Akiyama Torashige


Akiyama Clan

Akiyama Torashige

Kai Province

Lifespan:  Daiei 7 (1527) to 11/26 of Tenshō 3 (1575)

Other Names:  Nobutomo, Zenemon-no-jō, Hōki-no-kami, Haruchika, Takeda-no-Mōgyū (nickname meaning Raging Bull of the Takeda)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Akiyama (descended from the Takeda/Kai-Genji)

Lord:  Takeda Nobutora → Takeda Shingen → Takeda Katsuyori

Father:  Akiyama Nobutō

Siblings:  Torashige, Nobufuji

Wife: [Formal] Otsuya-no-kata (Oda Nobunaga’s aunt) (?)

Adopted Children:  Masanori, Genzaburō (both natural sons of Kanemaru Chikuzen-no-kami)

Akiyama Torashige served as a retainer of the Takeda of Kai Province. The Akiyama served the Takeda for multiple generations. Torashige was counted among the Takeda nijūyonshō, or Twenty-Four Generals of the Takeda, as first portrayed in the Edo period.  He received one of the characters in his name from his lord, Takeda Nobutora. Following the death of Nobutora, Torashige served his eldest son, Takeda Harunobu (Shingen), followed by Takeda Katsuyori.

The early years

In 1542, Torashige received a letter of commendation from Shingen for his contributions at the Battle of Sezawa in Shinano Province.  In this conflict, Harunobu repelled an invasion by the allied forces of Suwa Yorishige and Ogasawara Nagatoki, powerful daimyō from Shinano, into Kai Province.  The attack followed the expulsion of Nobutora from Kai in a coup d’état the prior year, which gave an opening to rivals of the Takeda to weaken the clan before Shingen could solidify his control.    

In 1547, Torashige was designated the gundai, or district governor, of Kami-Ina (the northern portion of the Ina District) and assigned to Takatō Castle.  This enabled Harunobu to focus on the eastern and central portions of Shinano.  In the fourth month of 1553, Torashige moved upon orders from Takeda Nobushige to Katsurao Castle in Shinano to govern affairs after defeating the Murakami clan. By 1556, the Takeda controlled all of the Ina District and Torashige became the chamberlain for Iida Castle, strategically located in the Ina Valley.

Around 1558, Shingen appointed Torashige to serve as the chamberlain for Ōshima Castle in the Ina District. Ōshima was in a strategic location to access the Tōkai region and to march upon Kyōto.  In this role, Torashige was charged with a major reconstruction project, whereupon he mobilized laborers from the southern portion of the Ina District and assigned them to work on the castle grounds.  

While residing in Ōshima, Torashige and Morozumi Toramitsu corresponded with Shingen regarding observations that Saitō Dōsan had moved forces near the border with Mino Province.  In the twelfth month of 1559, Torashige helped resolve a territorial dispute between the Haruchika-shū, or a group of local bushi from Haruchika, and Akasu Masatame.  From the Ina District, Torashige engaged in military and diplomatic affairs in Mino, Tōtōmi, and Mikawa provinces.  

In 1562, after Takeda Katsuyori became lord of Takatō Castle, Torashige moved from Takatō to Iida Castle.  Between 1559 and 1565, Torashige received the title of Governor of Hōki and served as an intermediary for negotiations to form an alliance with Oda Nobunaga of Owari Province.  In 1568, he traveled to Nobunaga’s base at Gifu Castle where he represented his lord, Shingen, at the wedding ceremony of Harunobu’s daughter, Matsuhime, to Oda Nobutada, the eldest son of Oda Nobunaga. 

The invasion of Suruga and loss of Takeda Harunobu

In 1568, the Takeda commenced an invasion of the Imagawa territory in Suruga Province.  At this time, the Takeda maintained an alliance with Tokugawa Ieyasu of Mikawa Province. Based on these terms, the Tokugawa understood that Suruga would be controlled by the Takeda and Tōtōmi by the Tokugawa.  Consequently, the Tokugawa protested after Torashige led a contingent from Shinano into Tōtōmi.  Although Shingen promised to have Torashige withdraw, the alliance floundered as a result.

