Furin kazan (Under the Banner of Samurai) (1969)




Director:     Hiroshi Inagaki.

Starring:     Toshir Mifune (Kansuke Yamamoto),  Yoshiko Sakuma (Princess Yufu),  Kinnosuke Nakamura (Shingen Takeda),  Yjir Ishihara (Kenshin Uesugi), Katsuo Nakamura (Nobusato Itagaki),  Kanzaburo Nakamura (Katsuyori Takeda),  Kan'emon Nakamura (Nobukato Itagaki),  Masakazu Tamura (Nobushige Takeda),  Mayumi Ozora (Princess Okoto),  Ken Ogata.

Yamamoto Kansuke (1501-1561),Japanese samurai and General who planned the victory at the fourth Battle of Kawanakajima against Uesugi Kenshin



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.


A ronin comes to the house of another ronin (i.e., an unemployed samurai), who throws a coin out onto the porch.  The ronin outside says that is not enough money.  He accuses the man inside of telling exaggerated stories of his bravery "in order to pocket stipends from Ihara Takatane!"  He adds:  "I could expose your scam."  The ronin inside throws out another coin.  The ronin outside says that this is the last time he has to deal with this fellow because he is going to get hired by Lord Takeda in Kai Province (i.e., todays Yamanashi Prefecture, central Honshu, west of Tokyo and containing Mount Fuji on its border with Shizuoka Prefecture).  He says further that he has a connection he can use, namely Takeda's trusted vassal, Itagaki Nobusata. 

The ronin inside has a scheme to get both the outside ronin and himself a position with the same action.  He advises the outside ronin to attack Itagaki as if he wants to kill the man, but no matter what, don't kill the vassal.  The outside ronin says he does the fighting and the inside ronin will come to the vassal's aid, thereby making himself a hero.  The inside ronin says that this is the only way to get a position with Lord Takeda -- one position for him and one for he who thought up the plan. 

At night, the ronin attacks a group of men with Itagaki, killing one of them.  Itagaki shouts out that there's some mistake because he is Itgaki Nobusata of the Takeda Clan.  The ronin then kills the other samurai with Itagaki.  The brains behind the plan shows up to come to Itagaki's rescue.  The two ronin start sword fighting, but the brains of the outfit slices off the left arm of the supposed "thief".  The injured man now runs for his life, while the other chases him through the woods.  As he runs for his life, the "thief" asks his supposed partner:  "Have you gone crazy?"  The pursuer catches up with the fleeing man and slashes him in the back with his sword, killing him. 

Itagaki comes running up shouting:  "Where are you, my savior from the Imagawa Clan?"  The surviving ronin says that he took care of that thief, but he himself is a ronin from Ushikubo in Mikawa Province and his name is Kansuke Yamamoto. 

"March, Tenbun 12 (1543), Domain of Kai."  Mount Fuji is in the background.  Kansuke Yamamoto surveys the Domain of Kai, a Domain he has long dreamed of.  He walks on until he gets to a farmhouse.  The sight of him scares the wife.  The husband returns carrying firewood on his back and is also very on edge over their visitor.  The husband wants to know where the stranger is from?  Kansuke says that he is envious of the man because his place has a beautiful overview of Kai Valley.  He goes on to say that if he were the Lord of the land he would build a castle right here.  This makes the farmer laugh.  He says the ronin must be a "blithering idiot" for there are no true castles in Kai because all the fighting takes places outside the borders of Kai.  Looking Kansuke over, the farmer advises him that he better go back from whence he came, because he could be of no possible use to Lord Takeda. 

Kansuke just continues on his journey.  By night he has reached his destination.  He is with Nobusata who tells his servant not to forget that this man man before them has saved his life.  Nobusata gets to the point, asking Kansuke what are his grand plans?  Kansuke only says that if he serves his Lord, he vows to make him the mightiest Lord in the nation. 

