He Said, He Said: Resolving Conflicts in Primary Sources in 16th Century Japan
David Neilson, University of Oregon: Self-Published History: the case of the Bukôyawa.
Yosuke Matsuoka, Aichi Daigaku—Reflections of Warrior Rule in the Diaries of Nobility & Clergy
Keiichi Oshima, Gifu University—The Cult of Nobunaga: Reconciling the Primary Sources around Nobunaga’s Death
Wow. I don’t even know where to begin with this one, so I’ll get cut to the chase. Madness broke out at the conference. This was one of the late breaking panels that was only announced in a handout given when we registered, but I blew off another panel I planned to attend in order to make room for it. I was looking forward to hearing Neilson speak and getting his opinions on the Shinchoki/Shinchokoki debate. I got way more than I bargained for. Neilson gave a decent talk, and if you’ve read his thesis that’s been covered on the discussion board before, nothing very new was in it—he mostly discusses the criticism the Bukoyawa has received from certain areas, primarily Fujimoto Masayuki. Just like in the thesis, he pretty much tears up Fujimoto as a pseudo-academic, but there wasn’t much different than what he had already written.
Next was Matsuoka, and it was interesting, but not part of the good stuff, so I’ll cover that in more detail later. I have more important things to cover in my limited time now.
So, the main event, so to speak: Oshima. Wow. The other members of the Samurai Archives staff can chime in with his input when he gets a chance, but this was easily the highlight of the day for me.
I’d think this was total bunk, but Oshima actually made a pretty good case for it. His “proof” draws heavily on Inoue’s theories about the Shinchoki, Shinchokoki, and Bukoyawa being complementary texts. When I first heard this theory through Neilson’s thesis, I thought it was insane. Oshima makes the case that Ota Gyuuichi is Nobunaga’s St. Paul: the Shinchokoki, Shinchoki, and Bukoyawa are the religious texts of the Nobunaga cult. As Inoue theorized, the three accounts are intentionally misleading/mistaken in parts in order to throw off the anti-Nobunaga cult Tokugawa authorities. Certain passages are written in code that gives clues to which other passages in one book mesh with passages in another. The Bukoyawa serves as a kind of concordance/key to illuminate which chapters in the Shinchoki and Shinchokoki contain the hidden information. It gets better: the Kano school of artists was part of the cult as well, and clues to the location of the hidden tomb of Nobunaga can be found by reading the coded passages in the Bukoyawa and matching it up with certain paintings by Kano Eitoku and his successors. It’s late and I’ve got to get a few hours of sleep before I get up to go back to the conference tomorrow, so I’ll try to get to the details later after I sort through my notes. We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.
After Oshima finished speaking, the floor was opened to questions, and a Japanese man who was obviously agitated during both Neilson’s and Oshima’s talks wasted no time. I understood when he introduced himself—Fujimoto Masayuki! Neilson outlines his arguments against the Bukoyawa, as it invalidates his theory that Sunomata-jo never existed and was an Edo Period fable. However, he skipped right over Neilson, and went straight for Oshima’s throat! In VERY strong (and non-academic) language, Fujimoto dressed down Oshima, calling him a fraud, and going on about how the Shinchokoki is the only legit source of information about Nobunaga, and since there’s no mention of a cult or anything, this theory is bunk. He seemed very upset that anyone would suggest reading anything but the Shinchokoki. He pointed at Neilson and made some sort of comment like he expected it from uninformed gaijin scholars, that they wouldn’t know any better, but that Oshima should be ashamed of spouting these lies (all this was in Japanese, by the way, so I’m doing my best to remember. Turns out my digital recorder had filled up by this time). Oshima started to rebut, and tried to get out something about true scholars evaluating all sources , and that he was close to finding the exact location of Nobunaga’s mausoleum (I am assuming he means where Nobunaga is enshrined, as he would have been cremated, no?). I’m not exactly sure what happened next, but Fujimoto snapped. “Omae, koroshite yaru ze!” he shouted, and rushed at Oshima. Thankfully a few in the audience were able to get ahold of him and keep it
|Per the U. of Michigan grad student who emailed me this,|
this is the ambulance that took Oshima to the Hospital.
All in all, an interesting conference so far. I didn’t think I’d be playing war correspondent, but hey, at least I’m not falling asleep.