Akechi Mitsuhide (明智 光秀, March 10, 1528 – July 2, 1582),[1] first called Jūbei from his clan and later Koretō Hyūga no Kami (惟任日向守) from his title, was a Japanese samurai general of the Sengoku period. Mitsuhide was originally a bodyguard of Ashikaga Yoshiaki and later, one of the trusted generals under daimyō Oda Nobunaga during his war of political unification in Japan.

Akechi Mitsuhide
明智 光秀
Edo period painting of Akechi Mitsuhide.
Lord of Kameyama Castle
In office
Succeeded byToyotomi Hidekatsu
Lord of Sakamoto Castle
In office
Succeeded byNiwa Nagahide
Personal details
Born10 March 1528
Tara Castle, Mino Province, Japan
DiedJuly 2, 1582(1582-07-02) (aged 54)
Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan
SpouseTsumaki Hiroko
ChildrenAkechi Mitsuyoshi
Akechi Tama
at least one other daughter
RelativesAkechi Hidemitsu (son-in-law)
Akechi Mitsutada (cousin)
Nickname"Jūbei" (十兵衛)
Military service
Allegiance Toki clan
Saitō clan
Ashikaga shogunate
Oda clan
Unit Akechi clan
Battles/warsBattle of Nagaragawa
Battle of Honkoku-ji
Siege of Kanegasaki
Siege of Mount Hiei
Kawachi Campaign
Battle of Nagashino
Tanba Campaign
Ishiyama Hongan-ji War
Battle of Tedorigawa
Siege of Shigisan
Siege of Yakami Castle
Siege of Kuroi Castle
Honnō-ji Incident
Battle of Yamazaki
Japanese name
Kanji明智 光秀
Hiraganaあけち みつひで

Mitsuhide rebelled against Nobunaga for unknown reasons in the Honnō-ji Incident in 1582, forcing the unprotected Nobunaga to commit seppuku in Kyoto.

Mitsuhide attempted to establish himself as shōgun, but was pursued by Nobunaga's successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi and defeated at the Battle of Yamazaki. The 13-days short reign of Mitsuhide is listed as the inspiration for the yojijukugo set phrase mikkatenka (三日天下, short-lived[2] reign).[3][4]

He is still popular in present culture. A ceremonial activity was held on April 15, 2018, in Kyoto.[5]



Early life

Bronze statue of Akechi Mitsuhide

Akechi Mitsuhide was believed to be born on 10 March 1528 in Tara Castle, Mino Province (present-day Kani, Gifu Prefecture).[6] In the Akechi Family Tree recorded in "Zoku Gunsho Ruiju" and the "Mino no Kuni Shokki", it is said that the Akechi clan which Mitsuhide hailed from were descended as branch of Toki clan of the Seiwa Genji clan, where the Toki clan served as shugo in Mino Province for over 200 years from the Kenmu Restoration, and has produced several dozen branches from then on.[7] However, there are no primary historical sources that supported this claim. Moreover, when Ashikaga Yoshiaki was staying in Echizen Province, Mitsuhide served as a foot soldiers (made up of those who were not direct vassals of the Shogun) which recruited during the time of Ashikaga Yoshiteru. This cast doubts among historian he was not from the main line of the Akechi clan of the Toki clan, who were listed in the hokoshu, a higher rank than the foot soldiers. His father is listed as Akechi Mitsutsuna in various genealogies from the Edo period.[8][a] Furthermore, historian Kobayashi Masanobu stated that the name of Mitsusuna, father of Mitsuhide, cannot be found in historical documents of Akechi clan from Toki branch.[10] Thus Tadachika Kuwata suspected that he came from lower branch of Akechi clan, not the main branch.[11]

Mitsuhide is rumored to be a childhood friend or cousin of Nōhime. It is believed that he was raised to be a general among 10,000 by Saitō Dōsan and the Toki clan during their governorship of the Mino Province. When Dōsan's son, Saitō Yoshitatsu, rebelled against his father in 1556, Mitsuhide sided with Dōsan.[citation needed]