A conference with advisors and military leaders.  These leaders want to conquer Suwa.  The leaders says that there is no resistance east, south or west of them, so they should take advantage of their only chance to strike north and attack Suwa in Shinano.  The Lord of Suwa at one time was married to Lord Takeda's now deceased young sister, Lady Nene.  But with the Lady gone, Lord Takeda is no longer related to the Suwa.  Others at the conference want to know why Nobusata has changed his position from advising not to attack Suwa to now advising to attack Suwa?  Nobukata says:  ". . . I was convinced by Yamamoto Kansuke that I was wrong."  Who is this Yamamoto Kansuke?  Nobusata says he is a ronin he recently hired that has a great knack for strategy.  Given that, they call for Yamamoto to come speak with them. 

Yamamoto now sits before Lord Takeda.  The Lord asks what does he think of Kai?  Yamamoto says the lands are fertile, the people content, the army strong, but there is one big weakness and that is that the domain does not border on the sea.  On the other hand, he liked the "Fuu-rin-ka-zan", the banners of the House.  Lord Takeda is impressed and makes Yamamoto the head of 20 spearsmen and 80 soldiers.

Yamamoto returns to that small farmhouse with the beautiful view of Kai Valley.  The farmer remembers him and is surprised he has a position, but, he says, it must be a position with maybe one soldier under him.  Just then a man on horseback comes up to speak with Yamamoto.  He tells Sir Yamamoto that he is a newly-appointed troop leader by the name of Ogiwara Yaoemon.  The troop leader yells at the farmer to at least get Yamamoto some tea!  He then explains to Yamamoto that the farmer is Spearsman Hatanaka Buhei and he is attached to his troop.  Yamamoto asks Ogiwara if he can have Buhei as his own personal spearsman.  Ogiwara agrees.

"March, Tenburn 13 (1544).  The Kai troops are on the march. Takeda Harunobu advances with an army of 20,000 men.  At night they camp at Uizan Plateau, near Suwa Castle.  Toramasa and Takeda's brother urge Lord Takeda to attack soon.  So Takeda tells Nobushige to take the lead, while he will command the reserves.  Yamamoto sits off by the side.  Takeda asks his opinion.  Yamamoto says that given their huge force, they can negotiate a surrender without a fight.  This makes some of the others angry, but Takeda likes it.  He tells Yamamoto to bear the message to Takashima Castle. 

Yamamoto is in negotiations.  The Lord of Suwa asks what will be the borders if they strike a bargain?  Yamamoto says the boundaries will stay the same.  The Lord of Suwa agrees to attend peace negotiations with Lord Takeda Harunobu.  On his way out, Yamamoto sees a pretty woman standing by the side with other women.  He asks the Lord of Suwa isn't that Princess Yu?  Yes.  She is his daughter by Lady Komishi.  He tries to introduce his daughter to Yamamoto, but the woman seems very shy and almost runs away.  But just as Yamamoto is readying to ride away, Princess Yu from a distance looks straight at him.  He makes a head bow to her and then goes. 

Up at the farmer's place Yamamoto tells Buhei that Lord Yorishige of Suwa will be makes his third visit here.  Yamamoto is bothered by the memory of Princess Yu.  He would like to know why was she the only one who did not feel happy about how things turned out?   

"Lord Suwa Yorishige visits Kofuchu in order to strengthen ties."  Lord Takeda asks his advisors what they think of this Lord Suwa?  Then he asks Yamamoto.  Yamamoto says he can only tell Lord Takeda his thoughts in private.  So, they go to a private area.  Yamamoto asks:  "Will you consider having him slain?"  Lord Takeda is shocked at first, but with a little thought he agrees to the idea. 

During the entertainment, Yamamoto drops a piece of paper to the ground.  This is the signal for the assassination.  Troop leader Yaoemon walks over to Lord Suwa, bow and explains:  "I've been ordered to take your life!"  Yaoemon then stabs Lord Suwa and then stabs two of the Lord's men.  Yamamoto kills a third man with a sword.  He then orders Yaoemen to finish off Lord Suwa.  Yaoemon complies.

