Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Death of Takeda Shingen

Looking through the Koyo Gunkan, I found the section on the death of Takeda Shingen:
"On the 11th day of the 4th month around 1pm, Lord Shingen's condition took a turn for the worst. His pulse became extremely rapid. On the night of the 12th, approximately 9pm, he developed an abscess/rash in his mouth, and 5 or 6 of his teeth fell out. He gradually weakened."

There is no mention of him getting shot by a sniper, a somewhat popular theory, probably due to the movie "Kagemusha". It appears that he died late in the night of the 12th of the 4th month of 1573 (5/13 by the Western calendar). According to the Koyo Gunkan, in addition to giving his last will and testament, he requested that his death be hidden for three years, which he felt would discourage anyone from attacking Kai. He also advised Katsuyori to make peace with Uesugi Kenshin, believing Kenshin to be an honorable man who would not refuse.

There is mention of a previous sickness that afflicted Shingen prior to his death. I intend to look at that next.


  1. In one of Turnbull's books, "Warriors of Medieval Japan", there's a reference to Shingen's death as being from disease. He speculates that Shingen died of stomach cancer due to heavy drinking.

  2. the comment before me is totally off that was Lord Kenshin who passed due to heavy drinking. some of the books i have read always have stated Shingen's death was from an unknown disease.

  3. The problem with the stomach cancer theory is that not all the symptoms that Shingen was recorded having,
    match the symptoms of stomach cancer.

  4. Guess my thoughts about his having succumbed to TB are in error.

    If one consults the Merck Manual [it was the source I used. No doubt, there are many others out there] one can see that stomach cancer has little in the way of defined symptoms until it is fairly advanced. As Lord Shingen was a vegetarian he also had the high-sodium and high carbohydrate intake that have been indicated as possible indicators for cancer.
    I'm sure that not all of his symptoms were recorded- either due to maintaining his dignity or because the writers were not privy to such things.

    Cancer, being what it is, also migrates to other areas of the body and other organs. If seated in enough areas, take down is rather quick and often ugly. I don't wish the death he had on anyone.

    I also am a bit shocked that any Tokugawa supporter would claim having killed Takeda Shingen without actual proof to back such a claim. Seems a bit dishonorable to boast such a thing when it was not actually done.
    The findings do make toast of the 'Kagemusha' scenario and most of the assassination theories out there.

  5. But research shows that a majority of Sengoku era Japanese food is very high in sodium, carbs and protein. Does that mean everyone had cancer?

  6. Actually, the Japanese have the highest in the world incidence of stomach cancer even today.
    From the other side, this sometimes leads to abuses, like claiming that every historical death occured due to stomach cancer, though the reasons could be different.

  7. Did Takeda Shingen have any family? Brothers? Sisters? Kids?