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直江 兼続
なおえ かねつぐ
Naoe Kanetsugu
1560 - 1619

Appearances: Sengoku Musou (2)

Kanetsugu was born in 1560, the son of Higuchi Kanetoyo, and originally was called Higuchi Kagetsugu. Because of his intelligence, he quickly became a chief advisor to the Uesugi. In the civil war that was fought between Uesugi vassals following Kenshin's death (called the Otate no Ran), Naoe Kanetsugu supported Uesugi Kagekatsu.

In 1579, Kagekatsu emerged as the victor of the Otate no Ran. Because Kanetsugu had supported Kagekatsu in this war, when the lord of Yoita Castle, 直江信綱 Naoe Nobutsuna, died, Kagekatsu would order Nobutsuna's widow to marry Kanetsugu. Thus Kanetsugu (who at the time was still named Higuchi Kagetsugu) became Naoe Kanetsugu and the inheritor of Naoe Nobutsuna's domain (which he would keep until the Uesugi clan was transferred to Yonezawa by Tokugawa Ieyasu).

After and during the Otate no Ran, the Oda converged upon Uesugi Kagekatsu's territories and very nearly wiped the Uesugi off the map. However, when Oda Nobunaga died, Uesugi Kagekatsu won favor with him by attacking Shibata Katsuie. This was during a time when Shibata Katsuie and Toyotomi Hideyoshi were at odds with one another, and so the Toyotomi and Uesugi became strong allies thereafter.

Following Hideyoshi's death, Uesugi Kagekatsu decided to build up his army. Tokugawa Ieyasu, who feared that the Uesugi might go to war with him, demanded that Kagekatsu stop this. Supporting Kagekatsu's plan to strengthen the Uesugi army though, Naoe Kanetsugu wrote a hostile letter to the Tokugawa stating that "while citified samurai busily collect tea implements, country samurai gather arms for war."* Soon after, the Uesugi arranged an alliance with Ishida Mitsunari, one of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's former administrators, against the Tokugawa.

In the events that led up to the Battle of Sekigahara, Naoe Kanetsugu moved swiftly in an attempt to jeopardize Tokugawa Ieyasu's holdings in Japan's Kanto Province. After a brisk siege, he managed to take Hataya Castle. However, two daimyo of the North, Date Masamune and Mogami Yoshiaki, successfully countered Naoe Kanetsugu and defeated him in the Battle of Hasedou.

During the year 1601, after the decisive Battle of Sekigahara that resulted in victory for the Eastern army, the Uesugi clan was transferred to Yonezawa. Naoe Kanetsugu received a fief worth 60,000 koku there. Soon after, Kanetsugu retired, though before the end of his life he would write a law code called "Orders for Peasants." Naoe Katsushige (who was adopted) and Naoe Kageaki succeeded Kanetsugu after the latter's death in 1619. Kanetsugu was well known for wearing a helmet affixed with the kanji 愛 Ai, which means Love. Though Kanetsugu is not as famous as many other samurai from this time, he still played an important role in supporting Ishida Mitsunari during the Sekigahara campaign. Today a statue of him can be found in front of the Yoita History and Folk Museum in Niigata Prefecture of Japan.

1.) You can read parts of 'Orders for Peasants' in English here:
2.) One of Naoe Kanetsugu's guards was named Temmago Zamon (source: Warriors of Medieval Japan)
3.) The siege of Hataya was relatively uneventful, however sources from the time tell of a specific event where a shinobi among the defenders managed to sneak into the camp of the Uesugi, steal one of Naoe Kanetsugu's flags and plant it in front of the gate to the castle (source: Same as the second thing, in fact I think I learned these two facts on the same page of that book).
4.) There is a story that during Naoe Kanetsugu's campaigns in the north, he tried to find and attack the capital of the Mogami clan, Yamagata-jyo, but failed because heavy fog prevented him from locating it. Yamagata later gained the nickname 霞ヶ城 kasumigajo, or castle in the mist. (Source:

*(Source: Sekigahara 1600 by Anthony J. Bryant)
Biography created by: SlickSlicer