Service under Ashikaga Shogunate


Mitsuhide began serving the "wandering shōgun" Ashikaga Yoshiaki as one of his guardians under Hosokawa Fujitaka. Shōgun Ashikaga Yoshiaki asked Asakura Yoshikage to be his official protector, an offer which Yoshikage declined. Later, Yoshiaki appealed to Mitsuhide, who suggested Oda Nobunaga instead.[12]

In 1567, after Nobunaga conquered Mino and Ise Province, Mitsuhide and Nobunaga also Yoshiaki marched through Omi province to Kyoto.[citation needed]

In 1568 November, Nobunaga, Yoshiaki and Mitsuhide arrived in Kyoto, the capital of Japan. Later, Nobunaga made Yoshiaki the next shogun and turned Honkoku-ji Temple into a temporary Shogun palace.

In 1569, on January 21, the Miyoshi clan triumvirate (Miyoshi Saninshu) attacked Ashikaga Yoshiaki at Honkoku-ji temple. In this battle, Mitsuhide and Hosokawa Fujitaka defended the shōgun and repulsed the Miyoshi clan.[13][14] On April, Mitsuhide worked together with Kinoshita Hideyoshi (later changing his surname to Hashiba), Niwa Nagahide, and Nakagawa Shigemasa, as he was tasked as magistrate to manage the government affairs of Kyoto and the surrounding areas under the control of Oda Nobunaga.[15]

In 1570 on the first day of June, at the Siege Kanegasaki in Echizen Province. Mitsuhide leading the rearguard of the Oda forces when Nobunaga gave order to retreat.[16] Later in September, during the conflict between Oda clan against the forces of Saika Ikki, Mitsuhide was assigned to guard the Usayama castle with 300-400 garrison soldier under his command.[17]

In 1571, after the successful attack at the Ikkō-ikki Enryaku-ji temple, Mitsuhide received the area of Sakamoto area and built Sakamoto Castle.[18] During this battle, about 18 soldiers from Akechi's army were killed. Mitsuhide donated rice offerings to the Saigyo-ji Temple to mourn the fallen.[19] A letter of donation from Mitsuhide remains at the temple, and one of the 18 people mentioned in it was not a samurai but a chūkan[b] In addition, two letters of condolence from Mitsuhide to his vassals who were injured in the battle remain.[21] On July, after Yoshiaki defeated in the battle of Makishima Castle, he became exiled, and the Muromachi Shogunate was virtually abolished. Thereby, Many of the former Shogunate vassals, including Ise Sadaoki and other members of the Ise clan, and Suwa Morinao, entered service as vassals of Mitsuhide.[22]

In 1572, Mitsuhide continued serving Shogun Yoshiaki by contributing to the campaign in Kawachi Province under Ashikaga Yoshiteru.[23]

Service under Oda Nobunaga


In 1573, relationship between Ashikaga Yoshiaki with Nobunaga became worse as he raised a coalition against Nobunaga with Takeda Shingen on February. Mitsuhide side with Nobunaga and participated in the battles of Ishiyama Castle and Imakatata Castle as a direct vassal of Nobunaga. Mitsuhide brought his vassals such as Akechi Yahei, Akechi Jurozaemon, Akechi Jyuemon, Tsumaki Kazue, Miyake Tobei, Fujita Dengo, Matsuda Tarozaemon, and Hida Tatewaki participated in these battles, killing 58 samurai and over 300 non-samurai infantries of Yoshiaki. After the end of the battle, Nobunaga intended to repair the relationship with Yoshiaki and opened peace negotiation with him, although it immediately collapsed just before they were concluded due to interference from Matsunaga Hisahide.[24]

In 1574, after the Ashikaga Shogunate ended, Mitsuhide served as a dual magistrate, assessing taxes on temple holdings in Kyōto and its environs.[citation needed]

