Takeda Shingen

Summary

Also known as Harunobu, Takeda Singen (1521-1573) was the ruler of the province of Kai and one of the great daimyo of the warring principalities. He became famous for his warlord skills and conquests, and is still seen by many as the embodiment of the characteristics of the warlord of his time. His rivalry and battles with another great warlord of the age, Uesugi Kensin, are legendary.

Takeda Singen”s father was Takeda Nobutora (1494-1574) and his mother was Ói-no-kata (daughter of Ói Nobutacu, 1497-1552).

His first wife was Tomooki Tomooki, the daughter of the Cantonese Kanrei, Ógigajacu-Ueszugi. They married in 1533, but she died a year later. His second wife was the daughter of the aristocrat Sanjo Kinjori (Sanjo-no-kata), who bore him his first-born son, Takeda Josinobu (1538-1567). His concubines were numerous, the most notable of whom was the daughter of Suva Jorisige (Suva-gorjonin), by whom his future heir, Takeda Katsujori (1546-1582), was born.

The House of Takeda was the governor (sugo) of Kai Province, but in 1416 Takeda Nobumicu became involved in the Uesugi Zensu rebellion and was defeated. The Takeda were forced to leave the province for a time, and on their return by the grace of the shogun (1438) found that the deputy governor, the House of Atobe, had taken power. The restoration of the governor”s power was not achieved until the time of Takeda Nobumasa, who defeated the Atobe army and took the governorship in 1465. Nobumasa retired in the Entoku period (1489-92), and the house and province were taken over by his eldest son, Takeda Nobucuna, defeating his younger brother Nobujōsō, who was his father”s favourite and also coveted the daimyo position.

Nobucuna”s son, Takeda Nobutora, succeeded his father in 1507, at the age of 14. His position at the head of the House of Takeda was immediately challenged by his uncle, Takeda Nobujosi, whose defeat was followed by a rebellion by the landowners of the province. He allied himself with the leader of the landowners who opposed him, Oi Nobutaku, and married his daughter (Oi-dono, Oi-no-kata), who became Singen”s mother.

In 1521, the year immediately preceding the birth of Singen, Nobutora faced the greatest crisis of his career, when Fukushima Masasige of Suruga attacked his estates with a huge army of 15,000 men, against which Nobutora could only muster around 2,000. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Takeda”s army fought bravely, clashing with the enemy in October, inflicting over 100 casualties, and then camped out against the more cautious Fukushima army, awaiting its movements. Finally, on 23 November, the two armies clashed again at Kamijo Kawahara, resulting in Nobutora”s overwhelming victory, Fukushima Masashi and over 600 of his troops falling, and the army fleeing back to Suruga. Although the Koyogunkan, the best-known Takeda history, places Singen”s birth on the day of the battle, he was actually born earlier, on 3 November, at the Sekisuji temple attached to the Yogaiyama fortress. After his birth, he was given the name Katsuchiyo (meaning ”victory for a thousand years”) by his father, who was in high spirits after his battlefield triumph.

Victory over Fukushima consolidated Takeda Nobutora”s position, he levied taxes and sought to strengthen his estate economically.

It was at this time that the four major houses, Uesugi, Takeda, Imagava and Hodjo, developed a policy of balance as a defining element of the political situation in the region. In 1531, war broke out between Ujiteru of Imagava and Nobutora of Takeda, and the Takeda army marching on the Imagava estates was opposed by Ujiteru”s ally, Ujitsuna of Hojjo, who marched his army from his capital, Odavara, but was forced to turn back when, at the request of Nobutora of Takeda, Ueszugi Tomooki marched directly on Odavara. Tomooki also retreated at the news of the Beaver army”s return, and the Takeda and Imagava clashed, but neither side managed to gain a decisive advantage.

