Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan (2021) s01e02 Episode Script

Seizing Power

1 [woman crying.]
[opening theme plays.]
Ten years after waging a bloody campaign to gain control over his own province, powerful samurai warlord Oda Nobunaga has seized much of Central Japan, including the nation's capital, Kyoto.
Now, driven by a towering ambition, he dreams of crushing the powerful clans who still oppose his rule.
And for the first time in over a century, uniting all of Japan under one banner.
But Nobunaga's legendary brutality has caused widespread anger.
Across the nation, powerful enemies now plot his demise.
Nobunaga was a master of the battlefield.
But in Kyoto, he was beginning to see the potential he had for power.
This caused lasting resentment among Nobunaga's rivals.
They knew that Nobunaga wanted the power for himself.
This meant Nobunaga's rule in Central Japan was immediately ringed by adversaries, who whilst of very diverse origins, were drawn together by their dislike and worry about his expanding control.
If Nobunaga wished to truly consolidate his power in Central Japan, he had to either co-opt or eliminate all other sources of authority.
And the Buddhist institutions, the great temples… and the populist Buddhist sects were two of the greatest threats to this.
[in Japanese.]
The blessing of the Buddha to us… [Spafford.]
The Buddhist establishment was a huge hurdle in Nobunaga's path.
These institutions were deeply embedded in the political fabric of the country and absolutely accustomed to flex their political muscle.
Buddhism has a very long history in Japan, and it arrived in Japan before there really was a Japan in the sense of a centralized bureaucratic state.
The concept is that the great temples exist to perform ritual and ceremony, which will protect Japan from invasion, from disease, from hardship.
This is a divine defense against any kind of external or internal threat.
The Buddhist institutions were often as heavily armed as warlords.
They would fight to the death.
Nothing daunted them, and they knew that victory in battle would guarantee the path to heaven.
[speaking indistinctly in Japanese.]
So, these were major institutions that had the military power to prevent the total domination of Central Japan by Nobunaga.
[in Japanese.]
You called? Rid me of these parasites! Mitsuhide! Now, get moving! Yes, sir.
The large Buddhist institutions were not the only, or even the major, threat coming from, let's call it, the Buddhist quarter.
There was a new militant sect of Buddhism that developed called the Ikkō-ikki… which were communities of believers spread throughout the land.
The Ikkō-ikki appeal to the simple farmers and workers, because it was a very simple formula for salvation, just repeating one's belief in the Buddha.
This was extremely powerful in a land that's still beset by poverty and famine and warfare.
The Ikko drew people together across social lines to defend their places of worship and communities in a collective manner.
Merchants, villagers, monks, everyone could be united by their common faith to try and drive daimyo rule out of their land.
By the end of the 1500s, the Ikkō-ikki had a network across Japan.
They built large temple fortresses… and they were rising up in almost all of the provinces.
[all yell.]
They had armies of monks and peasants.
They answered to a higher authority.
They weren't willing to become subordinate to any of the great daimyo leaders, including Oda Nobunaga.
[in Japanese.]
 Oda Nobunaga is… torturing our people.
His deeds are of the devil.
We must put from our minds any image of these Buddhist monks being peaceful men who spent their lives in prayer.
They were a formidable military enemy.
Ho! [Auslin.]
If Nobunaga did not make an example of them, and he felt that they threatened his authority and would allow uprisings throughout the country in the strategic points that he wanted to control, he had to destroy them.
When Nobunaga moved against the Ikkō-ikki, he was aiming for its total eradication and the massacre of anyone who stood in his way.
August, 1570.
Nobunaga moves to destroy the Ikkō-ikki forever.
After crushing a number of their fortresses, he decides to strike at the heart of Buddhism in Japan.
The temple complex Enryaku-ji.
It is a decision that will threaten everything he has worked to achieve.
[in Japanese.]
We, as Buddhists, must not allow this.
We shall not allow his actions.
