Painting and basing

Lords of the Kantō

Following on from my Uesugi command honjin base, I’ve now made honjin for the other 2 great lords of Eastern Japan, Takeda Shingen and Hōjō Ujiyasu. As described previously, I’ve stuck to the banners mentioned in the Kōyō Gunkan for Takeda Shingen, along with two banners from one of the Kawanakajima battle screens. For Hōjō Ujiyasu, I’ve gone with the famous coloured banners. Unsurprisingly, these banners with a colour for each region within the Hōjō territory derive from the Edo period and as such are probably an invention. But once again, we don’t know what the banners actually were, so I’ll probably use them for the command stands regardless.

The plan next is to do some command stands for the Hōjō and Takeda to at least be able to play some games, and then probably add some command groups to give some more specific character to each army.

I’ve also uploaded a ‘V2’ of the ‘Tenka Fubu’ rules. These are just some minor addtions.



6 thoughts on “Lords of the Kantō”

  1. Looking great as usual.

    A question, regarding the size of Sonae. The Gunbai blog suggests Sonae were often between 300-800 men and elsewhere that the Honjin Sonae could be 1500 men strong.

    Do you think all these people would be combat troops or would those numbers include non-combatants as well?

    The vanguard of the Takeda at Kawanakajima seemed to contain roughly 522 combat troops and 496 grooms, attendants, officers and banner bearers etc. At least this is my rough estimate of what I could see on a folding screen (I am aware that the screen most likely doesn’t portray reality.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sonae are really only formal organisations in the Edo period. Up until 1590, they are really more ad hoc formations so could be any size. I would guess the numbers could include direct servants such as grooms etc but not the larger logistic tail of porters etc. Also, post 1590 it’s no longer possible to hire part-time soldiers, but the people who would have made up those extra soldiers could still be hired as porters, labourers etc, so there would probably be more non-combatants supporting the army from the mid-1580’s onward.

      The Kawanakajima screen dates from the mid-Edo period afaik, and is a much closer representation of an Edo-period formation than one from the 1560’s. Numbers are, as ever, difficult to ascertain with any accuracy until the 1590’s when it suddenly becomes much easier.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your answer!

        I see. So in theory, Takeda Katsuyori divided his army into five Sonae of 3.000? Or perhaps Five Te’s with multiple Sonae? I find it rather annoying that English sources don’t use Japanese terms. I recall Turnbull writing in the Samurai Sourcebook about the Odawara campaign, in which Hideyoshi send 7 or 9 companies (between +-7.000-40.000 men strong). Makes me wonder if those are (Sonae,) Te or independent armies.

        Yeah, that makes sense, I have seen some mustering orders from the Imjin war and the Shimazu conquest of the Ryukyu Islands given large numbers of labourers and oarsmen.

        Yeah, that’s true indeed. I do take that into account. But I suppose I do need to look more into mustering orders.

        I asked the questions because I am trying to figure out how to display a 1:1 Sonae in 2mm. And for me, the biggest question is the minimum and maximum number of combat troops as well as the supporting non-combatants in the Sonae during battle.

        Do you perhaps have some recommendations for literature on this topic? From the books I have, only Turnbull goes a bit into this topic.


      2. Not even that organised. Divisions of armies are laregely dictated by how many troops your senior vassals bring. So if Baba turns up with 2,000 and Naitō turns up with 4,000, you have two units of 2 and 4 thousand. And Naitō migh divide his men into four units of 1,000 while Baba divides his into 5 unts of 400. Of course, Katsuyori would have a pretty good idea how many men each vassal could bring. After 1590, a daimyō would hvae a much clearer idea, due to all the soldiers being professionals and no added mercenaries in contingents. Divisions then may have been more or less permanent units. As usual it’s hard to say for sure.

        In my game I use the term ‘sonae’ for a unit, but really it’s just representing a block of 500-1500 men. So if each block is 1,000, then Baba gets two units, Naitō gets four. For me it’s more convenient to do it that way than try and deal with variable unit sizes.

        Unfortunately, I’m not aware of anyone covering army organisation in English to anywhere near the degree of detail that wargamers would want.

        In 2mm I guess you could get the supply units in the rear as well. Maybe a base that looks a bit like this, the supply guys can just be seen in the background.


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