Lifespan: Meiō 6 (1497) to 1/28 of Eiroku 7 (1564)
Title: Governor of Mino
Lord: Chiba Katsutane → Takeda Nobutora → Takeda Harunobu → Hōjō Ujiyasu → Takeda Harunobu
Father: Hara Tomotane
Siblings: Toratane, Kuwabara Jinsuke (a retainer of the Oda, died at the Battle of Okehazama)
Children: Yokota Yasukage, Moritane, Shigetane, daughter (wife of Hajikano Tadatsugu), daughter (wife of Obata Masamori)
Hara Toratane served as a bushō during the Sengoku period. Toratane first served as a retainer of Chiba Katsutane of the Chiba clan of Shimōsa Province, and, later, served as a retainer of the Kai-Takeda clan and as a general of the ashigaru, or foot soldiers. Toratane is a posthumous name and he is referred to as Nobutomo in historical accounts. He also held the title of Governor of Mino and, later, after undergoing the rites of tonsure, as Seigan. Toratane is counted among the Five Famed Retainers of the Takeda and as one of the Twenty-Four Generals of the Takeda. Other members of the Five Famed Retainers of the Takeda included Obata Toramori, Yokota Takatoshi, Tada Sanpachirō, and Yamamoto Kansuke.
In 1497, Toratane was born as the son of Hara Tomotane.
Toratane originated from the Usui-Hara clan, a member of the kunishū, or group of provincial landowners, that was a branch of the Chiba clan of Shimōsa Province. According to one theory, in 1513, Toratane was defeated by the army of Ashikaga Yoshiaki (the Oyumi kubō) in the Siege of Oyumi Castle. He lost his base at Oyumi Castle and fled with his father, Tomotane, to Kai Province, becoming retainers of Takeda Nobutora; however, the attack on Oyumi Castle by Ashikaga Yoshiaki may in fact have occurred in 1517, so there is an inconsistency with the historical facts.
Tomotane achieved meritorious results under Nobutora so Toratane received one of the characters in his name from his lord, Nobutora, and served as a commander of ashigaru, or foot soldiers. In 1521, at the Battle of Kai-Iidagawara, Toratane made contributions including the killing of Fukushima Masanari (the natural father of Hōjō Tsunanari).
After the ouster of Nobutora, he served Takeda Harunobu (Shingen). Toratane is generally included among the Twenty-Four Generals of the Takeda, and, further, as one of five senior commanders of the Takeda family known as the Takeda gomeishin. His son, Yasukage, was adopted by Yokota Takatoshi, another member of the five senior commanders.
Toratane participated in battles against the Ogasawara clan of Shinano and was heavily relied upon including to serve as the chamberlain of Hirase Castle. In 1553, Shingen insisted that Toratane convert from the tenets of the Jōdo-Shinshū sect with which he associated to the Nichiren sect, but he refused so, for a period of time, he was expelled from Kai. He turned to the Hōjō clan of Sagami Province for support, but returned to the service of the Takeda as a consequence of the Zentoku Temple Alliance. Thereafter, he continued as a commander in the Takeda army. Upon returning to service, Hōjō Ujiyasu indicated a reluctance to part with Toratane. In 1559, after Shingen underwent the rites of tonsure, Toratane followed suit and adopted the name of Seigan.
In 1561, during an assault on Warigatake Castle in Shinano Province, Toratane suffered injuries and he did not participate in the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima that occurred later that year. Thereafter, he pulled back from the battle front. On 1/28 of Eiroku 7 (1564), he died of illness at the age of sixty-eight.
When assigned as a new retainer of Nobutora, unlike Itagaki Nobukata and other provincial landowners, only Toratane had a favorable relationship with Nobutora. When Nobutora was ousted, Toratane was in Shinano, but after receiving the news, he quickly returned to Kai and adamantly protested the action to Nobukata and Amari Torayasu.
After his death, Baba Nobuharu inherited the title of Governor of Mino from Toratane. This also carried the meaning of the demon of Mino owing to his military fame.
Toratane was feared as the devil of Mino or demonic warrior of Mino, but there is a legend that he offered a shoulder to support an injured enemy commander and returned him to his base as an expression of his compassionate character.
Toratane was known for his skill in offensive actions, so the castles that he felled required minimal work to restore.
Obata Toramori was known as the tiger demon for his military prowess. His son, Obata Masamori, was also known for his bravery. Takeda Shingen arranged for Masamori to wed as his formal wife the daughter of Toratane, noting: “The daughter of a demon is appropriate for the son of a demon.”
The Hara family descended from Toratane keep as a family heirloom a gourd-shaped war fan that he received from Takeda Shingen over 400 years ago.