In 1575, He participated in the Siege of Takaya Castle (高屋城の戦い) against Miyoshi Yasunaga-Ikko Ikki coalition, and then in the Battle of Nagashino against the Takeda clan.[25] After that, Nobunaga sent Akechi Mitsuhide to take control of Tanba Province. Mitsuhide attempted diplomacy and won over a number of the smaller local lords to his side. However, the Akai clan were adamant in their opposition, and Mitsuhide was forced to lay siege to Kuroi Castle for two months in the winter of 1575.[citation needed] Later, he was awarded the Court titles of "Junior Fifth Rank (Lower)" and "Governor of Hyūga", and the honorary title of "Koretō Hyūga-no-kami".[26] On June, Nobunaga ordered him to pacify the provinces of Tamba and Tango Province.[27][26] During this campaign in Tanba, Mitsuhide cooperated with local lords such as Obata Nagaaki from Funai County. In addition, Kawakatsu Tsuguhisa from Imamiya, Kuwata County, had also switched sides to the Oda side after being persuaded by Obata.[28][29][30] On July, Mitsuhide began attacking pro-Yoshiaki local lords of Tanba such as Utsuno Yorishige with the help of Obata and Kawakatsu. However, at the same time he also ordered by Nobunaga to send reinforcements to Echizen and Tango, and left the area. On August, Utsuno Yorishige attacked the Oda clan's Umaji Castle and Amarube Castle. The reason this order was said to be a checkmate against Akai Naomasa of Hikami County, who was pursuing attacks on Izushi Castle and Takeda Castle in Tajima, which were the territory of the Yamana clan, while showing an ambiguous attitude toward Nobunaga's attack on Tanba.[31] Later, Mitsuhide returned to Sakamoto Castle, and on October began a new attack on Tanba. Utsu Yorishige fled without fighting, and Mitsuhide then besieged Kuroi Castle, where Akai Naomasa had returned after giving up on the attack on Takeda Castle.[32]

In 1576, on April, during the Ishiyama Hongan-ji War, Mitsuhide, Hosokawa Fujitaka, Harada Naomasa, and Araki Murashige led the Oda forces against the Ikkō-ikki in the battle of Tenno-ji.[33] On May 5, Mitsuhide involved in a battle where one of his general, Hanawa Naomasa, was killed in battle. Mitsuhide were cornered by the Ikkō rebel forces at Tenno-ji Fort, until he relieved by Nobunaga's aid. On May 23, Mitsuhide fell ill due to overwork and had to recuperate for a while.[34] Meanwhile, in Tanba Province, the Hatano clan under Hatano Hideharu, the lord of Yakami Castle, declared independence and turned against Nobunaga. Hideharu sudden insurrection caught Mitsuhide in surprise and defeated his forces.[35][36][37]

In 1577, Mitsuhide, along with Hosokawa Fujitaka and Tsutsui Junkei, fought under Oda Nobutada in the Siege of Shigisan against Matsunaga Hisahide, who had rebelled against Nobunaga. Later, Mitsuhide took part in the Battle of Tedorigawa against Uesugi Kenshin.[1]: 27, 228 

In 1578, two years after the Hatano clan rebelled, Nobunaga ordered Mitsuhide to return to Tanba Province and subdue them. Mitsuhide defeated several rebel clans allied to the Hatano. He defeated the Akai clan, led by Akai Naomasa, at the second siege of Kuroi castle.[citation needed] On March, after Akai Naomasa died of an illness, Mitsuhide brought his forces to attack Sonobe Castle and forced the defender, Araki Ujitsuna, to surrender.[38] For this successful campaign, Nobunaga awarded Mitsuhide Kameyama Castle, and Tanba Province as a fief with revenue of 550,000 koku.[citation needed] On June 4, Mitsuhide was sent to Harima Province as reinforcements for Hideyoshi, who was attacking the Mōri clan, where he participated in the siege of Kamiyoshi Castle. However, in September, a huge uprising broke out in Tanba Province, and even Umahori Castle, which was a key location for the defense of Kameyama Castle, was temporarily occupied by the rebels. Mitsuhide returned to Tanba in response and recapture the castle.[39] Later, Mitsuhide besiege Yakami Castle which held by Hatano Hideharu. However, as Yakami Castle was a mountain castle which very difficult to capture. Mitsuhide then decided to a strategy of besieging Yakami Castle commence separate operations to subdue another subsidiary fortresses belongs to Hideharu one by one to isolate Yakami castle. Mitsuhide first dug a moat around Yakami Castle, built earthworks, and then built walls and fences on top of it. By completely surrounding Yakami Castle, he prevented military supplies and ammunition from being brought into the castle. After completely surrounding Yakami Castle in this way, started to capture the other fortresses.[40]

