- Born: 1493
- Died: 1574
- Titles: Mutsu no kami, Sakyô-daibu
- Sons: Takeda Shingen, Takeda Nobushige, Takeda Nobutomo, Takeda Nobukado, Takeda Munetomo, Ichijo Nobutatsu, Matsuo Nobukore, Kawakubo Nobuzane, Takeda Katsutora?
- Other Names: Nobunao
- Japanese: 武田 信虎 (Takeda Nobutora)
Nobutora was the eldest son of Takeda Nobutsuna, the lord of Kai Province. His mother was from the Iwashita family. Nobutsuna, lord since 1491, died of illness in 1507 and Nobutora duly succeeded him at a time when the Takeda, and Kai itself, was politically fractured. He was known at this time as Nobunao. His uncle Nobue challenged Nobutora's authority and fighting broke out between their two factions. Nobutora attacked Nobue and his supporters the following year (1508) and in the course of the fighting Nobue and his his ally, Oyamada Nobutaka, were killed. However, other important families within Kai, including the Ôi and Oyamada, now led by Oyamada Nobuari, continued to oppose him. Nobutora forced the submission of the Oyamada in 1510 and the following year married a daughter to Nobuari. However, the Ôi of southern Kai were supported by the Imagawa family of Suruga and proved more formidable. In 1517, however, Imagawa Ujichika withdrew his troops from Kai and Ôi Nobusato was compelled to come to terms with Nobutora. Nobutora married Nobusato's daughter and this union would produce four of Nobutora's sons: Harunobu (Shingen), Nobushige, Nobutomo, and Nobukado. In 1530 he was to take the widow of Uesugi Norifusa as a concubine. Additionally, he was to maintain concubines from the Imai, Kudo, Kusuura, and Matsuo families.
In 1519 Nobutora established the center of the Takeda clan at Tsutsujigaseki [躑躅ヶ崎館] in Fuchu. This moated mansion complex would remain the center of the Takeda clan for the next sixty years, until Takeda Katsuyori moved the family to Nirayama. In 1521, Ôi Nobusato again defied his authority and war broke out. Imagawa Ujichika came to Nobusato's support once more and ordered his retainer Kushima Masanari to launch an attack into Kai. Nobutora defeated Masashige at Iidagawara and afterwards Nobusato submitted, retired and became a monk. Around this time Nobutora's eldest son, the future Shingen, was born.
Over the course of the next decade, Nobutora was at odds with the Imagawa, Hôjô, and a number of Shinano daimyô. The latter at length banded together in an anti-Nobutora coalition that included the Suwa, the Imai, the Hiraga and others. The Suwa, being at this time the strongest of them, was Nobutora's main antagonist. In 1531 he defeated a coalition army near present-day Nirasaki but in 1535 found himself pressed on his southern borders by the Imagawa and Hôjô. The following year he was granted a reprieve by the death of Imagawa Ujichika and the resulting battle for power within the Imagawa family. Nobutora supported Imagawa Yoshimoto's bid for leadership and when Yoshimoto emerged as the new daimyô he married Nobutora's eldest daughter. In return, Yoshimoto acted as a go-between to arrange the marriage of Takeda Harunobu to the daughter of the court noble, Sanjo Kimiyori. Although the Takeda and Hôjô made peace, Nobutora's alliance with Yoshimoto split the Hôjô-Imagawa union and the two clans began fighting. Meanwhile, with his southern borders secure, Nobutora attacked the domain of Hiraga Genshin in late 1536 and surrounded his castle of Umi no kuchi [海ノ口城]. The defenders resisted stoutly and when winter snows began to fall, Nobutora withdrew. According to legend, it was Harunobu, commanding the rear guard, who opted to make a counter-march that caught the Hiraga men by surprise and led to their defeat and Genshin's death. Whatever the truth of the story, the result of the campaign was the destruction of the Hiraga in the 2nd month of 1537.
In 1540, following the surrender of Imai Nobumoto, the Suwa and the Takeda reconciled and Suwa Yorishige married another of Nobutora's daughters, Nene. At the same time, a treaty was made with the Murakami family and, along with the Suwa, the two clans defeated the Unno family at the Battle of Unnotaira [海野平の戦いで].
Nobutora came to favor his second son, Nobushige, over Harunobu and contemplated naming him heir. Perhaps as importantly to the coming events, Nobutora had alienated his retainers with his arbitrary style of leadership and burdened the people of Kai with heavy taxes and forced labor for his seemingly endless campaigns. In the summer of 1541 he was overthrown by Harunobu and his chief retainers (perhaps most notably Amari Torayasu and Itagaki Nobutaka), although the manner in which this played out is not entirely clear. According to one version of the so-called 'bloodless coup', Nobutora departed for Suruga province to visit his daughter, the wife of Imagawa Yoshimoto, and Harunobu seized power in his absence, possibly with the secret understanding of Yoshimoto. The people of Kai in any event celebrated his fall and the Takeda retainers accepted Shingen's rule without incident. Nobutora afterwards lived quietly in Suruga Province, until the death of Yoshimoto at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560. Nobutora's relations with Yoshimoto's heir, Ujizane, were not good and at length Nobutora migrated to Ise Province and took up with Kitabatake Tomonori, who gave him property in Shima Province. In return, Nobutora assisted Tomonori in his conflict with Kuki Yoshitaka
After Harunobu (Shingen) died in 1573, Katsuyori, the new lord of the Takeda, allowed Nobutora to return to the east and he took up with his 4th son, Nobukado, at Takato Castle in Shinano. He died on 27 March 1574 in Shinano (almost all western sources state that he died in 1573, perhaps owing to some earlier confusion with the death of Shingen), and was buried in Kai and his grave may be seen in Kofu today. Nobutora was recorded as an intemperate and even unstable man who was not well-liked by his retainers, though he was a warrior of obvious ability. Katsuyori was said to have been taken aback at how fearsome his grandfather looked even at 80 years of age. His wife, the daughter of Ôi Nobusato, died in 1552. His eldest daughter (who died in 1550), the wife of Imagawa Yoshimoto, produced the latter's heir, Ujizane. In addition to his other sons, Nobutora may also have had another, Katsutora. Little is known about him, except that he may have been born around the time that Nobutora went into exile.
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- Kuwada, Tadachika. Nihon Busho Retsuden Series #3, 1989
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- Imagawa Yoshimoto From Japanese Wikipedia
- Joukei-In From Japanese Wikipedia
- Nene From Japanese Wikipedia
- Takeda Nobutora From Japanese Wikipedia