the Battle of Sekigahara admired him with the comment, 'Only the legitimate grandchild of Nobunaga could do it' upon seeing Hidenobu's well-prepared armament for the prelude in the Battle of Sekigahara, along with the tactic he took and his attitude when he surrendered ("Kaisei Mikawago Fudoki" (Foundation of the Tokugawa clan)).

Family tree

The Oda family said they were from the Taira family or the Fujiwara family, however, it is thought that they were from the Inbe family, an old ruling family, due to the connection between the Oda family and Tsurugi-jinja Shrine in Ota, Echizen-cho, Nyu-gun, Fukushima Prefecture. The Asakura family was their rival because the Oda family derived from Owari Province and built their stronghold in Echizen Province. The Oda family was the owner of Furuwatari-jo Castle after Nobusada ODA became the lord and gained power in the generation of Nobuhide equivalent to their head family which held the military governorship. They later got enormously close to Nobunaga ODA's Tenkafubu ("conquering the world with military power") due the activities of Nobunaga ODA, who was a grandfather at this time. However, the Oda family lost their power and were brought to ruin due to the family conflicts after Nobunaga and his father, Nobutada ODA, were killed in the Honnoji Incident.


Sukenobu ODA - Nobusada ODA - Nobuhide ODA - Nobunaga ODA - Nobutada ODA - Hidenobu ODA


Father: Nobutada ODA

Mother: Suzu, the daughter of Nagamitsu SHIOKAWA

It is the common theory that his mother was Suzu, the daughter of Nagamitsu SHIOKAWA. However, there is another theory that his mother was the daughter of Yoshinari MORI or Matsuhime, the daughter of Shingen TAKEDA. Hidenobu's graveyard is in Shojuraigo-ji Temple, along with that of Yoshinari MORI. It is unknown why his graveyard is in Shojuraigo-ji Temple if his mother was the daughter of Nagamitsu SHIOKAWA, because there was no linkage confirmed between Shojuraigo-ji Temple and the Shiokawa family. However, it is difficult to determine that there was no linkage due to the colored portrait of Nobunaga painted on paper in the temple.


Hidenobu ODA

Hidenori ODA


Lawful wife: The daughter of Magodayu WADA from the Wada family, who was the Rokkaku clan's branch family.

There is a theory that his lawful wife was Sadako TOYOTOMI, the daughter of Hidekatsu TOYOTOMI. This theory however is of minor opinion due to the discrepancy of the period. He and his lawful wife from the Wada family had no son and adopted Hidetsuna HACHIMANYAMA who was the sotomago (grandchild from a daughter married into another family) of Nobuhiro ODA.

Second wife: Machino, the daughter of Masumi ONJI.

(There is no historical material to prove that his descendants stated below actually existed.)


The eldest child born out of wedlock: Hidetomo ODA (his mother's name was Ume from the Nishiyama family).

Legitimate son: Tsunenao ODA (his mother's name was Machino, the daughter of Masumi ONJI).

Nanigashi (his mother's name is unknown but she was an ancestor of the Tsuboi family).


Unknown (she was Yoshisato ROKKAKU's wife and her mother was the daughter of Magodayu WADA).

Adopted child

Hidetsuna HACHIMANYAMA (the younger brother or son of Yoshisato ROKKAKU).

Yoshinobu adopted Hidetsuna HACHIMANYAMA as his son, who was the younger brother of Yoshisato ROKKAKU, and named him Saburo because he had no son when he first moved to Gifu. It is said that Hidetsuna's mother was the daughter or granddaughter of Nobunaga ODA and Hidetsuna was the male cousin or son of a male cousin of Hidenobu. Hidetsuna died in 1601 and didn't inherit the estate of the Oda's head family because Hidenobu was defeated in the Battle of Sekigahara and lost his position and property.


Yoshinao ODA

Naonobu ODA


Tsunaie DODO

25,000 koku, Attendant Chief Retainer


Nagasane IIMURA

Obangashira (captain of the great guards), the lord of Ikejiri-jo Castle, 9,000 koku, one of the Shitenno (the big four).

Masamori KUNIEDA

The lord of Hongo-jo Castle in Mino Province. His castle was burnt down during the Battle of Sekigahara.

Tokugen SAITO

The great-grandchild of Dosan SAITO
The lord of Sunomata-jo Castle
He mainly communicated with the warriors from Omi Province as a haiku poet after the Battle of Sekigahara. When he visited Hidenobu's graveyard in 1625, he wrote a poem. It is said that he and Kasuga no Tsubone were from the same family.


Mototada Seiinken SAITO
Father of Tokumoto SAITO. He was the local governor under Hidenobu.

Shozaemon TSUDA
He lined up his army in Komeno-mura Village with two generals, Kozukuri and Dodo, during the Battle of Komeno.

Masataka NAGAYA
The old retainer from the Saito clan. He went back to his farm after the Battle of Sekigahara.

Shinrokuro KOBAYASHI
One of the direct retainers of the shogun from Kawase in Omi Province
It is said that he was a guide when Shimazu's army withdrew from Gifu-jo Castle after the battle.

Samon MORI
He was the son of Masayoshi MORI who was a vassal of Masanori FUKUSHIMA and accompanied Hidenobu when he left Gifu-jo Castle after his surrender. He then served the Asano clan.

Sakon IRIE
The old vassal of Ukon TAKAYAMA. He fought bravely in the battle of the besieged Gifu-jo Castle and later served Masanori FUKUSHIMA after the Battle of Sekigahara. Many of Hidenobu's vassals later served the Fukushima clan due to their brave fights in the battle.

Joemon SAGO