Oda Nobuna no Yabou fanfic: A Tale of Mountain and Sea.
There are three kinds of Talented Person.
The First are those who are acknowledged by the talentless.
The Second are the pretentious, self proclaimed talent.
The Third are those who are acknowledged by the talented.
Not knowing the height of the sky; Not knowing the depth of earth.
Or perhaps there lies another sky above the sky. No One will ever know.
The Crouching Dragon (Fulong) and the Fledging Phoenix (Fengchu).
The Daoist who goes by the title Water Mirror (Shuijing) once remarked;
Even obtaining one of them would be enough to restore order to the empire.
Such is the praise for those talents!
These honorable titles came from an ancient story from the land of Ming… The titles are honored to two persons.
The title of the Crouching Dragon refers to Zhuge Liang with style name Kongming who resides in Nanyang.
While the Fledging Phoenix refers to Pang Tong with style name Shiyuan who resides in Xiangyang.
With their assistance, The King of Hanzhong managed to stand equal as a great hegemon of The Three Kingdoms.
In this land which is ravaged by the flame of wars of the Sengoku Jidai;
These titles were also respectfully honored for two persons whose talents shook this land.
The title of the Crouching Dragon refers to Takenaka Shigeharu of Mino.
While the Fledging Phoenix refers to Kuroda Yoshitaka of Harima.
With their assistance, Kampaku Hideyoshi managed to carved his name, bringing a period of harmony and political stability of Azuchi-Momoya period.
But… There is so many talents in this world waiting to be found, as many as the numbers of stars on the night sky.
The Crouching Dragon and the Fledging Phoenix got their thunderous reputation because they build their achievement above the other talents.
So, who says only the Crouching Dragon and the Fledging Phoenix are amazing?
Dear Readers, I the Narrator am here to present you a tale of two persons whose talents are no less frightening than either the Crouching Dragon of Mino or The Fledging Phoenix of Harima.
During the reign of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru,
These land of Zipang once again entered the period of instability. The Ashikaga Shogunate which were established by the First Shogun Ashikaga Takauji began to lose it's influence and entered the period which the historian will refer as the Warring States Period (Sengoku Jidai).
When the clan of Houjou in Sagami province come to the leadership of Houjo Souun, the central authority in Kyou (Kyouto) started to decline and the power of authority shifted toward the provincial daimyou.
This land once again fell into slumber, waiting for a conqueror to unify them into a single order.
At the eastern part of Zipang, the power of this region were at the hand of three powerful daimyous,
The Houjou clan of Sagami.
The Takeda clan of Kai.
And The Uesugi Clan of Echigo.
The common people said that those three clans are one of the closest in contesting power to unify this land with only the Imagawa clan in Suruga being their only obstacle in moving to the Imperial Capital Kyouto.
Unfortunately, instead of establishing alliance and proceed to march directly to Kyou, they are being too proud and waged endless wars between them. A fact which only being benefitted by the third party.
So, as the old saying goes; A snipe and a clam entangle in fight, it becomes the fisherman gains.
During the Tenbun era (1532 - 1555 AD),
The Takeda clan of Kai repeatedly attacked the Murakami clan who resides in Shinano. During the campaign of Uedahara between the Takeda and Murakami, The Murakami lost with their main castle in Sakaki falls and the clan leader Murakami Yoshikiyo were forced to flee to Echigo.
The evicted daimyou, Murakami Yoshikiyo beseech the help of the Uesugi clan in which the clan leader, Uesugi Kenshin accepted. Since then the small flame sparked the blazing fire of wars between the Takeda clan and Uesugi clan that will lasted for long.
When the evicted daimyou come to beseech for her help, the young daimyou Uesugi Kenshin was moved. She was always known as honest in simplicity and deeply emotional. She is a devout follower of Chan (Zen) which allowed her to retain a composure, a trait that allowed her to led the clan bringing deep respect from all her retainer. When she made the decision to wage war against the strong Takeda clan, Kenshin was not deciding this only based on spur of emotional aspect. But it is also due to her heroism.
The young daimyou Uesugi Kenshin is known as a loyalist to the Central Authority of Kyou. She had made several formal visits before the Imperial leading figure, Himiko-sama. Out of loyalty and respect, She was allowed to present herself before the Imperial leading figure with the mediation of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru and Kampaku Konoe Sakihisa.
Given with such honor let the young daimyou of Echigo to showed the prestige of Uesugi clan before all the reigning daimyous of all Zipang what it means as Sonno joi (Revere the Imperial Rule, Expel the barbarian).
At the South Eastern part of Nojiri lake, the border between Echigo and Shinsu is a strategic place where the Uesugi clan erected the Warigadake castle. The fortification for this castle is vital, and even the Takeda of clan admitted of this truth where any attempt to besiege this place will allow changing the face of latter battle. The Warigadake castle thus became the witness of various struggle between both daimyous which forced the reigning Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru from intervening before the battle escalated.
But then…. The flame of wars once again ignited.
With the alliance with the Sagami's Houjo clan, the Takeda clan besieged the Warigadake castle. In hearing the news, Uesugi Kenshin was shocked. Despite her composure looks, she is not a statue who remains numbed hearing such news.
Clenching her teeth, and her eyes showed a silent anger, she cursed in low voice.
"That Long legged Shingen…" This word is not a word of derogatory, as Takeda Shingen who lead the Takeda clan was known as a shrewd in diplomacy, swift and decisive in action. This pre-emptive attack only shown of her meticulousness in involving the daimyou of Sagami, Houjou Ujiyasu which allowed her troops to move with ease.
Kenshin swiftly ordered the troops to march as reinforcement for Warigadake castle, but unfortunately, they came too late. Uesugi Kagetora Kenshin who saw the remaining of the ruined castle and the victim of wars asked for report.
"After destroying castle Warigadake, the enemy swiftly withdraw back to Koshu. All of our brave soldiers died within the castle."