Location of the montain where the Yakami Castle was located

In 1579, the conflict of the Oda clan against Hatano Hideharu in Tanba province reached its final stage. However in January, Hatano's forces counterattacked and Obata Nagaakira, one of the few Tanba locals who had consistently supported the Oda clan, was killed. Mitsuhide gave Nagaakira's surviving child the surname Akechi, and although he allowed the Obata clan to appoint a temporary representative, he ordered that Nagaakira's son must become the head of the family after he reached adulthood.[41][42][43] Later, Mitsuhide induced Hatano Hideharu to surrender Yakami Castle by promising Hideharu safety. However, Nobunaga broke the agreement and executed Hideharu. This reputedly displeased the Hatano family. As a result, several of Hideharu's retainers murdered Akechi Mitsuhide's mother (or aunt).[1]: 230  The failing relationship between Nobunaga and Mitsuhide was further damaged by several public insults which Nobunaga directed at Mitsuhide.[citation needed]

In 1580, Nobunaga dismissed his most important commander, Sakuma Nobumori. Mitsuhide replaced Nobumori in command and came to lead the largest force in the Kinki area (Kansai). This move was often said to be linked to the Honnō-ji Incident.[citation needed]

In 1581, Nobunaga assigned Mitsuhide to manage the Kyōto ouma-zoroi ("Kyōto Mounted Horse Parade"), a large-scale military parade held to the east of the Imperial Palace in Kyōto.[citation needed]

Honnō-ji Incident


In 1582, Mitsuhide was ordered by Nobunaga to march west to assist Hashiba Hideyoshi who was at that time fighting the Mōri clan. Ignoring his orders, Mitsuhide assembled an army of 13,000 soldiers and moved against Nobunaga's position at Honnō-ji. On June 21, Mitsuhide was quoted as saying, "The enemy is at Honnō-ji!" His army surrounded the temple and eventually set it on fire. Oda Nobunaga was killed either during the fighting, or by his own hand. Nobunaga's son, Oda Nobutada, fled the scene, but was surrounded at Nijō Castle and killed.[44] Despite not killing Nobunaga personally, Mitsuhide claimed responsibility for his death.

Mitsuhide's betrayal of the Oda shocked the capital, and he was forced to move quickly to secure his position. Mitsuhide looted Azuchi castle to reward his men and maintain their loyalty.

Mitsuhide attempted to make gestures of friendship to a panicked Imperial Court; he also made many attempts to win over the other clans, but to no avail.

Meanwhile, Hosokawa Fujitaka, to whom he was related through marriage, quickly cut ties with him, as well as Tsutsui Junkei, who refused to take Akechi's side, and half-heartedly supported Hideyoshi.[1]: 278  Tetsuo Owada argued that the biggest mistake of Mitsuhide after he killed Nobunaga was he cannot provide the head of either Nobunaga or Nobutada as proof, since it would backfire as many daimyo lords doubt his success, while Hideyoshi manage to spun his propaganda that Nobunaga was still alive and escaped the assassination attempt. This caused Mitsuhide's reputation further undermined as many began to doubt his capability to kill Nobunaga, while most of Oda vassals and allies rather expecting the return of Nobunaga than accepting the invitation from Mitsuhide to join.[45]


Akechi Mitsuhide grave information plaque at Umemiyacho, Kyoto.

Mitsuhide had counted on Toyotomi Hideyoshi being occupied fighting with the Mori, and unable to respond to Mitsuhide's coup d'état. However, having learned of the assassination of his lord, Hideyoshi quickly signed a peace treaty with the Mori, and alongside Tokugawa Ieyasu rushed to be the first to avenge Nobunaga. Hideyoshi force marched his army to Settsu in four days, and caught Mitsuhide off guard.[citation needed]

Mitsuhide had been unable to garner support for his cause, and his army had dwindled down to 10,000 men. Hideyoshi, however, had won over former Oda retainers, including Niwa Nagahide and Ikeda Tsuneoki, and had a strength of 20,000 men. In July 2, 1582, the two forces met at the Battle of Yamazaki.[citation needed]

