Date: 24th June 2018
Following Kofu Castle, the next stop you should not miss in Kofu is the Takeda Jinja (武田神社, Takeda Shrine), the shrine dedicated to Takeda Shingen, a famous daimyo of the Kai Province (today’s Yamanashi Prefecture). Shingen forced his father into retirement and took over the Takeda clan at a young age.
Shingen initially attempted to conquer Shinano Province (present day Nagano prefecture), winning in a large number of battles before he was forced to retreat into Kai Province when he was defeated in the Battle of Uedahara in 1548 to the forces of Murakami Yoshikiyo. Shingen avenged this loss in 1550 through the Siege of Toshi Castle, led by Sanada Yukitaka, one of Shingen’s Twenty-four Generals and grandfather of the famous Sanada Yukimura.
Known also as the Tiger of Kai, his battle encounters with Uesugi Kenshin of the Echigo Province (present day Niigata prefecture) at Kawanakajima are especially famous. The result of the Kawanakajima battles were indecisive and Shingen continued with his expansion in the Shinano Province. He continued to advance in Kozuke Province (today’s Gunma Prefecture) and failed at the repeated siege of Hojo’s clan Odawara. In 1569, Shingen finally succeeded in taking over the Suruga Province (today’s central Shizuoka Prefecture).
One of Takeda Shingen’s famous battles is the Battle of Mikatagahara against the forces of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, resulting in Tokugawa’s retreat. Though Shingen was successful in the Siege of Noda Castle, he was wounded by a possibly fatal sniper shot. This is one of the speculated causes of his death in 1573, the other being illness.
Shingen’s son, Takeda Katsuyori succeeded his father but was defeated at the Battle of Nagashino to the Oda-Tokugawa forces and later committed suicide following his defeat at the Battle of Tenmokuzan.
With the fall of the Takeda clan, the Tsutsujigasaki Yakata, the previously fortified residence of the Takeda clan for 63 years soon deteriorated. Fortunately, the residence-turned-ruins was saved following the Meiji Restoration when it was declared a National Historic Monument. Emperor Taisho ordered for the shrine to be built in 1915, which was then completed in 1919.
The Takeda Shrine holds an annual celebration on April 12th, Shingen’s death anniversary. Visitors to this shrine prays for success or “winning”. There is a treasure house in this shrine, housing a number of artifacts belonging to the Takeda clan. Especially famous is the sword – Yoshioka Ichimonji, bestowed by the Sanjo family (family of Shingen’s wife – Sanjo no kata). This sword was originally part of the bridal gifts from the Takeda family when Shingen married Sanjo no kata.
Between late March to early April, the cherry blossoms along the street from Kofu Station to the shrine, also called the Takeda-dori and around the shrine is especially beautiful, a perfect excuse for a stroll in the cooling spring weather. As it was blazing hot on this day, I took a bus to the shrine instead.
When looking for souvenirs in Kofu, you will often come across Shingen mochi. Shingen mochi is basically mochi covered with kinako (roasted soybean flour), served with kuromitsu (black Japanese sugar syrup). Well, since it was so hot, I had Shingen ice instead, basically vanilla soft-serve ice cream with kinako and kuromitsu. It was unexpectedly good. You can easily find them at the souvenir shops in front of the shrine.
Admission fee: Shrine (free), Treasure House (300 yen)
Opening hours: Shrine (Always open), Treasure House (09:30 – 16:30)
Take the Yamanashi Kotsu bus from Kofu Station’s North Exit (No.2). The bus ride is about 8-10 minutes @ 190 yen. Alight at Takeda Jinja. Bus timetable here.
Kofu Station is served by the JR East Chuo Main Line and the JR Central Minobu Line. Here are some access examples:
- From Shinjuku Station: JR Chuo Line Limited Express – 1 hr 43 mins, 8 stops (4,330 yen)
- From Takao Station: JR Chuo Line – 1 hr 35 mins, 19 stops (1,490 yen)
- From Shiojiri Station (Nagano): JR Chuo Line – 1 hr 36 mins, 18 stops (1,490 yen)
- From Fuji Station (Shizuoka): JR Minobu Line – Limited Express 1 hr 52 mins, 10 stops (3,560 yen) / Local 2 hrs 45 mins, 38 stops (1,660 yen)