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Kanto Conflict

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Kanto Conflict
Conflict: Warring States Period
Date: 1545-1579
Place: Kanto Province, Japan
Outcome: Hojo victory
Combatants

Imagawa Imagawa clan
Takeda Takeda clan

Hojo Hojo clan
Uesugi Uesugi clan

Commanders

Imagawa Yoshimoto Imagawa
Takeda Shingen Takeda

Hojo Ujiyasu Hojo
Uesugi Kenshin Uesugi

Strength

Varies

Varies

Casualties

Varies

Varies

The Kanto Conflict was a series of battles between the Takeda, Imagawa, Hojo, and Uesugi clans over the disputed Kanto Province in the center of all of the clans. In the end, the Hojo took the province, as Yoshimoto Imagawa was killed, Shingen Takeda died of illness, and Kenshin Uesugi died of a seizure.

Conflict

Background

In central-eastern Japan, there were four major families. There was the Uesugi family of Echigo, which was a Buddhist warrior monk clan led by Kenshin Uesugi; there was the Takeda family of Kai Province who were the masters of the horse; there was the Imagawa family, which was allied to the Takeda, and there was the Hojo family, which was a family that had great castles erected in the 1300s when they took over the shogunate, which was taken by the Ashikaga shortly after.

Conflict

Conflict began when Tomosada Uesugi invaded the Hojo Clan, besieging Kawagoe Castle, held by Tsunashige Hojo and around 10,000 men. Tomosada had 80,000 troops; not just Uesugi, but also the Nagao clan and the Ashikaga Shogunate, who wanted to crush the Hojo. The Hojo clan recieved reinforcements from Ujiyasu Hojo, who was a master tactician. Ujiyasu lured out a portion of the enemy, before routing them, and letting out a fierce war cry that scared many of the Ashikaga and other allies of the Uesugi, namely the force led by Noriyori Takada, into defecting, creating a third-party army. The Hojo exploited this division by crushing both of the enemies, including reinforcements by the Takeda and Imagawa. Ujiyasu, after relieving the castle, sent Tsunashige to secure Koga Province from the Hojo.

In 1558, the Hojo invaded Suruga Province, the home of the Imagawa clan. Yoshimoto allied to Shingen in order to defend his homeland, keeping it from the Hojo clan, who were later assisted by the Uesugi clan. The Takeda and Imagawa clan held off the enemy attacks, and at the end of the day, the four sides, all tired out, made peace and made an alliance.

Later on, the Hojo were besieged in their own territory at Odawara Castle by the Uesugi clan, but were later reinforced by the Takeda clan. The Uesugi attackers were driven off, and the castle remained in Hojo hands.

The year 1561 brought the most famous of the battles fought by the four: the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima. The Takeda, with 20,000 troops, faced the Uesugi, with 18,000 troops. Kenshin Uesugi took up positions on a mountain, so the Takeda sent half of their force to the mountain to face them. Kenshin got wind of the plan and redeployed on the Kawanaka Plains. The Takeda on the plains, led by Kansuke Yamamoto, were crushed, and Kansuke was killed by rifle fire. A mobile unit led by Sakon Shima arrived at the scene, but the Uesugi shifted their attention there after the destruction of the main body of the Takeda and repelled them. However, the Takeda on the mountain charged down at the already-suffering Uesugi, and helped the Takeda triumph. The battle, in the end, was a draw, with the Uesugi withdrawing and the Takeda holding the field, which was their own before the Uesugi invasion.

In 1564, the Takeda invaded the Hojo Clan's capital at Odawara, besieging Odawara Castle. The Takeda were eventually hungry and retreated, and a Hojo attack on the Takeda rear guard at Mimase Pass was beaten off, but it did show the resolve of the Hojo, whose generals Norihide Matsuda and Kuninari Inomata fought to the death trying to stop Shingen from escaping.

The next battle in the war occured in 1571 at the Tone River, where the Hojo and Takeda allied against the Uesugi invaders. The alliance included young starlets Consort Kai and Kunoichi Sanada, who were deadly warriors. The Uesugi were routed by the combined effort of the Hojo and Takeda clans, and Kenshin Uesugi was not to return.

In 1573, Shingen Takeda marched on Kyoto with over 50,000 troops. He entrusted Kanto to the Hojo clan daimyo Ujiyasu Hojo, who had less than 15,000 troops. Taking advantage of the lack of defenses, the Date clan invaded. Masamune Date withdrew with his troops after a bloody engagement, but returned alongside the Tokugawa clan head Ieyasu Tokugawa, who arrived in Kanto Province with a large army, hoping to grab the province for himself. Again, he was defeated. Unfortunately for the Hojo, Shingen Takeda died of a heart attack while besieging Kyoto, and Kenshin Uesugi died in 1579 of a heart attack, two years after his great victory at the Battle of Tetori River. This left Ujiyasu Hojo in control of Kanto, as the other clans backed down.

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