The wife of Takeda is very upset with him for killing brother-in-law Lord Suwa.  She asks if the idea was that of Yamamoto?  Takeda dismisses her by saying that this business has nothing to do with her.  She leaves.  Now Lord Takeda asks Yamamoto why he wanted Lord Suwa dead?  Yamamoto replies that the man visited here in Kai three times.  This means that Lord Takeda would be obligated to go to Suwa to pay a visit.  And, he adds, "That would have placed your life in jeopardy."  Takeda has a good laugh and asks:  "So, when are we attacking Suwa?"  Yamamoto says his Lord knows very well when it's time to attack Suwa. He then leaves.  Lord Takeda asks Nobusata:  "Yamamoto Kansuke is a terrifying man, isn't he?" 

Yamamoto says it's too soon to attack Suwa, because their men would fight until the very last man dies.  No, let them cool off, and then they will attack.  He also says other domains will join them in an attack on Suwa.  Kai can profit greatly by their allies taking the major brunt of the attack.  Nobusata comes straight out with the question everyone wants to know the answer to:  What are you up to?  What are your plans?  Yamamoto answers:  "To seize castles, and land.  Then seize more castles and more land.  At this moment, sir . . . that is all that Yamamoto Kansuke desires."

"January, Tenbun 14 (1545).  Takeda Harunobu attacks Suwa.  The Suwa Army sallies from Takashima Castle to Fumonji Temple." A messenger arrives to tell Lord Takeda:  "The First Troop, led by Sir Itagaki has defeated the enemy at Fumonji, advanced past Shibusaki and is heading for Takashima Castle!"   Another messenger tells Lord Takeda that most of the soldiers at Takashima Castle are fleeing north along Lake Suwa.  Lord Takeda tells his advisors that it is disappointing and a bit sad that Lord Suwa's domain fell so easily. 

Yamamoto comes into the castle and finds Princess Yu with two handmaidens.  One of the women tells him to stay out because the princess is in the process of killing herself.  But Princess Yu says that she will not kill herself.  She asks why should she die?  Yamamoto tells the princess that if she doesn't kill herself, "your family will bear the shame of it forever."  The princess tells him to be quiet.  After all, she says: "Your peace negotiations were a snare to trick and murder my father! . . . You're ruthless."  How dare he talk to her about shame?!   She faints and drops to the floor. 

Yamamoto carries Princess Yu outside.  The men start to go crazy because they see three women.  Yamamoto has to tell the men that if anybody dares to touch the princess, they will be slain at once.   

Princess Yu is being carried in a palanquin to Kai domain.  Lord Takeda wants to make her his concubine.  Yamamoto tells him that they have potentially ten separate enemies to fight, so they can't get carried away in what they do to the enemy survivors so that the clans will not be compelled to fight Kai domain.  But Takeda is determined to make Princess Yu his.  And he wants Yamamoto to break the news to her and persuade her to agree to it voluntarily. 

Princess Yu says that if she had known she would become her enemy's concubine, she would have killed herself when she was first taken captive.  She becomes irate and shouts over and over again:  "I will not!"

On another day,  Yamamoto tells the Princess that it is his wish that she bear a son that can unite Suwa and Takeda.  The Princess wants to know what he is up to?  Just then First Lady Sanjo, Takeda's wife, comes to see the Princess.  Sanjo asks Yamamoto if this is the daughter of Lord Suwa who he captured at the castle?  The Princess takes offense at this remark.  Sanjo laughs and says the lady came all this way just to be the concubine of the man who killed her father.  And now the Princess becomes defiant and will now unite the blood of Suwa and Takeda (although she still cries over the prospect). 

Lord Takeda grabs Yu forcefully and tries to take off her clothing, but Yu holds on with all her strength.  He gives up and relaxes his grip.  He takes a suicide knife from her.  Takeda then holds her tight and puts his face up against her right cheek.  Later one of the handmaidens finds a distraught princess crying.  (I guess we can assume that the couple had sex together.)

