The Takeda clan (武田氏 Takeda-shi ) was a Japanese clan active from the late Heian Period (794 – 1185) until the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate in 1603. The clan was historically based in Kai Province in present-day Yamanashi Prefecture.
- Four diamonds (pictured)
- Four diamonds surrounded by a solid ring
- Two cranes bowing their heads together
- A centipede
- Hanabishi (three vertical flowers)
- The Tai (大) character
The Takeda were descendants of Emperor Seiwa (850-880) and are a branch of the Minamoto clan (Seiwa Genji), by Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (1056–1127), brother to the Chinjufu-shogun Minamoto no Yoshiie (1039–1106). Minamoto no Yoshikiyo (1075? – 1149?), son of Yoshimitsu, was the first to take the name of Takeda.
Kamakura to early Azuchi–Momoyama periods
In the 12th century, at the end of the Heian period, the Takeda family controlled Kai Province. Along with a number of other families, they aided their cousin Minamoto no Yoritomo against the Taira clan in the Genpei War. When Minamoto no Yoritomo was first defeated at Ishibashiyama (1181), Takeda Nobuyoshi was applied for help and the Takeda sent an army of 20,000 men to support Yoritomo. Takeda Nobumitsu (1162–1248), helped the Hōjō during the Shokyu War (1221) and in reward received the governorship of Aki Province. Until the Sengoku period, the Takeda were shugo of Kai, Aki and Wakasa provinces.
Immediately prior to the Sengoku period, the Takeda helped to suppress the Rebellion of Uesugi Zenshū (1416 – 1417). Uesugi Zenshū (? – 1417) was the kanrei chief advisor to Ashikaga Mochiuji, an enemy of the central Ashikaga shogunate and the Kantō kubō governor-general of the Kantō Region. Mochiuji, lord of the Uesugi clan, made a reprisal against the Takeda clan in 1415. This reprisal began a rivalry between the Uesugi and Takeda clans which would last roughly 150 years until the destruction of the Takeda clan at the end of the Sengoku period.
Takeda Harunobu (1467 – 1568) succeeded his father Nobutora in 1540 and became shugo lord of Kai Province in present-day Yamanashi Prefecture. In this period the Takeda began to quickly expand from their base in Kai Province. In 1559, Harunobu changed his name to the better-known Takeda Shingen. He faced the Hōjō clan a number of times, and most of his expansion was to the north, where he fought his most famous battles against Uesugi Kenshin. This series of regional skirmishes is known as the Battles of Kawanakajima. The battles began in 1553, and the best known and severest among them was fought on September 10, 1561.
Shingen is famous for his tactical genius, and innovations, though some historians have argued that his tactics were not particularly impressive nor revolutionary. Nevertheless, Shingen is perhaps most famous for his use of the cavalry charge. Up until the mid-16th century and Shingen's rise to power, mounted samurai were primarily archers. There was already a trend at this time towards larger infantry-based armies, including a large number of foot archers. In order to defeat these missile troops, Shingen transformed his samurai from archers to lancers. Shingen used the cavalry charge to devastating effect at the Battle of Mikatagahara in 1572. The strength of Shingen's new tactic became so famous that the Takeda army came to be known as the kiba gundan (騎馬軍団), or 'mounted army.'
Decline of the Takeda clan
Shingen died in on May 13, 1573 at age 53 from illness. His less tactically talented son Takeda Katsuyori (1546 – 1582) succeeded Shingen and was defeated in the Battle of Nagashino in 1575 by Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga succeeded in eliminating the heirs of the Takeda clan after the Battle of Nagashino. The clan was effectively eliminated, although descendants of the Takeda clan would take prominent positions in the Tokugawa shogunate, established in 1603.
Takeda is also a fairly common family name in modern Japan, though it is unlikely that everyone with the Takeda name is descended from this noble house (several divisions of the family have the Takeda name).
In fact, most of the real descendants of the Takeda had a different name when they created a cadet branch. During the Tokugawa period, several daimyō families were direct descendants of the Takeda.
In 1868, these daimyō families were :
- The Matsumae, descendants of Takeda Kuninobu, were daimyō of Matsumae, the only feudal fief (han) of Hokkaidō.
- The Nambu, descendants of Takeda Mitsuyuki, great-grandson of Takeda Yoshikiyo (+ 1163), established himself at Nambu (Kai Province) and took that name. The Nambu were daimyō of Morioka, of Shichinohe and Hachinohe (Mutsu Province).
- The Yanagisawa, descendants of Takeda Nobuyoshi, were daimyō of Kōriyama (Yamato Province), of Kurokawa and Mikkaichi (Echigo Province).
- The Gotō, descendants of Takeda Nobuhiro, were daimyō of Gotō (the Gotō Islands in Hizen Province).
- The Ogasawara are also a cadet branch of the Takeda, by Takeda Nagakiyo (1162–1242), great-grandson of Takeda Yoshikiyo (+ 1163), and the first to take the name of Ogasawara. His descendants were shugo (governors) of Shinano and Hida Provinces, and during the 16th century were at war with their ancient Takeda cousins. In 1868, they were daimyō of Kokura, of Chikuza (Buzen Province), of Ashi (Harima Province), of Karatsu (Hizen Province), and of Katsuyama (Echizen Province).
- The Miyako Todomaru (Tsuru) who lived in Kai Province, but through war were eventually moved to Usa -machi, Kyushu.
- Two branches named Takeda were ranked among the Kōke (the High Families). This title was given to descendants of great dispossessed daimyō such as the Takeda, Hatakeyama, Imagawa, Oda, and Ōtomo clans. They received a pension from the shogunate, and had privileged missions confided to them.
Three major branches of the Takeda clan were established across Japan along with other smaller branches. Due to the establishment of cadet branches, the main Takeda clan in Kai Province is also referred to as the Kai Tekeda clan. All the cadet branches of the Takeda clan were ended shortly after the defeat of the Kai Takeda clan by Oda Nobunaga.
The Aki Takeda clan, established in Aki Province in the present-day western part of Hiroshima Prefecture.
The Wakasa Takeda clan was established in Wakasa Province in present-day southern Fukui Prefecture in approximately 1440. The Wakasa were an offshoot of the Aki Takeda clan. The Wakasa Takeda were known for their patronage of the arts and developing the Takeda school of military etiquette.
The Kazusa Takeda clan, established at the beginning of the Sengoku period in Kazusa Province in the present-day central area of Chiba Prefecture. Along with the Satomi clan of Awa Province in the southern part of present-day Chiba Prefecture the two clan replaced the dominance of the Chiba clan in the region. The Kazusa Takeda are also known as the Mariyatsu Takeda, a reference to their base of power, Mariyatsu Castle.
The Kōshū Hatto, composed at some point in the 15th century, is the code of law of the Takeda family, while the Kōyō Gunkan, composed largely by Kōsaka Masanobu in the mid-16th century, is an epic poem recording the family's history and Shingen's innovations in military tactics.
Important members of the Takeda family
- Takeda Nobutora - Shingen's father.
- Takeda Shingen - one of Japan's most famous warlords, Shingen expanded his domains greatly, and became one of the major powers in the country for a time.
- Takeda Katsuyori - Shingen's son, Katsuyori commanded his father's armies after his death, and saw the fall of the Takeda family.
- Takeda Nobushige - Shingen's younger brother, held their father's favour to be heir of the clan, continued to support his older brother throughout his life, he also wrote the Kyūjūkyū Kakun, a set of 99 short rules for Takeda house members.
- Sōkaku Takeda (1859 – 1943)) was the founder of the Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu school of jūjutsu, and the first to teach the art outside of the Takeda family.
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