Enryaku-ji was by far the most politically influential Buddhist complex in Japan, and for centuries, it had had political power that rivaled the great chieftains throughout Japan, and had very close ties with the court.
[in Japanese.]
Even though it is to disobey Buddha's teachings to take a life… And one thing that had enraged Nobunaga, who was very vehemently anti-Buddhist anyway, was that these monks had given refuge to his fleeing enemies.
Not only that, it was so close to Kyoto, it literally overlooked the city, that here was a potential strategic threat to Nobunaga's survival.
So he made the most fateful decision of his career.
He would attack and destroy the greatest monastery in Japan, the Enryaku-ji.
In September 1571, Nobunaga assembled an army of a size that you would expect for a major battle against a serious enemy.
Nobunaga's advance on Enryaku-ji caused much of the civilian population to retreat to the top of a mountain, to the top of Mount Hiei where the monastic complex of Enryaku-ji was.
[soldiers yelling.]
Nobunaga ordered his troops to advance in a line up the mountain, murdering anyone they came across… [arquebus fires.]
…and burning any buildings.
[flames crackling.]
During this period of Sengoku warfare, there was brutality on all sides, but Enryaku-ji brought it to a different level.
- [whimpers, screams.]
- [blade slashes.]
Sources characterized Nobunaga's troops as wild animals.
All Nobunaga's men reached the top of the mountain and the central temple itself.
And when Nobunaga's troops approached, they gave an ultimatum to Enryaku-ji.
They could display loyalty to him, or they could resist him and be destroyed.
And they chose the latter.
The temple was burned, and the citizens of Kyoto could look up into the eastern sky and see it lit up with the flames of the most famous Buddhist monastery in Japan.
[soldiers yelling.]
Nobunaga's men hunted down anyone who had escaped from the conflagration.
[cries out in pain.]
- [in Japanese.]
Mother, are you all right? - Run.
Mother! Run away.
Mother! [Garrett.]
This was an unsparing attack in which no one, be they monk, woman, or child… was exempted from assault.
[woman continues crying.]
Nobunaga ordered that all of them, every woman and every child, should be beheaded, which was a sight that even his own troops could barely bear to watch.
It's said that 20,000 people died in this greatest act of tyranny and cruelty.
It even disgusted some of his most loyal generals.
Akechi Mitsuhide, himself a devout Buddhist, from that moment on began to have grave doubts about Nobunaga's ability to rule.
There's clearly something pathological in Nobunaga's character.
None of the daimyo shied away from using force, but Nobunaga seemed to revel in it.
- [woman crying.]
- [blade slashes.]
This massacre was absolute.
It's said that there was a river of blood that ran down the mountainside.
This, of course, was a message.
It was a message to other Buddhist sects.
It was also a message to the other daimyos that Nobunaga would observe no boundary.
- [blade slashes.]
- This man, who, for the first time, had a realistic chance of actually uniting at least the central provinces of Japan was going to do it one way, through bloodshed and through the sword.
But his destruction of Enryaku-ji would come back to haunt him later on.
The bloodshed continues as Nobunaga strikes against more of their strongholds, and puts countless Buddhists to the sword.
These actions enrage other powerful warlords, known as daimyo, and set Nobunaga on a collision course with his most powerful and formidable adversary yet.
It wasn't just the Buddhist establishment who were shocked by Nobunaga's action on Mount Hiei.
Many of the daimyo now became convinced that Nobunaga was a cruel tyrant who had to be overthrown.
However, only very few of them had the resources whereby they could do it.
One of them did, and his name was Takeda Shingen.
Takeda Shingen was a daimyo of Kai Province, located in Central Japan.
He was known as a particularly fierce military commander.
He became known widely as the Tiger of Kai, and he's really one of the last people who's in a position to check Nobunaga's advance across Japan.
He has a complex reputation.
He's, on the one hand, a man of incredible violence.
Certain crimes are punished by being boiled alive.
On the other hand, he is an ordained Buddhist monk.
