The Three Unifiers
Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi
and Tokugawa Ieyasu
“If the cuckoo does not sing, kill it”.
“If the cuckoo does not sing, coax it”.
“If the cuckoo does not sing, wait for it”.
“If the cuckoo does not sing, kill it”. This line refers to
the Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga is considered one of
the three great daimyōs. He was known for his
ruthlessness and military ambitions. Nobunaga
changed the way war was fought in Japan. He
supported the use of Western weapons like firearms
at a time when swords were used in battle. He also set
up regulations, which were basically free market
principles used in trade and commerce. He was also
responsible for creating civil service promotions based
on merit and ability, rather than on rank and status.
June 23, 1534 - June 21, 1582
The second line refers to Toyotomi Hideyoshi , “If the
cuckoo does not sing, coax it”. Hideyoshi was a great
negotiator. He was able to persuade many members of
the Saitō clan to pledge their allegiance to Nobunaga,
his former master. Hideyoshi’s legacy left a social rigid
class in Japan. Ironically, Hideyoshi himself was a lowly
servant under Nobunaga, who rose to become a
samurai. Moreover, he confiscated the swords of many
farmers, thereby preventing them from becoming
samurais. Unlike Nobunaga, Hideyoshi’s strength was
not on the battlefield. He failed two attempts to
conquer Korea, dashing the hopes of invading China as
March 17, 1537 - September 18, 1598
The third line refers to Tokugawa Ieyasu “If the cuckoo
does not sing, wait for it”. Ieyasu was known for his
patience and caution. Ieyasu waited until Hideyoshi’s
death to take power. He secretly made plans with
Hideyoshi’s enemies and overthrew Hideyoshi’s five
year old son and regent out of power. In 1603, Ieyasu
became the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate.
Perhaps it was Ieyasu’s childhood experience as a
hostage and being kidnapped at age six,
that influenced his cautious personality. Although he
was treated well for a hostage, his life was in the
hands of an enemy clan until age fifteen.
January 31, 1543 - June 1, 1616