Lifespan: Daiei 5 (1525) to 9/10 of Eiroku 4 (1561)
Title: Assistant Captain of the Left Division of the Imperial Cavalry
Clan: Kai-Takeda, Yoshida
Lord: Takeda Harunobu (Shingen)
Father: Takeda Nobutora
Siblings: Takematsu, Shingen, Inuchiyo, Nobushige, Nobumoto (Nobutomo?), Nobukado, Nobuaki, Ichijō Nobutatsu, Sōchi, Matsuo Nobukore, Kawakubo Nobuzane, Nobutomo, Katsutora, Jōkeiin, 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 Kikutei Harusue)
Wife: Yōshūin Nittōni (origin unknown)
Children: Mochizuki Nobumori, Takeda Nobutoyo, Mochizuki Nobunaga, daughter (wife of Nishina Morinobu)
Takeda Nobushige served as a bushō during the Sengoku period. Nobushige was the eighteenth head of the Kai-Takeda clan and the younger brother of Takeda Shingen, the son of Takeda Nobutora. Among the Twenty-Four Generals of the Takeda, Nobushige was regarded as the Lieutenant General of the Takeda family. Based on his official title of sama-no-nosuke or Assistant Captain of the Left Division of the Imperial Cavalry, he was called tenkyū, while his eldest son carried the same name, so, in later eras, Nobushige was referred to as kotekyū, or the elder one.
In 1525, Nobushige was born as the son of Takeda Nobutora. His childhood name was Jirō. In 1541, Nobutora’s eldest son, Takeda Harunobu (later known as Takeda Shingen) ousted his father who fled to Suruga Province for the protection of the Imagawa clan. Nobushige had, since a young age, been cherished by Nobutora so there is a story that Nobutora intended to remove Harunobu from the line of succession and transfer headship of the clan to Nobushige instead.
Although not substantiated from historical sources, on 2/1 of Tenbun 20 (1551), Nobushige succeeded to the surname of the Yoshida clan, an illegitimate branch of the Takeda family. In the era of Harunobu, the Takeda clan engaged in an all-out invasion of neighboring Shinano Province. This led to conflict with Murakami Yoshikiyo, the sengoku daimyō of northern Shinano, members of the kunishū, or provincial landowners, in Shinano, in addition to Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province. At the time of succession by Harunobu, Nobushige, along with his brother-in-law, Anayama Nobutomo, were the only adults in the goichimonshū and served as deputies of Harunobu to oversee the invasion of Shinano.
In 1542, during the invasion of the Suwa District in Shinano, Nobushige (as commander-in-chief) joined a clan veteran, Itagaki Nobukata, to lead a deployment to Suwa. In the ninth month, Nobushige served as the lead commander to subdue a rebellion by Takatō Yoritsugu. There is a story that, after incurring the wrath of Harunobu, Nagasaka Torafusa (Mitsukata) killed the younger brother of Yoritsugu, Renbōsai. On this occasion, Nobushige served as a go-between to obtain a pardon for Torafusa. After garnering control of Suwa, the Takeda clan appointed Nobukata to serve as the district governor, while Nobushige joined him owing to his affinity with the families of Suwa. In 1544, when Takeda Nobutora made a pilgrimage to Mount Kōya, Nobushige sent a letter of thanks to the Indō Temple where Nobutora lodged during his visit. He also engaged in diplomatic activities.
In the seventh month of 1551, Nobushige deployed with the vanguard forces to attack the Murakami of northern Shinano. In the fourth month of 1553, Nobushige conferred the appointment of Imai Iwami-no-kami from Kai to serve as the lord of Kariyahara Castle in Shinano following its capture. In the same month, Nobushige provided notice of an official ranking to Akiyama Torashige (Nobutomo) who was residing in Katsuro Castle after its capture from the Murakami and granted an award. Before long, the Takeda clan came into conflict with Nagao Kagetora (Uesugi Kenshin) of Echigo over control of northern Shinano, leading to the Battle of Kawanakajima. In 1555, Nobushige announced the return of Kagetora to Echigo.
The Takeda clan had a policy to pacify the conquered families in Shinano by sending members of the Takeda family for adoption, and Nobushige’s son was also sent for adoption by the Mochizuki clan in the Saku District of Shinano.
On 9/10 of Eiroku 4 (1561), Nobushige was killed at the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima. He was thirty-seven years old.
Among the band of retainers of the Takeda family, Nobushige, along with his younger brother, Nobukado, was affiliated with the family group known as the goichimonshū and permitted to use the Takeda surname. The Takeda-Tenkyū family of Nobushige and Nobutoyo, together with the Takeda-Shōyōken family of Nobukado, served as leaders of this group of family members. In historical accounts, it has not been confirmed that Nobushige governed territory as the lord of a castle. He primarily resided in Kōfu and participated in diplomatic activities for the Takeda family. He served in battles as a proxy for Shingen vested with the authority to command the army and control vanguard forces.
Beginning with Harunobu, the Takeda family included figures with literary skills. In 1548, during a visit to Kai by Yotsutsuji Suetō (a high-ranking noble), Nobushige composed waka. In the fourth month of 1558, he devised a set of 99 family tenants and gave them to his eldest son, Takeda Nobotoyo. The prelude was written by Harukuni Kōshin, the abbot at the Chōzen Temple, and the contents include references from Chinese classical literature. The work speaks to the academic achievement of Nobushige.
When grasping Nobushige’s body after his death in battle, Shingen was said to have cried and Uesugi Kenshin from the opposing side also regretted his death. The Takeda band of retainers mourned the loss of Nobushige and, if Nobushige had survived, there may not have been a later conflict between Shingen and Takeda Yoshinobu. Yamagata Masakage praised him in saying that Nobushige and Naitō Masatoyo were real lieutenant generals who could resolve any matters. Sanada Masayuki named his second son born later as Nobushige (with the same characters).
In the Edo period, Nobushige was praised as a model bushō, and the 99 tenants in the Family Rules of Takeda Nobushige that he gave to his eldest son, Nobutoyo, were widely read and passed-on as a source of guidance for bushi. Muro Kyūsō, a Confucian scholar from the Edo period, noted that Nobushige, the younger brother of Takeda Shingen, should be viewed as a genius of the Tenbun and Eiroku eras.