Mitsuhide took up a position south of Shōryūji Castle, securing his right flank by the Yodo river, and his left at the foot of the 270-metre Tennozan. Hideyoshi immediately seized the advantage by securing the heights of Tennōzan; his vanguard then maneuvered to face the Akechi forces along the Enmyōji river.[citation needed]

Mitsuhide's forces made a failed attempt to force Hideyoshi from Tennōzan. Ikeda Tsuneoki moved to reinforce Hideyoshi's right flank, which soon crossed Enmyōji-gawa and turned the Akechi flank. Simultaneously, Hideyoshi's forces marched against the Akechi front; this started a rout, only two hours after the battle had begun.[46]

Mitsuhide's men fled, with the exception of the 200 men under Mimaki Kaneaki (御牧 兼顕), who charged and were destroyed by Hideyoshi's larger force. Soon, panic set in among the Akechi army, and Hideyoshi's army chased them back to Shōryūji, where the garrison collapsed. The bandit leader Nakamura Chōbei later killed Mitsuhide as Mitsuhide fled the battle.[1]: 277–278 

Shrine to Akechi Mitsuhide, Kyoto





Tensho Koshirae sword


The Tensho Koshirae was first forged during the Azuchi-Momoyama Era and was meant to be a replica of Akechi Mitsuhide's sword. These katanas were made for practical use and thus had a simplistic design philosophy and the metal tempered to be strong and durable. [47] The Akechi family was able to trace their heritage to the Toki clan and from there to the Minamoto clan.

Castles built or reconstructed by Mitsuhide


Mitsuhide was well known as a master of castle construction, and was engaged in the construction of many castles.[48][49]