Takeda Harunobu invades Shinano, using Suwa as his base.  He takes half of the domain.

"March, Tenbun 15 (1546).  Takeda Harunobu attacks Toishi Castle, in Murakami's domain in Shinano.  However, aided by the rugged terrain and expecting Murakami reinforcements, the castle commander, Kasahara Kiyoshige, resists strongly."  A messenger brings notice to Kasahara that if they will surrender the castle, his men will be spared.  Kasahara refuses saying that Murakami's forces will be arriving soon.  The messenger, however, informs Kasahara that Murakami's army was defeated at Uedagahara.  Amari Bizen and Yokota Bichunokami are the victorious commanders.  The castle commander sends a message back for Yamamoto. 

The message is delivered and says that if Yamamoto keeps using lies and deception in his strategies, people won't believe a word he says, even if it is true.  A message comes in from home.  Princess Yu has given birth to a male child.  With this news, Takeda says they will withdraw and go home. 

Yamamoto has a dream of reaching the ocean, so he asks Takeda to cancel the trip home.  Takeda is annoyed and doesn't want to cancel the trip.  But Yamamoto tells him that leaving the castle behind without taking it would cause their enemies to say that they are cowards.  And this cannot be allowed.  He says they can take the castle in half a day.

They behead 15 Murakami generals and put the heads on stakes so they can be clearly seen by those in the castle.  They offer this as proof that Murakami has been defeated.  If Kasahara doesn't surrender, everyone will be killed, even the women and children. 

Yamamoto visits Princess Yu and her baby.  She congratulates Yamamoto on his victory, but the strategist says it's too early to celebrate.  He fears the war with Murakami will be long and difficult. Now that she has a son, Princess Yu wants Takeda to be victorious in battle.  She wants Yamamoto to win so the future of her son can be assured.  She also wants Yamamoto to watch out for her child.  Yamamoto picks up the baby boy and says that it is he who is the true parent of the child for without him and his plans there never would have been a boy prince for Takeda. 

"Choyo 'Double-Nine' Day:  September 9th.  A day for viewing chrysanthemums."  Lord Takeda is congratulated on having such a peaceful Choyo.  Takeda tells those at the ceremony that they will be renaming their prince.  His name from now on will be Takeda Shiro-Katsuyori (the last part, Katsuyori, meaning Victory-Depend).   Yamamoto thought up the name.  This peaceful gathering is disturbed by the arrival of a messenger who says Uesugi Norimasa's army is on the march and they are reinforced by detachments from Musashi and Ueno.  They are headed for Fuefuki Pass!  In all, it is believed that they have an army of 22,000 men. 

Yamamoto says Itagaki in Suwa would be the best man to stop the invasion through Fuefuki Pass.  Takeda agrees.  He then says that Nobushige will take over at Suwa.  Yamamoto goes personally to tell Itagaki.  By the time Yamamoto arrives, he is thoroughly exhausted and has to be carried in by several men.  Itagaki says he already anticipated moving his forces against the enemy at Fuefuki Pass.  Yamamoto tells him to go and after he has recovered from his exhaustion, he will join Itagaki in the field. 

Itagaki's men are always marvelous at the start of the battle.  They killed 1,219 enemy warriors of the enemy's vanguard unit.  By 11 a.m. they had won a glorious victory.  Then Takeda arrived with the main army and they killed over 4,700 enemy soldiers.  It was a rout!  Itagaki and Yamamoto remain at Fuefuki Pass for security purposes.  Over dinner, Itagaki and a few other learns for the first time, the full dream of Yamamoto:  "We'll carve out a new, grander Takeda fief that will stretch from the northern to the southern seas."  The men are shocked at just hold bold the plan is.  Yamamoto adds:  "Our century of civil war, that which began with the Onin War, will then come to an end. A new Japan is about to be born."  Itagaki says the dream is just too big to be fulfilled.  Yamamoto rebuts with:  "Two or three years for Murakami, ten for Nagao of Echigo and five years for Imagawa."  By then, Prince Katsuyori will be ready to take over. 