A slogan associated with him refers to one of the Buddha's sayings, “Under heaven, I alone am worthy of respect," and Shingen puts his own spin on it.
"I alone am worthy of being feared.
" [Bender.]
Other daimyo recognized that Takeda Shingen was a very significant threat, um, and that he was the head of a formidable army.
What it really comes down to is that Shingen knows that Nobunaga is a major threat and vice versa.
After the destruction of the Enryaku-ji, Takeda Shingen decided that he needed to take the offensive against Nobunaga.
He did so by first trying to eliminate Nobunaga's ally, Tokugawa Ieyasu.
He'd served Nobunaga since the Battle of Okehazama and was one of his most trusted generals and advisers.
But Ieyasu's lands lie to the east of Nobunaga and the south of Shingen, so he's in between the two.
And now, Shingen is going to attack Ieyasu first and then turn on Nobunaga.
This is the first step on an invasion heading all the way to Kyoto to displace Nobunaga from Kyoto itself, so that Shingen could become the new lord of the Imperial City.
This was a dangerous situation for Ieyasu, because at this point he knows he is outnumbered, he's facing a very formidable general.
But he does have one ace, and that is his relationship with Oda Nobunaga.
He can reach out to his powerful ally and ask for help.
[horse neighs.]
But Nobunaga at this point is embroiled in this war in Central Japan against Buddhist establishments.
Most of his forces are already engaged.
He sends a paltry force of 3,000 middling commanders at best to assist Ieyasu.
This is a dangerous gamble for Nobunaga.
If Ieyasu falls, then Nobunaga's own home province of Owari is probably the next target.
But it's a gamble that, in many ways, I think he had to make.
Too many other wars to fight.
Now, Takeda Shingen had around 35,000 troops.
Ieyasu had around 8,000 troops.
[in Japanese.]
We meet them in the field.
We will fight the Takeda and destroy them! No weakness! Yet he still decided to meet Shingen in the field.
The main reason he chooses to do this is because he believes a show of strength is necessary for his own vassals.
Loyalty for a samurai at this point is a two-way street.
They're loyal to people who win, who can protect them.
The lord who cannot protect his own territory from being robbed by an army coming through… Is that a lord worth following? [narrator.]
January 25th, 1573.
Ieyasu ignores his commanders' calls to back down.
He moves his men to confront Shingen.
He is outnumbered three to one.
But despite the odds, Ieyasu attacks.
Within hours, Shingen's superior tactics and numbers annihilate Ieyasu's forces.
Mad with grief, Ieyasu fights on and must be dragged to safety by his loyal retainers.
This was a humbling defeat for Ieyasu.
He had tried to stand up to a superior force, like his ally Nobunaga had done several times, and was defeated decisively.
The loss is very demoralizing for Ieyasu, as is the fact that the very next year, the armies of the Takeda do return and take several castles from him, and he feels utterly unable to stop it.
He doesn't even put an army out to try.
Takeda Shingen completely has Ieyasu on the ropes, uh, and if he wanted to deliver that final knockout blow, he could have.
But in the early part of that decade, in the midst of this great success that Shingen has enjoyed, uh, he dies.
The consensus is that he probably died of liver cancer.
A kind of unceremonious end to this illustrious warlord.
Before his death, he gave instructions to his senior retainers that they were to keep it secret for three years… so that his heir, Takeda Katsuyori, could consolidate his control of Kai and the retainers underneath him, before mounting any further operations.
Takeda Katsuyori was an accomplished general.
He had performed bravely in battle.
His biggest problem was garnering the support of his father's senior generals.
These were Shingen's old guard, who had been with him his entire life.
And he's in direct competition with the memory of his father.
His father was this gigantic character.
Not all of his retainers trust him.
You see, Katsuyori's mother was one of the people who Shingen had taken by force as a concubine.
So, many of the Takeda retainers didn't trust Katsuyori.
They thought, "He's a bastard.