In hearing the report, Uesugi Kenshin only gave a short reply. "I see…", and they continued their move back to Echigo. Aware of the anger and sorrow that their leader felt, Governor Naoe Kanetsugu, Kakizaki Kageie, Murakami Yoshikiyo, Ayukawa Settsu, Tottomi Nagao, Kojima Yataro did not let any words of anger coming from their lips.
As they walked away, many foot-soldiers stomped their feet in angers. Many of relatives and friend died during this battle, there are those who lost brother, uncle, nephews. They cursed the Takeda's treacherous act and wished for returning the favor. Silently they wished to voice their discontent,
Lo! At west from the mountain they passed by, the clouds from the remains of Waridagake still could be seen! With one lash of whip lest they move forward to the left, Nojiri is not far from here!
One march, passing the Kawanakajima, they can attack the Kaizu to return the favor.
The young lord, Uesugi Kenshi who realized their discontent suddenly shouted "Halt!"
And the soldiers questioned what made their leaders to announce the order to stop their movement. She dismounted from her horse and facing toward the Waridagake and prayed silently. Then toward the discontent soldiers, she recite;
"Even if the bridge washed away, the water remain uncaring. "
The people of Echigo who learned of the Takeda's breach of peace covenant were burned with hatred. They are being impatient waiting for their lord's order to march, washing away the shame. However the young lord, Uesugi Kenshin did not gave any order to march. They are curious of Kenshin's quiet act.
The Old Generals of Uesugi clan have sent formal request several times to Uesugi Kenshin to march, which were refused. And when their lord sent an envoy to the Takeda, they were exasperated.
"To send an envoy and try to negotiate the term of peace is a shameful act! We were attacked! How could we lower ourselves!?" the voice of discontent were heard.
But the young lord only dismissed their discontent toward her decision. She already sent Saito Shimotsuke, her trusted orator to the Takeda clan.
In castle Tsutsujigasaki, Takeda Shingen with an attire that showing off her charisma were waiting in suspicion.
When she heard that the lord of Echigo sent someone for a diplomatic mission to speak of terms, she was thoroughly surprised. For she expected Kenshin in anger would march in full force to strike back at Usui or Shinshu where she purposely left them weakly guarded. Yet, without any impression of being impetuous, Kenshin withdrawn her troops and returned back to her own castle in Kasugayama.
When she heard of Uesugi Kenshin's action after her pre-emptive attack, her hearts were filled with anxiety. Instead of recklessly waging war against them, the leader of Uesugi clan instead sent an envoy for diplomatic mission. Shingen became vigilant against this opponent. Many spies and scout reported there is no act of preparation for war in Echigo.
The envoy, Saito Shimotsuke insisted.
"As this message of my lord in Echigo is important, I insist to meet the lord of this Tsutsujigasaki castle personally. I shall wait until she let this lowly Saito Shimotsuke to deliver the message directly to her."
When the retainer came with this word, Shingen became amused. What kind of person that the young lord of Echigo sent to met her personally? Then the envoy of Echigo, Saito Shimotsuke were directed to the inner room where Shingen waited.
But upon seeing the lord of Kai before her, Saito Shimotsuke were less than amused. This Shingen allowed her to take a seat, but Saito Shimotsuke instead angrily berate this Shingen.
"Lord of Kai, is this how you play with an envoy that was tasked with diplomatic mission?"
The Shingen was shocked by her rude words, but the envoy Saito Shimotsuke instead walked, passing this Shingen and forcefully opened the sliding door behind the Shingen revealing a gallant female, that can only be compared to crimson flame. While the other retainers were too late to make any move.
This female did not show any look of surprised but remain uncaring, holding her head in bored look while her other free hand reached the goblet containing sake before her.
Before the crimson lady, Saito Shimotsuke quickly bowed and paid respect.
"This lowly Saito Shimotsuke, the vassal of Uesugi clan of Echigo is here to present a letter toward the respectful lord of Kai."
The crimson lady look directly on this envoy, trying to judge her. With sharp glance and pursing lips in amusement, The crimson lady placed down the goblet in her hand, and with eyes showing off her killing intent speaks.
"That is right. This is I, the Shingen herself."
While the fake Shingen quickly moved behind the envoy of Echigo, and the other retainers murmured between themselves out of shock in this envoy's sharp eye for knowing the true Shingen.
"I recall how brave the great Takeda Shingen of Kai is in the battle, so how could such petty attempt of fraudulence fooled this Saito Shimotsuke's eyes? That Shingen (pointing toward the fake Shingen who threatened her with blade in hand) did not have the same respectful charisma and battle experience that you let outs from your great name…. she is just your Kagemusha (Shadow Warrior)."
The true Shingen laughed when hearing this envoy's reasoning.
"I never expected that young lord of Uesugi has such amusing retainer as you. in the story from the land of Ming; I've heard of man named Lin Xiangru. Even with his weak arms and only armed with his eloquences with words, he manages to shame the king of Qin and brought respect to his lord, the King of Zhao. Your courageous act reminds me of him. Tell me, how much that Uesugi paid you?"
Saito Shimotsuke moved back and bowed. "This lowly Shimotsuke were granted with 600 kan."
In hearing this answer, Shingen were astonished. That much of salary for this person…. that young lord of Uesugi know to treat her retainer. She is indeed a formidable enemy….
Takeda Shingen thus took the kettle and poured the contain to this courageous envoy…. "Please accept this. A courageous envoy like you need to be honored for her arduous journey."
"Please pardon my rudeness." Saito Shimotsuke intervene. "Before I accept the kind hospitality from the honorable lord of Kai, I cannot put aside my duty."
"What is it?" Takeda Shingen did not change even a slight of her countenance.
"The matter of Warigadake castle."
