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Recognized as the Tiger of Kai, Takeda Shingen was not only a brilliant military strategist but also an innovator ahead of his time. From a young age, he showcased his prowess in battle, notably at the age of 15 during the Battle of Un no Kuchi in 1536. However, his greatest achievement came when he orchestrated a bloodless coup against his father to ascend as the undisputed leader of the Takeda clan.

Under Shingen's command, the Takeda forces engaged in a series of campaigns and sieges, including the renowned Battles of Kawanakajima against Uesugi Kenshin. One of his notable tactics was to position warriors clad in red lacquered armor at the forefront of his armies, a psychological strategy that struck fear into the hearts of his adversaries and was later emulated by the Ii clan.

Shingen's most significant contribution to warfare was his development of the cavalry charge. Recognizing the evolving battlefield dynamics with the rise of foot soldiers, he transformed his horsemen into lancers, forming the formidable Takeda Kiba Gundan. This cavalry charge tactic proved devastatingly effective, cementing Shingen's reputation as an indomitable force on the battlefield.

Legend has it that Shingen crafted the Shingen Tsuba, also known as the Takeda Tsuba, by wrapping brass wire around a large iron sukashi tsuba while awaiting battle. This ingenious method helped him maintain calmness and clarity of mind. Inspired by his example, many of his followers adopted similar tsuba designs, a tradition that endured into the Edo period.

Additionally, Shingen is attributed with the invention of the water flush toilet, demonstrating his concern for hygiene. Numerous monuments in and around Nagano Prefecture commemorate his use of these innovative facilities.

Furthermore, Shingen's contributions extended beyond warfare and sanitation. He oversaw the construction of the extensive Shingen Zutsumi dikes along the Kamanashi segments of the Fuji River, effectively preventing flooding and marking one of the most ambitious public works projects of the 16th century.

Despite his formidable reputation, Shingen's laws were known for their fairness. He replaced corporal punishment with financial fines for minor offenses, earning him admiration from the people of Kai Province. However, it's worth noting that he also employed two large iron cauldrons for executing certain criminals, a practice later abolished by Tokugawa Ieyasu due to its perceived cruelty.

Shingen's economic reforms were groundbreaking for his time. He implemented uniform taxation across most of his subjects and introduced the option of paying taxes in either gold or rice—a departure from the common practice of exempting powerful samurai families, shrines, and temples from taxes.

One of the most notable displays of Shingen's political acumen was evident after the defeat of his son, Katsuyori, when Ieyasu assumed control of Kai. Ieyasu retained many of Shingen's governance strategies, which later served as the blueprint for the Tokugawa Shogunate.

Shingen had territorial ambitions in Mikawa and Owari districts (now part of Aichi Prefecture). In 1571, a Takeda expeditionary force briefly seized Noda Castle, which belonged to the Okudaira clan, later known as the Tokugawa clan.

In 1573, Shingen launched another assault on Mikawa and Noda Castle. However, this time, the castle's defenses had been reinforced, leading to a prolonged siege. As the defenders resisted, Shingen was fatally shot by a matchlock marksman on May 13, 1573. Although efforts were made to rush him home to Kai, he reportedly passed away en route. His death at the age of 49 remained a closely guarded secret. The gun believed to have been used in the assassination is preserved at the Shitagahara Museum in Nagashino, Aichi Prefecture.

 


See also  

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    Yamamoto Kansuke, renowned as a samurai strategist and one of Takeda Shingen's esteemed 24 Generals, hailed from the Mikawa region, known for breeding formidable warriors. Despite physical challenges—blindness in one eye, lameness in one leg, and a malformed hand—Kansuke embarked on a warrior's pilgrimage in his twenties. Traveling across the land, he honed his skills in strategy, tactics, castle construction, and warfare, engaging in various swordsmanship schools and forms.

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  • Wakisaka Yasuharu

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  • Ukita Hideie

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    Ukita Hideie was born as the second son of Ukita Naoie, the ruler of Okayama Castle. Tragically, Hideie's father passed away when he was just nine years old, thrusting him into the responsibilities of leading the castle, clan, and domain. Prior to his father's demise, the Ukita clan had aligned with Oda Nobunaga. After Nobunaga's assassination during the Honno-ji Incident, Hideie remained loyal to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, whose ties were further solidified through marriage.

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