Takenaka Hanbei(竹中半兵衛) & Kuroda Kanbei(黒田官兵衛) – 1.Castlejack

NHK(Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai/Japan Broadcasting Corporation) has been broadcasting year-long historical dramas, Taiga Drama(大河ドラマ). NHK features different historical people every year. Some are historically significant: for example, Oda Nobunaga(織田信長),Toyotomi Hideyoshi(豊臣秀吉)Tokugawa Ieyas(徳川家康). In 2014, Kuroda Kanbei(黒田官兵衛) is featured.
Kuroda Kanbei was a military strategist of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. There is someone who I must not miss out. His name is Takenaka Hanbei(竹中半兵衛) who was also Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s military strategist. In short, Toyotomi Hideyoshi had 2 big military strategists.
They developed themselves through friendly competition and respected each other. Speaking of 2 big military strategists, the another duos that come to my mind are Zhuge Liang(諸葛亮)  and Pang Tong(龐統) who served Liu Bei(劉備)Pang Tong(龐統) was hit to death by showers of arrows. Zhuge Liang(諸葛亮) succumbed to illness in a battlefield. Both of them lost out in the middle of their dreams. How about Takenaka Hanbei(竹中半兵衛) and Kuroda Kanbei(黒田官兵衛)?
Tragedy fell onto them as well.

I’d like to pick up a non-fiction novel about them,  « Gunshi no Mon(軍師の門) » written by Masashi Hisaka(火坂 雅志). Here is a summary of first chapter.


« Can we accomplish with these few people? Should we wait until night? »
A young samurai asked to Takenaka Hanbei.
Hanbei: « It doesn’t make sense. It makes our foes raise an alert. »
A party of about 10 samurai was on the way to Inabayama Castle(稲葉山城) in Mino Province(美濃国) which is called Gifu Castle(岐阜城) now and was owned by Saitō Tatsuoki(斎藤竜興) who was a lord of Takenaka Hanbei. Inabayama Castle was a impregnable castle which Military Genius Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) attacked time and time again but couldn’t conquer so far. The only tough luck for its castle was that its ruler, Saitō Tatsuoki(斎藤竜興), was benighted and lack of ability.
« if this goes on, Mino Province may be occupied by Oda Nobunaga. »
Many people in Mino Province feared for their future which pushed Takenaka Hanbei to taker over this castle.

A party of Hanbei reached the gate of Inabayama Castle. A gatekeeper were aware of them and absolutely knew Hanbei.
Gatekeeper: « Good Morning, Sir. Takenaka! What brings you here? »
Hanbei: « I heard my brother got sick. I come to see him. »
Gatekeeper: « I’m sorry to hear that. I hope your brother gets better soon. »
The gatekeeper let Hanbei’s group go through the gate without any doubt.
Hanbei had a brother named Kyusaku(久作).As a usual custom in Sengoku periodHanbei offered his brother to his lord as a hostage.
Hanbei already secretly conveyed his attempt to Kyusaku through a messenger. « Pretend to be sick without any doubt. »

Gatekeeper: « Sir, would you give me a second? »
Hanbei: « What’s wrong? »
Gatekeeper: « What’s that long chest? »
Spears and arrows were hidden in the long chest.
All in the group except Hanbei got pale.
If  the inside of this box was revealed, they must do anything but castlejack.
By the way, castlejack means taking over a castle. It absolutely is not in dictionaries. This is my coined word like hijack and seajack.

Hanbei remained calm.
Hanbei: « This is a tribute for our lord. »
Gatekeeper: « Tribute… »
Hanbei: « I got fragrant woods. These are pretty rare things. I’d like to present these to our lord. Do you want to see? »
Gatekeeper: « No, I don’t. The scent of fragrant woods waft up around here. »
Just in case, Hanbei burnt incense inside the chest.
After going through this difficulty, Kyusaku came to see him.
Hanbei swapped gazes with Saitō clan’s samurai as usual.
Hanbei: « How’s it going? »
Kyusaku: « No so bad. »
Habei: « Good to know. »
Kyusaku suddenly had a strong cough.
Hanbei: « Are you all right? »
Hanbei hunched down and curled his fingers around Kyusaku’s shoulder.
Kyusaku: « The time has come. »
Kyusaku murmured to Hanbei’s ear.