"Hmm…" Shingen did not say anything and for the first time, this is what she is waiting from this envoy…. Her slanted eyes were squinted upon hearing it as if a blade of sword being thrust.
Saito Shimotsuke added. "My venerable lord Kenshin is certain that the act of the soldiers is not under your lordship direct order, but instead it was the arbitrary action took by the unsuspecting soldiers or officers who were placed at the frontline. This is a very regretful incident as both the Uesugi clan and the Takeda clan have shown their good faith in maintaining the peace covenant."
"That is not an arbitrary act of the frontline soldiers. I personally gave them order to march. No soldiers of the Takeda will move without an issued order according to the military regulation." As if trying to fish out any reaction, Takeda Shingen remain obstinate.
But, the envoy Saito Shimotsuke remained unfazed. "Oh.. Why would Lord Shingen does so? Did not the peace covenant were signed and agreed by both party to prevent this regretful incident?"
"Before the covenant, the matter of Castle Warigadake remain unresolved. Since the beginning, it was ours (the Takeda's)." Shingen calmly replied.
"That is not a reason." Saito Shimotsuke sternly replied.
"ECHIGO'S ENVOY!" Takeda Shingen suddenly shouted in loud and stern tone.
But the Saito Shimotsuke did not showed any reaction and pretend nothing happened or that the lord of Takeda might felt offended. With eyes straightly stared at her, she replied back. "Yes." In dignified manner without lessening her respect to the addressed.
"Are you going to take a sip of the sake or not?"
"I shall after an answer has been given to this lowly I."
"An answer has been given. The bow in hand can be used anytime. Will it be the sake or the bow? What did Kenshin say about this?" Shingen finally tried to pierce her conscience.
"My lord Kenshin has sent me as the envoy. This should have been showing of her good will."
"So it will be. I suggest you to accept my hospitality. The letter for peace covenant can either be in Takeda or Uesugi."
"That shall not do. How can I return to my lord and insulted her honor with such vague answer?" Saito Shimotsuke demanded.
"No. You did not insult your lord. Did not I praised you for bothering to make long trip here?"
"Please don't. I am not worthy of being praised by the lord of Koshu. I shall wait for the answer no matter how long it be. Until than, I expect to ask the answer."
"Answer for what?" Shingen asked disinterestedly.
"A clear declaration of apology." Saito Shimotsuke replied without being overtaken by Shingen's charisma.
"Ha HA HA..! what an act of futility."
"Nothing is futile when we insist."
Shingen looked at this envoy and seems to finalize her judgment to her. she straightly replied.
"The sake is ready. Shall we drink?"
"For this time, I shall accept the kind offer."
The envoy, Saito Shimotsuke took the cup and drank it. This time Takeda Shingen sighed, because she realized how deep the worth of this young lord of Echigo is…. if this envoy is already brave…. What kind of person this Uesugi Kenshin is if she managed to attract this kind of talent in her army.
Then, the envoy leaves. Shingen calmly speak to her sister and her Kagemusha who previously remained behind this envoy when they exchanged words.
Those two, Takeda Katsuyori and her Kagemusha; Hajikano Denuemon replied her call.
"Prepare to march. I am sure Doki have made the preparation…. This Lord of Echigo is indeed cunning and brave… we can not let this kind of enemy to bother our future conquest toward the Imperial capital."
These two were confused upon hearing Shingen's word. But before they managed to understand what Shingen says…. A scout hastily intruded the room.
"Emergency news! The enemy, the Uesugi of Echigo has attacked our province!"
Takeda Shingen who already expected this move merely shook in admiration, while Takeda Katsuyori and Hajikano Denuemon can only gasped on how far the enemy and the Shingen herself read the two moves forward at the changing situation. They quickly searched for the envoy, Saito Shimotsuke who just left but they only got report that the envoy, Saito Shimotsuke had hastily rode on her horse as fast as she can and slipped out from the Tsutsujigasaki castle.
Takeda Shingen who's also known as The Tiger of Kai;
Uesugi Kenshin who's also known as The Dragon of Echigo;
Great minds think alike, an instant connection. It was destined.
Both of them have the same premonition…. that this is the prelude for the long exhausting event of ….
The Battle of Kawanakajima.
To charge at Shinano!
Only hearing this order made all soldiers in Echigo felt encouraged with their soul flared up, their muscle stiffen and being impatient to rush.
"This time is to return the favor!"
Such is the enthusiasm shown by the people. The long frozen vengeance are now melted. Those who lost their parents, child, relatives … though their reason are personal, but Kenshin herself know that with the Takeda clan still exist, they won't be able to move forward.
Leaving the castle Kasugayama in lightning fast movement, the soldiers march fully protected with their armor, and their strongest horse in march, with rations being transported…. They moved escorted by the Conch shell trumpet being blown and the ominous sound of the war drum.
"The first troop shall pass Nojiri then coming out in Zenkoji. I shall lead the Tomikura peak and passing the Chikumagawa river." Kenshin announced.
"No matter which path we passed, we will be joined at Kawanakajima, not far from Saigawa river and Chikumagawa river."
The two troops spread out and follow the designated path. For the next two-three days the Echigo experienced the difficulty of the terrain. But that is not enough to lessen their motivation in going to war.
With the hardening resolve, they still maintained their prudence as they are about to pass Kaizu castle which is occupied by the Takeda clan.
The commander of Kaizu castle, Kousaka Danjou Masanobu who is one of Shingen's famed commander has prepared themselves. She remarked. "Finally they arrived." She maintained her composure and quickly light up the smoke signal tower. They did not move without careful planning.
And the main troops led by Kenshin crossed the two river Saigawa and Chikumagawa quickly occupying Mount Saijoyama, while another division marched from Zenkouji. When the dusk, all soldiers stayed in their formation with their banner fluttering, and the war horse nighing…
Even with her military knowledge, for the first time, Kousaka Danjou Masanobu had to admit of Kenshin's prowess tactical deployment. Unable to comprehend their tactics, Kousaka Danjou Masanobu then opted to remain defensive until Shingen herself came.