See also





  1. ^ Although they are written as Akechi Mitsukuni and Akechi Mitsutaka, there is no one in the main line of the Toki Akechi clan whose name includes the character "光" in the primary historical sources, so it is thought to be fabrication from Edo period regarding Mitsuhide's lineage.[9]
  2. ^ lower rank servant during pre Edo period who were lower in rank than ashigaru infantry. chūkan only allowed to carry Wakizashi and not allowed to carry surname.[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co. p. 212. ISBN 1854095234.
  2. ^ According to the Sanseido reference, 三日 should be understood not literally as three days, but as "ごく短い期間", e.g. an exceptionally short period of time
  3. ^ "三日天下" [Mikkatenka]. 広辞苑第六版 (Koujien, 6th edition) (in Japanese). 株式会社岩波書店 (Iwanami Shoten, Inc.). 2008.
  4. ^ 三日天下 [Mikkatenka]. 新明解四字熟語時点 (Shinmeika Yojijukugo Jiten) (in Japanese). 三省堂(Sanseidō). Retrieved 5 Sep 2013.
  5. ^ "「逆臣」光秀の善政たどる 京都・福知山で15日催し : 京都新聞". Archived from the original on 2018-04-13. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  6. ^ Miyagi keizu and Kitamra kaden
  7. ^ Taniguchi 2014, pp. 15, 30–33, 82–83.
  8. ^ Ueda Masaaki; Tsuda Hideo; Fujii Shōichi; Nagahara Keiji; Fujiwara Akira (2009). コンサイス日本人名事典 第5版』 [Concise Japanese Name Dictionary, 5th Edition] (in Japanese). 三省堂. p. 20. ISBN 978-4-385-15801-3. Retrieved 15 June 2024.
  9. ^ Kinoshita Satoshi (2019). 明智光秀と美濃国 [Akechi Mitsuhide and Mino Province]. 現代思想第四十七巻第十六号 総特集 明智光秀 (in Japanese). 青土社. p. 81. ISBN 978-4-7917-1390-5. Retrieved 15 June 2024.
  10. ^ Kobayashi 2019, p. 136.
  11. ^ Kuwata 1983.
  12. ^ "Akechi Mitsuhide". www.samurai-archives.com. Archived from the original on 2010-10-24. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  13. ^ Hayashima 2016, p. 174.
  14. ^ Shunroku Shibatsuji (芝辻俊六) (2016). 織田政権の形成と地域支配』戒光祥出版 [The formation of the Oda government and regional control] (in Japanese). 戒光祥出版. pp. 176–180. ISBN 9784864032063. Retrieved 22 June 2024.
  15. ^ Taniguchi 2005.
  16. ^ Fujimoto 2010, p. 51.
  17. ^ Taniguchi 2014, pp. 69–72.
  18. ^ "坂本城" (in Japanese). 滋賀県観光情報. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  19. ^ Owada 1998, p. 86.
  20. ^ 分限帳 元禄三年: 米沢藩分限帳 (in Japanese). 1690. pp. 468–478. Retrieved 15 June 2024.
  21. ^ Owada 1998, pp. 84–86.
  22. ^ Rekishi Yomihon Editorial Department; Hayashima Daisuke (2014). "Thorough Tracking! The Life of Akechi Mitsuhide" "Controlling the Ise family, the shogunate bureaucrats, as his vassals".". ここまでわかった!明智光秀の謎. 新人物文庫. Kadokawa. ISBN 9784046010315.
  23. ^ Takayanagi 1958, p. 69.
  24. ^ Taniguchi 2014, pp. 136–149.
  25. ^ Hayashima 2016, p. 178.
  26. ^ a b Hayashima 2016, p. 69.
  27. ^ 福知山市史編さん委員会 (1982). 福知山市史 [History of Fukuchiyama]. Vol. 2. 福知山市. p. 535.https://dl.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/9575034
  28. ^ Shiba Hiroyuki 1 (2019, pp. 20–21)
  29. ^ Otsuki Masayuki & Shiba Hiroyuki (2019, pp. 155–156)
  30. ^ Niki 2019, pp. 203–207.
  31. ^ Niki 2019, pp. 207.
  32. ^ Niki 2019, pp. 209–210.
  33. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (2000). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co. pp. 27, 228. ISBN 1854095234.
  34. ^ Hayashima 2016, p. 181.
  35. ^ Shiba Hiroyuki 1 (2019, pp. 22–23)
  36. ^ Otsuki Masayuki & Shiba Hiroyuki (2019, p. 156)
  37. ^ Niki 2019, pp. 208–209.
  38. ^ Niki 2019, pp. 213–214.
  39. ^ Niki 2019, pp. 214.
  40. ^ Yasutsune Owada (小和田泰経) (2022). "織田信長、明智光秀が落とせなかった悲運の城・八上城【兵庫県丹波篠山市" [Yakami Castle, the tragic castle that neither Oda Nobunaga nor Akechi Mitsuhide could capture [Tamba Sasayama City, Hyogo Prefecture]]. Rekishijin (in Japanese). ABC, ARC, inc. Retrieved 23 June 2024.
  41. ^ Shiba Hiroyuki 1 (2019, p. 23)
  42. ^ Otsuki Masayuki & Shiba Hiroyuki (2019, p. 172)
  43. ^ Niki 2019, p. 218.
  44. ^ "Oda Nobunaga". www.samurai-archives.com. Archived from the original on 2017-06-06. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  45. ^ Tetsuo Owada (2024). "明智光秀の『最大の誤算]は本能寺の変後、織田信長父子の遺体を発見できなかったこと⁉" [明智光秀の『最大の誤算]は本能寺の変後、織田信長父子の遺体を発見できなかったこと⁉]. Rekishijin (in Japanese). Abc Arc, inc. Retrieved 9 June 2024.
  46. ^ "Toyotomi Hideyoshi". www.samurai-archives.com. Archived from the original on 2010-12-24. Retrieved 2013-04-16.
  47. ^ "Tensho Koshirae".
  48. ^ "【明智光秀の城】坂本城と亀山城の歴史を紐解く!" (in Japanese). 歴史マガジン. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  49. ^ "明智光秀とは?" (in Japanese). 岐阜県大河ドラマ「麒麟がくる」推進協議会. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  50. ^ "明智光秀の功績しのび、銅像の除幕式 京都・亀岡でまつり" (in Japanese). 京都新聞. Archived from the original on 27 September 2019. Retrieved 25 July 2019.


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