The relationship between Takeda Nobutora and the Imagavas changed in 1532, when the Imagava daimyo, Imagava Ujiteru, died and the house leaders could not agree on a successor. Nobutora decided to intervene in the crisis on the side of one of the candidates, the half-brother of the deceased daimyo – a young man who, in accordance with the custom of the time, was sent to a monastery at the time of Ujiteru”s accession to power, living in the temple of Zentokudzi under the monastic name of Shoho. Nobutora”s decision may have been influenced by the fact that his former enemy, the Fukushima House in Suruga, supported his brother Shoho, who was also a monk. Shōho and his party eventually emerged victorious and the young monk took his place as daimyo of the Imagavas as Imagava Josimoto. Nobutora forced the members of the opposing party who had fled to him to seppuku, an act that drew the disapproval of his own people, and many of the Takeda officials left his service in protest.From then on, the relationship between the Takeda and the Imagavas became friendly, and Josimoto”s intercession helped to ensure that the daughter of the Kyoto aristocrat Sancho Kinjori was betrothed to Nobutora”s son, and Nobutora married his own daughter to Josimoto in 1533.

Katsuchiyo was initiated into adulthood (genpuku 元服) in 1536, at the age of 15, when he took the name Harunobu. Haru (晴) was a gift from the 12th shogun of the Asikaga shogunate, Asikaga Josiharu, and nobu (信) is the traditional character (通字) of the Takeda house.

Takeda Nobutora first invaded the neighbouring province of Sinano in 1527, taking advantage of the fact that one of the local lords had asked for his help against his opponents. In August 1528, Nobutora”s army faced for the first time the House of Suwa, which had considerable holdings, in a battle with the hada of Suwa Jorimicu and his son Joritaka, but was defeated.Suwa Jorimicu died in 1539, and was succeeded by his grandson Suwa Jorisige. Takeda Nobutora did not hesitate to seize the opportunity and marched his army against the Saku district of Shinano, first forcing an alliance with the weakened Szuva family, which he sealed by betrothing one of his daughters to Szuva Jorisige. After the successful campaign, the wedding took place and the two houses were allied.

In May 1541, Takeda Nobutora, accompanied by his son Harunobu, again led a campaign to Sinano, this time targeting Ogata district. The campaign also included the ally Suwa and the newly allied major local landowner Murakami Josikijo. After the victorious campaign, the Takeda army retreated back to its own province, but along the way Harunobu stripped his father of the daimyo title and exiled Nobutura.

The circumstances of Harunobu”s takeover are not entirely clear. The literature suggests five possible explanations:

Whatever happened, the fact is that on 14 June, Takeda Nobutora left on his way home to the Imagava headquarters in Sunpu, and Harunobu returned to the Kai capital of Kofu two days later, on the 16th, to tell his vassals that his father would not be returning home, on the 17th he and his household moved to the part of the palace his father had occupied, and on the 28th the official ceremony of his accession to power was held.

After taking power, Takeda Harunobu turned his attention to the Suva district of Sinano province. The Takeda-Szuva alliance was already broken when Harunobu took power: Jorisige of Suva could not resist the temptation and invaded Kai together with the governor of Sinano, Ogasavara Nagatoki. Takeda Harunobu repulsed the attack, and from then on he regarded the Suwa as an adversary.

In 1542, when the Suva estates were in a state of near-riot, Harunobu saw the opportunity and offered his help to the rebels led by Takato Joricugu. In July, the Takeda army invaded the Suwa estate, and Suwa Jorisige, judging his forces weak, retreated to Kuvabara Castle in armed resistance. After four days of bargaining, he finally surrendered, opening the castle to Harunobu”s troops. He and his younger brother Joritaka were taken to the Takeda headquarters in Kofu, where they were both killed on 22 July.

Takato Joricugu, who had allied himself with the Takedas, strongly resented having to settle for a very small part of the former Suwa holdings after the victory, and in September of that year he allied himself with several local landlords against the Takedas, captured the Takeda-occupied Uehara Castle and took control of most of Suwa district. He immediately sent one of Harunobu”s commanders, Itagaki Nobukata, against him, and then left Kofu in a hurry to go to Shinano. The two armies clashed at Mijakawa, where the Takeda defeated their opponents decisively, and the following year (1543), when they recaptured Uehara Castle, Takeda rule over Suva County was stabilised. Harunobu Itagaki Nobukata was appointed commander (gundai) of the district.

