Nagano Look Back a Bit

Statue of Two War Lords

Kawanakajima, the Site of Five Fierce Battles

This was the site of five fierce battles fought between Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin. The Kawanaka area as the name implies is an island surrounded by the Chikuma and the Saigawa Rivers.
In the civil war period, Takeda, lord of Kai, set out to conquer the Shinano region and was stopped by Uesugi, lord of Echigo, in fierce battles around this area. The first battle was fought in 1553. The most famous battle is the battle of 1561 where 20,000 soldiers from Takeda fought with 13,000 soldiers from Uesugi. Of the total number, 6000 soldiers died in this single battle but neither side won.
There is a statue of the two war lords in a hand-to-hand combat on the site where they actually fought the duel. In the fight, it is said that Kenshin attacked Shingen with a sword and Shingen thwarted his opponent with a few receiving only minor injuries. There is also a monument to this episode where Kenshin is said to have inflicted seven wounds on Shingen with three blows of the sword.
There is also a rock with the remains of a spear's thrust on a rock said to have been made by Shingen's soldier who almost had the chance to kill Kenshin. You can imagine how he regretted to have missed the big chance. There are also remains of spokes in the ground made to fend enemy cavalry from intruding and which have grown into large trees. There are also earth mounds where the headquarters of both sides once used to be.

The Sanada Residence

Matsushiro, a Castle Town of the Sanada Family

Crossing Chikuma River from Kawanakajima and with the mountain on your back you will enter Matsushiro, the castle town of the Sanada family.
At the battle of Sekigahara, Sanada Nobuyuki, unlike his father Masayuki and younger brother Yukimura, sided with Tokugawa Ieyasu who then went on to win the battle. He was granted a castle in Shinano Ueda and was transferred to Matsushiro in 1622 to become the first lord of the Matsushiro clan. The Sanada family continued to rule the Matsushiro clan for 250 years over ten generations and created a unique culture, continuing to this day. The Sanada family is famous for its coat-of-arms depicting six coins. This coat-of-arms can be seen on the roof of Chohkoku-ji temple which is the family temple of the Sanadas. This temple also contains the altar of Sanada Nobuyuki which is designated an important national asset.
Another important site in Matsushiro is the Sanada Treasure Museum which contains arms and supplies from the civil wars period to the Meiji period. The Sanada residence, located next to this museum, was built by the ninth generation Sanada Yukinori for his retiring mother, Osadano-kata. The garden, called Suishin Shugetsu Tei, which is located within the residence is popular among the citizens in spring for famous for its beautiful cherry blossoms and in autumn for its crimson foliage.
Near this building stands the Matsushiro Clan Art and Military School where the sons of high-ranking officials use to attend. The Shouzan Memorial Museum, located near the school, contains material on the Meiji revolutionary, Sakuma Shouzan. Other old buildings in Matsushiro are the Feudal Postal System Museum and houses of high-ranking samurais.

Prior reservation is required to see the altar of Sanada Nobuyuki.

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