In 1563, Tokugawa Ieyasu tendered Matsudaira Yasutoshi as a hostage to Imagawa Ujizane in Suruga Province.  In 1568, Shingen captured Yasutoshi and sent him to Kai Province.  Two years later, he escaped during the winter while under the watch of Torashige.  Torashige then led 3,000 mounted soldiers through territory under the control of the Iwamura-Tōyama in eastern Mino with the aim of invading the home base of the Tokugawa in Oku-Mikawa.  This contingent prevailed in a clash with combined forces totaling 5,000 men from the Tōyama and Tokugawa at the Battle of Kamimura.

Late in 1572, Shingen launched his expedition into the Tokugawa-controlled provinces of Mikawa and Tōtōmi, a series of conflicts known as the Western Expedition. These plans focused on defeating the Oda and marching upon Kyōto.  Commanding an army of 22,000 soldiers, Shingen departed from his base in Kōfu and traversed the Aokuzure Ridge en route to invade the Tokugawa in Tōtōmi.

Torashige and Yamagata Masakage, a senior retainer of Harunobu, led a separate battalion of 3,000 men into Oku-Mikawa, a mountainous region in the northeast of Mikawa. Several lords from the Okudaira and Suganuma clans, referred to as the yamaga-sanpōshū, pledged support to Masakage and served as local guides.  Torashige and Masakage then converged with Shingen’s main army and entered Tōtōmi.  Torashige and Masakage contributed to a victory against Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Mikatagahara.

In 1573, upon orders from Shingen, Torashige besieged Iwamura Castle in eastern Mino. Tōyama Kagetō, the lord of Iwamura, had died of illness the previous year without a successor for the Iwamura-Takeda clan.  Nobunaga sent his fifth son, Gobōmaru (later known as Oda Katsunaga), at the age of three, to become the designated heir of the clan.  The defenders were compelled to vacate the castle and accept the condition that Kagetō’s widow, Otsuya-no-kata (Iwamura-dono – an aunt of Oda Nobunaga), wed Torashige.  Gobōmaru was transferred to the Takeda in Kai Province, while Shingen dispatched Shimojō Nobuuji to defend the castle.

Torashige then served as the chamberlain for Ōshima and Iwamura castles in the same period. While in Iwamura, he commanded a unit of over 300 mounted soldiers including men from the Sakanishi, the Chikushi, and the Zakōji clans from the southern portion of the Ina District.    

In the spring of 1573, Shingen died in Komaba in the Ina District of Shinano, after which the Takeda forces returned to Kai.

Service under Takeda Katsuyori and execution

Following the death of Shingen, Torashige served his successor, Takeda Katsuyori. Torashige received Masaaki, the third son of Kanemaru Chikuzen-no-kami, as his son-in-law. Chikuzen-no-kami was an elder of the Takeda whose family had served the clan for successive generations. This arose out of concern for not having a natural son while serving as chamberlain for Iwamura Castle.  Nevertheless, Masaaki died of illness in 1579, so the seventh son of Chikuzen-no-kami, Genzaburō (Akiyama Chikahisa), became the designated heir to the Akiyama clan.

In 1575, the Takeda suffered an overwhelming defeat against the allied forces of the Oda and Tokugawa at the Battle of Nagashino, enabling the Oda and Tokugawa to increase the pressure on the Takeda.  After toppling several castles in Oku-Mikawa, the Oda and Tokugawa captured  Busetsu Castle in the Shitara District of Mikawa.  Nobunaga ordered his eldest son, Oda Nobutada, to encircle Iwamura Castle.  Torashige led the Haruchika and Iwamura groups to defend the castle and appealed to Katsuyori for reinforcements.  Takeda Nobutoyo and Oyamada Nobushige were to join as a rear guard, but events in Tōtōmi prevented Katsuyori from sending help.

Toward the end of the year, Katsuyori finally dispatched forces to Iwamura, but the Oda responded by reinforcing their army, causing Torashige to surrender to Nobutada upon the condition that their lives would be spared.  The Oda proceeded to slay the defenders and apprehend Torashige and his wife.  Five days later, the detainees were crucified on the shore of the Nagara River.