In 1545, Takeda Harunobu set out to destroy the remnants of Takato. Takato Joricugu fled, deeming resistance futile, and the Takeda army attacked and defeated the last major holder of the Sinano Ina district, the House of Fujizawa, thus bringing the entire district under its rule.

As early as 1543, the Takeda army had entered the Saku district of the province, defeating the Mochidzuki and then the Oi of the local possessions.From May 1546 until May of the following year, they fought in that area, conquering the smaller daimyo in turn, taking most of Saku, leaving the lord of Siga Castle, Kashara Kiyosige, as the last. When the Takeda army returned to Kai in 1547, Kijosige was sure he would be the target of the next campaign. The Takeda”s irresistible advance had also aroused the sense of danger in all the landowners in the area, so when the Kasaharas began desperately seeking allies, they were quickly obeyed. Even Uesugi Norimasa, who ruled the western part of neighbouring Kōsuke Province, assured them of his support, and they awaited the Takeda”s attack.

Harunobu launched his army in July 1547, and on the 24th they began the siege of Siga fortress. The defenders were augmented by the Takada family of the Kōsuke of Kashahara, who were related to Kijosige, and also called for help from Uesugi Norimasa, who sent his general, Kanai Hidekage, to relieve the fortress – but this army ran into the Takeda army sent against them by Harunobu and retreated with heavy defeat. The besiegers were eventually able to cut the castle”s aqueduct, and the defenders (only 300 soldiers were left alive at this point) surrendered. With the conquest of the Saku countryside, it became clear to Takeda Harunobu that he would have to contend with Murakami Josikijo, who held considerable land in the north and east of Sinano province, if he was to continue his expansion.1548 In February 1515, he marched his army to Uedahara near Sakaki, Murakami”s headquarters – Murakami Josikijo decided to engage Takeda”s army in open battle instead, and withdrew with his troops. The battle took place on 14 February, and although Takeda Harunobu had a considerable numerical advantage, the determined Murakami army, who knew the terrain better and were determined to the end, won a great victory. One of Harunobu”s best generals, Itagaki Nobukata, was left dead on the battlefield, and Harunobu himself was wounded.This victory had a serious impact on the confidence of the Sinano daimyo, who had thought the Takeda invincible, and the areas already occupied by the Takeda were beginning to revolt.

After the conquest of Suva, Takeda Harunobu”s relationship with the Ogaszavara Nagatoki, whose family had originally been the governor of the province, became strained.1550- Harunobu”s aim was to capture their capital, Sinpu, as his pre-campaign pledge states.The campaign progressed well, with the capture of fortresses under the jurisdiction of the Ogasavara, and a number of landowners voluntarily defecting to the Takeda, seeing the approaching army. Ogasawara Nagatoki eventually retreated to Hirasze Castle and turned to Murakami Josikiyo for help.Harunobu began rebuilding Fukasi Castle from the captured fortresses to use as an outpost for the conquest of the remaining areas of Sinano. Buoyed by the successes of the summer, Harunobu went on the offensive again in the autumn, and although the Ogasavaras relied heavily on Murakami Josikijo to help, he chose caution, leaving his ally to fight alone against the Takeda”s superior forces. Nagatoki eventually retreated into the mountains, abandoning his remaining castles.In 1551, the Takeda renewed the campaign, now using Fukasi Castle as a base, and by the autumn all the territory once held by the Ogasawara had fallen to Takeda Harunobu.Murakami Josikijo proved to be the toughest opponent for Takeda Harunobu. Harunobu”s unsuccessful attempt to take Toisi Castle, which was in Murakami hands, cost the defenders the lives of more than a thousand of their soldiers. The tipping point in the battle between the two came in May 1551, when Sanada Jukitaka, a former Takeda retainer with excellent local connections, made a surprise attack on Toisi”s fortress.Later that year, the landowners of Shinano, who had resisted Takeda”s conquest, were forced to surrender, leaving Murakami Josikijo as the only enemy still standing.The final attack on the Murakamis was launched two years later, in early 1553, by Takeda Harunobu. He seized the Murakami strongholds one by one, and in April, gathering his entire army under the command of twelve of his generals, he moved against the Murakami centre of Katsurao. Murakami Josikijo did not wait for the arrival of the army, abandoning his castle and fleeing the province, offering himself to the protection of Uesugi Kenshin.At the end of 1553, as Takeda Harunobu was attempting to conquer the last remaining areas of Sinano province that were not yet under his control, a new and more powerful enemy emerged. Uesugi Kensin, who had been watching the Takeda advance northwards with increasing concern, entered Sinano with his army and set up camp in the fields of Kavanakajima.Harunobu abandoned all his campaigns and united his armies to confront the new threat.

