Lifespan: Kyōroku 2 (1529) to fifth month of (1573) (not certain)
Title: Governor of Mikawa, Vice Assistant Minister of Justice (according to one theory, he held the titles of Governor of Yamashiro and the Governor of Mimasaka)
Father: Takeda Kuninobu
Siblings: Takanobu, Matasaburō
Children: Matatarō, Yojūrō, Sukenobu (childhood name of Tokujūmaru)
Takeda Takanobu served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. He had the common name of Matagorō.
The Inaba-Takeda were of the lineage of the Seiwa-Genji, descended from the Kai-Genji, an illegitimate branch of the Kawachi-Genji. The Inaba-Takeda were even further removed from the legitimate family than the Wakasa-Takeda clan who served as the shugo daimyō of Wakasa Province. Takanobu served as a guest commander for the Yamana clan of Inaba and was treated well.
When Yamana Nobumichi served as the military governor of Inaba, Takaknobu’s father, Takeda Kuninobu, proposed and thereafter became the chamberlain of Tottori Castle. Harboring a desire to become the sole governor under a policy of one castle per province, he engaged in major renovations of Tottori Castle.
After Takanobu succeeded his father while in Hiyodorio Castle, he then revealed his intent to rebel against the Inaba-Yamana clan by seizing Tottori Castle. Thereafter, he joined with the Mōri of Aki Province and, in 1563, poisoned to death Yamana Toyonari who was in Shikano Castle. Toyonari was the son of Yamana Nobumichi. Next, he defeated and killed Nakamura Toyoshige, a senior retainer of the Yamana clan, in the Battle of Yutoroguchi. He then attacked Fuse-Tenjinyama Castle, forcing the military governor of Inaba, Yamana Toyokazu, to flee for safety to Shikano Castle. Takanobu backed Yamana Toyohiro from the same Yamana family and became the most powerful figure in Inaba. After becoming the de facto lord of Inaba, Takanobu served on behalf of the Mōri clan in battles across Tajima and Mimasaka provinces. Nevertheless, he struggled to control the influential kokujin families while at the same time contending with the Kusakari clan of Mimasaka who sought to encroach on Inaba as well as the Amago Revival Army led by Yamanaka Yukimori (backing Amago Katsuhisa) who made frequent forays into Inaba.
In 1571, Takanobu attacked Enya Takakiyo (affiliated with the Yamana clan) at Ashiya Castle in Tajima Province, but incurred a major defeat, losing his eldest son, Matatarō and his second son, Yojūrō at the Siege of Ashiya Castle. In 1572, upon request of Kobayakawa Takakage, he entered Mimasaka Province and applied pressure on the territory of Uragami Munekage and Ukita Naoie. After a peace was established between Bizen and Aki provinces, he continued on deployment for a while, but, within the same year, withdrew to Inaba. On 8/1 of Tenshō 1 (1573), Takanobu fought against Yamanaka Yukimori, the leader of the Amago Revival Army. Yukimori had advanced to Koshikiyama Castle and had friendly relations with many of the kokujin, or provincial landowners, in Inaba. In an event known as the Collapse on Tanomo in Tottori, Takanobu suffered a decisive defeat which, before long, forced him to turn-over his base at Tottori Castle to Yamana Toyokuni in the Siege of Tottori Castle by the Amago Revival Army. After vacating Tottori Castle, Takanobu withdrew to Hiyodorio Castle, but, thereafter, Yamana Toyokuni and the Tajima-Yamana clan separated from the Amago clan and reconciled with the Mōri clan. Having served as a loyal soldier for the Mōri while governing Inaba, Takanobu found himself in a precarious situation.
Around 3/7 of Tenshō 3 (1575), Takanobu was ousted by Yamana Toyokuni from Hiyodorio Castle and fled to Tajima Province. Relying upon Enya Takakiyo whom Takaknobu knew from a prior attack on Ashiya Castle, he pleaded with the Mōri to spare his life. As Toyokuni continued to expand his power in Inaba, Yamana Suketoyo of Tajima also requested Kikkawa Motoharu to eliminate Takanobu. On 8/28, the Mōri recognized the succession of Takanobu by his son, Takeda Sukenobu, to the headship of the Inaba-Takeda clan. This formally ended the possibility of Takanobu regaining his position of authority. Around 9/25, Takanobu sent two retainers into the territory of Kobayakawa Takakage to plead again for his life, but Takakage was noncommittal with respect to the personal safety of Takanobu. Consequently, Takanobu had been abandoned by the Mōri.
Takanobu is considered to have suddenly died on 5/4 of Tenshō 4 (1576). A letter dated 5/18 from Kikkawa Motoharu notes that after it was revealed that Takeda Takanobu had colluded with the Oda, Yamana Toyokuni forced him to commit seppuku. As discussed below, however, the timing and details of his demise remain uncertain.
A traditional Buddhist five-part gravestone representing earth, water, fire, wind and heaven for Takeda Takanobu stands on the grounds of the Daigi Temple in Sanuki in the town of Kawahara in the city of Tottori in Tottori Prefecture.
Issues regarding his demise
In a letter dated 5/4 of Tenshō 1 (1573), Kobayakawa Takakage reported that Takanobu’s death appeared to be unforeseen but does not explain the reasons for his sudden death. Viewed chronologically, Takakage’s letter (the fifth month of 1573) → defeat to the Amago at the Collapse on Tanomo in Tottori (the eighth month of 1573) → ouster from Hiyodorio Castle by Yamana Toyokuni (prior to the third month of 1575) → appeal from Enya Takakiyo to spare his life and subsequent appeal to Takakage (prior to the ninth month of 1575) → reference to his demise in a letter from Kikkawa Motoharu (the fifth month of 1576). These points of reference highlight contradictions and inconsistencies with respect to the timing of Takanobu’s death.
In the letter dated 5/18 from Motoharu, whether Takanobu colluded with the Oda clan cannot be certain. Prior to his demise, around the eleventh month of 1575, a peace between the Mōri and Tajima-Yamana clans had been spurned while the Tajima-Yamana explored an alliance with the Oda clan. Yamana Toyokuni of Inaba appeared to have followed the same course as the influential Tajima-Yamana by leaning toward the Oda clan. In this context, even if Takanobu colluded with the Oda, there would have no merit in doing so as a means to restore his position. Whether, as stated in the letter, Takanobu was executed by Toyokuni for joining with the Oda in a bid to recover his lost territory, or Toyokuni accused Takanobu of collusion with the Oda as a pretext to murder him owing to fears of rebellious intentions, is not certain. The circumstances of Takanobu’s demise remain a mystery.
The historical accounts of Takanobu’s whereabouts after 1573 pose numerous contradictions and uncertainties. To gain an understanding of the situation in Inaba Province during the period that the country was in the midst of consolidation under the rule of a single lord relies upon continuing research in this area. Traditional interpretations of Takanobu’s fall and subsequent demise are drawn from a historical account of Inaba Province. According to this source, Takanobu turned-over Tottori Castle to Yamana Toyokuni (the military governor of Inaba) and withdrew to Hiyodorio Castle, but, fearful of a rebellious intent on the part of Takanobu, in 1578, Toyokuni lured Takaknobu to the Daigi Temple in Sanuki under the pretext of making plans to eliminate the Kusakari clan of Mimasaka and then cut him down with a sword. This event is noted to have taken place on 8/17 of Tenshō 6 (1578).