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Takeda Katsuyori: A Sengoku Loser

Posted January 5th, 2011 at 02:41 PM by leakbrewergator

As you can tell from the title, Takeda Katsuyori is not one of my favorite individuals in Japanese history. It's not that often that you come across someone who has the ability to single handily destroy one of the more powerful clans in Japan. (I know there is an argument that it is not entirely his fault, but I still place the blame squarely on him.)

At the time of Takeda Shingen's death and the ascension of Katsuyori to the head of the clan, the Takeda were an extremely powerful family. In fact, one can make an argument that they were the only clan powerful enough to stand in the way of Oda Nobunaga and his quest for power. However, within 2 years of his rise to leadership, Katsuyori and the Takeda were no longer a figure in Japan politically or militarily.

The reason for this lies within Katsuyori's actions in 1575.

After failing to capture Yoshida Castle from a much smaller Tokugawa force, Katsuyori decided to set his sights on rival Okudaira Sadamasa and Nagashino Castle. Despite the small numbers of the Okudaira at Nagashino, they were firmly supported by their Tokugawa and Oda allies.

Katsuyori decided to meet with his top retainers to discuss the plan of action. Despite pleas from the older guard of the Takeda generals to retreat back home, Katsuyori set his mind on storming at Nagashino and capturing the castle.

Click the image to open in full size.

You think it would be wise to listen to the men that had the most military experience, wouldn't you? Not only did Katsuyori not listen to his father's loyal retainers, but he did the exact opposite of their recommendation. Katsuyori decided to stage an attack against a force that was easily twice the size of his.

What followed is what is perhaps one of the bloodier
routs in Japanese history. The Takeda were roundly defeated and nearly the entire rank of generals was depleted from Katsuyori's army. Some of the notable Takeda retainers that were KIA:

Baba Nobuharu

Yamagata Masakage
Hara Masatane
Sanada Nobutsuna
Takeda Nobuzane

That's virtually a who's who of warriors within the Takeda clan and perhaps throughout Japan. All were killed because of Katsuyori's (wrong) decision.

Katsuyori, on the other hand, survived. He managed to live for another 7 years doing what he did best and losing battles at Takatenjin (1581) and Temmokuzan (1582). He was forced to commit suicide after the latter.
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  1. Old Comment
    Thegn Ansgar's Avatar
    To be fair to Katsuyori, he did something that even his father could not. He captured Takatenjin in 1574, so I can give him some degree of feeling like he could win at Nagashino.

    I think the biggest problem with Katsuyori is that during his reign he had built a significant number of castles, and decided to place his trust in them, rather than the people and generals that his father had done prior.

    Him siding with Uesugi Kagekatsu didn't help his relations with the Hojo either.
    Posted January 5th, 2011 at 06:04 PM by Thegn Ansgar Thegn Ansgar is offline
  2. Old Comment
    leakbrewergator's Avatar
    It is true that Katsuyori was able to capture Takatenjin. However, he had the advantage of facing a Tokugawa army that still hadn't fully recovered from their defeat to Shingen at Mikatagahara.
    Posted January 6th, 2011 at 05:40 AM by leakbrewergator leakbrewergator is offline

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