Takeda Yoshinobu (武田義信)

Yoshinobu TAKEDA was a busho (Japanese military commander) during the Sengoku (Warring States) period. He was the legitimate son of Shingen TAKEDA but was disinherited.


He was born in Kai-no-kuni (Kai Province) in 1538, the eldest son of Shingen TAKEDA, a Sengoku period daimyo (Japanese feudal warlord).

In 1550, when he was 13 years old, he went through the Genpuku (Coming of Age) Ceremony and took the name Yoshinobu, receiving the 'Yoshi' as henki (where an emperor, shogun, or daimyo gave one character from their name to a subordinate or those who went through genpuku) from the Thirteenth Muromachi Shogun, Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA. In 1552, in a political marriage that was part of his father's plan to strengthen ties with Yoshimoto IMAGAWA, he married Imagawa's daughter. Yoshinobu took part in his first battle in the attack on the Chiku clan of Shinano-no-kuni (Shinano Province) in 1554.

He also participated in the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima in 1561, fighting bravely.

In 1560, Yoshimoto IMAGAWA was killed by Nobunaga ODA of Owari and Shingen, whose attempts to invade the north had been thwarted by Kenshin UESUGI of Echigo, revised his plans, abandoning his alliance with the Imagawa clan and planning invasions of Suruga-no-kuni (Suruga Province) and other provinces in the Tokai region. He also formed an alliance with Nobunaga ODA by accepting Nobunaga's adopted daughter as the wife of his son, Katsuyori, in 1565.

Yoshinobu, on the other hand, disagreed with his father's diplomatic methods, strengthening the alliance with the Imagawa clan and planning the Assault on Hida (Hida-zeme). It has been pointed out that these shook Yoshinobu's position as Takeda family, and there was an opposition against Shingen concerning his shift in policies.

According to the "Koyo Gunkan" (a record of the military exploits of the Takeda family), the origins of the confrontation with Shingen lay in the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima and Yoshinobu's disapproval of his paternal younger brother, Katsuyori SUWA (Katsuyori TAKEDA) becoming the lord of Takato-jo Castle.

He died at Toko-ji Temple on October 19, 1567. He died at the age of 30. There is a strong theory that he committed suicide on Shingen's orders, but another theory has it that he died from illness.

Yoshinobu Incident

Takeda clan scholars agree that although Yoshinobu was disinherited due to his involvement in a plot to assassinate Shingen in 1565, there had already been some conflict between Yoshinobu and Shingen.

According to the "Koyo Gunkan", Yoshinobu's tutor,Toramasa OBU, his close associate Gengoro (also known as Masakuni) NAGASAKA, and Suo no kami (the governor of Suo Province), Sone secretly plotted in July 1564 to assassinate Shingen, but the plot was exposed beforehand in a secret letter from Toramasa's younger brother, Masakage YAMAGATA, resulting in, in January 1565, the execution of Toramasa and the other two as ring leaders of the rebellion, and the expulsion of eighty cavalry members of Yoshinobu's retainers. In September the same year, Yoshinobu was confined to Toko-ji Temple in Kofu, forcefully made to divorce Yoshimoto's daughter, and disinherited. Many of the written vows of allegiance that Shingen required from his retainers after the incident are still in existence.

A document (the "Miwa-jinja Shrine Bunsho") in Miwa-jinja Shrine in Kai Province shows NAGASAKA and SONE performed the tachi-hono (sword offering) rite in June 1565, and it is believed, therefore, that the "Koyo Gunkan"must have been mistaken and the plot was actually revealed in July 1565. In addition, Takeda Shingen wrote in a letter ("Sengoku Ibun No. 959") sent to Gengoro of Nishiueno on October 23, 1565, that he immediately punished OBU and the others once the conspiracy was revealed, so it is believed that their punishment carried out sometime between September and October 1565.

Recent study say that Yoshinobu was a strong and wise busho, very popular among his subordinates and supported not only by Toramasa OBU but also Nobukimi ANAYAMA and other chief retainers of Shingen.

The Yoshinobu Incident spilt the retainers in half and strongly affected the Takeda family after the death of Shingen: for example, Nobukimi ANAYAMA betrayed Katsuyori just before the fall of the Takeda clan, one reason being his close relationship with Yoshinobu. Another theory states that there was a rumor that the Yoshinobu Incident was caused by close followers of Yoshinobu, and some argue that it was a remote cause that led to the fall of Takeda clan.

In addition, it is uncertain even now that Yoshinobu was involved and though the debate continues, the current consensus is that there was no plot.

Reasons for Opposing his Father

He was opposed to the assault on Suruga (Suruga-zeme).

Yoshinobu loved his wife deeply, so he was against Shingen's abrogation of the alliance and invasion of Suruga, his wife's family home.

Yoshinobu's battle strategy was to attack Hojo from the rear by invading Hida, as the Imagawa clan invaded Mikawa, and the Takeda, Imagawa, Asakura, and Miyoshi clans attacked Oda in a pincer movement.

Yoshinobu was excluded by Shingen.

Since the grandson who was supposed to inherit the family name did not appear despite the long wait, Shingen began to shun Yoshinobu's wife. Since Yoshinobu loved his wife, he began to go against Shingen.

Shingen favored Katsuyori (in fact, he was made the lord of Takato-jo Castle at an early age) and he eventually began to wish to pass the Takeda family head position to Katsuyori and therefore planned to disinherit Yoshinobu.

The relationship between Shingen and Yoshinobu's mother, Lady Sanjo (Sanjo-fujin) became distant, and because of this, Shingen also shunned by Yoshinobu as well.

Shingen's brother, Nobushige TAKEDA, died during the Battle of Kawanakajima due to a blunder made by Yoshinobu.

These theories have existed for some time, but since the claims that Shingen and his wife were on bad terms with each other, that Yoshinobu was disciplined for his mistake in the Battle of Kawanakajima and refrained from battle, or that Shingen wanted Katsuyori as the rightful heir after Yoshinobu's death cannot be confirmed, they are unconvincing.