Lifespan: Eiroku 8 (1565) to 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582)
Lord: Oda Nobunaga
Father: Mori Yoshinari
Mother: Myōkōni (known as Ei, daughter of Hayashi Michiyasu)
Siblings: Yoshitaka, Nagayoshi, Naritoshi, Nagataka, Nagauji, Tadamasa, Ume (formal wife of Kinoshita Katsutoshi), Hekishōin (formal wife of Seki Narimasa)
Mori Naritoshi during the Honnō Temple Incident
Mori Naritoshi served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Naritoshi was an attendant of Oda Nobunaga. His common name was Ranmaru.
There are various theories concerning his name, including that his childhood name was Ran and his real name either Nagasada or Nagayasu. In this profile, he is uniformly referred to by his real name of Naritoshi.
In 1565, Naritoshi was born as the third son of Mori Yoshinari, a retainer of Oda Nobunaga in Rendai in the Haguri District of Owari Province.
In the fifth month of 1577, Naritoshi was invited to serve, along with two of his younger brothers, Mori Nagataka and Mori Nagauji, as a servant of Nobunaga. Thereafter, he served as a close associate of Nobunaga. On 4/20 of Tenshō 9 (1581), Naritoshi was awarded a fief of 500 koku in Ōmi Province.
The authenticated biography of Nobunaga known as the Shinchō kōki contains references to Naritoshi serving as a messenger in 1579 and 1580. Naritoshi provided information to his mother, Myōkōni (commonly known as Ei), when she was engaged in promoting a settlement of the dispute between Nobunaga and the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple known as the Ishiyama-Hongan War that ran from 1570 to 1580, enabling her to engage in direct negotiations with Nobunaga. At the time, Nobunaga proposed a settlement on the condition that a temple affiliated with the Jōdo sect be constructed below Kanayama Castle and that one of Myōkōni’s sons enter the priesthood.
In 1582, following the decimation of the Kai-Takeda clan and as recognition for his service in the Kōshū Expedition, Nobunaga granted Naritoshi the landholdings of his older brother, Mori Nagayoshi, in Kaneyama and Yoneda-jima in Mino Province in exchange for his own landholdings in Kawanakajima in Shinano Province. He also became the lord of Iwamura Castle in Mino Province with a fief of 50,000 koku. Naritoshi, however, did not reside in Iwamura Castle and, instead, a chief retainer of Nagayoshi named Kagami Motomasa was assigned to serve as the chamberlain of the castle on behalf of Naritoshi.
On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Nobunaga died in a coup d’état launched by a senior retainer, Akechi Mitsuhide. This event is known as the Honnō Temple Incident. During this incident, the Akechi army of 10,000 men surrounded the Honnō Temple in Kyōto. Naritoshi fought valiantly against the Akechi forces, but was killed in action by a soldier from the Akechi army named Yasuda Kunitsugu who had been injured by a spear wielded by Nobunaga. He was eighteen years old. Naritoshi’s younger brothers, Mori Nagataka and Mori Nagauji, died in the same incident. At the time of the battle, Naritoshi was wearing a white, short-sleeved kimono and had a hair style where the hair is tied up in a bundle on the back of the head (resembling the shape of a tea whisk). These details, however, are based on the testimony of an individual named Genemon and whether Nobunaga injured Kunitsugu with a spear cannot be confirmed. The details differ in other accounts. Meanwhile, according to an account known as the History of Japan authored by Luís Fróis, a Jesuit missionary residing in Japan during this period, Nobunaga fought for a while, but, after being shot in the arm, entered his room, closed the sliding screen and took his own life. In this way, the final moments of Nobunaga and Naritoshi are intertwined, and the actual course of events remain uncertain.
On one occasion, after trimming his nails, Nobunaga placed these on a folding fan and ordered Naritoshi to dispose of them. As Naritoshi moved to another room, he noticed there were only nine nails so he returned to Nobunaga’s room to search for the remaining nail.
On another occasion, Nobunaga ordered Naritoshi to close a sliding door next to him. In fact, the sliding door was closed, but Naritoshi opened and then closed one with a sound. He informed Nobunaga that the door was shut whereupon Nobunaga asked why it made a sound. He then responded that even though Nobunaga said it was open, the fact that it was closed would make Nobunaga appear inattentive, so he opened and closed it to make a sound.
According to one theory, Naritoshi was the subject of the practice of pederasty with Nobunaga.