With listening his words, Hanbei moved deeper.Some samurai had a warm by Irori(囲炉裏)/sunken hearth and cast scornful looks on Hanbei.
Those who have muscular build and can control a big spear at will received respect in Sengoku period. As opposed to this, those who was short and looked gentle like Hanbei was subjected to indignity. His lord Saitō Tatsuoki was also abusive to Hanbei without hesitation. There is no way the benighted lord who indulged in sake and women had an insight into Hanbei‘s talent. Even though Hanbei got an insult, he controlled his temper and withstood an insult with smile. That’s why nobody knew his ambition inside him.

Hanbei found Saitō Hida no Kami(斎藤飛騨守) and walked straight up to him who was Saitō Tatsuoki‘s favorite aide and had strong build.
Hida: « What do you want? I can coach you in spears but hesitate to do in small sword. »
Hida‘s words made samurai around there burst into laughing.
It was sarcastic for that Hanbei was so small that he couldn’t handle a spear well on a horse. Hanbei fend off Hida‘s sarcasm.
Hanbei: « I come to receive an eagle with white neck treasured by Tatsuoki-sama. Would you take me to the eagle room? »
Hida: « An eagle with white neck? »
Hanbei: « Yes. »
Hida: « Is it an order by Tatsuoki-sama? »
Hanbei: « Absolutely. »
Hida wore an odd face. Hanbei was not Tatsukoki‘s aide.
It didn’t sound right to Hida that Tatsuoki ordered such a thing.
Hanbei: « Rush, please. Tatsuoki-sama is waiting for me. »
Hanbei pressured Hida not to thinki twice. A small thing can change the flow of conversation. For Hanbei‘s sudden request, Hida felt weird at a moment and felt hassle at the same time. But, Hida couldn’t be against the words of his lord’s order. Moreover, Hanbei was so soft that Hida didn’t doubt Hanbei‘s bold plot and wasn’t leery of Hanbei.
Hida: « OK. Follow me. »
Hida led Hanbei to the eagle room.
As soon as they entered into the room, Hanbei pulled out his small sword.
Hanbei: « Command of the loooooooooord!! »
Hanbei slashed down Hida with roar.

Although some samurai heard that row and rush into the room, they kept away from Hanbei. This is because they heard « Command of the lord. »
This is also Hanbei‘s plot. Nobody could fight against Hanbei since everybody thought this incident occurred by the lord’s order.
Hanbei‘s ploy was ongoing while Tatsuoki‘s samurai were paralyzed.
Hanbei‘s samurai rush into the room with spears and arrows.

« Rebellion! »
Finally, Tatsuoki‘s samurai realized what was going on. Although they fought against, they were no match for Hanbei‘s samurai. This is because Hanbei‘s samurai have already taken on chain-mailed armor.
On the other hand, Kyusaku‘s samurai put fires around the mansion and made mansion’s people paralyzed.

Tatsuoki heard of the incident from a page. But, it was too late.
There was no way he abandoned his castle.
Hanbei got Inabayama Castle in his hand at the age of just 21 in 1564.

Here is Inabayama Castle, now called Gifu Castle which was built on top of Mt. Kinka(金華山). Although the altitude of Mt. Kinka is just 329 m, it is said that Inabayama Castle was a impregnable castle. I’ve never been there. But, I can easily realize how steep Mt. Kinka is. There is a ropeway which leads you to Gifu Castle. But, if you want to feel the toughness of attacking this castle, you should go along trails. There are two trails. One is Uma no Se Tozando(馬の背登山道)/Horse Back Trail.
The other is Hyaku Magari Tozando(百曲登山道)/Hundreds of Curves Trail. Some bloggers say that they had to crawl on a part of trail.
GIfu Castle(岐阜城)

GIfu Castle(岐阜城) Reference From:Kinkazan Ropeway

GIfu Castle(岐阜城)

Lit up GIfu Castle(岐阜城) Reference From:Kinkazan Ropeway

Gifu City Official Site(Japanese):
Blog SIte(Japanese):
Mt. Kinka Ropeway(Japanese):
Open Hours
Winter: 9:30AM – 5:30PM
Summer Weekdays: 08:30AM – 5:30PM
Summer Weekends: 08:30AM – 9:30PM
200 yen
Kinkazan Tenshukaku 18, Gifu, Gifu
Click Here! Gifu Castle on Google Map.
15 minutes bus and 3 minutes ropeway from Gifu Station.

Route to Gifu Castle from Tokyo and Osaka

Route to Gifu Castle from Tokyo and Osaka


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