Takeda Nobutora


Takeda Clan

Kai Province

Takeda Nobutora

Lifespan:  1/6 of Meiō 3 (1494) to 3/24 of 3/5 of Tenshō 2 (1574)

Name Changes:  Nobunao → Nobutora

Other Names:  Muninsai-Dōyū (monk’s name)

Rank:  bushō, shugo daimyōsengoku daimyō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Master of the Eastern Capital Office, Governor of Mutsu

Bakufu:  Muromachi – member of the shōbanshū (accompanying shōgun to host guests), military governor of Kai Province

Clan:  Takeda (direct lineage of the Kai-Genji descended from Minamoto no Yoshimitsu of the Seiwa-Genji)

Father:  Takeda Nobutsuna

Mother:  Daughter of the Iwashita clan

Siblings:   Nobutora, Katsunuma Nobutomo, Sakurai Nobusada, Kyūkō Eishin (priest at the Daisen Temple), sister (wife of Oyamada Nobuari)

Wife: [Formal] Ōi-no-kata (Ōi-fujin), [Consorts]  Saishōin (daughter of the Imai clan), daughter of the Kusuho clan, daughter of the Kudō clan, daughter of the Matsuo clan, prior wife of Uesugi Norifusa

Children:  Takematsu, Shingen, Inuchiyo, Nobushige, Nobumoto (Nobutomo ?), Nobukado, Nobuaki, Ichijō Nobutatsu, Sōchi, Matsuo Nobukore, Kawakubo Nobuzane, Nobutomo, Katsutora, Jōkei-in, Nanshōin-dono (formal wife of Anayama Nobutada), 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)

Takeda Nobutora served as a bushō, shugo daimyō, and sengoku daimyō of Kai Province.  He was the fifteenth head of the Kai-Takeda clan and the eighteenth head of the Kai-Genji.


In Meiō 3 (1494) (or, under another theory, on 1/6 of Meiō 7 (1498)), Nobutora was born as the lineal heir of Takeda Nobutsuna, the seventeenth head of the Kai-Genji.  He was originally named Nobunao.  The theory that he was born in 1494 is based on counting in reverse from his death at age eighty-one stated in the Kōyō-gunkan compiled in the early Edo period.  Other historical accounts of Kai from the late Edo period draw from this same information in the Kōyō-gunkan.  This birth year is further validated by counting in reverse from the date of 3/5 of Tenshō 2 (1574) stated on the mortuary tablet and in the death register at the Daisen Temple in Kōfu serving as the family temple of Nobutora.  Meanwhile, the theory that Nobutora was born on 1/6 of Meiō 7 (1498) is drawn from other historical records, so the actual birth date remains uncertain.

Although Nobutora’s mother is regarded as Sūshōin, the formal wife of Takeda Nobutsuna, there are also references to his place of birth as a residence in the village of Iwashita which was the hometown of a consort of Nobutsuna from the Iwashita clan.  Further, records kept by the abbot of the Eishō Temple serving as the family temple of Nobutora’s grandfather, Takeda Nobumasa, indicate that Nobutora’s mother was from the Iwashita clan and that Iwashita Echizen-no-kami was the older brother of Nobutora’s mother.  This substantiated the theory that his mother was from the Iwashita clan.  In a death register of the Takeda family kept at the Jūrin Temple on Mount Kōya which provides a basis for the theory that Nobutora’s mother was Sūshōin, there is an interpretation that this was to position him as a son of the formal wife of Nobutsuna while he was the birth child of a consort.

Based on excavations of a site in 2008 said to have been his birthplace in the city of Fuefuki in Yamanashi Prefecture, remains of the residence of a military family dating to the early sixteenth century were confirmed.  Therefore, at a minimum, it has been determined that the Iwashita clan maintained a residence here.

Unification of the main branch of the Takeda clan

During the Muromachi period, in 1416, Uesugi Ujinori (Zenshū), the former deputy shōgun of the Kantō, launched a rebellion against Ashikaga Mochiuji, the Kamakura kubō.  This is known as the Revolt of Uesugi Zenshū.  At this time, Takeda Nobumitsu, the military governor of Kai, joined in the rebellion and was eliminated, leaving Kai in the absence of a military governor.  Provincial landowners, or kokujin, including the Anayama clan of the Kōchi territory and the Oyamada clan of the Gunnai territory, in addition to the Atobe clan serving as deputy military governors, rose to prominence in the midst of escalating conflict in the province.  After crushing Atobe Kageie in the seventh month of 1465, after Takeda Nobumasa (the military governor) seized power in Kai.

In 1492, Nobumasa’s lineal heir, Takeda Nobutsuna, inherited the headship of the clan while Nobumasa retired to Ochiai in the Yamanashi District.  At this time, Nobumasa indicated his desire for his second son, Aburakawa Nobuyoshi, rather than Nobutsuna, to inherit the clan.  This triggered divisions within the clan with one faction supporting Nobutsuna and the other faction backing Nobumasa and his choice of Nobuyoshi.  In this conflict between the two factions, assorted kokujin in Kai as well as external forces became involved.

