Saitō Dōsan

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Saitō Dōsan
Saitō Dōsan.jpg
Saitō Dōsan
DiedMay 28, 1556(1556-05-28) (aged 61–62)
Battle of Nagaragawa, Mino Province
Allegiance家徽.jpg Saitō clan
Battles/warsBattle of Kanōguchi
Battle of Nagaragawa
ChildrenSaitō Yoshitatsu

Saitō Dōsan (斎藤 道三, 1494 – May 28, 1556), also known as Saitō Toshimasa (斎藤 利政), was a Japanese samurai during the Sengoku period.[1] He was also known as the Viper of Mino (美濃の蝮, Mino no Mamushi) for his ruthless tactics.[2] His honorific title from the Imperial Court was Yamashirō-no-kami and since he was a monk he was also called Saitō Yamashirō-nyudō-no-kami.

Early life[edit]

Originally a monk, he later became a seller of oil. He became a daimyō through gekokujō of Toki Yorinari in Mino Province. The Saito fortress was located at Inabayama.[3][4][5]

He married Omi no kata, a daughter of Akechi Mitsutsugu.


He defeated Oda Nobuhide at the Battle of Kanōguchi in 1547.[6]

However, eventually Dosan was defeated by Oda Nobuhide, and he was forced to give his daughter in marriage to Nobunaga. Dōsan became the father-in-law of Oda Nobunaga.[1][3]

Inabayama Castle (later renamed Gifu Castle), used as headquarters by Dōsan

In 1556, Saitō Dōsan fell in battle against forces led by his own adopted son, Saitō Yoshitatsu in the Battle of Nagara-gawa.[1][3]


In desperation, Dosan is alleged to have named Nobunaga as lord of Mino in his will and sent this document to Nobunaga. Nobunaga, however, was unable to provide help.[citation needed]

Dōsan's head was taken by a certain Komaki Genta, a retainer of Yoshitatsu's son Tatsuoki. His remains were originally interred in Sōfuku-ji, but they were later moved to Jōzai-ji because the Nagara River kept overflowing and covering his burial mound.[7] Both temples are located in Gifu.


Saitō Dōsan is known for having a large number of pseudonyms and for frequently changing his name. Some believe that this is because there were two Saitō Dōsan, father and son, and the son adopted his father's name after his death. Other names of Saitō Dōsan are Minemaru (峰丸), Hōrenbō (法蓮坊), Matsunami Shogorō (松浪庄五郎), Nishimura Kankurō Masatoshi (西村勘九郎正利), Shinkurō (新九郎), Nagai Norihide (長井規秀), and Saitō Sakondayu Toshimasa (斎藤左近大夫利政). The name Saitō was adopted from the former shugodai of Mino who had been overcome by the Nagai clan in the 1520s.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Saitō Dōsan" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 809.
  2. ^ Glenn, Chris (May 28, 2015). "The Viper of Mino, Saito Dosan". Japan World.
  3. ^ a b c Turnbull, Stephen (1987). Battles of the Samurai. Arms and Armour Press. p. 57. ISBN 0853688265.
  4. ^ Sengoku Bushō Retsuden 12: Saitō Dōsan Archived 2012-03-30 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed September 20, 2007.
  5. ^ Buke Kaden - Mino Saitō-shi. Harimaya. Accessed September 20, 2007.
  6. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co. p. 211. ISBN 1854095234.
  7. ^ Gifu City Walking Map. Gifu Lively City Public Corporation, 2007.