Kawakubo Nobuzane


Kawakubo Clan


Kai Province

Lifespan:  15xx to 5/21 of Tenshō 3 (1575)

Other Names:  Takeda Nobuzane

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Hyōgo-no-suke

Clan:  Takeda → Kawakubo

Lord:  Takeda Shingen → Takeda Katsuyori

Father:  Takeda Nobutora

Siblings:  Takeda Takematsu, Takeda Shingen, Inuchiyo, Takeda Nobushige, Takeda Nobumoto (Nobutomo?), Takeda Nobukado, Takeda Nobuaki, Ichijō Nobutatsu, Sōchi, Matsuo Nobukore, Nobuzane, Takeda Nobutomo, Takeda Katsutora, Jōkei-in, Nanshōin-dono (wife of Anayama Nobutomo), Nene-goryōnin, Kekōin (wife of a member of the Urano clan), Kame-goryōnin (formal wife of Ōi Nobutame), sister (formal wife of Shimojō Nobuuji), sister (wife of Nezu Kamihira), sister (wife of a member of the Katsurayama clan), Kiku-goryōnin (wife of Imadegawa Harusue)

Children:  Nobutoshi, daughter (wife of Ogasawara Takeomi)

Kawakubo Nobuzane served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  He was a member of the Kai-Takeda clan – the younger half-brother of Takeda Shingen (born to a different mother).  He was included among the group of relatives.

Nobuzane was born as the son of Takeda Nobutora, the eighteenth head of the Kai-Takeda and sengoku daimyō of Kai Province.  He adopted the surname of Kawakubo named after the location where the clan owned land in the village of Kawakubo in Kai.  Nobuzane commanded 15 cavalry soldiers and a unit of 313 rōnin, or wandering samurai.  Nobuzane was in charge of defending the gateway from Karisaka in Musashi Province.  Later, he was assigned 200 mounted yoriki, or security officers.

In 1571, after the death of his older brother, Matsuo Nobukore, upon orders of Shingen, Nobuzane’s son, Kawakubo Nobutoshi wed the daughter of Nobukore and inherited the Matsuo family.  As a result, Nobuzane controlled the territory left behind by Nobukore of over 397 kan.  Upon inheriting the lands of the Matsuo, this amount is based on the oft-cited rules for military service owing to their value as historical sources of information.

Battle of Nagashino

In 1575, at the Battle of Nagashino, Nobuzane defended Tobinosu fortress from which to observe Nagashino Castle.  Therefore, he did not participate in the final showdown at Shitaragahara between the main division of Takeda Katsuyori and the allied forces of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Owing to a surprise attack launched by a detached division of the allied armies led by Sakai Tadatsugu, clashes broke-out at Tobinosu fortress in advance of the final showdown at Shitaragahara.

Early in the morning on 5/21, on the ridge line, Nobuzane incurred a surprise attack from behind by the Sakai division.  In addition to Tobinosu fortress, he defended four outlying fortresses entrusted to Saigusa Masasada and others.  Outnumbered and lacking operational coordination, the defenders attempted to fight from each fortress on their own, placing them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the allied forces of the Oda and Tokugawa.  Nobuzane commanded Komiyama Hayato-no-suke and, on four occasions, repelled attacks by Suganuma Sadamitsu and Matsudaira Koretada under the command of the Sakai division.  He staved off an attempt by the Tōjō-Matsudaira forces led by Matsudaira Ietada to force their way into the fortresses, but Ietada’s division was a diversion, and, with their inferior numbers, the Takeda allowed vanguard forces from the Matsudaira to invade from another opening.  In the end, after destroying the forts at Uba-ga-futokoro and Kimi-ga-fushido, the detached division led by Matsudaira Kiyomune and Honda Hirotaka joined those attacking Tobi-no-su fortress.  Unable to withstand the assault, Nobuzane was killed in action.

According to one theory, Nobuzane was killed by Hiraiwa Gondayū under the command of the Tōjō-Matsudaira while Komiyama Hayato-no-suke was killed by those under Suganuma Sadamitsu, a daimyō and retainer of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

There was a burial mound called Hyōgozuka on a small hill on Mount Tobi-no-su where Nobuzane was worshiped but this area was cultivated as cropland and the burial site no longer exists.


After his demise, Nobuzane was succeeded by his eldest son and designated heir, Kawakubo Nobutoshi.  In 1582, in the wake of the fall of the Takeda clan, Nobutoshi served Tokugawa Ieyasu and his descendants became hatamoto, or direct retainers, of the Tokugawa with a fief of 2,700 koku.  In the era of Nobutoshi’s son, Nobusada, the family reverted to the Takeda surname.


On one occasion, a retainer of Tokugawa Ieyasu with the surname of Shinose violated the orders of his lord and upset him, after which he fled to the territory of Nobuzane where he was given protection.  After a while, Ieyasu was no longer angry so a notice came that he was permitted to return to service.  Although Shinose desired to return to the service of the Tokugawa, he had not returned anything to Nobuzane for his indebtedness.  After struggling with this issue, he finally shared his feelings with Nobuzane.  Nobuzane told him to wait while Nobuzane got up and, soon thereafter, returned with two impressive falcons.  He told Shinose as follows: “I heard that Mikawa-dono (Ieyasu) enjoys falconry.  When you return to service, if you give these to him, he will have a more favorable impression of you.”  He then gave Shinose the falcons.  Later, after Ieyasu heard this story, he was deeply impressed by the purity of Nobuzane’s heart.