With her arm protector as her bedsheet.
And it could be heard;
The first sound of the fleeing swan.
All younger commander of the Uesugi murmured among themselves. "This time our lord's tactic is hard to be understand. Why did not she placed the encampment in Zenkouji?"
If Kosaka Danjou Masanobu attacked them while they are less suspecting, that would not be easy.
When Naoe Kanetsugu reported the other commanders and soldiers worries toward Kenshin, she calmly answered.
"Seems that you worries that we occupies disadvantageous terrain, and I admit that this place is no different with a place that invites death." She then added. "But, remember. If we are afraid of this simple matter, then what is the use of our resolve? Our opponent is that Long Legged Shingen. This war… shall be the decisive battle between us. May the Hachiman Daibosatsu blessed us."
All who heard her words became resolute. The Uesugi believed that their respectful leader Uesugi Kenshin Kagetora is the incarnation of Hachiman Daibosatsu. When the vow was uttered by mentioning the Bodhisattva of war, they know how far Kenshin had planned of this. That is why they did not say another words and goes outside. Kenshin then spoke to her trusted advisor, Naoe Kanetsugu.
"Kanetsugu, our opponent is Shingen herself. Against such opponent, we can not rely on adequate tactics. Doing so hastily will only revealed our weakness, giving her chance to destroy us. I purposely selected this perilous ground to give them hope. This action is also my way of Zen. How will that Shingen answered my way of Zen? Movement and Ever-changing situation is the cause and effect. It is hard to explain it using words. Back in Echigo, all of them angered by my passive action, and when I am active so how could we hoped for safety? When our desire is for victory, then be prepared for death. The troops in castle Kaizu will not march tonight. You understand Kanetsugu?"
Naoe Kanetsugu only silently nod. Later on is her part of duty.
And the sound of numerous swans…. Flying through the skies.
The long road of Koshu.
Due to the establishment of these roads, the transportation in all region in Kai can be said as the exemplary to all surrounding provinces. During this emergency march, the establishment of this long road helped to accelerate the transportation allowing them to get upper hand in warfare.
Shingen called. This fellow, Yamamoto Doki Kansuke is Shingen trusted advisor. She turned to her lord and heed her call.
"How is the weather that you see?"
"The cloud move fast. In night might be drizzle but not heavy downpour. For the next several days however will not be sunny."
Shingen smirked in hearing Yamamoto Doki Kansuke's evaluation. "We are lucky. If during our march still sunny, our troops will be too tired in deployment. It is goes to your prediction."
Yamamoto Doki Kansuke remain pensive, she did not react to the praise but instead warned her lord. "A clever daimyou as Kenshin will not march to enemy's territory without proper planning. Sending an envoy demanding for peace to lower our vigilance while quickly took the chance to march swiftly and placed encampment. Good things that you suggested Kosaka Danjou Masanobu to remain on guard."
The Flag and the banner of Takeda Clans were paraded. The four diamond kanmon engraved on the banner and the thirteen golden hanzi written on the blue banner;
Rapid like the wind, Compact like the forest.
Plundering like the fire, Immovable like the mountain.
These word's are personally inscribed by monk Kaisen of Eirin temple. Shingen borrowed this word of wisdom from Sonshi (Sun Zi's Art of War, chapter VII Maneuvering). Whenever the banner with these sentence were unfurled, victory is certain for the Takeda.
"I don't get it." Shingen mumbled.
The flat terrain between Chikumagawa and Saigawa… but at far distant is the Saijoyama occupied by the young lord of Echigo. Serene and tranquil, no atmosphere befitting for warfare.
"Such perilous place…. Why would she?"
There is a shallow saying; The more intelligent the people the more they get fooled by their own intelligence. However without being intelligent, how could you understand how intelligent others are?
If only her opponent is not this young lord of Echigo, there is no worry in her mind, In the field of battle only Shingen knows Kenshin better, and so did only Kenshin knows Shingen better.
The word 'Kawanakajima' has been frequently used even before the Eiroku period. Situated between Saigawa and Chikumagawa rivers, is the marsh plain around Zenkoji.
According to the record of Kojiki, that marsh plain was known as Kawanakajima or Hachimanbara. The natives around them also used Sarashina, Hanishina, Minochi and Takai for the four areas of Kawanakajima where;
"Anywhere eyes could see, only autumn meadow and river."
In warfare, the normal terrain can be considered as ocean, where hills and mountain as the island. Shingen placed her defense in castle Kaizu due to her own consideration. It is too dangerous to remain in open plain for too long. And castle can be considered as a port that is protected by man made cover compared to the natural protection of the mountain.
"If you have not seen Castle Kaizu, you don't know castle."
This has been a long expression between samurai who is interested in fortress construction. It was said that this Kaizu castle is constructed by the famed commander of Kai, Baba Nobuharu while other related it to Yamamoto Kansuke. Regardless of who constructed this castle, this Kaizu castle played a vital role to guard from any invasion from Echigo.
Now, inside the castle many of commanders from the Takeda discussed of this matter. Shingen's four bravest general The Four Devas (Caturmaharajika) urged her to march. Usually, Shingen is known as an active commander. But, against this opponent, she still waited for an opportunity.
"Doki, what do you think?" Shingen asked for Yamamoto Doki Kansuke opinion. She is one of her four devas who is known as the resourceful general.
"When people says that the enemy has no plan, that is not really wrong. However, not making plan does not meant as foolish or brash. Kenshin had made decision to fight till death. The Sonshi says place your men in peril and they will return safely. With that determination, we can only replied back with the same resolution."
Shingen then speak. "Yamagata! Baba!"
Both general who is known as the Four Devas of Takeda moved, ready to receive order.
