Akiyama Nobutomo (1531- December 23, 1575)
There are ways for a brave samurai to die.
To be killed in battle, lying face down is the ideal way, or to cut oneself open in the practice known as seppuku is also deemed acceptable. To die in bed, lying on ones’ back was most shameful, as was being executed at the hands of the enemy.
That was to be the unfortunate end for one of he famed 24 Generals of Takeda Shingen, Akiyama Nobutomo, known as “The Raging Bull of the Takeda Clan”.
In 1547 at the age of just 16 and during the battle for the Ina district in modern day Nagano Prefecture, Nobutomo distinguished himself and as a result, was awarded the northern parts of the area including Takato and Iida Castles as a fief.
Being one of the 24 generals of Takeda Shingen meant Nobutomo was forefront in many of his battles. The Siege of Iwamura in 1572 was one such battle. Takeda Shingen had set his sights on Totomi (western Shizuoka Prefecture) and Nobutomo saw that the great yamajiro (mountain top castle) of Iwamura was of great importance. During the attack, Toyama Kageto, the castle’s commander fell ill and died. Nobutomo negotiated the castle’s surrender with Toyama’s widow, Lady Otsuya and the castle was taken without bloodshed.
To preserve peace, and strengthen ties between the clans, Lady Otsuya married Akiyama Nobutomo, and sent her adopted son, Gobomaru as a hostage to the Takeda. Interestingly, Gobomaru was Oda Nobunaga’s fifth biological son, and Lady Otsuya was Nobunaga’s aunt. When Nobunaga discovered the child’s fate, he was enraged.
Takeda Shingen died in 1573, and so Nobutomo supported his son, Takeda Katsuyori, until Katsuyori’s loss in the Battle of Nagashino, against Oda Nobunaga, which left Nobutomo without military support.
From July until December 1575, Nobunaga seeing his chance, attacked and laid siege to the castle. To end the siege, Nobunaga promised Nobutomo and his aunt, Lady Otsuya, safety and freedom on capitulation. When they did exit the castle however, Nobunaga broke his promise, and on December 23, 1575, the 44-year-old Akiyama Nobutomo and the Lady Otsuya were hung upside down on a cross-like wooden rack, a punishment usually reserved for traitors, and executed on the banks of the Nagara River.