The Horigoe kubō in Izu Province witnessed internal conflict and after Ashikaga Chachamaru was ousted by Imagawa Ujichika of Suruga and Ise Sōzui (later known as Hōjō Sōun) of Izu upon orders of Ashikaga Yoshizumi (the eleventh shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu), Nobutsuna provided support to Chachamaru and joined forces with the Yamanouchi-Uesugi clan of Kōzuke Province.  Meanwhile, Nobuyoshi established ties with Imagawa Ujichika and Ise Sōzui.

In the aftermath of the Meiō Earthquake that occurred on 8/25 of Meiō 7 (1498), the two factions, supporting Nobutsuna and Nobuyoshi respectively, reconciled.  Ashikaga Chachamaru who had been in exile in Yoshida in the Tsuru District of Kai was transferred to Ise Sōzui and committed seppuku.  Nobutsuna inherited the headship of the Takeda clan.  On 9/16 of Eishō 2 (1505), Nobumasa died, on 10/17 of Eishō 3 (1506), his mother from the Iwashita clan died (a consort of Nobutsuna), and on 2/14 of Eishō 4 (1507), Nobutsuna (Nobumasa’s eldest son) died.  As a result, Takeda Nobunao (Nobutsuna’s eldest son later known as Nobutora) inherited the headship of the Takeda clan and the position as the military governor of Kai.

Owing to Nobunao’s youth, certain allies of Nobuyoshi (Nobunao’s uncle) opposed having him lead the clan and raised arms.  Nobuyoshi was backed by his younger brothers, Iwate Tsunayoshi and Kurihara Masatane (Sōjirō), in addition to Oyamada Yatarō (a kokujin from the Tsuru District) and local clans such as the Kawamura, the Kudō, and the Jōjō.  In the midst of this uncertainty, the Kōgaku Temple hosted an event to dedicate certain district lands to the temple.  Nobuyoshi pledged his landholdings to the temple with the approval of the Oyamada.  A priest having the court title of kōfuku daibu sent a letter of gratitude to which Kawamura Shigeie, a senior retainer of Nobutoshi, responded.

On 10/4 of Eishō 5 (1508), Nobunao’s forces attacked Nobuyoshi in the Battle of Katsuyama.  The conflict led to the death of Nobuyoshi, and notably to three of his sons (Yakurō, Seikurō, and Chinpōmaru), Iwate Tsunayoshi, Kurihara Masatane, and Kawamura Saemon-no-jō.  Nobunao prevailed, bringing to a violent end the prolonged struggle for control of the Takeda clan.  

Battles against the kunishü of Kai Province

After the demise of Nobuyoshi, early in the twelfth month, Oyamada Yatarō, the landlord of the Gunnai territory, invaded Kōfu and confronted Nobutora at Bōgamine.   Initially, the Oyamada army had the upper hand but, on 12/5, were subject to a nighttime attack during which Yatarō was killed.  This is known as the Battle of Bōgamine.  In the Tsuru District, the Kudō clan and Oyamada Heizō of the Sakai-Oyamada, a branch of the Oyamada clan, went into exile under the protection of the Ise clan (Gohōjō).

In the autumn of 1509, Nobutora invaded the Tsuru District and, in the spring of 1510, compelled the submission of the Oyamada clan.  Nobutora arranged for his younger sister to wed Yatarō’s son, Oyamada Nobuari (Etchū-no-kami Nobuari).  He then stationed his younger brother, Katsunuma Nobutomo at Katsunuma near the Tsuru District.

Around this time, conflict raged in the northwest portion of Kai while the Suwa clan invaded the Suwa District of Shinano Province.  In the tenth month of 1509, the base of the Imai clan (Hemi clan) at Egusa Castle was captured by Obi Yajūrō.  In the twelfth month, Takeda Heizō (the younger brother of Imai Nobukore) and an attendant named Yato Genzō were killed in action during an assault by Suwa Yorimitsu in a battle at Teuga Castle in Wakamiko in Sutama in Hokutō.

On 5/27 of Eishō 10 (1513), Anayama Nobutō, the head of the Anayama clan in the Kōchi territory of Kai, was murdered by his son, Anayama Gengorō.  Nobutō’s daughter resided near the Kawada mansion serving as the base of Nobutora.  While cultivating friendly relations with Nobutora, Nobutō also maintained relations with Imagawa Ujichika and Ise Sōzui, operating in a subservient position to multiple lords.  The assassination of Nobutō is deemed connected to conflict in regard to his affiliation with the Anayama clan.  Anayama Nobukaze, the head of the Anayama clan, affiliated with the Imagawa clan and, in 1515, the Imagawa invaded Kai.

Ōi Nobusato and Ōi Nobunari (father and son), members of the kunishū, or provincial landowners, in the Nishi District of western Kai, affiliated with the Imagawa clan.  On 10/17 of the same year, Nobutora, together with Oyamada Nobuari, assaulted the base of the Ōi clan at Toda Castle but were defeated while Oyamada Yamato-no-kami, Obu Dōetsu, and Obu Genshirō were killed in the battle.  During this conflict, the Imagawa showed an intention to intervene and closed the provincial border between Kai and Suruga.  On 9/28 of Eishō 13 (1516), the Imagawa forces invaded Kai and Nobutora withdrew in defeat to Manriki near the Kawada mansion that served as his main base.  After occupying Katsuyama Castle alongside the Chūdō Road, the Imagawa forces set fires all over the area.