"Tell Kousaka to prepare the troops. We will show them the prowess of the Takeda's cavalry."
Then, Yamagata Masakage and Baba Nobuharu leaves the council to see Kousaka Danjou Masanobu, the other Devas of Takeda who is now personally supervising the defense of this castle.
Shingen then sharply glance at the remaining person, Yamamoto Kansuke. "Doki, now… what do you suggest?"
"Our troop is known as the Fuh-Rin-Ka-Zan, due to lord Shingen's bravado. But for this move, let his Yamamoto Doki Kansuke to offer the Kitsutsuki (Woodpecker) Tactic to deal the heavy blow toward the Uesugi."
Kitsutsuki? Upon hearing this suggestion, Shingen gave a meaningful smile to Yamamoto Kansuke, showing a satisfaction toward her capable advisor.
When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men's weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.
Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.
Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.
Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays. - Sonshi (Sun Zi's Art of War, Chapter II Waging War)
Protracted war never benefited those who waged them. Delaying to end war will influence the soldiers and morale. Because it is not that they are fighting strong enemy, it is their own feeling that they are struggling. One day can felt as if One year when nothing happened.
Voice of discontent once again can be heard among the older commanders who are impatient with the situation. Kenshin once again dismissed their protesting, and she instead paid attention to information that her soldiers founded source for food (yam) instead of using rations.
She then took her koto. With her slender finger, plucking the stringing…. And a calming tone can be heard.
"The Tenno descended from heaven,
For years and generation.
An Honest heart not veiling anything,
With everything is dedicated and
We serve for generations.
Common people see and retell the story,
Common People heard and followed the story.
The new pure name shall not be belittled.
With empty words not to tarnish our ancestor's name.
Indeed, you are suitable as the Samurai of Otomo clan!"
- Admonishment of Clan member, Otomo no Yakamochi. A collection poem of Manyouushu.
With heartfelt feeling, Kenshin played the koto to remind her officers of the duty and the honor code of Bushido.
The sound of koto filled the night, until she is disturbed by sudden report by Naoe Kanetsugu. Kenshin signaled the other officers to leaves…. While she receive the report.
"Smoke arose from Castle Kaizu. Scouts and spies seemed to report that they came from the castle kitchen. What do you think?"
Kenshin looked back at Naoe Kanetsugu. "Preparation for war."
"Correct. Field rations are being prepared. Judging the situation, it is for a few days campaign. They are about to deploy. Lord Kenshin…. The time is here."
'Tactic without tactic' is not just tactic without 'tactic'.
Waiting for the right timing, right place and right person. This is the essence for war.
Then… both army started to march….
*Lang… *Lang ….
*Ei… *Ei… *Ooo….!
The voice of battle cry, followed by the sounding noise of the conch shell trumpet to signify the start of battle, and the archer launched their kaburaya arrow. The whistling noise it produce….resound amidst the battlefield, as if shaking the heaven.
The trampling noise of the soldiers….
Birds flies in dispersal, mountain trees shaking…. Many soldiers ran, climbing mount Saijoyama from two directions.
"The base is empty?!"
From the four direction after they managed to surround Kenshin's encampment in mount Saijoyama, they are now in startled shock. As they marched and climbed the mountain, they did not find anything at the enemy base.
"We have been fooled!"
Too late! Too late, the Takeda!
Kenshin has abandoned this place and silently marched in the darkness night.
At another places, Shingen had also stopped at the Kawanakajima while deploying her troops at Saijoyama. The Koyo Gunkan annotated of the Takeda clan's greatest strength is their cavalry who operated as mounted units supported by personal attendants and most of these elite troops are capable on mobile and hard hitting power. And Shingen purposely change their main armament from asymmetrical long bow (yumi) in to a long spear suitable for cavalry charge, making the Takeda's cavalry as the greatest in the realm of Zipang.
But even knowing of their own supremacy can not erase her own worry against the enemy from Echigo.
"Our troops that we send to attack Saijoyama has not send any report, our scouts has not returned…. So it is not possible for the Uesugi to come here…. Yet… what is the incoming noise?" When Shingen remarked, all the commanding officer quickly became quiet.
Vaguely, they could heard the noise of clanging armor, the roaring trampling sound of the warhorse… and at once, the commanding officers of the Takeda became tense.
"Remain calm." Shingen showed a surprising composure even knowing the incoming enemy.
Oh no! Kenshin has descended!
Shingen cleverly hid her anxiety without showing any changes in her face. She quickly ordered scout to ask information from the assaulting troops in Saijoyama.
"Lord Shingen! All the troops of Echigo are about to move toward our direction! They lined up in long and layered formation moving slowly toward Saigawa! They seemed to be leaving us… BUT! I felt like I just saw A Great Typhoon moving slowly to engulf us!"
In hearing this news, at once Shingen prepared herself as if a falcon flapping its wings.
"That is…. the legendary formation…. Chakravyuha." While Shingen can not help but felt amazed in seeing this formation…. She quickly regain her sense and issued order.
"As Doki said, the enemy has bet their all in this single move! We can not use normal tactical deployment! Inform all the troops! We will use her tactic as countermeasure!"
Shingen who felt elated in seeing the very intricate formation quickly issued order to arrange the formation of her own troops.
Naoe Kanetsugu who directed the formation announced to the two vanguard commander, the fierce Oni Kojima Yataro and Kakizaki Kageie.
"Maintain formation! Show the Takeda of our impenetrable formation! This is the Kuruma Gakari formation."
Kuruma Gakari / Chakravyuha or better known as Padmavyuha
This is the ancient Hindu Formation which emphasized on multi tier defensive formation. The thirteenth Day of Kurushektra see the construction of this fearful formation when Kurava's Military Strategist Dronacharya employed this against the Pandavas.
