One of the most distinguished Daimyo in feudal Japan is Takeda Shingen. He was from the Kai Province and was best known for having extraordinary military prestige in the late stage of the Sengoku Period.
When he celebrated his transition from child to man, he was given the formal name Harunobu. He was also given another name which was gifted to him by a higher-ranking warrior, it was the name Ashikaga Yoshiharu. Being given such a character other than his real name is an honor.
As for the Takeda clan’s logo, it was known as Takeda Bishi. It comprised of four diamonds that formed a single large diamond. Even in today’s standards this logo stands out due to its uniqueness.
Takeda Shingen Early Childhood
Takeda Shingen was born in 1521. As a child, he was named Katsuchiyo but was sometimes called Yomei; he was also referred to by his other name, Takeda Harunobu.
Shingen was the eldest son of a militant warlord and father, Takeda Nobutora, who has secured the position of the Takeda in Kai.
At the young age of 15, he was instrumental in helping his father win the Battle of Un No Kuchi. Yet the young man decided to rebel against Nobutora at age 19, and had successfully taken control of the clan.
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Favoritism within the Family
Events that led to the change in leadership of the clan was said to be a result of seeing his brother favored by his father. The end result was that his father was forced to retire early by Shingen and his supporters.
He was exiled to the Suruga Province, and was kept in custody. Nobutora was closely guarded by the Imagawa Clan under his son-in-law Imagawa Yoshimoto, the Daimyo of Suruga Province.
Because of the success of this bloodless coup, the two clans formed an alliance between the Imagawa and the Takeda clans. A pact was also established between Shingen and Tokugawa to divide the remaining Imagawa lands.
Hojo Clan Clash
The Hojo clan of Sagami did not approve of the balance of power, thus, sent troops to go against Shingen. The clan was successful in defying him, yet after a year of successfully invading Sagami, he was able to attack Odawara which was the capital of Hojo back then.
There was an attempt to fight Shingen once more; however, this final threat from the Hojo clan was beaten through an ambush at Mimasetoge.
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Takeda Shingen: Expanding His Wings
The first act of Takeda Shingen was to take control of the area surrounding him; yet his primary goal was to conquer Shinano Province. Being on the defensive, the major warlords in the Shinano region marched towards the border of Kai Province.
They had high hopes of subduing the power of the young Shingen before he had the chance to expand into their lands. However, the group was surprised when the Takeda forces suddenly appeared and came down on them.
This is what Japanese historians refer to as the Battle of Sezawa. The confusion only made it easier for Shingen to remain as the victor.
Unprecedented Victories of Takeda Shingen
His victories that started during the Battle of Sezawa was what propelled Takeda Shingen to set the stage for another feather to add to his cap. This was when he successfully conquered the enemies during the Siege of Uehara.
He may have been young, but Shingen continued to advance into the region. He was able to conquer the Suwa headquarters during the Siege of Kuwabara and captured Kuwabara castle.
Shingen won yet again when he took Uchiyama in the Battle of Odaihara. It was during the next battle that he lost two of his generals; however, Shingen was able to bounce back to avenge his loss, and successfully defeated the Murakami clan during the Siege of Toishi. Here, he was able to carry out his revenge on the clan.
Legendary Battle Between the Tiger and Dragon
Another victory took place when Shingen defeated Ogasawara Nagatoki during the Battle of Shiojiritoge. Then after he conquered the Shinano Province, Shingen was able to face one of his most formidable rivals, Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo.
The feud between these two was considered legendary, and they have faced multiple times during the Battle of Kawanakajima. these were approximately five minor feuds where neither one wanted to go with a single one-on-one combat.
Descendants of Minamoto Clan
Takeda and Ashikaga are both descendants of Minamoto Clan. From a technical point of view, Harunobu has borne the surname Minamoto.
He chose to live the life of Buddhism following his master and was given the name Shingen. Even if he was given that specific name, he was known formally as Harunobu throughout the rest of his life. He was even known as the Tiger of Kai.
