The Takeda clan traditionally controlled the province of Kai (modern-day Yamanashi Prefecture). Minamoto no Yoshikiyo, brother of the famous samurai Minamoto no Yoshiie, founded the Takeda line in the 12th century. During the Genpei War, they sided with the Minamoto in their conflict with the Taira . In the Sengoku period, Takeda Nobutora (1493-1574) fought against his rivals in the Hojo, Imagawa and Uesugi clans and to keep Kai pacified. His son, Takeda Shingen (1521-1573), conquered the provinces of Shinano and Suruga and clashed with Uesugi Kenshin several times at Kawanakajima. Shingen’s successor, Katsuyori (1546-1582), sought to continue Takeda expansion but suffered a decisive defeat against allied Oda-Tokugawa forces at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino. In 1582 the Oda-Tokugawa alliance invaded Takeda territory and many top Takeda retainers died or defected. Katsuyori and his family committed suicide following a major loss at the Battle of Tenmokuzan, bringing an end to the clan.
Takeda Shingen (1521-1573), also known by the formal name Harunobu, was the eldest son of Takeda Nobutora, daimyo of the province of Kai. With the support of leading retainers, Shingen overthrew his father in 1541 while the latter was visiting his daughter (the wife of Imagawa Yoshimoto) in Suruga province. Afterwards, Shingen launched a successful campaign to subjugate Shinano province, which eventually led to conflict with Nagao Kagetora (better known as Uesugi Kenshin), the ruler of Echigo province. Shingen and Kenshin had a series of indecisive battles at Kawanakajima from 1553 to 1564. In 1565, Shingen ordered his son and heir, Yoshinobu, to commit suicide for purportedly plotting against him. He then invaded provinces belong to the Imagawa, exploiting Yoshimoto’s sudden death at Okehazama. After capturing Suruga, Shingen turned westward and defeated Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Mikatagahara in 1572. He died under mysterious circumstances the following year. (He was not, however, killed by a sniper, as is sometimes claimed.) His battle standard supposedly contained the phrase “Furinkazan” (“Wind, Forest, Fire, Mountain”), a reference to Sun Tzu’s The Art of War: “be swift as the wind, silent as a forest, fierce as fire, immovable as a mountain.”
Takeda Katsuyori (1546-1582) was the son of Takeda Shingen and a daughter of the Suwa clan, who Shingen had made a concubine after defeating them in 1542. In 1565, Katsuyori married an adopted daughter of Oda Nobunaga, who gave birth to a son, Nobukatsu, two years later. Also in 1565, Shingen forced his son and heir, Yoshinobu, to commit suicide after his implication in a plot to overthrow his father. Shingen named his grandson, Nobukatsu, his new heir, with Katsuyori acting as regent until the boy came of age. When Shingen died unexpectedly in 1573, Katsuyori assumed control of the Takeda but could not maintain the military successes of his father. The Oda and Tokugawa clans inflicted a tremendous defeat on him at the Battle of Nagashino in 1575, with several prominent retainers slain. He withstood an Oda-led invasion until 1582, when he committed suicide along with his family following a loss at the battle of Temmokuzan.
Takeda Nobushige (1525-1561) was a younger brother of Shingen, favored by their father, Nobutora, to become the leader of the Takeda clan. In 1541, Shingen seized power in a bloodless coup and took power for himself. Despite his disinheritance, Nobushige served his brother loyally. He authored the Kyûjukyu Kakun, a code of 99 rules for clan members to guide their behavior. He died at the fourth battle of Kawanakajima in 1561, fighting against the forces of the Uesugi retainer Kakizaki Kagaie. He is buried on the battlefield.
Takeda Nobukado (1529-1582) was a younger brother of Takeda Shingen. While not famous for his military accomplishments, he was a talented artist known for portraits of his family. He also served his clan as a body double for Shingen due to the resemblance between he and his brother, and is one of the main characters in the Akira Kurosawa period film, Kagemusha (a term referring to a “political decoy”). He acted as advisor to Katsuyori at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino. Oda forces captured and executed him at the Zenkoji in Shinano province during the 1582 invasion of the Takeda domain.
Ichijo Nobutatsu (1539-1582) was a younger brother of Takeda Shingen, albeit by a different mother, and lord of Ueno castle in Kai. He fought at Mikatagahara in 1573 under Shingen and at Nagashino in 1575 under Shingen’s successor, Katsuyori. He was deployed to the northwest of Nagashino castle. Oda forces executed him and his son, Nobunari, along the banks of the Fuji River after their capture during the 1582 invasion of the Takeda lands.
