... is one of the most famous Sengoku Daimyo, the feudal lord, in 16th century. He was known as "the Dragon (or Tiger) of Echigo," and also because he was an invincible at pitched battle, entitled "Gonshin," the god of war. Kenshin unified Echigo which was confused by many rival warlords and developed great economy and industry. He also helped countries around Echigo from invasions of Takeda clan and Hojo clan, and fought many battles with them. In early time, he was the biggest rival of Takeda Shingen, and after Shingen's death, Kenshin was one of the biggest enemy of Oda Nobunaga.
Kenshin was born as a third son of Nagao Tamekage in 1530 at Kasugayama Castle. He was named "Trachiyo. He studied literature and tactics at Rinsenji Temple from 7 to 14 years old. In 1543, he did Genpuku and change his name to Kagetora, and went to conquer Middle Echigo. This battle, called the battle of Tochojo, was Kenshin's first battle and he won against other feudal lords.
In 1545 and 1546, Kagetora defeated Koroda clan who betrayed twice and attacked Kasugayama Castle. In1548, he succeeded Nagao clan with the back up of all Nagao Samurai. In 1550, Kagetora was appointed as the lord of Echigo. However, one of Nagao clan, Nagao Masakage didn't accept the order of Shogun and brought his army against Kagetora. It is called the battle of Sakadojo. Kagetora defeated their army. After this battle, he unified all Echigo. He was only 22 years old.
After he unified Echigo, he started to help Uesugi Norimasa, the Governor of Kanto Region from the invasion of Hojo clan. At the same time, Takeda Shingen started extending his land to Shinano. All of Shinano Daimyo didn't have enough force to fight Shingen and asked Kenshin to help them. This was the beginning of the battle of Kawanakajima. From 1553 to 1564, Kenshin and Shingen fought 5 times at Kawanakajima.
The battle of Odawara.
In 1560, Kagetora moved his army to help Shiina Yasutane to Ecchu. Shiina was under attack from Jinbo, but Kagetora defeated Jinbo's army and Toyama castle. After this battle, he put Ecchu under his control. In May, Kagetora finally moved his army to attack Hojo and Odawara castle. He entered to Kanto from Sangokutoge and defeated all castles of Kozuke. Kagetra settled his army at Maebashi castle. In 1561, He and his army moved to Musashi and Sagami. In February, he conquered Kamakura and surrounded Odawara Castle. However, Takeda Shingen moved his army to North Shinano while Shinano was empty, and built Kaizu Castle. Shingen took the control of Zenkoji Land during Kagetora was attacking Odawara Castle. Therefore, he released Odawara Castle and pulled back his army to Kamakura while and finally went back to Echigo.
While he was in Kamakura, he succeeded Usesugi clan and changed his name from Nagao Kagetora to Uesugi Masatora.
The 4th battle of Kawanakajima
August in 1561, Masatora moved 18,000 armies to Kawanakajima. He left 5,000 of supply units at Zenkoji Temple and settle his headquarter at Mt. Saijo. Takeda Shingen arrived Kawanakajima later with 20,000 of his armies. Masatora and Shingen had a battle at Hachimanbara, also known as the 4th battle of Kawanakajima. This battle turned to draw, but both of them lost many armies. However, Shingen lost most of his important samurai such as Yamamoto Kansuke, and his brother who was also vice commander of Takeda army. Masatora didn't lost any of important samurai in this battle but he lost the control of North Shinano.
In this year, Masatora was given one of Shogun's name and changed his name to Masatora to Terutora after Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru.
From 1562 to 1564, because Terutora was responsible of all Kanto Region, he had to sent his army to conquer and rule Kanto. He also send his army to Ecchu again because Jinbo raised his army against Shiina again during Terutora was attacking Kozuke. After he defeated JInbo again, he immediately back to Kanto because Hojo started attacking northern Kanto. Terutora defeated most of Daimyo in Shimotsuke and surrounded Wada Castle of Kozuke. However, Shingen sent his army to Shinano again and Terutora had to pull back his army to Echigo.
The 5th battle of Kawanakajima
April in 1564, Shingen moved his army to North Shinano and defeated Nojiri Castle. Terutora arrived at August, but Shingen settled his army at Shiozaki Castle and never moved from the castle. Shingen avoided to have a pitched battle with Terutora. After 60 days of standing face to face, Terutora pulled back his army to Echigo. This was the last battle held between Terutora and Shingen.
In 1566, Terutora send his army to help his ally Satomi. Satomi was the feudal lord of Awa, and he was attacked by Hojo. Terutora attacked Usui Castle which is the main castle of Chiba clan who is the ally of Hojo, but he could not defeated the castle. Because of this failure, most of feudal lords in Kanto turned against Terutora and ran to Hojo. He lost most of control of Kanto except Eastern
In 1568, because the alliance of Hojo and Takeda was broken up, Hojo cannot fight against Terutora, and in 1569, Hojo and Terutora made an alliance. This alliance set Terutora of back side free, and he sent his army to Ecchu to defeat Shiina who betrayed Terutora.
In 1570, for making the alliance stronger, Terutora adapted Hojo's son and give his name Kagetora.
However, Terutora was suffering from endless battles, people and his situation, he went back to Rinsenji Temple and practice ZEN. The 7th priest Syuken gave him the teach and enlightenment of his life. Terutora found his own path and named his name from Terutora to Kenshin.
In 1571, Hojo Ujiyasu died and their alliance was broken up. Hojo and Takeda made an alliance again, and because Shingen want to travel to Kyoto, Shingen evoked Ikki at Ecchu. He spent 2 years to defeat Ikki and unified Ecchu again. In 1573, because Oda Nobunaga started fighting against Shingen, Nobunaga offered Kenshin the alliance. Kenshin and Nobunaga became ally in November.
In 1573, Kenshin's biggest enemy Shingen died, and he started conquering all Ecchu, Kaga and Hida. However, during Kenshin was away from Kanto, Hojo started invading north Kanto. Kenshin decided to give Hojo serious damage this time. He moved his army to Kanto and defeated most of castles in Kozuke and Musashi. However, he couldn't take down Kanayama Castle, and also had to help his Hanyu Castle, he stopped this march and pulled back to Ecchu.
In 1576, Nobunaga started attacking Honganji Temple. The priest Kennyo asked Kenshi to help. Honganji was leader of Ikki which suffered Kenshin for long time. By making the alliance with Honganji, Kenshin set himself free from Ikki. This also meant his way to the meeting emperor was open.
Also, Kenshi made alliance with Takeda Katsuyori, the son of Shingen to build Nobunaga encirclement.
In 1576, because he had free from Ikki, he finally governed Ecchu. Kenshin needed to conquer all lands between Echigo to Kyoto, therefore, next target was Noto Peninsula. Hatakeyama clan made alliance with Nobunaga and stayed at Nanao Castle which is very strong castle to attack. However, by the middle of the year, Kenshin set Noto under his control. By the same time, Nobunaga sent Shibata katsuie, Hashiba Hideyoshi, Takigawa Kazumasu, Niwa Nagahide, Maeda Toshiie and Sassa Narimasa with 30,000 of his armies to help Noto. Kenshin sent his army to fight against Nobunaga and defeated Nobunaga's army. This battle was called the battle of Tetorigawa.
December in 1577, Kenshi went back to Kasugayama Castle. In March 13, 1578, he died just before sent his major army. He was 49 years old.
The last poem:
四十九年 一睡の夢 一期の栄華 一盃の酒
"My 49 years of life was just like a dream of a night, and my great achievement is also just like a cup of SAKE."