He comes from this extramarital relationship, and he might not really be loyal to the cause.
" [Auslin.]
As Kasuyori tries to make his name as the leader of the Takeda clan… he receives an unexpected but very welcome letter.
The letter comes from the wife of one of his greatest enemies, Tokugawa Ieyasu.
And it seems almost too good to be true.
Lady Tsukiyama was secretly sending letters to the leader of Ieyasu's archenemy, Takeda Katsuyori.
Lady Tsukiyama and Tokugawa Ieyasu married when they were very young, like 14 or 15 years old.
It was an arranged marriage to make peace.
But because this was an arranged marriage, their relationship was never good.
They then, uh, lived together for 13 years, and they had a son.
Lady Tsukiyama was extremely proud, jealous, tempestuous, bad-tempered, very difficult to get along with.
Ieyasu started to take concubines, and then he had a number of concubines.
Well, Ieyasu certainly came to prefer the company of his concubines.
Um… All men of power in those days had concubines, but we do know that Lady Tsukiyama had a jealous personality, so she very probably, um, was jealous of the fact that he had some 19 or 20 concubines.
So, as far as she was concerned, she got a pretty raw deal.
In these letters, she said that she would betray Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga, and in exchange… could he please give her son sanctuary and give him lands and could he also provide her with a husband from among his generals? [horse neighs.]
[horse galloping.]
So, Katsuyori may have thought, "Here is my chance to eliminate Ieyasu.
" This would really solidify his position as the new Takeda family head.
And it would also do a lot to really gain the firm support of his retainers.
Takeda Katsuyori answered and said, "This is fine.
" And yet she named the general who he would marry to her.
[bell dings.]
Instead of waiting three years as his father dictated, Katsuyori decided to move earlier.
And this would lead to one of the most iconic clashes of the Sengoku period.
In 1575, Katsuyori takes his forces and follows essentially the same route that his father had several years before.
For Ieyasu, once again, this is an invasion into his territory.
Tokugawa Ieyasu is aware of the threat because he has received messengers detailing the size of the Takeda force, about 15,000 men.
And if he cannot stop them, they potentially will eliminate him completely.
The situation, as Ieyasu sees it, is grave.
And he dashes off a message to Nobunaga.
Ieyasu has been a steadfast ally the entire time of their relationship together.
He has fought battles side by side with Nobunaga, at times, come to rescue Nobunaga.
And he tells Nobunaga… "I have done all these things for you.
If you don't send reinforcements now, I will change sides.
And with Katsuyori, we will invade your lands, I will take your castles, and we will defeat you.
” This is a pretty drastic thing to be telling Oda Nobunaga.
If Nobunaga lost, this would arguably be the most serious defeat that he had suffered up to this point.
And what it would mean is a complete halt to any kind of eastward expansion.
Nobunaga also relies on this aura of fear, this aura of invincibility.
If he starts developing a reputation as a man who can be beaten, it could become a real rallying point for opposition to his rule.
Ieyasu was right and Nobunaga knew it.
He sends a letter promising support along with a significant amount of gold, gathers his forces, and travels to meet with Ieyasu.
June, 1575.
Nobunaga and Ieyasu combine forces and together they march to confront Katsuyori.
Nobunaga and Ieyasu's armies stop at the Plains of Shitaragahara, a few miles from where Katsuyori and his army are now encamped.
Now, on the eve of the battle, Nobunaga begins to execute a bold plan that he hopes will help him beat the most formidable army he has ever faced.
One of the fascinating things about Oda Nobunaga is that, for lack of a better term, he does his homework.
He's well-prepared for the people he fights.
The Takeda clan, militarily, is known for the speed with which they can redeploy their troops.
If they're left unchecked, they can move their forces around extremely rapidly, something that can be damaging if you're not prepared for it on the battlefield.
To try and blunt the attack, Nobunaga builds a series of palisades that he hopes will slow down the enemy forces.