Extracted from Mahabharata, chapter of Drona Parva, section Abhimanyu badha Parva
O sire, today i tell thee truly today and it will not be otherwise. Today I will slay a mighty car-warrior, one of the foremost heroes of the Pandavas. Today I will also form an array that is impenetrable by the very gods. The array formed by Drona, o King looked resplendent. Indeed that array was incapable of being looked at like the sun himself when in his course he reaches the meridian and scorches everything underneath.
Abhimanyu at command, O' Bharata of his sire's eldest brother pierced in battle that impenetrable circular array (Chakravyuha) in many places. Having achieved the most difficult feats and slain hereos by thousand , he was at last encountered by six heroes together. In the end, succumbing to Jayadratha, O lord of earth Subhadra's son, O chastiser of foes, gave up his life. At this we were filled with great joy and Pandavas with great grief.
The Preceptor, O king had formed great circular array. In it were placed all the kings that are each equal to Sakra himself. At the entrance were stationed all the prince possessed of solar effulgence. All of them had taken oaths (of solidarity).
According to historical record on Battle of Kawanakajima, there is a firm believe that using Chakravyuha at the beginning is disadvantageous to her, though there also exist a different opinion.
Regardless, Uesugi Kenshin must have decided for decisive victory on this campaign by directly targeting the enemy's vital point. For this reasoning, using normal formation is not advantageous for her. By using the thick mist and silent deployment, he directed the troops toward Saigawa river to make pretense of withdrawal while in reality he maneuvered them in circular formation. This wheel shaped formation intended to move slowly toward Shingen's position as if a slow moving typhoon. This being the case that this formation is plausible to be used by Kenshin.
Shingen was shocked in seeing this formation, and her worries is proven when she saw that the fluttering banner of two tsubame around the bamboo, the Kanmon of Uesugi clan engraved on their banner moving slowly but surely toward her engulfing anything as they passed by.
But Shingen calmly ordered as she contained her heartfelt respect toward her opponent.
"Change formation, preparation in Gyorin formation!"
Gyorin formation (Fish scale)
An attack formation specialized on situation for an army that is outnumbered by the enemy. The Koyo Gunkan gives explanation that this formation was supposedly used to entices enemy to attack.
Attacking or being attacked…. Two opposing formation are about to clash.
Some military enthusiast is not confident of the affectivity of Chakravyuha.
Yamaga Soko annotated;
Chakravyuha (Kurumagakari) is very effective when they are used against three or four layered formation. This is what the small circle does. But upon used against a fully prepared opponent of ten or eleven layered line, the big circle is not too effective.
In short Yamaga Soko acknowledge of the Kurumagakari but strictly limited it upon enemy's reaction. Another expert, Ogyu Sorai refused this opinion and make allusion that the formation that Kenshin used is not Chakravyuha reasoning that Gyorin formation used by Takeda which shaped like baseless triangular shaped formation with twelve layer of protection made it hard for Chakravyuha to move.
Regardless, The Battle Formation is ever-changing, from Emptiness to Form, and form to emptiness. From orthodox to unorthodox, they move in unpredictable cycle of movement. As the formation is ever-changing regardless of the situation, and if they stubbornly persist to maintain single formation, that is just a dead formation.
Extracted from Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hidaya Sutra)
When Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva was practicing the profound Prajnaparamitam he illuminated the Five Skandhas and saw that they were all empty and crossed over all suffering and affliction.
"Sariputra, form is not different from emptiness, and emptiness is not different from form. Form itself is emptiness and emptiness itself is form. Sensation, conception, synthesis and discrimination are also such as this. Sariputra all dharmas are empty; they are neither created nor destroyed, neither defiled nor pure, neither increase nor diminish. This is because in emptiness there is no form, sensation, conception, synthesis or discrimination. There are no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body or thoughts. There are no forms, sounds, scents, tastes, sensations, or dharmas. There is no field of vision and there is no realm of thoughts. There is no ignorance nor elimination of ignorance, even up to and including no old age and death, nor elimination of old age and death. There is no suffering its accumulation, its elimination or a path. There is no understanding and no attaining.
Even now Shingen had to show a bit of nervousness in witnessing this bravado moves. Earlier, she was pretty sure that she precede the Uesugis… but seems that this thought had to be abandoned, as she lost the initiatives for the battle.
Yamamoto Doki Kansuke waited.
The carefully planned siege against the Saijoyama might have failed. But that is why she purposely use them to lure the enemy. The name of Yamamoto Kansuke has long became the subject of discussion regarding her existence.
In Bukko Zakki, the Governor Ise Kamiizumi and his subordinate Kohaku met her in the house of Makino in Ushikubo, Mikawa province during the journey from Kyou. According to Hokuetsu Gunki, it is unclear of the existence of a person named Yamamoto Kansuke. While Koyo Gunkan annotated the name of Baba Nobuharu as Shingen's tactician while Hara Hayato as her advisor.
The name of Yamamoto Kansuke has long been the debate among historian. Is she a real person or just fictional figure made by historian? They say the less you know about a person, the scarier he is. People never understand the reason behind the sudden rise of one status from being unknown.
With the trust from her lord, Shingen, Doki finally unveil her own tactic when she witnessed the famed Kuruma Gakari.
The Kitsutsuki tactic.
The Koyo Gunkan made the analogy with the woodpecker which strikes its beak on the bark of tree, and when the insect rush out through the hole in the bark, the bird gobbles them up. This is the dreadful massacring tactic thought by Bai Qi, the ancient general of Qin from the land of Ming, which shook heaven and earth.
While the Shingen painstakingly tried to overcome the movement of the Chakravyuha with her luring them inside the Gyorin formation, Doki finally ordered the infantry to move first, passing the Chikumagawa.
The infantry quickly placed themselves and prepared their armament. At this time, the usage of Tanegashima are considered unusual sight in battlefield, even the Takeda of Kai only employed about 130 Tanegashima rifle on their ashigaru (infantry footsoldier).
