The Battle of Kawanakajima, between rival warlords Shingen Takeda and Kenshin Uesugi, was fought on a plain in Nagano in 1561. It was possibly the bloodiest battle of the Sengoku Era. Every year the battle is re-enacted by some 900 volunteers on the banks of the Fuefuki River near Isawa-Onsen Station.
The re-enactment used to take place just after the Shingen-ko Festival in April, but in 2018 the timing of the event was changed to autumn, at the end of October. In 2019 the 40th re-enactment will take place on Sunday October 27th.
It is completely free to watch the battle, but if you want, you may be able to become one of those 900 volunteers who get to don samurai armor, march here and there and wave weapons around. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
If you want to participate you need to register several months in advance, and pay a fee. You will be provided with armor for the event, and lunch and a commemorative photo are included. Foreigners are welcome, and women are welcome too, but the event is very popular so there is a lot of competition for places. If there are too many applicants, participants will be decided by lots. The 2019 registration period closes at the end of June. You can register here.
The event begins at 9 am. Participants are taught how to move in formation with a rehearsal, and the battle re-enactment begins at about 1 pm. Everything should be all over by 5 pm.
One thing is certain - whether you are participating or just watching, it will be a day to remember!
The event venue is on the banks of the Fuefuki River about 20 minutes walk from Isawa-Onsen Station on JR Chuo Line.
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I came to Japan in 2003 to teach English. I lived in Shiga prefecture for one year, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Kyoto for nine years, then moved to Machida, Tokyo in 2014 after meeting my Japanese partner. I love to take photos, and my Japan in Pictures Facebook page has some 40,000 followers. I have been the Regional Partner for Yamanashi Prefecture since 2014. I am enjoying exploring the prefectures around Tokyo (I like to get off the beaten track), and I hope the photos and stories I share will encourage more people to discover this wonderful country.