Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) was the daimyo of Owari Province. Head of the Oda Clan from 1551, Nobunaga trampled rulers such as Takeda Shingen and Imagawa Yoshimoto. Nobunaga's greatest feat was probably the Battle of Okehazama against the latter in 1560, prevailing over the Imagawa though heavily outnumbered. He died in 1582, forced to commit suicide by Akechi Mitsuhide.
Nobunaga was the son of Oda Nobuhude, the ruler of Owari Prefecture. In 1560, he was ready to march on the Ashikaga Shogunate's capital, Kyoto. However, the Matsudaira Clan and Imagawa Clan had other ideas. Imagawa Yoshimoto of Suruga Province and Matsudaira Takechiyo joined forces, amountng to 30,000 men. Nobunaga had 2,000 soldiers, including future unifier of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Both sides met at Okehazama, and despite his numerical inferiority, Nobunaga gave utter surprise to the enemy by surprise-attack. Nobunaga conquered Mikawa Prefecture, gaining Takechiyo as a general.
Nobunaga campaigned against the Saito Clan next, though his wife Nō was born to the late Saitō Dōsan. Thousands of Oda soldiers marched north to Mino Province, engaging the Saito at Inabayama. His forces won another victory, and his men took over the province.
Later on, he fought against the Uesugi Clan of Echigo Province. At the Battle of Tetorigawa, however, he was defeated. This was his first major loss in battle. But it would not be his last, for his campaign against the Azai Clan and Asakura Clan was soundly defeated at the Battle of Kanegasaki in 1570. He dispatched general Hideyoshi to retaliate, and the Oda-Tokugawa forces won at the Battle of Anegawa. Another victory against the Azai at the Siege of Odani Castle was the last defeat of the shogunate. Oda Nobunaga was declared shogun, and he stamped his authority over the Takeda Clan at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575.
Two years later, Nobunaga fought against the Mori Clan and the Peasant Army led by Mori Terumoto. He crushed the peasants in Kii Province, and then won the Battle of Kizugawaguchi in 1578, the first battle of the O Ataka Bune ships. His alliance with Chosokabe Motochika, however, ended in 1580. Nobunaga invaded Shikoku, home of the Chosokabe Clan. In 1582, Motochika's ally Akechi Mitsuhide slew him.