Uesugi Kenshin

From Academic Kids

Uesugi Kenshin(上杉謙信) (February 18, 1530 - April 19, 1578) was a warlord who ruled Echigo province in the Sengoku Period of Japan.

In 1548, Kenshin became the owner of the castle of Kasugayama and was engaged in the five Battles of Kawanakajima with Takeda Shingen.

His original name was Nagao Kagetora(長尾景虎). Later he consecutively changed his name to Uesugi Masatora(上杉政虎), to Uesugi Terutora(輝虎) and finally to Kenshin after he became a Buddhist monk; in particular, he would become renowned for being a devotee (some said avatar) of Bishamonten.

His death has always been veiled in mystery. According to some records he was found dead while he was on the lavatory. One theory says a ninja assassinated him with a spear after having hid some time under it, another is that he died of stomach cancer. The theory of planned murder might not be far from truth, as ninja were often used for secret actions of this nature during Kenshin's period, though their actual effectiveness for assassinations is dubious. (It is said that upon hearing of Kenshin's death, Oda Nobunaga remarked, "Now the empire is mine," though this does not necessarily mean that he had any hand in it. It is also said that he was as devout a drinker, if not an alcoholic, as he was a Buddhist.)


Uesugi Kenshin was one of the many powerful lords of the Sengoku-jidai. He is famed for his prowess on the battlefield, his military expertise, strategy and his belief in the god of war - Bishamonten. Kenshin was known to also be an alcoholic. He never had any sons but adopted two different sons who would be his heirs.

Kenshin was born in Echigo Province and was the son of a powerful warlord. Kenshin's father died in battle, starting tumult and civil war in Echigo where he was the ruler. Kenshin fought with his brother and won, thus receiving his father's lands and becoming a powerful daimyo. He had gained Echigo but had not completely unified it. Kenshin's unification of Echigo was a slow process that probably was not completed until much later.

Around the time Kenshin became the new lord of Echigo, Takeda Shingen had won major victories in Shinano Province. The two provinces (Shinano and Echigo) shared a border and were very close to one another. Takeda gained dominion over Shinano by defeating a few minor lords and then defeating Murakami Yoshikiyo, the leader of the powerful Murakami clan. The Takeda, originally situated in Kai Province, had expanded northwards. Kenshin watched these activities with alarm. Soon after Murakami Yoshikiyo was defeated, he and another lord went to Kenshin and asked him to help them against Shingen. Shingen's northward advance had worried Kenshin and so he agreed to fight against Takeda Shingen. The two fought many battles at Kawanakajima though ultimately neither side gained any great advantage.

After 3 battles at Kawanakajima, Kenshin expanded his domain to include Etchu Province by fighting various lords there as well. After this he and Shingen fought the biggest battle they would fight, the fourth battle of Kawanakajima. Shingen won this battle but at great cost. Kenshin used an ingenious tactic: a special formation where the soldiers in the front would switch with the soldiers in back as those in the frontline became tired or wounded. This allowed the tired soldiers to take a break while the soldiers who had not seen action would fight on the frontlines. This was extremely effective and because of this Kenshin nearly defeated Shingen. In this battle is the tale of Kenshin riding up to Shingen and slashing at him with his sword. Shingen fended off the blows with his iron war fan or tessen. However, Kenshin failed to finish Shingen off. Hara Osumi-no-kami drove Kenshin away and Shingen made a counter-attack. The Uesugi army retreated and many drowned in a nearby river while others were cut down by Takeda's generals.

Though Shingen and Kenshin still fought again after this, Kenshin became concerned with fighting the Hojo clan. He also fought with the Ashina clan, another powerful clan of the time. Kenshin expanded his territory again but was forced to retreat when he ran short on supplies. Shingen died in 1572, and Kenshin reportedly wept at the loss of such a worthy adversary.

Sometime later Kenshin fought with Oda Nobunaga. He defeated Nobunaga despite being outnumbered and might have further expanded into Nobunaga's lands. However, Kenshin died shortly after the battle. Some say he died on a lavatory, others say he was assassinated by a ninja.ar:أوئي-سوغي كن-شين ko:우에스기 겐신 nl:Uesugi Kenshin ja:上杉謙信


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