Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The original Chinese meaning of the Kanji NIN (as in Ninja) means patience, endurance. In Japan NIN evolved into shinobi, meaning to hide, to sneak in...

Three men laid the foundations for modern Japan and were to rule in succession :

  • Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), warlord of the province of Owari,

  • Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), one of his generals,

  • Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), Nobunaga's junior ally.

Nobunaga, known for his cruelty, almost unified Japan but was betrayed by one of his lieutenants and slained.

Hideyoshi, known for his impetuosity, finally unified Japan and brought the end of the Civil War Era. When all Japan was unified and no enemy could be found, he tried and failed to conquer China. He died from old age in 1598 without ever becoming Shogun.

When Nobunaga was slained, Ieyasu, known for his patience, decided not dispute about Hideyoshi's claim for regency and kept the position of No.2 in Japan. When Hideyoshi died, Ieyasu vanquished his successor at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He got the title of Shogun in 1603, established his Shogunate in Edo, known as Tokyo today, and his dynasty ruled until 1867...

The following tale is told about these three extraordinary rulers :

There was a little bird who wouldn't sing. Nobunaga said, “little bird, if you don't sing, I'll kill you." Hideyoshi said, “little bird, if you don't sing, I'll make you sing." Tokugawa said, “little bird, if you don't sing, I'll wait for you to sing."

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