In the twelfth month in the Tsuru District of Kai, forces from Gunnai engaged in battle against Imagawa forces based at Yoshidayama Castle.  After the fall of the castle on 1/12 of Eishō 14 (1517), the opposing parties reached a settlement.  Around this time, in Tōtōmi Province, Ōkōchi Sadatsuna and Shiba Yoshitatsu attacked Hikuma Castle so Imagawa Ujichika turned toward a settlement with Nobutora.  With the renga master named Sōchō serving as an intermediary, on 3/2, the Takeda and Imagawa settled and the Imagawa departed from Kai.  In 1518, a settlement was further reached between the Oyamada and Imagawa clans.

In 1520, Nobutora also settled with the Ōi clan and received the daughter of Ōi Nobusato (Ōi-fujin) as a formal wife.

Establishment of Kōfu and unification of Kai

During the era of Takeda Nobumasa and Takeda Nobutsuna, the residence for the military governor of Kai was at the Isawa mansion.  In 1518, Nobutora moved the residence of the military governor to Kōfu in Aikawa-Zenjōchi.  From 8/15 of Eishō 16 (1519), Nobutora commenced the construction of the Tsutsujigasaki mansion as his residence along with development of the town below the castle.  He then had his retainers including influential members of the kunishū reside there.

Nobutora  built Yōgaiyama Castle in Maruyama to the northeast of the Tsutsujigasaki mansion as a fallback position in the event of war.

In the fourth month of 1519, Imai Nobukore surrendered to Nobutora.  Nobukore’s surrender is surmised to have been a catalyst for Nobutora to move to Kōfu.

Resisting the concentration of influential members of the kunishū to reside in Kōfu, in the fifth month of 1520, Kurihara Nobushige, Imai Nobukore, and Ōi Nobutatsu, among others, left Kōfu.  Thereafter, on 6/8, Nobutora destroyed the Kurihara forces at Miyakozuka and, on 6/10, crushed the Imai and Ōi forces at Imasuwa.  On 2/27 of Eishō 18 (1521), Imagawa forces led by Fukushima Masashige, the lord of Hijikata Castle under the command of the Imagawa invaded the Kōchi territory alongside the Fuji River.  This is known as the Fukushima Intrusion Incident.  Around the eighth month, conflict erupted between the Imagawa and Takeda armies and it is surmised during this window that Anayama Nobukaze, the head of the Anayama clan, submitted to the Imagawa.

Toward the end of the eighth month, Nobutora deployed to the Kōchi territory and destroyed the Fuji clan who were aligned with the Imagawa.  Consequently, the Anayama surrendered to the Takeda while Nobutora permitted Takeda Hachirō (perhaps a reference to Anayama Nobutomo, the son of Nobukaze) who was in Suruga to return to Kai.  In the ninth month, the Imagawa forces intensified their offensive and, on 9/16, toppled the base of the Ōi clan at Toda Castle.  Nobutora pulled back to Yōgaiyama Castle.  On 10/16, at the Battle of Iidagawara in Kōfu, he repelled the Imagawa forces and forced their retreat to Katsuyama Castle.  On 11/23, at the Battle of Jōjōgawara, he defeated the Fukushima clan and expelled the Imagawa to Suruga.

At the height of this conflict, on 11/3 of Daiei 1 (1521), Nobutora’s lineal heir, Tarō (later known as Takeda Harunobu and then Takeda Shingen), was born at Yōgaiyama Castle.  Nobutora also subordinated the Anayama clan but Fukushima forces continued their resistance until a settlement between the Takeda and the Imagawa in the first month of the following year.

In 1521, Nobutora requested the Muromachi bakufu to appoint and confer a peerage upon him as the sakyō-no-daibu, or Master of the Eastern Capital Office.  In the fourth month, Ise Sadatada, the director of the mandokoro (the organ of the bakufu in charge of claims regarding finances or territory) and Hirohashi Morimitsu (the messenger to the Emperor) conveyed the request and Nobutora was invested with the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower).  Three generations of lords of the Takeda family, including Nobushige, Nobumori, and Nobumasa, adopted the title of Vice Minister of Justice but Nobutora sought a different title.  Meanwhile, rather than assign the hereditary childhood name of Gorō, he gave his lineal heir the name of Tarō (later known as Harunobu and then Shingen).

After repelling the Imagawa forces in 1522, Nobutora went with his retainers to worship at the Minobu-Kion Temple and received 御授法.  After visiting Mount Minobu, Nobutora climbed Mount Fuji and traveled around the peak of the mountain.  The pilgrimage to Mount Minobu and ascent of Mount Fuji are regarded as visible religious acts to demonstrate that Nobutora had pacified Kai in the context of continuing tensions with the Imagawa of Suruga and the Gohōjō of Sagami Province.  In 1522, he hosted a summer gathering of monks from throughout the province at the Daisen Temple built as the family temple of the Takeda in the prior year.

