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The Life of Sanada Yukimura

Yukimura’s strategy was to engage in skillful battle against battle-wise military commanders. What was the secret to the strength that even the shogunate ruler, Ieyasu feared?! Here is a look into the legend of the life of Yukimura that lives on today.

Sanada Masayuki
He was a resourceful general careering through a society in upheaval who maneuvered the Sanada family, a minor power, into a position of Sengoku feudal leader. He is said to be the man that Tokugawa Ieyasu most feared.

Image of Sanada Masayuki (Ueda City Museum)

Sanada Yukimura (Nobushige)
A brave Sengoku military commander, who alongside his father Masayuki, is called the greatest warrior in Japan. He spent the majority of his life in Kudoyama.

Image of Sanada Yukimura (Ueda City Museum)

Sanada Yukimura’s Life


1567 Born as the second son of Sanada Masayuki
1575 Takeda Katsuyori loses the Battle of Nagashino to Oda and Tokugawa forces. Following the deaths in battle of his older brothers, Sanada Nobutsuna and Masateru, Masayuki took over as head of the family.
1582 Katsuyori commits suicide, and the Takeda Clan falls. Masayuki aligns with the Hojo Clan and later with Tokugawa Ieyasu.
1583 Ueda-jo Castle constructed

Period of captivity

1585 Masayuki joins Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Yukimura travels to Kaizu-jo Castle and Kasugayama-jo Castle as a captive of the Uesugi Clan.
In the first battle of Ueda, he fights against Tokugawa and Hojo forces and wins. Later, he is sent to Osaka as a hostage of Hashiba (later, Toyotomi) Hideyoshi.

Leading up to Sengoku settings

1590 Joins the Siege of Odawara

Bides time on Kudoyama

1600 Inubushi no Wakare (Parting at Inubushi)
Parts ways with his older brother, Nobuyuki and supports Masayuki and the West army
Although they stop Tokugawa Hidetada at Ueda-jo Castle, Yukimura and Masayuki are ordered to stay in Koyasan because the West army was defeated in the Battle of Sekigahara.
1602 His eldest son, Daisuke (later, Yukimasa) is born to his wife, the daughter of Otani Yoshitsugu.
1611 Masayuki dies at age 65.

Winter Siege of Osaka

1614 He flees from Kudoyama and goes to Osaka-jo Castle.
He builds Sanada Maru (earthwork barbican) during the Winter Siege of Osaka and deals serious blows to the Tokugawa side.

Summer Siege of Osaka

1615 The Summer Siege of Osaka takes place. He attacks the headquarters of Ieyasu’s army but dies in battle at the age of 49.
Daisuke, who also joined the same Summer Siege of Osaka, dies a martyr for Toyotomi Hideyori, along with Yodogimi who committed suicide during the fall of Osaka-jo Castle.

(The Greatest Warrior in Japan)

The name Yukimura came to be known throughout Japan because of his fearless fighting that withstood enemy forces greatly outnumbering his own.
Shimazu Iehisa from Satsuma praised Yukimura, writing that “Sanada was the greatest warrior in Japan, stronger than any warrior in stories from ancient times; thus, the Tokugawa army was half defeated. I say this only in general.”