Nishina Morinobu (1557?-1582), also known as Takeda Harukiyo, was a son of Takeda Shingen. In 1561 the Nishina clan of Shinano province adopted him to cement their relations with the Takeda clan. He defended Takato Castle in southern Shinano against the invading Oda forces in 1582. Oda Nobutada, Nobunaga’s heir and commander of the Oda army, attempted to negotiate the capitulation of the castle, but Morinobu declined and committed suicide. Before his death, he allegedly predicted the downfall of the Oda clan.
Takeda Nobutoyo (?-1582) was a son of Takeda Nobushige and therefore a nephew of Takeda Shingen. He served as lord of Komoro Castle in Shinano province. When the Hojo clan sent troops to attack Shingen following the Takeda’s 1567 invasion of Imagawa territory, Nobutoyo aided Takeda Katsuyori during the 1569 siege of Kanbara Castle, capturing it from the Hojo defenders. He commanded troops at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino and survived, but died after he was captured in the 1582 Oda invasion of the Takeda domain.
Akiyama Nobutomo (1527-1575) served Takeda Shingen as a retainer and was known as the “Bull of the Takeda.” He earned distinction during the conquest of Shinano province and acted as lord of Takato Castle after Shingen captured it in 1545. In 1572, Nobutomo seized Iwamura Castle in Mino province, capturing Nobunaga’s aunt (who Nobutomo married). He defended the castle against the Oda and Tokugawa until 1575, when the loss at Nagashino crippled the Takeda clan. Nobunaga’s heir, Oda Nobutada, successfully besieged the castle and Nobutomo was crucified along the banks of the Nagara River on the Nobi Plain.
Amari Torayasu (?-1548) was one of the chief instigators of the bloodless 1541 coup against Takeda Nobutora and his replacement with his son, Takeda Shingen. He along with Itagaki Nobutaka served two generations of the Takeda clan. He was a major commander in the Takeda campaign to conquer Shinano in the early 1540s. He was famous for his ferocity and strength but was killed by troops belonging to Murakami Yoshikiyo at the 1548 Battle of Uedahara, the first defeat that Takeda Shingen suffered in his life.
Anayama Nobukimi (1541-1582), also known as Beisetsu, was said to have been an expert on firearms within the Takeda clan. He was Shingen’s nephew, but also became his brother-in-law when he married Shingen’s sister. He fought in the major Takeda battles of the 1560s and 1570s, before betraying Shingen’s successor, Katsuyori, and defecting to the Oda clan following the 1575 Battle of Nagashino. His motives are unknown, though a popular story is he blamed Katsuyori for the forced suicide of Yoshinobu. He was in the capital region in 1582 during the assassination of Oda Nobunaga at Honnoji. Due to having hemorrhoids, he had to take a special escape route. He was ambushed shortly thereafter alongside the Uji River, likely by former Takeda retainers.
Asahina Nobuoki (1528-1582) was originally a retainer of the Imagawa clan based in Suruga province. He fought on the Imagawa side against Oda Nobuhide during their clashes at Azukizaka in the 1540s. He later served the Takeda clan after Shingen invaded Imagawa territory in the 1560s. He commanded troops at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino and defended against the subsequent Oda invasion of the Takeda lands. After the Takeda’s demise, he committed suicide.
Ashida Nobumori (1526-1575) served the Takeda clan as lord of Mitake Castle in Kai province. After the Takeda invaded Imagawa territory in 1567, he received command over Futamata Castle in Totomi province. Following the defeat of the Takeda at 1575 Battle of Nagashino, Tokugawa Ieyasu besieged his castle. Nobumori died of illness during the siege.
Atobe Katsusuke (1547-1582), also known as Atobe Oinosuke, served as an advisor to Takeda Katsuyori and counseled him to engage the Oda and Tokugawa forces at Nagashino in 1575, which culminated in a overwhelming loss for the Takeda clan. He died during the 1582 invasion of Takeda territory. His son Masakatsu later became a Tokugawa retainer.
Baba Nobuharu (1515-1575) was known as Baba Nobufusa before receiving the character for “haru” from Takeda Harunobu (better known as Takeda Shingen). He had served Nobutora but supported Shingen in the 1541 coup. Shingen entrusted him with Fukashi Castle in Shinano province. In 1564 Shingen further granted him lordship over Mino province and placed him in the vanguard of the Takeda invasion of Imagawa territory in 1568. He died performing rearguard action after the 1575 Battle of Nagashino. He supposedly advised against the battle but sacrificed himself so Takeda Katsuyori could retreat. Before his death, he supposedly fought in 21 battles without ever being injured.
