Mori Naritoshi (森成利)
Naritoshi MORI was a busho (Japanese military commander) of the Sengoku period (period of warring states). Today he is known by the name of Ranmaru MORI. He was descended from a branch of the Minamoto clan. His lineage can be traced back to the Mori clan, whose ancestor is MINAMOTO no Yoshitaka, a seventh (or sixth) son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, who was the head of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan), one of the branches of the Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan). His father was Yoshinari MORI, a vassal of Nobunaga ODA. He had older brothers, Yoshitaka MORI and Nagayoshi MORI, and younger brothers, Nagataka MORI, Nagauji MORI and Tadamasa MORI (who later became the first lord of the Tsuyama Domain).
He was said to have been a favorite pageboy of Nobunaga ODA, who was from Owari Province, and to have had a sexual relationship with Nobunaga. It is a widely-held popular belief that he was treated well by Nobunaga as a page because of the relationship. On the other hand, some say Lord Nobunaga merely took a role as his foster father, in place of a commanding officer (his father Yoshinari MORI) who died in a battle, leaving young sons. He was a capable, promising young administrative official who served Nobunaga and the family, by informing visitor arrivals and mediating messages, reports, or imperial grants as a toritsugi or soushaban attendant, and by handling signatory work and various matters as a bugyo (magistrate).
Today people tend to think that 'when Nobunaga's favorite kinshu (attendant) is mentioned, first comes Ranmaru MORI who also known as 'Mori Ran''; however, in those days he had not yet been acknowledged within various districts nor the Kinai region (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara), nor had he been given any big assignment. Even as a kinshu, he was active only for two years. After all, he was only 18 or 19 years old at the time of death (in the Honnoji Incident). The anecdote about 'Ranmaru MORI' shows similarities to stories about other people and classical literature, and so some point out that it is a fiction created after the Edo period as well as a propaganda presented by a family of daimyo (Japanese feudal lord), the Mori clan.
In 1582, after the fall of the Takeda clan of Kai Province, he was appointed to the lord of the Kaneyama-jo Castle in Mino Province, to take the place of Nagayoshi, who had been awarded a fief in Kawanakajima, Shinano Province, for his contribution to the conquest of the Takeda clan. In the same year, he was killed by Kunitsugu YASUDA during the Honnoji Incident.
His real name appears as Nagasada in "Kansei Choshu Shokafu" (Genealogies of Nobilities Compiled in Kansei Era), and while some say it is Nagayasu, Naritoshi is the only verifiable name in materials written during his days. Also, even though his childhood name is widely known as 蘭丸 (Ranmaru), it is written as 乱 (Ran), 乱丸 (Ranmaru), or 乱法師 (Ran Hoshi) in all of the historical materials from those days, indicating the letter '蘭' (Ran) was created in later generations. Therefore, even if we choose to use his widely-spread name, Ranmaru MORI, to call him, it is considered more accurate to write it as 森乱丸 than 森蘭丸. In addition, when Ranmaru MORI is mentioned, we usually imagine him as a clean, refreshing handsome man with feminine beauty.
However, there is no historical materials that describe how Naritoshi MORI actually looked; rather, he is sometimes considered to have possessed a strong physique, like his father and brothers.
His False Articles
Some books such as "Sengoku Armor Collection Book" list what is considered a 'Ranmaru MORI's armor,' but the armor was discovered in Hikone City by the chairman of the Japanese Armor History Society, Tatsuo II (then Tatsuo NAKAMURA), who sold it to an antique dealer in Kawagoe City, Nagayoshi OKUHIRA, and upon official announcement of their names, the two men have flatly denied that the armor belonged to Ranmaru MORI, stating, 'the armor was discovered and kept by us and is nameless (not Ranmaru MORI's).'
Tatsuo II even wrote that 'he would like more credibility somewhere' in his book, seemingly quite unpleased of the forgery. In addition, the armor was reportedly not found along with a crest or the like at the time of the discovery. It is not clear how the armor became to be regarded as Ranmaru MORI's.