Takeda Harunobu and Uesugi Kensin first met at Kavanakajsima in 1553, which, although known as the 1st Battle of Kavanakajsima, was not actually a serious confrontation beyond some fumbling.Harunobu then wanted to concentrate all his efforts on fighting the Uesugis, and hastily formed an alliance with the Hodjōs and the Imagavas, the great lords who bordered his empire from the south. Then, in an attempt to disrupt the Uesugi empire from within, in 1554 he provoked a rebellion by the Uesugi subordinate Kitajo Takahiro, who went to war but the promised military aid from the Takedaks did not arrive and he was defeated after two months of fighting. Uesugi Kenshin turned against the Takeda, who were suspected of being behind the uprising, immediately after the suppression of the Kitajo rebellion, and invaded Sinano in the spring of 1555. Kenshin, after arriving in the Kavanagh Plain, set up camp opposite the Takeda-allied fortress of Asahijama, while the Takeda army, which was also soon to arrive on the scene, set up camp six kilometres away. According to the Sozanki chronicle, Takeda Harunobu”s army included 800 archers and 300 riflemen, a significant figure considering that it had been only twelve years since the rifle had been introduced to Japan.The two armies clashed on 19 July 1555. The Uesugi army, attempting to cross the Sai River near Takeda”s camp, was reported to have retreated under the Takeda counterattack. The chronicle does not say what the outcome of the battle was, but the fact that Takeda Harunobu gave out ten so-called reward letters (kanjō) after the battle, as opposed to one from Kenshin, suggests that the Takeda were the victors. This was the 2nd Battle of Kavanakajima.In early 1557, Takeda Harunobu, confident that the heavy snow covering the mountains would prevent the Uesugi from crossing the mountain range on the border of Echigo and Sinano, sent his army to take the Uesugi strongholds on the plains in turn, taking control of the central part of Kavanakajima. Ueszugi Kensin was only able to cross into Sinano in April, arriving on the plain and recapturing some of the fortresses he had lost, while constantly looking for an opportunity to engage the Takeda main force, which Harunobu, commanding only from a remote fortress, carefully avoided. Warfare continued for the rest of the year, but no decisive confrontation took place.