Hajikano Masatsugu (1545-1624) served the Takeda clan as a retainer. His father Tadatsugu was killed in 1561 at the fourth Battle of Kawanakajima. When Takeda Shingen marched on Odawara Castle in 1569, he tested the depths of the flooded Sasao River until only the banner on his back was visible. After the fall of the Takeda, he served as a Tokugawa retainer, participating in the Komaki Campaign as well as the sieges of Odawara and Osaka castles. He died in 1624, one of the last of the Takeda generals.
Hara Toratane (1497-1564) served the Takeda clan in their conquest of Shinano. After the 1541 coup ousted Nobutora, he continued to serve under Shingen. In 1553 he briefly switched service to the rival Hojo clan based in the Kanto region, but soon rejoined the Takeda clan . He received possession of Hirase Castle after Shingen took it from the Ogasawara clan during his conquest of Shinano. In 1561 Toratane was wounded in battle at Warikadake Castle and rendered incapable. He succumbed to his injuries in 1564.
Itagaki Nobutaka (1489-1548) led the bloodless 1541 coup against Takeda Nobutora along with Shingen and fellow retainer Amari Torayasu. He was instrumental in Shingen’s subsequent campaign to conquer Shinano, capturing several castles belonging to the Suwa clan. He was supposedly responsible for a ploy in which the head of the Suwa clan, Yorishige, was taken to the Takeda capital for “protection” only to be murdered. He died in 1548 while leading the vanguard at the Battle of Uedahara against the forces of Murakami Yoshikiyo.
Kiso Yoshimasa (1540-1595) was the son of Kiso Yoshiyasu, one of the Shinano warlords who unsuccessfully attempted to prevent the Takeda conquest of the province in the 1540s and 1550s. He was lord of Fukushima Castle and became Shingen’s son-in-law. After the Takeda defeat at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino, he defected to the Oda clan and helped them in their invasion of the Takeda domain. Toyotomi Hideyoshi later confiscated his lands.
Kosaka Masanobu (1527-1578) served as a Takeda retainer, operating mostly along the northern border of the clan domain. Shingen took him as a lover in 1543, when Shingen was 22 and Masanobu sixteen. Shingen entrusted him with Komoro Castle in Shinano province, which Shingen had taken from Oi Mitsutada. Masanobu later commanded Kaizu Castle from 1560, on the border with Echigo province. He therefore featured heavily in the Battles of Kawanakajima (1553-1564) between Shingen and the warlord of Echigo, Uesugi Kenshin. He remained on the northern border during Shingen’s conquest of Suruga and march westward against the Tokugawa. He thus was not present at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino, after which the Takeda clan collapsed. He died from illness in 1578 and Oda troops killed his sons during the 1582 invasion.
Naitô Masatoyo (1522?-1575) was initially banished (along with his brothers) by Takeda Nobutora, but was recalled after Shingen seized power in the 1541 coup. Masatoyo served as the Takeda clan as lord of Minowa Castle in western Kozuke Province, after the Takeda captured it from the Nagano clan (Uesugi retainers) in 1566. He fought with some renown at the 1573 Battle of Mikatagahara after Takeda Shingen invaded Tokugawa territory in the Totomi and Mikawa provinces. He led the vanguard at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino, a battle he allegedly advised Takeda Katsuyori not to engage in. He died during the battle, supposedly shot with numerous arrows before a samurai beheaded him.
Obu Toramasa (1504-1565) was a Takeda retainer who served Takeda Nobutora and then Takeda Shingen following his seizure of power in 1541. He took command of Uchiyama Castle in 1546 after it was captured from the Oi clan. He was famous for his bravery and his penchant for having his troops wear armor lacquered red, a custom repeated by his brother Yamagata Masakage and later Ii Naomasa. Shingen’s eldest son and heir, Yoshinobu, was a ward to Toramasa, and both were implicated in a 1565 plot to overthrow Shingen. Shingen forced both Toramasa and Yoshinobu to commit suicide. According to legend, it was his brother Masakage who betrayed him to Shingen.
Oyamada Nobushige (1539-1582) served the Takeda clan as lord of Iwadono Castle, a fortification on a mountain well-known for its defenses. He fought in the clan’s struggles against the Uesugi, Hojo and the Tokugawa. Following Shingen’s death and the 1575 Battle of Nagashino, he invited Takeda Katsuyori to seek refuge in his impregnable castle, but then refused to admit Katsuyori when he arrived. Katsuyori committed suicide with his family and Nobushige defected to the Oda clan. Nobunaga allegedly criticized him for his betrayal, however, and had Nobushige executed by Horio Yoshiharu, an Oda samurai.