Alliance with the Uesugi clan and battles against other regional powers

During the Daiei era (1521 to 1528), conflict between the Takeda and external powers intensified.  Nobutora allied with the two Uesugi families (the Yamanouchi-Uesugi and the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi.  Nobutora inherited the diplomatic policies from the era of Nobutsuna with respect to the Ise clan (Gohōjō) with whom the Takeda were in an antagonistic relationship.

In the second month of 1524, Nobutora aimed to support the two Uesugi families by gathering forces at Saruhashi in the Tsuru District and invading Okumiho in Sagami Province.  In the third month, he deployed to Chichibu in Musashi Province and met with Uesugi Norifusa, the deputy shōgun of the Kantō.  The death of Norifusa on 3/25 led to chaos in regard to succession to the headship of the clan.  On 7/20, Nobutora attacked Ōta Suketaka at Iwatsuki Castle in Musashi.

After Nobutora returned from his expedition, in the course of 1525, he reconciled with Hōjō Ujitsuna.  Before long, Ujitsuna joined forces with Nagao Tamekage of Echigo Province to plan an invasion of Kōzuke and pressed Nobutora to allow him to traverse the Takeda territory, but out of deference to the Yamanouchi-Uesugi, Nobutora refused and the peace with the Hōjō collapsed.  Nobutora, together with Uesugi Norihiro (the fourteenth head of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi and deputy shōgun of the Kantō), attacked Tsukui Castle in Sagami Province.  On 4/1, members of the Kanasashi clan associated with the Suwa Taisha Shimosha Harumiya were exiled to Kōfu by Suwa Yorimitsu.  Nobutora provided them protection and deployed to Suwa.  On the last day of the eighth month, he clashed with Suwa forces on the provincial border of Kai and Shinano, but Ogiwara Bitchū-no-kami was killed in the course of a defeat by the Takeda.

In 1526, at Nashi-no-kidaira, Nobutora defeated the forces of Hōjō Ujitsuna and thereafter the conflict with the Hōjō persisted in back-and-forth pattern.  In 1526, rumors circulated that Nobutora would travel to Kyōto but this did not occur.  In the second month of 1527, after Ashikaga Yoshiharu (the twelfth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) and Hosokawa Takakuni fled the capital and sought refuge in Ōmi Province, Nobutora dispatched a messenger to the capital.  Yoshiharu urged assorted daimyō and kunishū to travel to Kyōto, and, in a letter dated 4/27, further urged Nobutora to follow.  In another letter dated 6/19, Yoshiharu ordered Uesugi Norihiro, Suwa Yorimitsu, and Kiso Yoshimoto to assist Nobutora in traveling to Kyōto.

On 6/3, upon the urgent request of Tomono Sadayoshi of the Saku District of Shinano, Nobutora deployed to Shinano.  Owing to this deployment, members of the kunishū including the Ōi clan accepted a settlement.  In the seventh month, Imagawa Ujichika died in Suruga and was succeeded by Imagawa Ujiteru resulting in a temporary peace with the Imagawa clan.

In 1528, Nobutora conducted and attack against Suwa in Shinano but, at the Battle of Kobe and Sakaigawa, was defeated by Suwa Yorimitsu and Suwa Yoritaka.  In 1530, Nobutora, through the offices of Uesugi Tomooki (the head of the Ōgigayatsu-Ueusugi and lord of Kawagoe Castle in Musashi Province), received as a consort the dowager of Uesugi Norifusa, the former deputy shōgun of the Kantō from the Yamanouchi-Uesugi clan.  Norifusa’s dowager was the aunt of Tomooki so this was likely aimed at strengthening relations between the Takeda and Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi clans.  Nobutora also had diplomatic relations with Ashikaga Yoshiaki, the Oyumi kubō from Shimōsa Province who had deep relations with both the Yamanouchi-Uesugi as well as the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi families.

Consequently, while Nobutora strengthened relations with the Uesugi families, conflict with the Gohōjō of Sagami intensified.  (In 1523, the Ise clan changed their surname to Hōjō.)  After Uesugi Tomooki invaded Edo in the territory of the Gohōjō, Nobutora aimed to support Tomooki by ordering Oyamada Nobuari (Etchū-no-kami), a kokujin, or provincial landowner, in the Tsuru District, to invade the Tsukui District of Sagami.  On 1/7 of Kyōroku 3 (1530), the Oyamada forces converged with the Takeda army at Saruhashi in Gunnai and then headed alongside the Katsura River toward Sagami.  The Takeda forces, similar to the Oyamada, were comprised of kokujin ordered by Nobutora to deploy under the command of Nobuari.  Several days earlier, the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi forces launched an offensive, toppling Aganashi Castle on 1/3 and Ozawa and Setagaya castles on 1/6.  On 1/8, the attacking forces burned down a settlement near Edo Castle and then returned to Kawagoe Castle.  Meanwhile, after converging with the Takeda, Nobuari’s movements are uncertain and there are no indications that he joined with the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi forces.  Several months later, on 4/23, the Oyamada forces were intercepted and defeated by the Hōjō at the Battle of Yatsubosaka in the Tsuru District on the provincial border of Kai and Sagami.  Many of those under the command of Nobuari from Yoshida were killed in action.