The 4th Battle of Kavanakadzima

In 1558, the shogun, Asikaga Jositeru, was confronted by the two major landlords of the central region, Nagajoshi of Mijoshi and Hishahide of Macunaga, and was forced to flee the capital to escape the overwhelming numbers. In his predicament, he counted on the help of both the Uesugis and the Takeda, and called on the two lords to make peace. The fighting between them then actually ceased, as both sought recognition as shoguns of their already acquired positions. Harunobu wanted the governorship of Sinano, claiming that the post was vacant (which was true, since he had been the one who had ousted the last governor, Ogasavara Nagatoki). Kensin coveted the dignity of Kanto-Kanrei, which he took over in 1558, together with the surname Ueszugi, from Ueszugi Norimasa, who had been driven out of Kanto by the Hodjo and fled to him. To secure the appointment, Kenshin travelled to the capital in 1560, where he was calculated to obtain the coveted dignity.He then sought to satisfy the request of the exiled Kanrei, who vowed revenge against the Hodjo, and in 1560 he led a campaign into Kanto, reaching as far as the Hodjo centre, Odavara, which he besieged. Harunobu did not delay in seizing the opportunity, persuading the leaders of the Honganji temple, which controlled the provinces of Kaga and Eccsu, to attack Echigo in Kenshin”s absence. In the meantime, Takeda Harunobu made preparations to continue the fighting: he had a fortress built on the plain of Kavanakajima to support further campaigns, this was Fort Kaizu.In June 1561, Uesugi Kenshin returned from Kanto and immediately set about concentrating all his military forces to strike the Takeda. His army left Ecsigo in August and marched straight to the plains of Kavanaghadza. On hearing of the impending threat, Takeda Harunobu (known by his monastic name of Singen since 1559) also rallied to the aid of the beleaguered Kaizu fortress.The two armies clashed on 10 September 1561, the 4th Battle of Kavanaghojima, the bloodiest of all. The Uesugi camp was originally on Mount Saizho, from where Kenshin had taken the army across the river under cover of night, making a surprise attack at dawn on the Takeda on the Jahata plain. The battle began in a very unfavourable way for the Takeda, with the deaths of Takeda Nobusige, Singen”s brother, and a number of prominent generals. However, the Takeda corps, which had been sent against the Uesugi camp during the night, descended from the meanwhile evacuated Mount Saizho onto the plain and flanked the Uesugi at the critical moment. The two armies finally retreated, both chief commanders feeling themselves victorious. However, researchers point out that, when rewarded after the battle, Uesugi Kenshin merely handed out commendation certificates to his officers, while Takeda Singen awarded his soldiers who had performed outstandingly in the battle with valuable land donations – suggesting that the real victory was Takeda”s.

In 1562, Takeda conquered the western part of Kōzuke Province together with Hōjō Ujiyasu, an ally of Singen, and captured several castles belonging to the Uesugi in an attempt to reduce the influence of the Kenshin Kōzūs of Uesugi.1563- In 15153, the Takeda-Hojjo army launched a general attack on the Uesugi strongholds, to which Kenshin responded the following year with a campaign against Kanto.In 1564, Singen mobilized his allies and sent them north against Etsigo, while he led his troops from Kavanaka Jima towards the Uesugi centre of Asukayama. In March, he crossed the border of Sinano and Ecsigo, burning the Ecsigo villages one by one. However, Uesugi Kenshin, returning in haste from Kanto, repulsed the forces attacking from the north and then thwarted Singen”s plans by retaking several fortresses previously held by the Takeda.In August, Kenshin pushed his army as far as the Kavanakajima Plain, and Singen soon arrived in response, setting up camp near Fort Siozaki. The two armies faced each other for sixty days – Singen showed no inclination for open battle, and Kenshin, seeing that the area was now essentially under Takeda control, refused to risk a general attack.In October, after receiving disturbing news of the Beaver”s movements, Kenshin, entrusting his troops on the plain to the command of a general, returned to Asukayama. Thus ended the 5th and final battle of Kavanagh Jima, with Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen never again meeting on the battlefield.

Takeda Singen”s alliance policy was to reach an agreement with the Hojos and the Imagavas, thus securing his backing for the conquest of Sinano. The western part of Kōsuke Province was largely in Uesugi alliance, making it a possible direction of expansion for the House of Takeda, at war with Kensin. Uesugi Kenshin was able to hold his opponent at bay for a long time, preventing an effective Takeda attack on Kōzuke, but with the fighting in Kavanaghojima subsiding, Singen”s attention turned back in that direction.

In 1665, he sent the Eccsau rebels, who were on good terms with him, against Kensin”s estates, thus cutting off his forces, and led the campaign against the Western Kossuke. Without the help of Uesugi Kenshin, the daimyo there were unable to resist for long, and by February 1666 West Kosuke had fallen to Takeda.In 1667 Singen captured the last strongholds still defying his authority, and by the end of the year had organised the distribution of the occupied part of Kosuke among his own men, and assessed the land and levied the taxes due to him.

