In part one of the Heaven and Earth review we talked about how equally matched these 2 warlords were. Now we are going to look at what is probably a pretty authentic recreation of the battle formations used during that period of Japanese history.
Kenshin’s “Winding Wheel” vs. Shingen’s “Crane.”
We briefly discuss to the “Winding Wheel” employed by Kenshin and Singen’s “Crane” technique. According to Japanese historian Stephen Turnbull the “Kuruma gakari” (wheel) this formation, drawn like a spiral, envisages successive units of an army being brought against the enemy ‘as the wheel winds on’. It is famously described in the Koyo Gunkan as being the formation adopted by Uesugi Kenshin for his dawn attack against Takeda Shingen at the fourth battle of Kawanakajima in 1561. It is essentially an idealized representation of a tactical move that replaces tired units by fresh ones without breaking the momentum.
Singen’s The Woodpecker pecks at the tree, and the vibrations scare the insect out so he can eat it. Kansuke (a Singen General) suggested sending a garrison up the mountain by a round-about route late at night to “peck” at the Kenshin’s troops in the early hours, flushing them down to the plain below where the bulk of the Takeda forces would be waiting!
The plan was approved, and troops went up the mountain, however when they arrived, the Uesugi, whether through having guessed the maneuvers or from having been tipped off by spies, had moved down the opposite side of the mountain in the darkness, and positioned themselves on the plain where the Takeda would not be expecting them for a another few hours. This did not help Takeda’s cause at all.
Kenshin’s tactics for so effective that they broke through Singen’s lines and were able to personally attack the Takeda himself who received some cuts until some of his bodyguards were able to come to his aid and help fight of Kenshin himself as well as other in cadre.
The battle was costly for both sides. a costly battle for both sides. Kenshin had lost 72 percent, or roughly 12,960 men, while Shingen, although taking 3,117 enemy heads as trophies, had lost 62 percent, or 12,400 men. In one of the largest battles ever fought in Japanese history, the “Crane’s Wing” formation, when executed by well-disciplined troops, could only temporarily stop that of the “winding wheel.”
Once again, these two rivals managed to fight to a stalemate—nothing ever being settled between the two they even died within months of each other.
The JPFmovie staff all recommend this film.