Meanwhile, the prospect of the daughter of Uesugi Norifusa entering the Takeda family triggered opposition.  On 1/21 of Kyōroku 4 (1531), Kurihara Nobutomo, Imai Nobumoto, and Obu Toramasa departed from Kōfu and resisted against Nobutora from Mitake and aligned with Suwa Yorimitsu from the Suwa District of Shinano who attacked Nirasaki.  Ōi Nobunari from the Nishi District acted in concert with kokujin forces but, on 2/2, Nobutora decimated Nobunari and Imai Bishū and, on 4/12, at the Battle of Kawarebe, he defeated Kurihara Nobutomo and an alliance of kokujin.  In the ninth month of 1532, Nobutora ramped-up the offensive against Imai Nobumoto, forcing him to vacate his base at Shishiku Castle.

In 1528, Nobutora issued a tokuseirei to the citizens of Kai ordering the cancellation of debts to creditors.  The timing of the declaration is uncertain, but this was the first known issuance of an order by a sengoku daimyō in the eastern provinces and drew attention given that it occurred prior to a peasant uprising.  Owing to natural disasters occurring from the summer of the same year, it is surmised the order was given during the harvest season in the autumn.  In 1529, his relationship with the Oyamada clan deteriorated and an incident occurred whereby Nobutora blockaded the road to Gunnai.  At this time, the natural mother of Oyamada Nobuari visited her sister in Tōtōmi Province and served as an intermediary that led to the lifting of the blockade.

In 1533, Nobutora received the daughter of Uesugi Tomooki as the formal wife of his lineal heir, Harunobu, and in the eleventh month of 1534, conducted a wedding procession.  This temporarily resulted in a temporary marital relationship between the Takeda and Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi clans, but Tomooki’s daughter died so the relationship dissolved.

In 1535, Nobutora attacked the Imagawa.  After a battle at Manzawa on the provincial border of Kai and Suruga, the Gohōjō (who were in a marital relationship with the Imagawa) traversed the Kagosaka Ridge and invaded Yamanaka in the Minami-Tsuru District.  The Oyamada and Katsunuma clans were defeated.  Later that year, Nobutora settled with the Suwa clan.

Settlement with the Imagawa clan

On 9/17 of Tenbun 4 (1535), Nobutora met with Suwa Yorimitsu at the Sakai River on the provincial border of Kai and Shinano.  The bell at the Suwa Grand Shrine was rung to mark the formation of an alliance and peace between the clans.  In the first month of 1536, Nobutora’s lineal heir, Tarō, was invested with the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Master of the Eastern Capital Office.  It is also surmised that the title of Junior Fourth Rank was conferred upon Nobutora.  In the third month, Tarō attended his coming-of-age ceremony.  Nobutora requested Ashikaga Yoshiharu (the twelfth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) to confer one of the characters from his name so that Tarō received the name of Harunobu.

On 3/17 of Tenbun 5 (1536), Imagawa Ujiteru (the head of the Imagawa clan) and his younger brother, Imagawa Hikogorō, died in Suruga.  Soon thereafter, on 5/25, a succession struggle erupted between Ujiteru’s younger brother, Sengaku Shōhō (later known as Imagawa Yoshimoto) and Genkō Etan.  This is known as the Hanakura Conflict.  Nobutora and Hōjō Ujitsuna supported Shōhō.  On 6/14, Etan took his own life so Shōhō prevailed.  After becoming the new head of the Imagawa clan, Yoshimoto entered into an alliance with Nobutora, and Nobutora is surmised to have, from early on, engaged Yoshimoto and his natural mother and guardian, Jukeini.  On 2/10 of Tenbun 6 (1537), Nobutora’s eldest daughter, Jōkei-in, became the formal wife of Yoshimoto, establishing marital relations between the Takeda and Imagawa clans.  Harunobu’s formal wife, the daughter of Uesugi Tomooki, died in 1535.  Thereafter, Nobutora, through the offices of Yoshimoto, received the daughter of a noble named Sanjō Kinyori as the formal wife of Harunobu.  Although the timing is uncertain, it is deemed to have occurred soon after Harunobu attended his coming-of-age ceremony in 1536.

With respect to the alliance with the Imagawa, opposition arose within the Takeda family.  In the sixth month, Nobutora compelled members of the Maejima who opposed Yoshimoto and were in exile in Kai to commit seppuku.  Magistrates opposed to this action then left Kai.  Members of the Gohōjō clan allied with the Imagawa also oppose the alliance between the Takeda and the Imagawa, triggering conflict between the Hōjō and Imagawa.  This is known as the First Katō War.  During this war, the Takeda and Imagawa functioned as military allies and Nobutora sent soldiers to the Suntō District in support of the Imagawa.  Meanwhile, in 1538, the Gohōjō invaded the Tsuru District in Kai and assaulted Yoshida but, in 1539, Hōjō Ujitsuna settled with the Takeda clan and the conflict came to an end.