Then while the firing of Tanegashima can be heard, Doki swiftly ordered the Takeda's pride of her own cavalry division to charge.
The influence of using firearms on the Sengoku Jidai can be felt even for a little. Now, with Tanegashima being deployed on the army, they became the supporting fire division for the Takeda's cavalry.
When the gap due to the pincer attack of the woodpecker tactic started to revealed, Kagezaki Kageie and Kojima Yataro quickly ordered the next layer to cover the opening gap. Though this is a bit unexpected for them because they had to cover the gap simultaneously on two different places.
Leading the cavalry charge, Yamamoto Doki Kansuke fought bravely while the Shingen quickly changed the gyorin formation into the Hoshi (Spear point) formation. They quickly send another two pronged attack.
Naoe Kanetsugu was taken aback. She in responses sent Kojima Yataro and Kageie to deal with them. Ordering to focus their attack on the Shingen…. However…. As they are about to move….
And suddenly, from all four sides, the lord of Kai, Takeda Shingen multiplied into four. Perhaps the legend of Eight Shingen is true. Leading the four division cavalry from four sides, trying to capture Naoe Kanetsugu's Chakravyuha… The Four Shingen appearance and swift ever-changing formation perturbed her greatly.
And…. Yamamoto Doki Kansuke mused on the effectiveness of her Kitsutsuki tactic. Meanwhile, in another places… the real Takeda Shingen waited while sitting on the folding camp stool, waiting calmly as she simulated the battle situation on her mind….
"Yamagata Masakage has attacked from south, while Baba Nobuharu from the north. Kousaka Danjou Masanobu from the west with her joining force with Katsuyori from the east…. Yamamoto Kansuke… you are indeed my trusted commander… however…"
Takeda Shingen turned to the uninvited guest rushing toward her direction.
"You don't know of Uesugi Kenshin better than I do."
While Takeda Shingen turned to her direction, smiling in expectation…. In seeing the fluttering banner of two tsubame around the bamboo, the Kanmon of Uesugi clan and another banner with the engraving of hanzi meaning Hachiman Daibosatsu.
Uesugi Kenshin's personal banner.
Kenshin lowered her body as much as she can. Her face was almost buried in the horse's mane.
Shingen is around here!
Until she faced Shingen, she did not want to be identified. When she saw Shingen at Kawanakajima, she realize something that only she can felt, and that is why when her troops moved in Chakravyuha formation, she gave the authority to Naoe Kanetsugu while she separated herself and marched alone undetected.
Uesugi Kenshin now is marching atop her pale moon colored steeds while her prized tsurugi, Azuki Nagamitsu is already unsheathed as she notices the presence of Takeda Shingen. Trampling over and passing over many commanders and fallen banner, Kenshin only has the Lord of Kai in her mind. And when she notices the crimson lady….. Kenshin shouted in loud clear voice.
"Shingen! Now I found you!"
The small numbers of hatamoto around Shingen were stunned and perturbed. Their mind frozen unable to react. Only Shingen who swiftly react. As their eyes met each other without being terminated Shingen's hand quickly reached anything around her.
Shingen whose eyes still nailed on Kenshin's arrival quickly reached her folding stool and throw it at the young lord of Echigo while she slide down trying to avoid. Kenshin uncaringly cut the folding stools and marched at Shingen. Kenshin quickly jumped down from her horse, and ran with her swift legs toward Shingen who is about to stood. Kenshin without asking question or wasting time quickly slashed her Azuki Nagamitsu toward Shingen.
The two daimyous who faced each other did not kept away their eyes from each other. A single careless action is enough to call for their downfall.
Kenshin shouted as the sword in her hands slashed toward her opponent, however Shingen in her intuition calmly countered by shaking off the prized Azuki Nagamitsu with her own tessen (iron command flag). And the sword's movement were parried by the tessen, and each of their weapon deflecting against each other.
Noting this, Shingen quickly released her hand from her tessen while she bend her body as if a great rising falcon. While Kenshin due to the unexpected move were forced to withdraw back.
"To look directly at the death… you are really the Takeda Shingen of Kai. My premonition were correct."
"To move unexpectedly, while charging ferociously…. Indeed only the Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo managed to do so."
Kenshin once again prepared her Azuki Nagamitsu, as she prepares her second charge, while Shingen's hatamoto quickly covered her as her layered protection. Another Hatamoto prepares a new tessen and tsurugi for her.
Four Devas of Takeda.
Kousaka Danjou Masanobu
And Yamamoto Doki Kansuke.
They react swiftly as the situation calls. The four sided encirclement formation. Fuh-Rin-Ka-Zan. The epitome of the Takeda's military philosophy. Though not as skilled as her big sister, Takeda Katsuyori is not just common commander. Her knowledge and her courage in this deployment is enough as they are not against the Kenshin herself.
Though Naoe Kanetsugu should not be underestimated. The use of Chakravyuha was first intended to efficiently preserve their soldiers… and the leading vanguard Kojima Yataro and Kagezaki Kageie are enough to handle the front side opening of Chakravyuha.
But seems that Yamamoto Kansuke who acted as the tactician started to get impatient…..
All Shingen's hatamoto died after becoming her protection. But Shingen does not look a single bit afraid.
"The Third charge?"
Kenshin did not replied to her mockery. Though her Azuki Nagamitsu starting to lose its sharpness… Kenshin tries to charge relentless.
Shingen stood by, without trying to defend and charged.
A shinobi protected Shingen from Kenshin's charge. The Shinobi, Sanada Masayuki starting to get difficulty in defending her lord due to Kenshin's enormous strength in wielding the Azuki Nagamitsu.
"What is it, Masayuki?"
"The development of situation has not gone to our favor. Yamamoto Kansuke suggested to fire the withdrawal signal."
"Hm..? this is not like the usual Doki."
