With Friends like Takeda Shingen, Who Needs Enemies?
When your friends/enemies/frenemies’ nickname for you is “Tiger,” watch out – you are a BAMF to the nth degree… as was the “Tiger of Kai,” a famous Japanese military leader by the name of Takeda Shingen. Shingen was born in 1521 in the Kai province of Japan. “Shingen” is actually his dharma name, given to him by his Buddhist master as he was training to become a priest. Naturally, after becoming a man of the cloth, the next thing he achieved was driving his father into exile, forcing him to retire as head of the Takeda clan. Thus, Shingen became provincial governor of Kai, and the real work began…
Objective Numero Uno: Conquer Shinano province. Shingen made considerable advances into this region, but he was stopped at Uetahara where he lost two of his generals (Although later, Shingen avenged them like the Japanese version of Kill Bill, complete with surprise attacks).
Objective Numero Dos: Beat Uesugi Kenshin into the dust. Kenshin was a noted warrior, also called the “Tiger of Echigo.” Hey boy, there’s only one Tiger in these here parts. Shingen battled for control of the Kanto Plain, a key region in Japan. The showdowns between Kenshin and Shingen are still legendary – they fought at least five times and came to a draw. Folklore about their 4th battle depicts Kenshin’s men clearing a path through the troops, so that Kenshin could ride forth and engage Shingen in hand-to-hand combat, Kenshin striking with his sword and Shingen defending with his iron war fan! Exciting enough to pretend it’s not fictional, I’d say.
Classic Samurai Armor:
Objective Numero Tres: Be a leader of the people. Aside from his war victories, Shingen was known for his great public works, such as applying fair criminal and civil laws, taxing the people based on rate assessment, and damming the Fuji River, one of the greatest civil engineering efforts of the 16th century! His governance methods were so fly, they were adopted by the Tokugawa Shogunate who ruled during the Edo period.
Objective Numero Quatro: Total domination… Even if it means backstabbing, which Shingen dabbled in when he joined Oda Nobunga’s army, only to switch loyalties and fight against Nobunaga at the battle of Honganji. Nobunga was on his way to national control, and Shingen was the only warlord with enough power to derail him. But just as Shingen waged war, he was wounded in battle and passed away in 1573.
Objective Numero Cinco: Cause controversy, even after death. In spite of what I just told you, sources differ on how exactly Shingen died. Some say he succumbed to an old war wound. Some say he was hit by a sniper. Some claim he died of pneumonia or TB. I say, if you wanna fight, you need the Eye of the “Tiger of Kai”!
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