These obstacles were placed so that as the Takeda moved forward, their advance would be disrupted.
The entire point was to lure the Takeda into what essentially would be kill zones.
Once they were there, these obstacles would disrupt their movement.
And that's where the Oda and the Tokugawa gunners would do their damage.
However, one of the big weaknesses of muskets in this era is that reloading times are very long, and according to the traditional account, Nobunaga invented this great technique to mitigate that, uh, in what is known as the three-shot volley.
There would be units of arquebuses combined with two or three archers.
While the arquebuses were reloading, the bowman could cover that dead time.
Because those would be staggered times, you get the effect of a rotating fire.
And behind Nobunaga's gunners, he has troops who are equipped with pikes to get the rider off of the horse, who could then be attacked with swords or spears.
[in Japanese.]
 Oda's troops are here.
If we attack from this direction, we can win.
The Takedas' typical tactic was to try to move around their opponent, encircle them, and then defeat them from all sides.
Katsuyori was convinced that he could win this encounter, as did his followers.
They had faced the Tokugawa before and had won this spectacular victory.
On the eve of the battle, it's still fair to say that it could have gone either way.
A defeat could have been very damaging for Nobunaga's image around Japan.
He's made a lot of enemies by the mid-1570s.
If he loses, it could become a real rallying point for opposition to his rule.
When the two sides would clash in the morning, this would be one of the most decisive and landmark battles in Japanese history.
[wind whistling.]
[crow caws.]
[horse neighs.]
On the morning of the battle, the Takeda advance and take up an attack position on the ridgeline facing the Oda positions.
[horse neighs.]
Everything's silent, except for the movement of horses.
Katsuyori can see the Oda positions, but… he's not real sure at this point exactly what he's facing.
[in Japanese.]
Troops ready? Charge! [Ledbetter.]
Imagine you're a Takeda troop, you see the enemy in front, - you charge.
- [soldiers yelling.]
[in Japanese.]
Fire! [Ledbetter.]
You start to get hit with musket fire.
- [groans.]
- And then arrow fire.
[in Japanese.]
Charge! [Ledbetter.]
Leaders are encouraging you, and you reach the first line of obstacles, and there are barricades that you have to maneuver around.
[in Japanese.]
Now! [Ledbetter.]
Meanwhile, the gunfire is getting more intense.
The arrows are starting to hit home.
Your compatriots to your left and your right are getting hit.
The only way to get through this is to get through these obstacles and engage with the enemy and go hand-to-hand.
[in Japanese.]
Attack! [soldier yells.]
- [soldiers battling.]
- [arquebuses firing.]
Katsuyori keeps sending troops forward.
As long as he keeps up that frontal attack, his enveloping maneuver still has a chance of succeeding.
[soldiers yelling.]
You have bullets and arrows flying all over the place.
Smoke obscuring views, getting in your eyes.
[soldiers yelling.]
They get hit from the side with an onslaught of Oda foot soldiers coming at them.
With their spears, their pikes.
The Takeda are torn to shreds.
This speaks to the fact that Nobunaga's plan was to suck them in and basically hold them in this kill zone.
Katsuyori is unwilling at this point to give up.
So he sends in the next wave.
This happens three, four, five times, and it's tearing the Takeda up.
- [yells.]
- [Ledbetter.]
This is pure slaughter.
[in Japanese.]
Keep going! [Meyer.]
As the day goes on, it becomes clearer and clearer to the Takeda clan retainers, they won't win.
[soldiers yelling.]
And so, many of them start to fall back, to retreat, and this really is the most dangerous moment in any battle across human history, because when one side turns and starts to run from the other, that's when the real killing starts.
Katsuyori doesn't want to retreat.
He's committed to fighting or dying.
But as his forces disintegrate… [in Japanese.]
Charge! …his subordinate commanders plead with him to escape, until one of them puts him on his horse, shoves him north, and Katsuyori is able to get back to his own lands with a handful of his forces.
