The Battle of Mikatagahara occurred during Japan's Sengoku period and pitted Takeda Shingen against Tokugawa Ieyasu. This clash took place on January 25, 1573, in Mikatagahara, Tōtōmi Province. Shingen launched an assault on Ieyasu's forces in the Mikatagahara plains, north of Hamamatsu. This engagement happened within the context of Shingen's campaign against Oda Nobunaga, as he sought a passage from Kōfu to Kyoto.

In October 1572, Takeda Shingen, having secured alliances with the Later Hōjō clan of Odawara and the Satomi clan of Awa, and having waited for snow to block northern routes against his rival Uesugi Kenshin, led 30,000 troops from Kōfu into Tōtōmi Province. Simultaneously, Yamagata Masakage led 5,000 soldiers into Mikawa Province, swiftly capturing Yoshida Castle and Futamata Castle.

Facing Shingen's advance was Tokugawa Ieyasu, who commanded 8,000 soldiers from Hamamatsu Castle, bolstered by 3,000 reinforcements from Oda Nobunaga. Shingen's aim was not to directly engage Ieyasu or seize Hamamatsu, but rather to conserve his forces for a clash with Nobunaga and a subsequent march to Kyoto.

Despite advice to let the Takeda forces pass, Ieyasu positioned his troops on the elevated Mikatagahara plain north of Hamamatsu. Shingen's troops outnumbered Ieyasu's by three-to-one, and he arranged them in a formation meant to provoke an attack.

As snow fell around 4 PM, Tokugawa's arquebusiers and peasant stone-throwers opened fire on the Takeda formation. Firearms, relatively new in Japanese warfare, were effective against cavalry charges. However, Naitō Masatoyo's vanguard cavalry swiftly overran Tokugawa's right, leading to the collapse of Tokugawa's forces.

Takeda's cavalry exploited this advantage, attacking Oda's reinforcements and charging Tokugawa's rear. Oda's troops were overwhelmed, with key officers killed or fleeing. Although Tokugawa's left resisted encirclement, the center was pushed into a disorderly retreat.


Shingen rested his vanguard and introduced fresh cavalry from the main force. A two-pronged cavalry charge followed, weakening Tokugawa's line. The footsoldier-heavy Takeda main force then drove Tokugawa's battered army into retreat.

Ieyasu attempted to rally his troops but eventually retreated, leaving behind only a few loyal followers. As Ieyasu returned to Hamamatsu Castle, the town was on edge due to rumors of the battle's outcome.

Despite the chaos, Ieyasu ordered the castle gates to remain open and signaled his retreating troops with braziers. In the night, a small Tokugawa force launched a surprise attack on the Takeda camp, causing confusion. Uncertain about Tokugawa's remaining strength and the potential for reinforcements, Shingen withdrew his forces.

The Battle of Mikatagahara showcased Takeda Shingen's skilled cavalry tactics and dealt Tokugawa Ieyasu a significant defeat. While Ieyasu narrowly escaped, the battle resulted in the near-destruction of his army. Shingen did not pursue further attacks on Hamamatsu, as he was later mortally wounded in another engagement and passed away in 1573.

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