Sanada Yukitaka (1512-1574), also known as Ittokusai, was possibly descended from the Unno clan in Shinano province. In 1541 he lost control of his ancestral stronghold, Sanada Castle, after it fell to the Murakami clan. He fled to the Nagano clan, retainers of the Uesugi, before accepting an invitation to join Takeda Shingen. In 1550 he regained Sanada Castle as Shingen conquered Shinano province, and allegedly acted as a strategist and advisor to Shingen in his later campaigns in the 1560s and 1570s. He died in 1574, shortly after Shingen’s death.
Sanada Nobutsuna (1537-1575) was the eldest son of Sanada Yukitaka who became a retainer of the Takeda in his own right. He fought against the Murakami clan during the 1550-1551 siege of Toishi castle. He would go on to become a veteran of the later Takeda campaigns against the Uesugi, Hojo, Imagawa and Tokugawa . When his father died in 1574, Nobutsuna inherited his position. He participated in the 1575 Battle of Nagashino against the Oda and Tokugawa alliance, commanding a cavalry unit. He was killed along with his younger brother, Masateru, leaving his brother Masayuki to inherit Sanada clan leadership.
Sanada Masayuki (1544-1608) inherited control of the Sanada clan in 1575, following the deaths of his older brothers Nobutsuna and Masateru. In 1580 he led an invasion of Kozuke province and captured Numata Castle from the Hojo clan. He remained neutral in 1582 when the Oda and Tokugawa clans invaded Takeda territory, the Sanada clan becoming effectively independent. He refused a request by Tokugawa Ieyasu to return Numata Castle to the Hojo. In 1585 he defeated a more numerous Tokugawa army sent to punish him at his newly constructed Ueda Castle. After aligning with the Toyotomi forces in 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu exiled Masayuki and his son Yukimura to Kii province. Masayuki died in 1608, possibly killed on orders from the Tokugawa shogunate.
Tada Mitsuyori (1501-1563) served the Takeda as a retainer, first under Takeda Nobutora and then under his son Shingen. He was allegedly born in Mino province but traveled to Kai to learn archery, where he entered Takeda service. He fought in several battles during the campaign to conquer Shinano province, and he was present at the battles of Uehara in 1541 and Sezawa in 1542. He acted primarily as a captain of infantry under Itagaki Nobutaka. He was supposedly an expert in nighttime attacks. He missed the 1561 Battle of Kawanakajima due to an illness he would die from in 1563.
Yamagata Masakage (1524-1575), also known as Iitomi Genshiro, served the Takeda clan as a retainer in the 1560s and 1570s. He was a veteran of many battles and considered an experienced commander. He was a younger brother of Obu Toramasa and purportedly informed Takeda Shingen about the 1565 plot by Toramasa to lead a revolt with Shingen’s son and heir, Yoshinobu. Shingen forced Toramasa and Yoshinobu to take their own lives as a result. Like his brother, he had his troops wear red lacquered armor in battle so they were more distinctive. He led the left flank of the Takeda forces at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino, where he died with many other Takeda retainers.
Yamamoto Kansuke (1501-1561), also known as Haruyuki, was a possibly fictional individual acclaimed as a great strategist of the Takeda clan. Modern historians doubt his existence, suggesting he was invented by Takeda family chroniclers as a strategist figure for Shingen. Whatever the case, it is said he was a samurai from Mikawa, physically disabled and blind in eye, who helped the Takeda in their conquest of Shinano with various plots and schemes. He came up with a battle plan — the so-called “woodpecker plan” — for the fourth battle at Kawanakajima in 1561, but was outwitted by Uesugi Kenshin. Shamed by his failure, he charged into the enemy ranks and sacrificed himself.
Yakota Takatoshi (?-1550) was a Takeda clan retainer who initially served as one of the key commanders under Takeda Nobutora in his struggles to pacify Kai province. Takatoshi later attracted Takeda Shingen’s attention for his bravery in battle and his skill at bow and arrow. He was killed in close combat with the Murakami clan at Toishii Castle in 1550. His death came as a blow to Shingen, who had advised his younger retainers to follow Takatoshi’s example. Takatoshi’s heir, Yasukage, was killed at the 1575 Battle of Nagashino.