Two of the most well-known samurai daimyo of Sengoku Era Japan [the historical period between 1477-1600 when everyone bullied peasants and stabbed each other in the back] were
Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province
Takeda Shingen of Kai.
If you’re a human being, as soon as you start reading about any two rivals then you’re probably gonna pick a side. In this case, both Kenshin and Shingen were strategic thinkers and decent warriors, though it’s debatable how often they actually had to fight in any battles, and their overall record against each other in direct battle was either a no score draw or a Kenshin victory, depending on the sources. I think some historians give the 4th battle of K River to Shingen due to the fact that he lost fewer men, but this omits the point that the men he did lose included most of his generals, whereas Kenshin only lost ashigaru and a few stray tourists.
Some locals would grab a good seat on a nearby hill and watch the battle, which could backfire fatally if one of the daimyo was a creative thinker and decided to shift the battle to that hill
or if one of the archers was drunk.
Kenshin or Shingen?
If it were a film about the two of them, I would side with Uesugi Kenshin for several reasons.
He trained to be a monk,
He didn’t want to be a leader
He gave salt to Shingen when no one else would
He was the god of battle.
Shingen, on the other hand, was a bit of a twat.
Didn’t he have a secret group of women ninja spies?
Allegedly, yes. They were led by Mochizuki Chiyome and would embed themselves in towns and castles that Shingen wanted to attack at some point, usually acting as shrine maidens, prostitutes or talent agents to get the info their boss needed.
No other daimyo was doing this, so you have to Shingen credit for being innovative and recognising the importance of information over force, though he was still the guy who locked his own father out of the family castle [not even giving him one of those little cups to beg for loose change].
Was Uesugi Kenshin really a woman?
According to a forum thread I found, he had stomach cramps every month, died of stomach cancer and wore a full body cloak just like Mulan.
He also never married or had children, which is typically attributed to his Buddhist beliefs, and doesn’t make much sense in the context of the ‘female Kenshin’ theory as he could’ve just married a guy and dressed him up as a woman or married a woman directly, that is, if he was really bothered that much about appearances.
Would a female daimyo have been accepted by other daimyo?
Well, maybe, if she’s the god of battle.
There were rebellions by other Daimyo in Echigo Province when Kenshin first took on the leadership role, which could be read as a bunch of guys pissed off that Patty Duke was running for president a woman dared to be leader.
Beating those rebels on the battlefield convinced them to swear fealty
so maybe it’s true
Kenshin was a woman and
Shingen was half Polish
and the real power behind them both was George Soros.
If there are time machines,
He’s someone rich enough to have access to them.
How did Uesugi Kenshin take over all those castles in Kozuke Province in 1560?
A specific question, and potentially one that no one gives a toss about, but I’m writing a horror novella Candide-style about Kenshin’s 1560 campaign so I need to find the answer to it. The best I can get online so far is: ‘In 1560, he quickly took control of Numata, Ogo, Umayabashi and Hirai castles.’
I know he was basically given Ogo Castle by a famous swordsman serving there, but what about the other places?
Sieges were not easy in any historical era, and, as far as I can tell, he took all the castles in about three months, which means the defenders gave up fairly quickly.
Did he take them by surprise?
I looked at google map and worked out the route Kenshin and army would’ve taken, and using complete guesswork, I think he went straight from the mountains in the west of Kozuke Province to the river where Numata Castle sat [it’s ruined now].
The Numata Clan had a lookout castle by those mountains, about 2km from the end of the mountain pass, but if Kenshin sent some men quickly past it and on towards Numata then what could they do? Maybe they sent some riders to warn Numata, but that would’ve given the defenders only half a day max to get supplies into the castle, which was nowhere near enough to hold out against Kenshin.
My second guess is that Kenshin kept some men back to deal with possible reinforcements from the two lookout castles of the Numata Clan and then just sat outside Numata Castle and displayed the sheer size of his army.
Then, Lord Numata might’ve rode out to discuss terms, saying winter was coming and Kenshin’s troops would get cold, and Kenshin would reply, maybe, but a] you have no hope of reinforcements any time ever, and b] I’ve ordered 100,000 puffer jackets, should be here within 2 days.
Would Numata have given up so easily?
Well, he did, it’s a fact that the castle was taken fast, so I can only assume that he was put in an impossible position and that maybe Kenshin made it clear that he didn’t need the castle in one piece, he just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be attacked from the rear as he rode onwards to Hirai Castle.
I don’t know
It was quite common for sieges to end without fighting in this period
and it was also common for defeated lords to gut themselves
by order of the attacker
as it would be too embarrassing to go on living without your castle.
I know that Lord Numata didn’t die as a result of the siege, which means he was either let go or ran away, but I’m not certain which one is the truth.
Would Kenshin really just let him go?
Maybe Kenshin sent spies disguised as merchants into Numata Castle before the siege and got them to open the gates when he arrived?
That’s what I would’ve done, though to modify a little, I would’ve sent the initial spies in several months before the siege and then another batch a week before, so if the Numata daimyo suspected spies he would only capture the second lot.
Anything was better than attacking the castle directly, which was pretty much a suicide run for most of the men, even if they did eventually win.
You could get a really vital castle this way, but if you’re launching a campaign involving the capture of many castles then this is the second worst tactic you could use
Only marginally better than camping 50 metres from the castle wall
and allowing “prostitutes” and “merchants”
access to your troops.
I think it was Kenshin’s adopted father, Uesugi Norimasa, who let that happen to his men, but I’m not sure.
NOTE: Obviously, I’m an amateur on Japanese history so if anyone knows anything about Kenshin and his 1560 Kozuke campaign, let me know, I’ll be grateful.