Itagaki says Lord Taneda already has three sons by his first wife.  Why should they bypass them for Princess Yu's son?  Because, says Yamamoto, the Princess is the most beautiful, the wisest and most steadfast princess in the world, and Prince Katsuyori has her blood running in his veins.  Itakagi says he cannot support this idea.  He himself has a family and a lineage to protect.  Itagaki does help Yamamoto by saying he should hurry and move the Prince to safety in Suwa, because the first lady may want to get rid of Prince Katsuyori.  He also says he will make sure Prince Katsuyori will be the finest warrior in Japan.



Princess Yu and the baby are being escorted to Suwa.  Princess Yu doesn't know that this excursion to Suwa will be permanent.  Yamamoto tells her that she and her son must reside in Suwa from now on. She is shocked and slams her small window in Yamamoto's face.  She will be staying in a mansion in Kosaka Kan'on Temple.  Itagaki is shocked when he learns that Yamamoto has not yet gotten Princess Yu's full approval to live in Suwa and he tells Yamamoto that he is heartless. 

Checking on the princess, Yamamoto finds that she has fled.  One of her handmaiden's has taken responsibility by killing herself.  Yamamoto tells his aide to destroy all evidence of what has happened and tell no one about it.  Yamamoto rides his horse and finds the princess.  She retreats to a cabin and he pursues her.  Yamamoto catches up with her and she tells him that she is going back to be with Lord Takeda.  She asks him if he will honor her wishes and he says he will.  So, she tells him he can come into the cabin.  When he kneels before her, she slaps his face and then starts hitting him over and over again.  She gets exhausted and starts crying. 

A little later she tells Yamamoto that she wants to kill Lord Takeda with her own hands.  He is shocked to hear this!  But she just says that Takeda killed her father.  She admits to Yamamoto she both loves and hates Lord Takeda.  Today she may hate him, tomorrow she may love him.  The two feelings are at war with each other in her soul. 

"Tenbun 17 (1548).  The Takeda and Murakami armies clash at Uedagahara once again."  The Takeda soldiers led by Itagaki push their way through the First Troop and are just about 1,000 meters from the Second Troop. And then Itagaki's men get split into two lines.  On the Takeda side a man screams for Nobushige's Second Troop to attack.

Now Takeda learns that Murakami himself is at the head of his troops.  Takeda says they must have Murakami's head at any price.   Now the Third Troop attacks.  The fighting seems to go on and on.  After the battle, the fields are littered with dead bodies.  Murakami lost most of his army.  Messengers ride through the Takeda lines shouting:  "Sir Itagaki Nobusata has died in battle!"  Yamamoto sees them carrying the man's body back to the Takeda lines.  He cries over Nobukata's body. 

Yamamoto now wants to get the support of Nobusata's second in command, the man's son, but the son says that Yamamoto's plan to fight Nagao Kagetora is just ridiculous!  He says the person that ought to be killed is "the other woman".

Yamamoto goes to see Princess Yu again.  He tells Yu that he has come to take her life. 

Now Yamamoto speaks with Takeda.  He talks to him about the daughter of a famous family in Ina Domain, the Aburagawa family, of the Princess Okoto.  Yamamoto adds the if Takeda doesn't know the girl, he must slay her at once.  And now Yamamoto makes a strange demand.  He says Takeda must decide to take a vow of chastity.  Takeda asks him if he wants him to become a monk?  Yamamoto says he has to do this to protect his family legacy.  He adds that he wants Takeda to become a noble figure that will live on in the hearts of even those in a much larger world!  Takeda repeats:  "So, I must become a monk?"

"February, Tenbun 20 (1551).  Takeda and Kansuke shave their heads and become monks.  It took Kansuke three years to persuade Lord Takeda to take holy orders."

