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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Hojo Ujimasa and Takeda Shingen



Descended (sixteenth generation) from Minamoto Yoshimitsu, Takeda Harunobu (1521-1573) took the field against his father, who had planned to disinherit him in favour of his younger brother. Gaining the victory, Harunobu came into control of the province of Kai, which had long been the seat of the Takeda family. This daimyo, commonly spoken of as Takeda Shingen, the latter being the name he took on receiving the tonsure, ranks among Japan's six great captains of the sixteenth century, the roll reading thus:

Takeda Shingen (1521-1573)

Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578)

Hojo Ujimasa (1538-1590)

Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582)

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598)

Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616)

The second of the above, Uesugi Kenshin, was not member of the great Uesugi family which took such an important part in the affairs of the Kwanto. He belonged to the Nagao, which originally stood in a relation of vassalage to the Yamanouchi branch of the Uesugi in Echigo, and his father attained an independent position. Kagetora, as Kenshin was called in his youth, found himself engaged in his twenty-first year in a contest with his elder brother, whom he killed, and, by way of

penance for the fratricide, he took the tonsure under the name of Kenshin and would have retired from the world had not his generals insisted on his remaining in command. It was at this time that Kenshin became a member of the Uesugi sept. In 1505, the two branches of the Kwanto Uesugi joined hands against their common enemy, Hojo Soun, and from that time the contest was continued until 1551, when Ujiyasu, grandson of Soun, drove Uesugi Norimasa from his castle of Hirai in Kotsuke. The vanquished general fled to Echigo to seek succour from his family's old-time vassal, Nagao Kagetora, already renowned under the name of Kenshin. Norimasa bestowed the office of kwanryo as well as the uji of Uesugi on Kenshin, who thenceforth became known as Uesugi Kenshin, and who thus constituted himself the foe of the Hojo. At a somewhat earlier date, Kenshin had been similarly supplicated by Murakami Yoshikiyo, whose castle was at Kuzuo in Shinano, whence he had been driven by Takeda Shingen.


It thus fell out that Uesugi Kenshin had for enemies the two captains of highest renown in his era, Hojo Ujimasa and Takeda Shingen. This order of antagonism had far-reaching effects. For Kenshin's ambition was to become master of the whole Kwanto, under pretence of re-establishing the original Uesugi, but his expansion southward from Echigo was barred by Shingen in Shinano and Kai, and his expansion eastward by the Hojo in Sagami and Musashi. The place of the struggle between Shingen-and Kenshin was Kawanaka-jima, an arena often pictured by artists of later generations and viewed to-day by pilgrims to the venerable temple, Zenko-ji. There the two generals, recognized as the two greatest strategists of that epoch, met four times in fierce strife, and though a Japanese historian compares the struggle to the eruption of volcanoes or the blowing of gales of blood, victory never rested on either standard.


Peace having been at length restored for a moment, in 1558, Kenshin visited Kyoto in the following year. There he was received with distinction. The Emperor--Okimachi--bestowed on him a sword, and the

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