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Saito Dosan, renowned as the "Viper of Mino," deviated from the traditional samurai path, beginning his journey as a monk. Born in Yamashiro Province, located in the southern Kyoto region, Dosan amassed wealth as an oil merchant before serving under Nagai Nagahiro in Mino (Gifu). Eventually, he became a devoted retainer of Toki Yorinari, the Governor of Mino, ultimately seizing control from the Toki clan and rising to power in Mino.

With his stronghold at Inabayama Castle, later renamed Gifu Castle, Dosan achieved a significant victory in 1547 by defeating Oda Nobuhide, father of the renowned Nobunaga, in the Battle of Kanoguchi near the Entoku-ji Temple in Gifu City’s Moto-machi area. This triumph elevated Dosan's stature nationally and paved the way for an alliance between his daughter, No-hime, and Nobuhide’s son, Nobunaga, through marriage.

However, despite his reputation for employing ruthless tactics, Dosan's reign came to an end when his own son, Yoshitatsu, ousted him in the Battle of Nagaragawa in 1556. Speculations surrounding Yoshitatsu's legitimacy as Dosan's son and rumors of Dosan's intentions to pass control of Mino to another son or his son-in-law, Nobunaga, fueled the conflict. Yoshitatsu, entrenched in Sagiyama Castle, rallied the majority of the Saito clan's samurai, numbering around 17,500, against Dosan's 2,700 loyal followers. Unfortunately for Dosan, support troops dispatched by Nobunaga arrived too late to alter the battle's outcome.

Following his defeat, Komaki Genta claimed Dosan's head, which now rests at Jozai-ji Temple in Gifu, near Gifu Castle, marking the conclusion of Dosan's tumultuous life at the age of 62.


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