The Shinobi finally parried using all her strength to push back Kenshin, and turned to Shingen. "The lord of Sagami also seems to be planning something …. They are showing a suspicious activity. The general who are left in Tsutsujigasaki asked me to rely this message."
Shingen widened her eyes. She cursed silently… "that conniving flat chested girl…." She then turned back and rode atop her horse followed by the Shinobi, Sanada Masayuki. While Uesugi who notices the strange act of Shingen, leaving her… thus tidy up herself before joining her troops.
Soon… the Battle of Kawanakajima prematurely ended….. with the two opposing side both pulling back their troops and returned to their own province. The reigning Kampaku Konoe Sakihisa who heard the conflict arose between Takeda and Uesugi quickly sent imperial envoy to mediate the problem… and thus…. The peace returned between Kai and Echigo.
Then it was known that the Houjo of Sagami refused to send any salt to Shinano and Kai.
With the fall of Imagawa due to Oda Nobuna's famed charge in Okehazama, the Takeda of Kai lost one of their main suppliers for salt. Using the pretense of the bad season in Sagami, Houjou Ujiyasu delayed in sending and selling their salt. Shingen became irritated on hearing the situation.
Shingen made a council to discuss the situation.
"I never thought the Imagawa would fall so quickly by some relatively minor daimyou in Owari."
Yamamoto Kansuke bowed down. "Lord Shingen, Imagawa's fall is indeed imminent with a leader like Yoshimoto… though I never expected this happened so quickly."
Baba Nobuharu raised her opinion. "The latest news is… that Owari daimyou has subjugated the Mino and now moving toward Imperial capital Kyou…. They move frighteningly fast…."
"I heard… from our spies in Owari… this successful campaign of this Owari no daimyou owed to her new general. Though it is kind of weird…. They only told me…. Oda no Saru." Kousaka Danjou Masanobu asserted.
"Oda no…. Saru?" Yamagata Masakage and Baba Nobuharu asked.
"This Oda no Saru was the one who constructed a fortress in a single night (Sunomata no ichiya) to subjugate the Saitou clan of Mino…" Kousaka Danjou Masanobu explained.
"That is impossible! How could someone build a fortress in one single night….. ! moreover… the Saito of Mino has that Crouching Dragon of Mino!" Yamamoto Doki Kansuke were shocked.
Shingen know who is this Crouching Dragon of Mino. She had sent numerous invitations which were rejected, and worse of all… she had not managed to catch glimpse of this strategist equal to the legendary Zhuge Liang style named Kongming; Which she admitted that even her Yamamoto Kansuke can only be compared to incarnation of Kongming, the famed Hongwu of Ming's strategist, Master Liu Ji styled Bowen.
"So how could that Takenaka Shigeharu succumbed? Is that Oda no Saru… capable of besting the Crouching Dragon of Mino?" Shingen asked.
"No. instead that Oda no Saru managed to swayed Takenaka Shigeharu to his side. Really a frightening fellow." Kousaka Danjou Masanobu continued…..
"Once again I am too late in acting." Shingen sighed. "That Owari daimyou upstaged me on this matter…. Seems that Kyou is hers…"
"Lord Shingen…. Before we talk about marching to Kyou…. There is a matter of salt." Yamamoto Kansuke remind her.
"If that flat chested girl intended to take advantage of our situation, then let her see how I deal with this kind of problem!" Shingen spoke in anger. "Doki, send letter to Ouushu or Mikawa or anywhere I don't care! Tell them I will buy their salt even if they rose their price!"
Kenshin received a letter from the Lord of Sagami. In the letter, Houjou Ujiyasu invited Kenshin to follow her agenda to embargo selling salt to Kai and Shinano, thus weakening them and strike them after internal unrest and riot occurred. After reading this letter, Kenshin put down the letter and called Saitou Shimotsuke.
Not long after, salt entered Shinano and Kai again. All farmer and commoner of Koushu became ecstatic. The merchant distributed the salt to those who need them direly. Those who just received the salt can not help but cries in joy.
It is as if they receives a white powder of gold. They quickly bowed and thanked for the salt. The commodities most needed by human after rice.
Shingen who heard of the current situation can not help but became suspicious. The envoy of Echigo, Saitou Shimotsuke just presented a letter explaining. Even Shingen can not help but confused by her opponent's action.
"For Long, You and I have both call each other on the battle field and commanding soldiers against each other. We use same weapon, but our ideals are different. My dream is not yours. My wish is not yours. That is why we oppose each other, with sword in hands, challenging each other and setting battle array in field of warfare.
Regardless, the fight between samurai should not be done with salt and rice. Salt and Rice is not a commodities that you embezzled for out of selfishness, but a commodity of common people. Agriculture is the fundaments of the country, and the farmer should not be burdened by the situation. The malevolent act of Sagami's lord disgust this Kenshin. Who won't disdain this?
Recently, the merchant of my country brought salt to your country. There is no underhanded meaning of my action. Please accept this act as my respect and may we met for once again amidst the field of warfare to settle the matter for once and all."
Shingen repeatedly read the content of the letter. Now the suspicion changed to respect. With sigh of relieve and admiration toward her opponent, she forgotten victory and loss. She folded the letter carefully and respectfully stored it in tamatebako without saying anything, and asked Saitou Shimotsuke who had bothered to come in long journey to convey her gift to Kenshin, another good quality prized sword that is not second to Kenshin's Azuki Nagamitsu.
Now…. Shingen really understand the feeling of friendship between Yang Hu of Jin and Lu Kang of Wu during the tumultuous period of Three Kingdom.
And this is why for the later tales…. When the situation of this land of Zipang worsened in the end… Takeda Shingen of Kai would entirely trust Uesugi Kenshin as her last resort….
Until the Monkey from Owari…. started the problem that shook this Warring States period in Zipang.
I modeled the Uesugi Kenshin after the one from Sengoku Rance.