Katsuyori asks his father why he became a monk?  Yu answers that father did so many bad things, that God had to punish him.  Kansuke Yamamoto tells Katsuyori that his father became a monk in order to be reborn an even more powerful general.  In addition, dad has changed his name to Takeda Shigen.

For the first time, the three of them (Takeda, Yu and Kansuke) have tea together.  Yu starts coughing a little, but says it's nothing.  A messenger comes in to say that their enemy Uesugi has changed his name to Uesugi Kenshin. 

"February, Tenbun 24 (1555).  The army of Uesugi Kenshin marches to Shinano.  Takeda Shigen's army camps at Unnodaira in Shinano."  Yamamoto watches the very confident Echigo Army move without concealment. 

"The Takeda and Uesugi armies face each other at Unnodaira.  For three days, neither side moves."   Yamamoto visits Princess Yu again, this time at her request.  He says she looks too chipper to be ill.  They walk in the garden together.  Kansuke says he will be heading over to Kawanakajima in North Shinano where he thinks the decisive battle will be fought.  Yu tells him that she does not have much more time to live.  She asks Kansuke to take care of Katsuyori. 

Kawanakajima.  The son of Nobukata, Itagi, talks with Kansuke.  He doesn't think they can win in this place.  It will all boil down to hand-to-hand fighting and the Echigo Army has much more experience with this than the Takeda Army.  His defeatism annoys Kansuke.  Itagi says that they should not underestimate the enemy.  Kanuske takes this too personally, but it is good that Itagi said it, because it does get Kansuke thinking more about the upcoming battle.

Bad news arrives.  Princess Yu has died.  It's suggested that Yamamoto go to Suwa.  He returns to Suwa.

"Seven years later, November, Genroku 3 (1560).  Construction of Kaizu Castle at Kawanakajima is complete."  Yamamoto speaks with Katsuyori.  So far there have been three battles in the area:  Tokura; Nakanojo; and Zenkojidaira.  Yamamoto says the "Tiger of Echigo" will soon be heading to Kawanakajima. 

"August, Genroku 4 (1561).  Uesugi marches from Kasuga Castle.  He advances towards Kawanakajima with an army of 13,000 men.  The Takeda army consists of 18,000 men, organized into 18 troops.  It takes three days for the army to depart from Kofuchu."  Yamamoto visits the grave of Princess Yu and talks to her.  He says his only regret about the upcoming battle is that Katsuyori is not yet quite come of age.  This means the battle won't be the boy's maiden battle.

Kensuke will be leading the vanguard into battle. 

Kawanakajima is on the Chikuma River.  South of the river is Saijo Mountain in the west and Kaizu Castle in the east.  The Uesugi forces gather on the west and the Takeda forces on the east.  Today, the Takeda forces will all be leaving the castle to attack Uesugi at Mount Saijo.  Yamamoto was not informed of this and he goes to see Takeda about it.  Takeda only says he made the plan because he felt like planning an attack.  Yamamoto says he has planned 30 battles and won 30 battles.  He tells Takeda he will launch the attack, but after that Takeda himself will be handling the strategy. 

Yamamoto says first they will launch a frontal attack.  Then they will use the thick fog to their advantage.  The main part of the army will go straight to the enemy without the benefit of fog.  Meanwhile, the enemy will be trying to get a Kaizu Castle.  What Yamamoto wants to do is to surround the enemy's forces.  Buhei makes the comment to his troop leader that this time there is something different about Yamamoto.  His troop leader Yaoemon says that for the first time, he feels afraid. 

"Hidden by fog, Takeda fords the Chikuma River and camps at Hachimangahara.  Itagaki Nobusato's assault on Mt. Saijo is to begin at 6 in the morning."  6 a.m. comes but there are no sounds of battle.  Takeda says maybe there is no fighting at Saijo Mountain because the enemy forces have moved from there.  He tells Yamamoto to find the watchman.  A messenger comes up and tells Yamamoto that several hundred cavalry are on the field below, but because of the fog, he can't tell if they are friendly or hostile forces.  Yamamoto tells him to get closer and find out.

