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Literature: Taiko
What if the bird will not sing?
Oda Nobunaga answers "Kill it if it does not want to sing!"
Toyotomi Hideyoshi answers "Make it want to sing."
Tokugawa Ieyasu answers "Wait until it sings."
A common verse among Japanese schoolchildren.

Taiko is one of the two books that Japanese novelist Eiji Yoshikawa is known for outside his home country, the other being Musashi. Set during the chaotic civil wars of the Sengoku Jidai, Taiko tells the story of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a dirt-poor peasant who tries to make his way up in life. After several false starts, he becomes a sandal bearer to a young Oda Nobunaga, known as the "Fool of Owari" for his teenage jackassery.

However, there is a deadly competence in the "Fool of Owari", which Japan will learn when he begins to crush his enemies and increase his holdings. Hideyoshi's fortunes improve with his master's, due in no small part to the almost eerie competence he carries into everything he does. Another rising star is Tokugawa Ieyasu, the patient lord of a threadbare province, and Oda's long term ally.

Unfortunately, Nobunga's rashness causes him to humiliate a retainer of his, Akechi Mitsuhide. Mitsuhide chafes under his unpleasable lord, and finally snaps, leading a sneak attack which ends in Nobunga's death. Hideyoshi avenges his fallen lord, leaving him and Ieyasu to fight over who is to become the supreme ruler of Japan.


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alternative title(s): Taiko
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