Nobutora maintained relations with both Uesugi families, but in 1537, around the time that Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi Tomosada inherited the headship of the clan, the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi had already lost their main base at Kawagoe and fallen into ruin.  In the tenth month of 1538, Ashikaga Yoshiaki, the Oyumi kubō who had diplomatic relations with Nobutora, was extinguished.  This meant that the Yamanouchi-Uesugi were the only remaining ally of Nobutora in the Kantō.

In the eleventh month of 1536, Nobutora deployed to the Saku District of Shinano.  This was the first experience in battle for his lineal heir, Harunobu.  In 1540, he forced the surrender of Imai Nobumoto at Ura Castle.  In the fourth month, he aligned with Suwa Yorishige and deployed to the Saku District, marking the first time that he acquired territory outside of Kai.  In the eleventh month, Nobutora’s daughter, Nene, wed Yorishige to reinforce the alliance with the Suwa clan.  On 12/9, Yorishige visited Kōfu and, on 12/17, Nobutora himself went to Suwa.

In the eleventh month of 1539, Ōdachi Harumitsu, a member of the judiciary of the bakufu known as the naidanshū, dispatched a messenger to Nobutora, confirming exchanges with the Ōdachi clan who were near Yoshiharu.  From 1540, there are records of exchanges between Nobutora and Shōnyo of the Hongan Temple.

In Shinano, in addition to the Suwa clan, Nobutora joined forces with Murakami Yoshiharu and, on 5/25 of Tenbun 10 (1541), the Takeda, the Murakami, and the Suwa commenced an expedition in the Saku District of Shinano.  For this expedition, Nobutora and Harunobu both deployed.  After being ousted in the Battle of Unnotaira in the Chiisagata District, Unno Munetsuna went into exile in Kōzuke Province and turned for support to Uesugi Norimasa, the deputy shōgun of the Kantō.  Norimasa then deployed to the Saku District.  Nobutora avoided clashing with the Yamanouchi-Uesugi and withdrew.  On 6/4, Nobutora and Harunobu returned to Kai.  After returning to Kai, on 6/14, Nobutora headed toward Suruga on the sunshū-ōkan, the road between Kai and Suruga Provinces, to visit Imagawa Yoshimoto.  At this time, Harunobu dispatched ashigaru, or lightly armed foot soldiers, to the provincial border of Kai and Suruga to blockade the road to prevent Nobutora from returning to Kai.

Ouster of Nobutora from Kai Province

On 6/14 of Tenbun 10 (1541), Nobutora led a triumphant march from Shinano and, as he headed toward Suruga on the Kawauchi Road to meet his son-in-law, Imagawa Yoshimoto, Harunobu blockaded the provincial border of Kai and Suruga, forcing Nobutora to forfeit his role as the head of the clan.  With the support of a faction of hereditary retainers including Itagaki Nobukata and Amari Torayasu, the Kawauchi Road was blocked and Nobutora banished to Suruga.  By this means, Harunobu succeeded to the headship of the Takeda family and the position of military governor of Kai.  After the ouster of Nobutora, Harunobu changed his official title to Master of the Palace Table.

Nobutora stayed temporarily as a guest of Imagawa Yoshimoto while his formal wife, Ōi-fujin, remained in Kai.  His consort, however, went to Suruga and bore a child while there.

With respect to the ouster of Nobutora, in addition to references in the Kōyō-gunkan, there is a letter from Imagawa Yoshimoto dated 9/23 (year unknown) to Harunobu demanding a retirement stipend for Nobutora.  It is surmised that Harunobu and Yoshimoto entered into an accord to address the retirement stipend and associated issues.  During the period of his stay in Suruga, Nobutora received the retirement stipend from the Takeda as well as disbursements from the Imagawa and an allotment of land.  

There are assorted theories concerning the reasons for the ouster.  One is based on discord between father and son.  Despite Harunobu being the lineal heir, Nobutora was estranged from him and favored his second son, Takeda Nobushige, instead.  Nobutora then considered removing Harunobu from the line of succession.  Under another theory, Harunobu and senior retainers of the Takeda clan or Imagawa Yoshimoto devised a plot for the ouster of Nobutora.  There is also reference to Nobutora killing a retainer with his own hands as retribution after the retainer killed a monkey cherished by Nobutora.  In any event, it is surmised that a deterioration of Nobutora’s relationship with his band of retainers was a factor in his ouster.  Nobutora’s governance imposed a significant burden upon the peasants and landowners to secure the funds needed for numerous military expeditions.  Feelings of resentment swirled among the populace so his ouster was welcomed by residents of Kai.