Yamamoto tells Takeda that there is no sign of Uesugi.  Uesugi exploited the fog too and now has the Takeda forces surrounded here at Hachimangahara.   Takeda says:  "You've mad a major blunder, Kansuke!"  A messenger arrives saying that the enemy has deployed itself along the valley and is moving to the right.  A second and a third messenger report in.  Over 10,000 Echigo troops are advancing on both flanks!  Yamamoto apologizes to Takeda for his error.  He says the big problem is that their main force of 12,000 men is not on the battlefield.  Takeda tells him not to berate himself too soon.  They will fight the Echigo troops alone for now and hope the main part of the army returns soon enough. 

A messenger reports that Nobushige has been killed.  And now Takeda has to bring up his reserves to help the Takeda forces to hold out.  Since everything seems lost, Yamamoto is going to go into battle himself.  He leads a group of men.  The two opposing forces run right into each other.  Yamamoto pushes through the enemy forces.  Meanwhile, enemy forces are trying to kill Takeda.  Takeda himself sits in his chair and keeps looking around for Uesugi Kenshin to reveal himself.   Uesugi does so and charges on horseback several times to whack at Takeda with his sword.  He does manage to give Takeda a small cut under his right eye, but then Uesugi has to get out of there.  

Fighting near to Yamamoto, Buhei is hit by and arrow and goes down.  Yamamoto starts to go to Buhei, but then Yaoemon is shot with an arrow to his neck.  He goes down.  Now the enemy is on Yamamoto.  Yamamoto kills several men, but then he gets an arrow right in his left eye.  He pulls the arrow out.  A spearsman is able to deliver a thrust into Yamamoto's left side.  Now the main troops arrive.  Yamamoto says:  "Victory!  . . . I've led us to victory!  We've won."  Yamamoto gets an arrow to the right side of his chest. 

Takeda says that the battle was a draw.  He says that Yamamoto, blinded by his huge dreams, failed him just when they needed him the most.  He says that Yamamoto also was blinded by love.  He shouts:  "You fool!" 

"They each dreamed their dreams, and then left the world."   



This is a long film, getting close to three hours. At times it did feel like it was going to take forever for Yamamoto Kansuke to achieve his dream, because it was one people after another that had to be defeated.  Yamamoto's dream was to unite Japan's divided and warring domains into a peaceful kingdom.  The only problem is it seemed like Yamamoto would have to nearly kill everybody to get a united Japan.  It was just one fight after another.  There is not, however, a great deal of action in the film.  Most of the time, the film just tells the outcome of a battle or campaign rather than illustrate the battle itself.  There was some action, but surprisingly it was not much, that is,  until the last battle in the film where there is more action.  In the last battle, they try to show how the flow of the battle went, but the action was too complicated to summarize with just one map, even if it was very helpful. 

The important thing here is the emphasis on the disunion of Japan and the constant fighting between different domains.  With so many conflicts, the domains had to build a warrior class, the samurai, which were then given too much power and too much prestige in reality and in Japanese culture.  The different domains came to worship the culture of the warrior, because the samurai were so important in a relatively constantly fighting country.  The romantic notion of the code of the samurai then aided in the rise of Japanese state fascism.  The Bushido code of the Japanese soldiers turned them into monsters committing all too many war crimes and atrocities.  The Japanese foolishly believed they were a superior race with a superior culture and way of acting.  Racism and the belief that a real soldier would never surrender, but rather fight to the death, helped lead to the many Japanese crimes against humanity.  Thank goodness, after World War II, Japan rejected much of it feudal and fascist warrior culture. 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




Historical Background:


During the Sengoku period, the warlord Takeda Shingen ruled Kai from his stronghold at Kōofu.

1501  --  birth of Yamamoto Kansuke.

1543 he comes to Kai and begins work for Takeda Shingen as an infantry commander.

1561  --  Yamamoto, thinking he lost the Battle of Kawanakajima, went into battle and died there. 



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