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Early life and rise 
His birthplace is not specified but is inferred to be in Kyoto or in Kani of Mino Province—now Gifu Prefecture. Toki-Akechi is a descendant of the shugo Toki clan. Mitsuhide is rumored to be a childhood friend or cousin of Nohime. It is believed that he served under 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.
In 1566, Mitsuhide acted as a messenger for the "wandering shogun" Yoshiaki Ashikaga. Ashikaga ordered for Asakura Yoshikage to be his official protector to which Yoshikage declined. Yoshiaki appealed to Mitsuhide who suggested Oda Nobunaga instead.
Mitsuhide began serving Oda Nobunaga after the latter's conquest of Mino province in 1566 and received Sakamoto (in Omi, 100,000 koku) in 1571. Although Nobunaga rarely put too much trust in his retainers, he particularly trusted Shibata Katsuie, Hashiba Hideyoshi, and Akechi Mitsuhide, who was the first subordinate to receive a castle from Nobunaga. After Mitsuhide received Sakamoto he moved to pacify the Tamba region by defeating several clans such as Hatanao and the Isshiki of Tango. Mitsuhide also received Kamiyama castle and the Tanba region.
Incident at Honnoji 
In 1579, Nobunaga captured Yakami Castle from Hatano Hideharu by promising Hideharu peace terms. This accomplished Mitsuhide's goal, although Nobunaga betrayed the peace agreement and had Hideharu executed. According to several stories, this displeased the Hatano family, and a short while later several of Hideharu's retainers murdered Akechi Mitsuhide's mother (or aunt). The situation was fueled through several public insults Nobunaga had directed at Mitsuhide that even drew the attention of some Western observers.
In 1582, Mitsuhide was ordered to march west and assist Hashiba Hideyoshi who was currently fighting the Môri clan. Ignoring his orders, Mitsuhide assembled an army of 13,000 soldiers and moved against Nobunaga's position at Honnoji. On June 21, Mitsuhide was quoted as saying, "The enemy is at Honnō-ji!". His army surrounded the shrine and eventually sets it on fire. Oda Nobunaga is killed either during the fighting or by his own hand. Nobunaga's son, Oda Hidetada, flees the scene but is surrounded at Nijo and killed. Despite not killing Nobunaga personally, Mitsuhide assumes responsibility for his death.
The Battle of Yamazaki 
Mitsuhide's betrayal of the Oda shocked the capital and he moved quickly to secure his position. Mitsuhide, claiming lineage from the Toki and thus the Minamoto clan, declared himself shogun and looted Azuchi castle so as to reward his men and maintain their loyalty. Mitsuhide attempted to make gestures of friendship to a panicked Imperial Court. Mitsuhide made many attempts to win over the other clans but to no avail. Hosokawa Fujitaka, to whom he was related through marriage, quickly cut ties with him. Tsutsui Junkei, who previously had a rocky relationship with the Oda, sided against him.
Mitsuhide had been counting on Toyotomi Hideyoshi to be detained fighting with the Mori and unable to respond to his coup d'etat. 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 and take his place. Hideyoshi force-marched his army to Settsu in four days and caught Mitsuhide off guard. Mitsuhide had been unable to garner support for his cause and his army dwindled down to 10,000. Hideyoshi however, had won over former Oda retainers including Niwa Nagahide and Takayama Ukon, and held a strength of 20,000 men. The two forces clashed at the Battle of Yamazaki.
Mitsuhide took up a position south of Shoryuji Castle, securing his right flank by the Yodo river and his left at the foot of the 270-mete Tennozan. Hideyoshi immediately seized the advantage by securing the heights of Tennozan. Hideyoshi's vanguard manuevered to face the Akechi forces along the Enmoyji river. Mitsuhide's forces made a failed attempt to force Hideyoshi from Tennozan. Hideyoshi's general, Ikeda Nobuteru moved to reinforce Hideyoshi's right flank which soon crossed Enmoyoji and turned the Akechi flank. Simultaneously, Hideyoshi's forces marched against the Akechi front and caused them to route just two hours after the battle had begun.
Mitsuhide's reign as shogun lasted only 13 days. Upon fleeing Yamazaki, Mitsuhide died en route to Sakamoto. He is rumoured to have been killed by a peasant warrior by the name of Nakamura with a bamboo spear; however, there were also rumors that he was not killed, but rather started a new life as a priest called Tenkai. The short reign of Mitsuhide is depicted in proverb Akechi no tenka-mikka ("Reign of Akechi lasts 13 days") and nickname Jusan kubo or "shogun for 13 days".
Reasons for Betrayal 
No one knows for what specific reason Mitsuhide betrayed Nobunaga though there are many theories.
- Personal Ambition - Mitsuhide had grown tired of waiting for promotion under Nobunaga or had grown tired of of being under another's authority.
- A personal grudge:
- While staying at Azuchi Castle, Ieyasu Tokugawa complained about the food he was served. Nobunaga responds by throwing Mitsuhide's priceless dinnerware into the garden pond.
- During the battle at Yagami Castle, 1575, Mitsuhide's mother died for Nobunaga's cause
- Nobunaga accused Mitsuhide of superficially praising his allies after their victory over the Takeda and physically kicked him.
- Nobunaga asked him - A legend states that Nobunaga asked Mitsuhide to strike him down if he were to become too ruthless and that the Incident at Honnoji is Mitsuhide fulfilling this promise.
- Tricked by Hosokawa Fujitaka - Fujitaka, his son-in-law, was said to have promised aid to Mitsuhide but was in actuality was reporting the plot to Hideyoshi.
- He was asked to- one theory is that he was asked or influenced to betray Nobunaga by Mori Terumoto, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ashikaga Yoshiaki, Nohime, the Shimazu clan or Emperor Ogimachi.
- Tsumaki Hiroko (Ja:妻木煕子): Wife
- Akechi Mitsuyoshi (明智光慶): Eldest son
- Akechi Hidemitsu (明智秀満): Adopted son (and son-in-law); ancestor of Sakamoto Ryoma
- Hosokawa Gracia (明智玉子): Daughter, wife of Hosokawa Tadaoki; ancestor of Empress Shōken
- Akechi Mitsuharu (明智光春): Cousin
The Akechi family was able to trace their heritage to the Toki clan and from there to the Minamoto clan. It is noted that Minamoto Yoritomo brought the destruction of the Taira clan the same way Mitsuhide brought an end to Nobunaga, who traces his ancestry to the Taira clan. The sword of Mitsuhide is of the Tensho style; the Tensho Koshirae was first designed to be a replica of Akechi Mitsuhide's own sword.
In popular culture 
- He is a friend of and major influence on the main character in the historical fiction manga Tail of the Moon (月のしっぽ Tsuki no Shippo) by Ueda Rinko
- He is a playable character in a side quest ,in which he betrays Nobunaga, in Pokémon Conquest (Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition in Japan), with his partner Pokémon being Lapras and Articuno.
- He also appears in the Koei game series Samurai Warriors.
- A villainous and partially insane Mitsuhide appears in the Sengoku Basara game series.
- People of the Sengoku period in popular culture.
- A female version of Akechi Mitsuhide appears in the light novel and related materials The Ambition of Oda Nobuna.
modern references 
- Akechi Mitsuhide appears in the game onimusha 2 as Jūbei (his nickname), as he fights against oda nobunaga's demons that destroyed his village.
Further reading 
- Takayanagi, Mitsutoshi (1966), Akechi Mitsuhide (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, OCLC 42626467