According to one scholar, economic challenges, in particular, fluctuations in the price of rice and wheat, many have been a factor contributing to the ouster of Nobutora.  Owing to road blockades by the Imagawa and a poor harvest in the preceding year, in 1519, unprecedented price increases were witnessed.  In 1529, commodity prices soared on account of road blockades triggering conflict with the Oyamada clan.  In the era of Nobutora when the Takeda were surrounded by enemies in all directions, road blockades and poor harvests invited price increases and famine.  In 1540, typhoons in the Tōkai region including Kai and Shinano led to crop failures that, in 1541, resulted in widespread famine across the region.  This event is known as the Tenbun Famine.  The dire situation stirred opposition toward Nobutora within Kai.  Consequently, in the midst of the crisis, Nobuharu and those around him ousted Nobutora.  This was welcomed by residents based on the implementation of favorable policies for debt relief by Harunobu.

Activities following his ouster

In the sixth month of 1545, Nobutora conducted a sightseeing tour of the southern portion of Kyōto.  This included visits to Mount Kōya and Nara.  Shōnyo, the tenth high priest of the Hongan Temple who had exchanges with Nobutora from the era when Nobutora was the lord of Kai, sent a messenger to offer greetings.  Nobutora visited the Indō Temple on Mount Kōya whose monks had relations with the Takeda family and then headed toward Nara.  On 8/9, a monk named Tamonin Eishun recorded details of Nobutora’s visit to Nara.  After touring Nara, on 8/15, Nobutora returned to Suruga.

Meanwhile, after forging the three-way alliance with the Imagawa and the Gohōjō clans, Harunobu proceeded with the invasion of Shinano and the Battle of Kawanakajima against Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province while maintaining stable control over his own territory.  Around this time, Nobutora entered the priesthood and adopted the name of Muninsai-Dōyū so he is deemed to have relinquished efforts to reclaim the position as the lord of Kai and retired.  Within the Imagawa family, he was treated as a father-in-law of Yoshimoto and attributed a status higher than members of the Imagawa clan.  In 1550, Nobutora’s daughter who had become a wife of Yoshimoto died.

There were no later traces of Nobutora in Kyōto or its environs during this period so he is surmised to have been in Suruga.  After transferring the headship of the clan to his son Nobutomo, from 1558, he moved his residence to Kyōto and engaged in service to the bakufu.

In the fifth month of 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto was killed in an attack by Oda forces at the Battle of Okehazama.  He was succeeded by his lineal heir, Imagawa Ujizane, as the next head of the Imagawa clan.  In 1561, after the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima, the Takeda clan ended their conflict with the Echigo-Uesugi clan in regard to the territory of northern Shinano.  In 1567, Harunobu’s lineal heir, Takeda Yoshinobu, whose formal wife was the daughter of Yoshimoto, was removed from the line of succession in an event known as the Yoshinobu Incident.  In the context of these events, the relationship between the Takeda and Imagawa clans deteriorated and the alliance collapsed.  In 1568, the Takeda commenced an invasion of the territory of the Imagawa in Suruga, an event known as the Invasion of Suruga.

According to the Kōyō-gunkan and genealogical records of the Takeda-Genji, Nobutora traveled again to Kyōto after the Battle of Okehazama in 1560, but, beginning from 1558, a noble named Yamashina Tokitsugu paid an annual new year’s courtesy visit to Nobutora who had a residence in Kyōto and is surmised to have been continuously engaged in service for the bakufu while residing in the capital.

As a prior military governor residing in Kyōto, Nobutora served Ashikaga Yoshiteru, the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.  As of 1559, Tokitusgu referred to Nobutora as tozama and daimyō, reflecting the high formal standing attributed to Nobutora.  Nobutora maintained relations in Kyōto with other daimyō such as Nanbu Nobunaga who were family members of the Kai-Genji.  He had cultural exchanges with nobles such as Asukai Masaharu and Madenokōji Korefusa.  In 1560, he had his daughter wed a noble named Imadegawa Harusue.  From 1560 to the end of 1562, Nobutora either resided in Sunpu or went back and forth between Kyōto and Sunpu.  After learning of the death of Imagawa Yoshimoto at the Battle of Okehazama in the sixth month of 1560, it is surmised that Nobutora was concerned for the safety of his son, Nobutomo, and Imagawa Ujizane, his grandchild from a daughter married into another family.

From 1564 to 1567, Nobutora stayed with the Kōka clan who served as the lord of the manor of the Ago District in Shima Province.  During this period, the Kuki clan was ousted from Shima and came under the command of the Oda clan.  It is surmised that Nobutora had a not insignificant role in this event.  Although not certain, this may have been connected to his later dispatch to the Kōga District of Ōmi Province.

In 1565, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, was assassinated by the Miyoshi Group of Three in an event known as the Eiroku Incident.  Although Nobutora’s movements at this time are uncertain, he is surmised to have temporarily returned to Suruga.  In 1567, he was residing in Kyōto and continued activities in the capital thereafter.

Nobutora recommended to Shingen to eliminate Ujizane and, once Ujizane learned of these intentions, Nobutora was ousted.  The reason, however, why Nobutora moved to reside in Kyōto was to retire after transferring headship of the clan to Nobutomo.  There are no traces of actions taken by Nobutora thereafter against the Imagawa.  One scholar notes that if this is true, then the assertion that family members in Sunpu including Nobutomo were exposed to danger can be refuted.