After Imagava Josimoto”s defeat at the Battle of Okehadama in 1560, the House of Imagava, which ruled the provinces of Suruga and Toto Tomi, experienced a period of crisis. The leadership of the house eventually fell into the hands of Imagava Ujijzane, whose power, however, was only a shadow of what Josimoto had yet to show. However, his eldest son and heir, Takeda Josinobu, who had close ties with the Imagavas (Imagava Josimoto was his daughter and wife), was strongly opposed to any plans against them, and the Takeda family did not attempt any conquest in the south for a long time. His wife was sent back to her family at the Imagava headquarters in Sunpu – from then on, relations between the two houses became strained, with the Imagavas also halting shipments of salt from the sea to Kai via their own territories.1568- In 15158, Singen sent envoys to the Tokugawa Ieyasu, who had become lord of the Mikava province, and the two daimyo agreed on the division of the Imagava lands, the Tokugawas claiming Tothomi and the Takeda claiming Suruga. Singen tried to implement the tried and tested tactic again: he incited an Uesugi vassal, Honzho Sigenaga, to rebel in Ecsigo, in order to keep Uesugi Kenshin busy during the campaign. Kenshin acted quickly, however, and Sigenaga was soon trapped in his castle, leaving Singen with no choice but to abandon his southern campaign and rush to his aid.The attack on Suruga could not take place until early 1569. Although Ujijane wanted to face the Takeda army that had invaded the province in open battle, Singen had lured so many Imagava leaders to his side that Ujijane could not fight and had to retreat to Sunpu, but soon had to flee from there as well. At the same time as the Takeda”s action, Tokugava Ieyasu also invaded Toto Tomi Province as agreed, pressing the already troubled Imagava Ujzian troops from the west. It was at this time that a Takeda general, Akijama Nobutomo, led his army into Totoomi and even engaged several Tokugava troops. Ieyasu was extremely outraged at this breach of treaty, and the alliance between the Takeda and Tokugava was then broken.Ieyasu quickly adapted to the new situation, making alliances with both the Hojos and the Uesugis, and offering to support the fleeing Imagava Ujizane in retaking Sunpu in exchange for a share of the Tokyomish territory. Singen, seeing the strength of the anti-Takeda alliance, had no choice but to retreat in April, surrendering Sunpu to the Hodjo-Tokugava army. In May, Imagava Ujijane surrendered to Hojjo Ujimasa, who assured him of his protection.

In the summer of 1569, Takeda Singen launched a general attack against his now multiplying opponents for the possession of Suruga. In order to weaken the Hojō, he invaded Izu Province, and one of his forces routed the army of Hojō Ujinori (the daimyo, Ujimasa”s brother). Another of his columns entered Kosuke and laid siege to a Hodjo stronghold. His main force made its way to Musashi province, and in October joined forces with reinforcements from Kai to attack Odavara itself, the Beaver centre – the Beavers used the same defensive tactics that had worked against Uesugi Kenshin and barricaded themselves inside the fortress. Singen soon abandoned the siege and retreated, and the Hodjo army withdrew from the fortress and attacked the Takeda, but Singen”s army proved to be very strong even on the defensive, and the Hodjo suffered heavy losses in the battle of the Mimasze Gorge. Singen retreated to Kai for a time, but the following year found him back in the field: in January 1570 he renewed the attack on Suruga, in May he engaged the armies of Ujzimasa and his son Ujinao, and in May he captured several fortresses in Izu and Suruga provinces. In early 1571 he secured his hold on Suruga with another successful siege.

