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Battle it out in Shinshiro

by Akira Okubo

Staff Writer

During the Sengoku period (1482-1573), the Takeda family was one of the strongest clans in Japan, known in particular for its successful cavalry charges. Yet in 1575, it found itself up against something that rendered it powerless — the new western technology of firearms.

In early July that year, allies of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu attacked and defeated Takeda Katsuyori’s forces, which had besieged Nagashino castle. The Battle of Shitaragahara, also known as the Battle of Nagashino, became recognized as a turning point for Japanese warfare because of Oda’s effective use of guns. It was the first battle for which firearms played a major role in victory.

Each year, locals of Shinshiro in Aichi Prefecture commemorate this famous event with the Shitaragahara Battlefield Festival, which takes place at the original site. On July 6, after a memorial service dedicated to those who died in battle, visitors can enjoy various performances, including a drumming show and a children’s samurai-costume parade. The highlight of the festival is a demonstration by men, dressed in period costume, using authentic matchlock guns, just as Oda’s forces did more than 400 years ago. Other attractions include stalls selling special foods and locally made miscellaneous goods.

The Shitaragahara Battlefield Festival takes place near Shitaragahara Historical Museum at Takehiroaza, Shinshiro in Aichi Prefecture on July 6th from 9 a.m. If there is heavy rain, only the memorial service and a part of shooting demonstration will take place. For more information call 0536-22-0673 or visit sitarahara.p1.bindsite.jp/stay.html (Japanese).