Over the course of the battle, 10,000 soldiers of Katsuyori's are left dead on the battlefield.
Many of the Takeda leadership… the generals that had served Shingen for so long, were lying dead with their troops.
Nagashino is often seen as a watershed battle in global history because of Nobunaga's supposed technique of rotating volley fire.
What's really impressive is Nobunaga's organization to develop this plan, to effectively use obstacles in a way that modern armies train today, and put all this together into one plan designed to completely annihilate his enemy.
The Battle of Nagashino was a resounding success for Nobunaga and Ieyasu because it dealt this very severe blow to… one of the three major remaining eastern daimyo, and the one who was closest to Nobunaga's domains.
Katsuyori has been so psychologically traumatized by this event… [in Japanese.]
Leave now.
…that this is really the last time he ventures out of his own territory in force.
It took a few years to fully eliminate the Takeda, but the writing was on the wall, so to speak.
They're never able to pose a serious threat to Nobunaga after Nagashino.
However, while this was a resounding victory for Ieyasu, his success is undermined when he finds out that his own wife, Tsukiyama, has been plotting to betray him.
These letters were discovered.
The story is that Nobunaga had inserted some spies into Ieyasu's household.
This is totally credible.
Everybody had spies in every household, friend or foe.
And the maid of Lady Tsukiyama, it is said, found these letters and passed them on to Oda Nobunaga.
[in Japanese.]
There wasn't much evidence, and it was largely speculation, but they could not ignore the issue.
Therefore, Nobunaga ordered Ieyasu to find a solution.
[Tsukiyama gasps.]
Tokugawa Ieyasu had to get rid of Lady Tsukiyama.
[in Japanese.]
Let me go! Let me go! [Kitagawa.]
So Ieyasu decided to expel her.
But if she still survives, then she might have done something more.
- [blade slashes.]
- [body thuds.]
Ieyasu takes it a step further.
Ieyasu suspects his son might attempt to do what a respectful, loyal son is supposed to do and avenge his mother.
So he orders his son to be placed under house arrest.
But nevertheless, under pressure from Nobunaga, Ieyasu was required to force his own son to commit suicide.
Nobunaga at this point was a very strong warlord, and Ieyasu had to do what he said.
Also, Ieyasu needed to maintain that alliance.
It was absolutely vital.
So, no matter what he thought, um, if Nobunaga ordered him to execute his own son, he had to do so.
It was the most dreadful thing that could be asked of him, and it affected his relationship with Nobunaga for the rest of their days together.
The victory at Nagashino makes Nobunaga the most powerful warlord in the nation.
Most of Central Japan is now under his control.
His dream of uniting all of the nation under his own banner is closer than ever.
But it has come at a price.
Increasingly paranoid, Nobunaga now sees enemies everywhere.
The betrayal by Lady Tsukiyama did nothing but add to the fears Nobunaga had of enemies all around him, which amounted almost to a paranoid feeling that everyone wanted rid of him.
Put yourself into Nobunaga's position once he realizes this.
Anyone tilling a field, anyone walking down the streets, any one of the maids in his service could be preparing poison for a drink.
It's a very sobering thought to realize that you are not safe.
In fact, there had been several attempts on Nobunaga's life.
The attempted assassin came from the province of Iga.
And Iga Province was one of the smallest provinces in Sengoku Japan.
For 150 years, these people had governed themselves, keeping out any and all intruders into their domain.
When they fought, they joined together in self-governing communes, almost as a guerrilla army.
And as such, they had raided Nobunaga's lines of communication for several years.
They were so good at these techniques of irregular warfare, that this is what gave rise to the legends of the ninja of Iga.
They proved to be a thorn in Oda Nobunaga's side.
They had to go, by any means necessary.
Nobunaga could not permit them to exist, for the sake of his own reputation and the sake of his own security.
And it should have been a pushover, but it turned out to be one of the most vicious and bloody campaigns of Nobunaga's career.
[closing theme plays.]

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