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Takeda Shingen: Excellence on the Battlefield
His accomplishments in the battlefield gave him the name The Tiger of Kai. This nickname was just right for the image that he wanted to project towards his enemies.
His nemesis, Uesugi Kenshin, was called The Dragon of Echigo or The God of War. These rivals have made it a habit to be engaged in battle several times at Kawanakajima.
In Chinese mythology, these two were bitter rivals who were always at each other’s throat. Despite the number of times they battled, these always resulted as a draw.
Creative Innovations Of Takeda Shingen
Takeda Shingen may have been known for being aggressive in battle, but he was able to introduce a number of ingenious ways to administer tax, new systems of law and taxation in the government.
Later on, the concept was mimicked by Tokugawa Ieyasu. One of the largest innovative projects he was responsible for was the dam to the Fuji River. This was said to be Shingen’s greatest historical achievements.
This huge endeavor has benefits that outperformed his other achievements in life whether it was military and political in nature.
He was also known for his civil administration and public works; his laws that governed criminal and civil laws were considered to be worthy of emulation. His policies even inspired those of his enemies.
Takeda Shingen: Threats against His Life
At some point in his life, Takeda Shingen suffered two major setbacks. He was able to uncover plots to take his life which were threats from Katanuma Nobumoto who was his cousin.
This first provocation resulted to the death of Katanuma by ritualistic suicide. The second plot was more disappointing since it involved his own son, Takeda Yoshinobu.
There, he had his son confined to the Tokoji. After two years, Yoshinobu met his death; it is still debatable whether this was from natural causes or ordered by his father.
In 1988, a Japanese series depicting the life of Takeda Shingen was shown on television. However, according to statistics from the 26th NHK ratings, the series has received 39.2% rating for the entire time that it run its course.
This is much higher than the average ratings that were given during the same period for Taiga Dramas. The statistical rating was taken from January 1988 until December 1988 covering a year.
The Taiga drama is the name given by NHK to its annual year-long historical drama series broadcasted in Japan. The Taiga drama started in 1963 when television was still black and white.
Takeda Shingen: Towards the End of His Life
By 1570, Takeda Shingen was able to dominate Kai, Shinano, Suruga and parts of Kozuke, Totomi and Hida. At this stage of his life, Shingen was age only 49 years of age.
He was, at this time, the most popular daimyo from the east of Mino. He was also known for being the power that could beat Oda Nobunaga.
Oda Nobunaga and the Takeda clan tried to abort an attempt at a diplomatic alliance intended to check the power of Uesugi. In the Battle of Mikatagahara, Shingen was able to defeat a small army of Ieyasu and Nobunaga.
This was one of the well-known battles in Shingen’s campaigns where his great cavalry-based tactics were demonstrated. This was also the battle where Tokugawa Ieyasu found his worst defeat.
Generally, it was a test of whether he could defeat the enemy or not using his battle strategies and ideas. At this point, he decided to refrain from attacking Oda Nobunaga. Instead, he chose to return to Kai.
Siege of Noda Castle
The Siege of Noda Castle occurred in the year 1573 between the Takeda and Tokugawa forces. It was also one of the final battles included in Shingen’s long career as a warrior.
Encouraged by his victory during the Battle of Mikatagahara, Shigen opted to move further to the Mikawa Province, hoping to open a route to the capital of Kyoto.
He led a combination of infantry and cavalry men towards Mikawa, despite being opposed by defenders coming from Noda Castle. This was led by Suganuma Sadamichi. Shingen was highly confident in his strength and number, thus, was able to take the castle with ease.
After the surrender of Noda Castle, the forces of Tokugawa retreated throughout Mikawa. Although Tokugawa’s stronghold in Okazaki Castle was also threatened, Takeda Shingen died in March of 1573.
His cause of death was still unknown yet there are claims that he either died of illness or due to a wound that he sustained during the Battle of Noda Castle.