Takeda Clan

Takeda Clan

The Takeda clan (武田氏 Takeda-shi) was a clan of daimyō during the late Heian period through the Sengoku period.

The Takeda were descendants of Emperor Seiwa (850-880) and belonged to a branch of the Minamoto clan. Minamoto no Yoshikiyo, son of Minamoto no Yoshimitsu, was the first to use the name Takeda.

History of Takeda Clan

In the 12th century, at the end of the Heian period, the Takeda family controlled Kai Province. Together with other clans, they helped their cousin Minamoto no Yoritomo against the Taira clan during the Genpei Wars.

When Yoritomo was defeated at Ishibashiyama (1181), Takeda Nobuyoshi asked for help so the Takeda clan sent an army of 20,000 men to his aid.

Takeda Nobumitsu (1162-1248) helped the Hōjō clan during the Shōkyu War of 1221 and in return received the Aki Province. Until the Sengoku period, the Takeda were shugo of the Kai, Aki and Wakasa Provinces.

In 1415, they helped suppress the Uesugi Zenshū rebellion; Ashikaga Mochiuiji, Uesugi's master and the man against whom the rebellion was directed, retaliated against the Takeda, thus beginning a rivalry between the Uesugi and Takeda clans that would last more than 150 years.

Takeda Harunobu succeeded his father Nobutora in 1540, becoming daimyō of Kai and began a rapid expansion. Although he sometimes confronted the Hōjō clan, most of his raids were to the north, where he fought against Uesugi Kenshin.

Takeda Shingen is famous for his tactical genius and military innovations, although some historians claim that his tactics were neither particularly impressive nor revolutionary. In any case, Shingen is known for his use of cavalry charges.

Until the mid-16th century, mounted samurai were primarily archers although there was already a tendency to use armies based on large infantry, including a large number of archers on foot.

In order to defend these troops, Shingen transformed his samurai from archers to spearmen, and used cavalry charges as in the Battle of Mikatagahara in 1572.

The strength of Shingen's new tactics became extremely famous such that the Takeda army became known as kiba gundan (騎馬軍団 or "mounted army").

Shingen died in 1573 at the age of 53,1 so his son Takeda Katsuyori inherited command of the clan and was defeated at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575 when they faced the forces of Oda Nobunaga.

The Kōshū Hatto, composed during the 15th century, is a Takeda family code of laws, while the Kōyō Gunkan, written mostly by Kōsaka Masanobu in the mid-16th century, is an epic poem recording the history of the family as well as Shingen's tactical military innovations.

The Takeda surname is a modern name in Japan, although it is quite unlikely that all those who bear it are descendants of this family of nobles; in fact, most of the Takeda royal descendants had different names when they created a cadet branch.

During the Tokugawa period, many daimyō families were direct descendants of the Takeda.

In 1868, these daimyō families were:

  • The Matsumae or Kakizaki, descendants of Takeda Kuninobu, were daimyō of the Matsumae Domain, the only han of Hokkaidō.
  • The Nambu, descendants of Takeda Mitsuyuki, great-grandson of Takeda Yoshikiyo, who settled in Nambu, (in Kai Province) from which they took their name. The Nambu were daimyō of the Morioka Domain, the Shichinohe Domain and the Hachinohe Domain (in Mutsu Province).
  • The Yanagizawa, descendants of Takeda Nobuyoshi, were daimyō of the Kōriyama Domain (Yamato Province), the Kurokawa Domain and the Mikkaichi Domain (Echigo Province).
  • The Gotō, descendants of Takeda Nobuhiro, were daimyō of Gotō (the Gotō Islands in Hizen Province).
  • The Ogasawara were a military branch of the Takeda, by Takeda Nagakiyo (1162-1242), great-grandson of Takeda Yoshikiyo and the first to take the name Ogawara. His descendants were shugo (governors) of the Shinano and Hida Provinces and during the 16th century went to war with their cousins of the Takeda clan. In 1868 they became daimyō of the Kokura Domain, Chikuza Domain (Buzen Province), Ashi Domain (Harima Province), Karatsu Domain (Hizen Province) and Katsuyama Domain (Echizen Province).
  • Two branches called Takeda were positioned among the Kōke (upper class families).

Important members of the Takeda clan


  • Takeda Nobutora - Shingen's father.
  • Takeda Shingen - One of Japan's most famous warriors, Shingen expanded his domain greatly and became one of the most famous characters of his time.
  • Takeda Katsuyori - Son of Shingen, Katsuyori commanded his father's troops after his father died and witnessed the fall of the Takeda clan.
  • Takeda Nobushige - Younger brother of Shingen, he supported his brother during his lifetime. He also wrote the Kyūjūkyū Kakun, a series of 99 short rules that governed the Takeda clan. Died fighting during the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima.

In the present day.

  • Sōkaku Takeda - 20th century clan member and founding master of the martial art Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu.
  • Takeda Tokimune (武田 時宗) - Son of Sokaku Takeda. and disseminator of the martial art Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu.
  • Takeda Kate (ケイト武田) - Daughter of Ryuta Takeda. Only female samurai of the 武士 clan).
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