In 1568, Oda Nobunaga of Owari Province expelled the Miyoshi administration, marched upon Kyōto, and installed Ashikaga Yoshiaki as the fifteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.  The Takeda were allied with Nobunaga and Nobutora also served Yoshiaki but at the same time was in an antagonistic relationship with Tokugawa Ieyasu of Mikawa Province.  During the Genki era (1570 to 1573), he cut ties with Nobunaga while his son, Shingen, acted in concert with Yoshiaki and the forces opposed to Nobunaga, commencing a large-scale invasion of Tōtōmi and Mikawa known as the Western Campaign.  On 3/10 of Genki 4 (1573), Yoshiaki raised arms against Nobunaga, but his actions were made known to Nobunaga by Hosokawa Fujitaka who was colluding with him.  Nobutora, upon orders of Yoshiaki, was dispatched to the Kōka District and together with the Rokkaku clan, planned an attack in Ōmi.  Nobutora, as a retainer of the bakufu, may have had landholdings in Kōka.  On 4/12, Shingen died of illness during the Western Campaign and the Takeda forces withdrew.  Yoshiaki’s efforts to oppose Nobunaga failed amidst the decimation of the elements supporting him as he was ousted from the capital.

In Kai, Takeda Katsuyori (Nobutora’s grandson born between Shingen and a consort) succeeded to the headship of the clan.  Meanwhile, in 1574, Nobutora stayed at Takatō Castle in Shinano, the base of Takeda Nobukado (Nobutora’s sixth son whom Nobutora cherished).  Nobutora met with Katsuyori during this period.  On 3/5, Nobutora died at Takatō while under the protection of Nezu Masanao (the eldest son of Nezu Motonao), his daughter’s husband from Ina.  He was eighty-one years old.  His funeral was held at the Daisen Temple in Kōfu which was built as a family temple by Nobutora and memorial services held at the Seikei Temple on Mount Kōya.

Character and anecdotes

Under established theory, Nobutora is known as a tyrant.  In the Kōyō-gunkan, he is referred to as rough and arrogant.  He is said to have killed retainers who admonished him.  In 1529, when a retainer named Baba Torasada criticized Nobutora for killed a family member, Kagami Toramitsu, Nobutora became upset and executed Torasada along with Naitō Torasuke, Yamagata Torakiyo, and Kudō Toratoyo.  Many of the families that ended as a result of murder by Nobutora were later revived by Shingen who engaged family members as senior retainers including Naitō Masatoyo, Baba Nobuharu, Yamagata Masakage, and Kudō Masasuke.

Nobutora actively fostered diplomacy.  He received the daughter of Sanjō Kinyori, a noble, as a wife for his lineal heir, Harunobu (Shingen), promoting marital relations with other clans, forming alliances with the Imagawa and neighboring powers.  Owing to this marriage, Harunobu became a brother-in-law of Kennyo, the eleventh high priest of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple (Kennyo’s wife came from the Sanjō clan).  This had an influence on the diplomatic policies of the Takeda clan.

Nobutora’s son, Takeda Nobukado, painted portraits of both parents which are designated as Important Cultural Assets.  The portrait of Takeda Nobutora is kept at the Daisen Temple in Kōfu and the portrait of the wife of Takeda Nobutora, Ōi-no-kata, is kept at the Chōzen Temple.  Excluding the conflict with Harunobu, this suggests that Nobutora maintained good relations with Nobukado and perhaps others of his children.

Nobutora possessed a precious sword known as the Miyoshi samonji dating from the Nanbokuchō period.  This was given to Imagawa Yoshimoto.  After the Battle of Okehazama, it was transferred to Oda Nobunaga and later burned during the coup d’état against Nobunaga known as the Honnō Temple Incident.  In the aftermath of the coup, Toyotomi Hideyoshi recovered the sword from the ashes of the site of the attack and the sword was transferred by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to Tokugawa Ieyasu.  This sword remains to the present day and is deemed an Important Cultural Asset kept at the Takeisao Shrine in Kyōto.


Stories of Nobutora’s despotic acts are in some terms regarded as nonsensical and cannot be taken at face value.  There are almost no primary sources that specifically detail misdeeds by Nobutora and there are no local stories or records of such acts.  The Kōyō-gunkan provides the initial glimpses of this view which were then embellished in later accounts.  It is surmised that his image as an evildoer was the result of media manipulation by the Takeda family and military scholars to justify his ouster as the head of the clan.

From the Heisei period, there has been a movement to reassess Nobutora from the perspective of an individual who, after moving his residence to the Tsutsujigasaki mansion, led development of the town of Kōfu.  In 2018, the year before the 500-year anniversary of the founding of Kōfu, a bronze statue of Takeda Nobutora was installed at the north entrance of the Kōfu train station.  The Chamber of Commerce for the city of Kōfu has engaged in assorted activities including donations for the statue, the broadcast on TV-Yamanashi of a story entitled “Takeda Nobutora – the man who built Kōfu,” memorial services to express gratitude toward Nobutora at the Daisen Temple, and a series of comics called “Shingen’s papa, the real story of Takeda Nobutora.”