Nothing’s Off the Table in Sengoku Japan

Lauren Doyle/The Globe and Mail

All is apparently fair in love and war in Sengoku Japan. As the lords of Feudal Japan fought amongst themselves to resolve the Battle of Kyōtō, the room was rocked with scandal after scandal. The families in the room fought tooth and nail against each other, sacrificing everything and everyone necessary to rise through the ranks and hold the true power in Japan.
The word feudal in Japan indicates prominent families and vicious warlords, and the room certainly emanated an air of tension as the meeting continued. The daimyo, otherwise known as warlords, wheeled their power and influence without shame and with intended malice.
Daimyō Takeda Shingen captured Hōjō Ujiyasu and kept him in his dungeon as he demanded surrender from Mōri Motonari’s forces in the Battle of Kyōtō.
The meeting intensified after word spread that Hōjō Ujiyasu had committed seppuku, the act of performing ritual disembowelment in order to die honorably in Lord Takeda’s dungeon, which signaled Hōjō Ujiyasu’s eldest son, Hōjō Ujimasa, to inherit his father’s troops and title. In a moment of antagonism between Ujimasa and his father-in-law Takeda Shingen, Ujimasa boldly stated, “And as I took your daughter I will take your land, and take revenge for my father’s death.”
Political status constantly shifted as one after another shocking revelation trickled into the meeting.
For sending a body double to the Emporer’s tea-party, the Emporer of Japan revoked Takeda Shingen’s shōgunate status, which only drove the members of the meeting wilder with ambition to achieve the honorable position of shōgun.
Despite plenty of veiled and unveiled threats being tossed across the table, Mōri Motonari, known as a powerful in both battle and diplomacy, declared that his desire to be shōgun was not “an act of usurpation.”
However, he spoke with authority when he rebutted a suggestion that he was untrustworthy by saying, “As shogun, you don’t have to trust me, you just have to obey me.”
Lord Mōri’s two biggest supporters have both turned up dead during this conflict. Hōjō Ujiyasu committed seppuku in Takeda Shingen’s dungeon and daimyō Shimazu Yoshihiro was murdered by his own people in a bloody uprising.
The members of the meeting were constantly on edge, and always unsure of who was and who was not in the Emperor’s good graces. Despite the fighting among members of the meeting, the goal of the feudal lords was to come to a resolution over the Battle of Kyoto.
Lord Takeda frequently offered unpunished surrender to Lord Mōri’s troops, though Mōri stood confident in his belief that his troops will win the battle. Mōri’s honorable stance about fighting was admirable in its sportsmanship, “Just like I’m willing to accept full responsibility of a country if I win, I am willing to respect full consequences if I lose.”
Despite the shared desire to bring peace to Kyoto, the only realistic path to a conclusion seems to be reached by complete slaughter before surrender. The only question now is whose troops will be left lying on the battlefield when the bloodshed in Kyoto is finally over.