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Friday, July 06, 2012

Kawanakajima

Did you watch the NHK's Fuurin Kazan back in 2007? This exciting drama portrayed the saga of the Takeda clan, told from the viewpoint of Yamamoto Kansuke, a general and strategist for Takeda Shingen. When we arrived in Nagano, the first place we visited was Hachimanpara Park, site of the famous fourth Battle at Kawanakajima. We had thrilled at the Taiga Drama, and we were eager to see the statue of Takeda Shingen fending off blows from the attacking Uesugi Kenshin. The Takeda Lord had a metal fan as his sole defense.

Takeda Shingen statue


As we approached the park, a good-natured tour group passed us and offered to take a few photos of my daughter and me. We saw signboards depicting the battle positions of the Takeda and Uesugi forces and other interesting facts about the area. A good deal of the text was also printed in English, which definitely increased my appreciation of the surroundings. Ah, and there was that famous statue! We spent some time admiring it and contemplating the scene. Then we walked through the park and I looked toward the hills and tried to imagine the soldiers moving furtively down the trails.

Uesugi Kenshin statue


We were very pleased to find Fuurin Kazan still prominently featured in the gift shop, and we purchased several Takeda-Uesugi items. After being kindly offered a cup of tea, we decided to sit for a while and enjoy hot bowls of udon. When we had finished our meal we wanted to walk to Yamamoto Kansuke's burial site. We received directions and set off. As we passed over a river I wondered if this was where the Takeda and Uesugi had once faced each other, waiting to see who would make the first move.

Three Strikes information board


Then we walked and walked some more. We had gone pretty far and there was not a single indication to assure us we were headed the right way. I was getting kind of nervous about it until my daughter guided us through a group of houses, where on a small street corner we saw a sign which indicated our destination. We proceeded down a pathway which led through farmland. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable because it seemed like trespassing, but the local farmer paid us no attention. And there we were, at Yamamoto Kansuke's grave. Finally.

Drive Safely sign


I was a bit dismayed at the prospect of walking all the way back to the park and the bus stop. When we actually saw a taxi cab, I practically fell over as I waved for him to stop. Once we got in and sat down, hey, everything was all right.

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