ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Uesugi Kenshin: God of War

Updated on May 16, 2012
Uesugi Kenshin
Uesugi Kenshin

The Dragon of Echigo

Uesugi Kenshin was one of the most well known and powerful leaders during the 'Sengoku' or 'Warring States' period of Japan. He ruled Echigo Province and was known as one of the greatest strategic minds of his time. The people called him the 'Dragon of Echigo' for his brilliant war strategy. Beyond his fame for warfare he was also considered a great leader with economic prowess and a devout Buddhist monk that was very interested in the Buddhist war god Bihamonten. He was known for being very honorable as was his deity Bishamonten and many people at the time believed he was a living avatar of war god, and thus he was given the nick name of 'God of War.'

Kenshin was born in the Echigo Province with the name Nagao Kagetora, and like many others at the tiime would go through multiple name changes in his life. When Kenshin was a small child his father was slain in battle. His older brothers fought for control of his power, and the seven year old Kenshin was sent to a temple to study until he was fourteen. Several people loyal to his father approached him and attempted to persuade him to seize power from his older brother. Kenshin didn't want to go against his brother, but his rule had not been a successful one and Echigo Province was following apart. To save his Province Kenshin took arms up against his brother and after several battles seized control of Nagao Clan.

Takeda Shingen
Takeda Shingen

The Dragon vs. The Tiger

Kenshin wasn't in power very long nor had he secured the whole province when local clans approached him seeking aid against a warlord named Takeda Shingen. The Tiger of Kai Takeda Shingen was also a brilliant strategist and had battled his way to the edge of Echigo lands. Kenshin decided that Takeda posed a real threat so he agreed to assist in challenging Takeda. A legendary rivalry would be born.

The two great strategist's forces would meet at Kawanakajima five times in battle.

The First Battle of Kawanakajima, 1553

The first time their forces met the two warlords didn't throw everything they had in to it trying to get a feel for their opponent. Neither side suffered heavy losses and the battle remained indecisive.

The Second Battle of Kawanakajima, 1555

Initially Kenshin had a tactical advantage, but an ally of Shingen's was able to hit Kenshin's forces from the flank. While he didn't suffer heavy losses this thorn in his side didn't allow him to position his army correctly to take on the full might of the Takeda. Eventually he would push his entire force down to even ground with the Takeda but instead of attacking each other they came to a stand off. It appeared they each were waiting for the other to make a move. They both continued waiting for several months but eventually both men had to return home to deal with various issues.

The Third Battle of Kawanakajima 1557

Takeda Shingen attempted to take a castle, and Kenshin arrived with his forces to oppose him. Again the two great strategist would act leery of each other, and not throw everything in to a full battle against each other. That would change two years later in The Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima.

A Battle at Kawnakajima
A Battle at Kawnakajima

The Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima 1561

This battle would become known as one of the greatest battle of the Sengoku period. Finally the two leaders through everything at one another in a grueling battle. Before the battle the Takeda army split in two groups secretly. One group stayed in position as the main force, while the second group attempted creep around the flank to force Kenshin on the plains with Takeda's main force. However when Takeda woke up the next morning he found Kenshin's army facing his ready to charge. Somehow Kenshin had realized the scheme and was able to sneak his own men down the other side of the mountain during the night. Kenshin used a new strategy in this battle where he had units run in to replace units that were weary. This way his men stayed fresh.

Kenshin's army eventually pushed through to Takeda's command center and Kenshin rode his horse forward and attacked Takeda Shingen one on one. Kenshin remained mounted and used his sword. Takeda Shingen was not expecting this type of battle and did not have a weapon to fight back with other than his iron war fan, which was meant for signaling troops. Kenshin hacked away at Takeda, and Takeda parried each blow until help arrived to drive Kenshin back.

Despite this valiant charge the Takeda forces were still able to hold their lines until the split group was able to return and Kenshin ordered his men to retreat. Takeda Shingen did not pursue. When the day was over Kenshin lost 3,000 men while Takeda lost 4,000 men and 2 of his top generals. Again battle between the two remained indecisive.

Battle at Kawanakajima
Battle at Kawanakajima

The Fifth Battle of Kawanakajima, 1564

The two forces met one last time which lasted for 60 days of battle. Once again it would end in a stalemate.

Despite having a legendary rivalry with one another and being considered enemies, Keshin and Takeda both held a deep respect for one another. The two even traded gifts occasionally, including Takeda Shingen giving Kenshin a favorite sword of his. At one point another clan had the Takeda's supply lines cut off and Kenshin secretly sent Shingen a large quantity of salt which was highly valued at the time. Before Takeda Shingen died he told his son to trust Kenshin. When Takeda Shingen died it is said that Kenshin wept openly and refused to take the opportunity to strike against the Takeda clan. Shingen's son would eventually become an ally to Shingen.

Battle at Kawanakajima
Battle at Kawanakajima

Beyond the Tiger

Though he is best known for his rivalry with Takeda, Kenshin also had various other battles and political situations throughout the many years he went back and forth with Shingen. It was during that time he became infatuated with Bishamonten and secured Echigo Province securely under his rule.

Oda Nobunaga
Oda Nobunaga

The Dragon vs. The Demon

After the death of Takeda Shingen there weren't many left to truly oppose the powerful figure of Oda Nobunaga. Oda Nobunaga had secured himself Japan's most powerful force. Kenshin knew it was only a matter of time before the Oda Clan attacked Echigo, so Kenshin met the Oda in battle. Oda Nobunaga brought a massive force to face Kenshin, but Kenshin's strategic genius was no longer rivaled and his force destroyed a quarter of Nobunagas force. They continued small skirmishes but Kenshins health was beginning to fail.

The Death of the God of War

Like so many great men... Uesugi Kenshin died on the toilet. His death has remained the source of much speculation. Most believe that he died of illness but some believe that a ninja assassin was waiting under the toilet and stabbed him when he sat down. I promise I'm not making that up.

Regardless of how he died his effect on the history and culture of Japan remains. His rivalry with Shingen has been popularized through cinema and even video games. His example as an honorable warlord shines as an example even today. Shingen made a famous quote when he gave Shingen the salt that went, “Wars are to be won with swords and spears, not with rice and salt.” A slightly different version of this quote is used today by various peace groups that goes, “Peace is to be achieved with rice and salt, not with swords and spears.”

The Dragon of Echigo... Uesugi Kenshin
The Dragon of Echigo... Uesugi Kenshin


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      thanks PDXKaraokeGuy! I appreciate the comment!

    • Phillbert profile imageAUTHOR

      Phillip Drayer Duncan 

      9 years ago from The Ozarks

      I'm not positive wanniver ryvert. It is very possible. Kenshin has been a character in several games and films.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 

      9 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Greta pictures and excellent write up. I was previously unfamiliar with Kenshin.

    • profile image

      wanniver ryvert 

      9 years ago

      is kenshin from samurai x the god of war


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)