Festivals & Events
Shingenko Festival 信玄公祭り
A festival with the biggest gathering of samurai re-enactors anywhere—and you can join the ranks
Even those with only a passing interest in Japanese history will no doubt have heard of Takeda Shingen, regarded by many as one of the most powerful daimyo in Japanese history. While he fought an ultimately losing battle against Tokugawa Ieyasu's forces, he's revered to this day.
The Shingen-ko Festival, held in mid-April, celebrates Takeda's life and ongoing influence, and incidentally holds the world record for largest gathering of samurai.
- Joining the battle, which requires a reservation and a contribution of around 13,000 yen
- Trying to spot and recognize all of Takeda's 24 generals
How to Get There
The highway bus departing from Shinjuku Bus Terminal takes around 130 minutes to Kofu.
From Kofu Station, it is only a minute or two on foot.
The mystery of Shingen's death
The festival is held every year on April 12, the day Takeda Shingen died. His death is surrounded by mystery. Some say he was shot by a sniper. Others say he finally lost a battle against an old war wound, while some believe he died of pneumonia.
No matter how he died, his death was a great loss for those battling against Tokugawa, and his life is still celebrated half a millennium later.
History's biggest samurai battle
On the Saturday before April 12, the streets of Kofu are lined with the biggest samurai parade in Japan.
It is estimated that over 1,000 people participate wearing traditional samurai garb. They gather at Kofu Station before marching through what was once Takeda's domain.
Later in the day, they re-enact the battle of Kawanakajima, for which many of the participants practice all year to make sure they have all the details ironed out. This takes place at Takeda Shrine.
Taking part in the battle
You don't have to just watch the parade. If you'd like to join, you can contact the festival organizers and reserve a spot in the ranks of the army. A contribution of around 13,000 yen must be made, and places are limited.
A game of generals
In real life, Takeda surrounded himself with 24 generals, each of which he trusted dearly and played an important historical role.
The festival also includes each of these generals, each with his own unique armor. Trying to spot and recognize each of them is a fun game for aspiring historians.