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Akiyama Nobutomo
Akiyama Nobutomo

Raging Bull of the Takeda

Born 1531
Died Dec 23, 1575 (Aged 44)
Place of birth Tsutsujigasaki Hall, Kai Province
Place of death Mino Province
Allegiance Takeda clan 武田氏
Battles/wars Ina District campaign
Siege of Iwamura Castle
Battle of Nagashino
Second Siege of Iwamura Castle

Father: Akiyama Nobutou

Wife: Lady Otsuya

Akiyama Nobutomo (秋山 信友?, 1531 – December 23, 1575) was a samurai during the Age of Warring States in Japan. He is known as one of the "Twenty-Four Generals of Takeda Shingen".[1] Nobutomo also served under Shingen's son, Takeda Katsuyori.

Early career

In 1531, Akiyama Nobutomo was born at Tsutsujigasaki Hall (躑躅ヶ崎館?) in Kai province. His father was Akiyama Nobutou, a member of a respected family in the service of the Takeda clan. When Nobutomo came of age, he entered into the service of Takeda Shingen, patriarch of the clan and lord of Kai province,[2] in the mountainous area of central Japan. In 1547, during the campaign for the Ina district, Nobutomo fought with excellence and was granted a fief in the northern half of Ina, present day Kamiina District in Nagano prefecture. Nobutomo continued his service, most often tasked in a defensive role and holding such castles as Takato Castle and Iida Castle. During this time, Nobutomo acquired the nickname Takeda no Mogyu (武田の猛牛?) (literally: Raging Bull of the Takeda Clan).

Height of career

By 1568, Nobutomo was esteemed enough to be entrusted with diplomatic duties. In that year, he was dispatched to Gifu Castle where he represented his lord, Takeda Shingen, at the wedding ceremony of Oda Nobutada, eldest son of Nobunaga, and Matsuhime, daughter of Shingen.[2]

In 1571, Takeda Shingen organized a campaign against Tokugawa Ieyasu, intent on taking the coastal lowlands of Tōtōmi province and pushing westward toward the fertile fields of Mikawa province.[2] Nobutomo was recalled from Iida Castle and ordered to lead an invasion of Mino province. His advance was checked by troops of the Saigo clan, led by Saigo Yoshikatsu. The two armies met at the Battle of Takehiro, and though Yoshikatsu was killed in action, Nobutomo was forced to retreat.[3]

In 1572, the Takeda organized another campaign against Mikawa province which would culminate in the Battle of Mikatagahara in January 1573. As Takeda Shingen drove south and west, Nobutomo would descend from the north, cutting off an escape route and blocking reinforcements. To accomplish this, Nobutomo laid siege to Iwamura Castle. When Toyama Kagetou, lord of Iwamura Castle, died of a sudden illness, the morale of the defending troops collapsed, and the Lady Toyama Otsuya (Kageto's widow and an aunt of Oda Nobunaga) entered into negotiations with Nobutomo. They agreed on a treaty, and under its terms the castle was surrendered without bloodshed, and Lady Toyama agreed to marry Nobutomo, thus securing his protection and the safety of the defending troops.[4] Also among the spoils was Gobomaru (御坊丸?), the biological son of Oda Nobunaga, adopted son of Kageto, who was then seven years old. Nobutomo sent him to Kai Province as a hostage; the boy would later become known as Oda Katsunaga. With the fulfillment of treaty stipulations, Nobutomo made Iwamura Castle his headquarters and a front-line defensive position from which he could support the Takeda.[4]

Final days

After the death of Takeda Shingen in the spring of 1573, Nobutomo continued to support his son, Takeda Katsuyori, in the prosecution of his campaigns.[5] In 1575, Katsuyori lost the Battle of Nagashino, a disaster for the Takeda clan[6] which left Nobutomo at Iwamura Castle without support. Under repeated siege by Oda Nobutada, the forces under Nobutomo managed to hold the castle until November when Nobunaga swept in with the main army. Nobutomo signed a truce to surrender the castle after realizing that he had no chance to hold out any longer. Unfortunately, Nobunaga broke the truce and ordered Nobutomo, his wife (Nobunaga's own aunt), and the troops of the castle garrison to be executed.[4] On December 23, 1575, Nobutomo and his wife, the Lady Otsuya, were crucified on the banks of the Nagara River.

Cultural references

Akiyama Nobutomo is portrayed in the children's novel The Samurai's Tale, by Erik Christian Haugaard.


  1. Internet Movie Database (IMDb), "Shingen Takeda (Character) from Kagemusha (1980); retrieved 2013-5-17.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co.. 
  3. Kobayashi, Sadayoshi; Makino, Noboru (1994) (in Japanese). 西郷氏興亡全史 [Complete History of the Rise and Fall of the Saigo Clan]. Tokyo: Rekishi Chosakenkyu-jo. pp. 372. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Hayashi, Tatsuhiro (2009). "岩村城 結婚受け入れた女城主" (in Japanese). 東海の古戦場をゆく. Asahi Shimbun Corporation. Retrieved 1 Jan 2011. 
  5. Shibatsuji, Shunroku; Hirayama, Masaru (2007) (in japanese). 武田勝頼のすべて [On Takeda Katsuyori]. Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha 新人物往来社. 
  6. Turnbull, Stephen (2000). Nagashino 1575: Slaughter at the Barricades. Oxford: Osprey Publishing. 

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