Shingen Takeda, born in 1521, was considered one of the most powerful daimyo of the Sengoku Period. Said to be of unparalleled genius, he almost managed to crush Oda Nobunaga before dying under mysterious circumstances. He is well known for his extreme use of cavalry units and his love towards warfare, along the fact that he is often painted with a war fan. It is believed that this was taken from a story where his rival, Uesugi Kenshi, snuck into Shingen’s camp with a sword ready to kill him, but Shingen managed to deflect all of the attacks with a simple fan. Just like Oda Nobunaga, Shingen had the ambition of conquering Japan. In 1572, Shingen marched his campaign towards Kyoto before being stopped by Nobunaga’s retainer, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Although Shingen injured Ieyasu extremely badly at the winter battle of Mikatagahara, he failed to eventually kill him. While continuing his march in the spring, however, Shingen fell ill and eventually died en-route in 1573. Although his son ended up succeeding him, Shingen’s death marked the end of the Takeda clan as Oda Nobunaga cleverly used his muskets to utterly annihilate the otherwise invincible Takeda cavalry in the Battle of Nagashino without any major casualties for the Oda clan.
Takeda is notable for coining the famous words emblazoned on his battlefield banner “Fuu-Rin-Ka-Zan (Wind, Forest, Fire, Mountain} ”, a condensed version of the well known four phrases from Sun Tzu's The Art of War: "as swift as wind, as gentle as forest, as fierce as fire, as unshakable as mountain."
Aside from his cavalry, intellect, and love for war, Shingen is also known for inventing the famous phrase “Fuu-Rin-Ka-Zan,” which directly translates to “wind-forest-fire-mountain.” By borrowing the logic from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Shingen explained that the phrase meant for one to be as swift as the wind, silent as the forest, fierce like fire, and strong like a mountain. Shingen was also known for his cruelty and ruthlessness as he kept pots around his camps to punish prisoners of war. Even so, his accomplishments and prowess were so influential that even Tokugawa Ieyasu voiced his extreme respect following Shingen’s death, even if Shingen had almost killed Tokugawa in their earlier battle. It is believed that Tokugawa Ieyasu learned from the old Takeda leader’s governmental and militaristic innovations which ultimately led him in his conquest of Japan. Given such respect coming from the eventual Japanese Shogun, it is not surprising to see just how popular Shingen is in contemporary Japanese culture. In fact, there are many video games and festivals named after him, most notably the Takeda Shingen festival where famous Japanese TV actors re-enact Shingen’s story over a week after practicing for an entire year.