Posts Tagged ‘Sengoku Japan’

Who was Shingen Takeda?

Sunday, May 11th, 2014


Shingen Takeda was a very much revered leader during the Sengoku era of Japanese history. Shingen was tested early on as a young warlord when he engaged in fierce counter attacks against Terutora and Masatora of Echigo province. They engaged their armies five times in Kawanakajima, however none of the warlords though were willing to launch a full scale offensive on their opponent, thus most of these conflicts were carried out as controlled skirmishes. The most epic of the battles was the fourth one in which Shingen lost his brother. The battle was described as legendary because soldiers were said to clear the way through the enemy’s front line so that Shingen could engage in a face to face sword fight with Kenshin. The battle proved disastrous. The story is told of him ordering his cousin and young son to commit suicide after the defeat.

Following the harrowing defeat he pronounced his son Yoshinobu as his heir, however this never came to be. This is because his son opposed Shingen’s next move in attacking Saruga, where he had previously exiled his father to. The planned invasion went ahead following the mysterious death of his son, Yoshinobu. He succeeded in capturing the province and displacing the Imagawa clan in 1569. He then built a damn across Fuji River which gained him great popularity among his subjects. With renewed vigor, he led an army of over 30,000 men to conquer the Oda-Tokugawa alliance territories capturing the provinces of Totomi, Mino and Mikawa in 1572 in the process.

Shingen’s death came when he was about 49 years old, in 1573, under unclear circumstances. It is believed that he died of pneumonia at a camp in Mikawa province while pursuing Oda Nobunaga’s forces who were invading Japan then. However, some myths say he died of an old war wound while others believe he was assassinated by a sniper. His remains were placed inside of Erin Temple and his successor was his other son, Takeda Katyusori. His death was captured posthumously by the film “Kagemusha” directed by the famous Japanese movie director, Akira Kurosawa.

During his reign, Shingen Takeda managed to immortalize himself in Japan’s history by influencing many subsequent lords. This profound effect was felt through his unrivaled law, tax and administration systems. Despite his aggression towards enemies he is refuted for the fact that he was not as cruel compared to the other warlords of his time. He is remembered for his war slogan, “Wind, Fire, Forest, Mountain”. An art he learned from Sun Tzu, the master of war.

The legend of Shingen Takeda has been relived in a number of modern day films. These include “Heaven and Earth” and “Shingen the Ruler”. His life is further commemorated during the Takeda Shingen festival held every second weekend of April in Kofu (Japan). At the festival, which has been growing in popularity in recent times, there are a lot of Sengoku Japan merchandise put on display for purchase. For fans of Shingen Takeda, it is highly recommended to partake at the festival where you can experience the ruler like never before while being able to pick up some Sengoku period goodies at the same time.