In early 1572, he unexpectedly marched against Tothomi, and in March he stormed the castle of Takatendjin, but failed to take it. The province of Totomi was within the sphere of influence of Tokugawa Ieyasu, whom Singen clearly saw as his next opponent (meanwhile, a succession crisis had broken out in the House of Hodjo, so he did not have to reckon with them for a while). Together with his son, the newly appointed heir Takeda Katsujori, he led a campaign against the Tokugawa”s home province of Mikava, ravaging the eastern part of the province, capturing several fortresses and supplying his own garrison, and retreated to Kai in May.

Takeda Singen had already had good relations with the rebellion led by the Jodhōshin Buddhist sect during the campaigns against Uesugi Kenshin, and he tried to use this relationship against Oda Nobunaga. Concerned about Nobunaga”s growing power, he secretly helped the Honganji temple in Osaka, one of the biggest obstacles to Nobunaga”s success.When the relationship between the shogun, Asikaga Josiaki, and Oda Nobunaga became hostile in the autumn of 1572, Josiaki sought the Takeda”s support. Uesugi Kenshin had been engaged in a protracted war with the Echizen rebels, so his northern borders were secure (this, of course, did not prevent Singen from taking advantage of the situation to seize some of the Uesugi castles near the border) and he had time to work on an anti-Oda alliance. Asikaga assured Josiaki of his support, assisted the Honganji, formed an alliance with the Asakura of Etsichen, the Azai houses of Omi, the daimyo Kitabatake of Issei, and the Macunaga of Yamato after joining the Oda, forming a powerful alliance encircling the Oda territories. Oda Nobunaga”s power was in serious danger.

And Nobunaga”s only eastern ally, Tokugawa Ieyasu”s holdings were in the way of the Takeda”s expansion. In August 1572, he launched a larger campaign than ever against Toto Tome, with his generals Jamagata Maszakage Mikava and Akijama Nobutomo attacking the eastern part of Mino (the former being the Tokugava and the latter the Oda) under Singen”s command. After capturing several strongholds, Singen made it clear that he wanted to finish off Tokugawa Ieyasu once and for all: in November he crossed the Tenryu River and marched straight to its centre, Hamamacu. His army included 2,000 soldiers of his ally, Hojjo Ujimasa, and he led a huge army of some 27,000 men against Tokugawa. Even with the help of Nobunaga”s auxiliaries, Ieyasu”s army numbered only about 11,000 soldiers. Although many of his generals advised him to barricade himself in the castle, Ieyasu decided to meet Takeda”s army in open battle. The battle took place on the plains of Mikatagahara on 22 December (25 January 1573 in Western Standard Time), and although the Tokugawa troops fought valiantly, eventually collapsing under the Takeda force, Singen won a great victory, with Ieyasu barely able to run back to his castle.This victory contributed greatly to Takeda Singen”s later reputation as the only general to defeat Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Takeda Singen did not continue his advance after the victory at Mikatagahara because of the winter, but prepared his army for the winter.In early 1573 he surrounded Noda Castle, which he captured after a month”s siege, and at the end of February he left the area, marching to Nagasino Castle. Singen”s activities also had a great impact on events in the central part of the country, and Oda Nobunaga, who had led a campaign against the Asakura and Aza, was forced to abandon it by the attack of Akijama Nobutomo, sent by Singen to Mino, and the uprising that broke out in his wake, and retreated to Gifu. However, the anti-Oda alliance failed to take advantage of the favourable situation, as Asakura Josikage Nobunaga, seeing the retreat of his army, withdrew himself and refused to rejoin the war despite repeated appeals from Singen. However, Azai Nagamasa continued to fight, the shogun Asikaga Josiaki was determined to continue the fight against Nobunaga, and the Honganji were also up in arms.Takeda Singen, however, had already fallen ill under Noda Castle, and the retreat to Nagasino did not help.His condition steadily worsened, so he stopped his preparations for war and headed for his own headquarters in Kofu. On the return journey, he died on 12 April (13 May, Western Standard Time). He was 53 years old. His death has been attributed to several causes, with Kurosawa Akira”s film The Shadow Rider attributing the later fatal wound to a Noda musket sniper.

Sources

  1. Takeda Singen
  2. Takeda Shingen
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