Sanada Yukitaka was the first to take the name Sanada. He lost his lands (1541?) in inter-Shinano conflicts, and submitted to Takeda Shingen in an effort to regain them. Shingen restored his lands to him as part of his ongoing process of bringing Shinano under Takeda rule; Sanada Castle was back in Sanada hands by 1550. Yukitaka became one of the most important Takeda generals, bringing huge contingents of troops to most subsequent battles. His role in the campaign for Toishi castle (1550) is well documented; he assisted Shingen with advice, recruited local clans for the Takeda side and broke the opponent's siege of Terao Castle. which was designed to divert Takeda attention from the siege of Toishi. His enthusiasm is easy to understand, as Shingen had promised him lands in Saku when the campaign had been successfully concluded! The lands were in the Suwa and Chiisagata districts, worth roughly 1000 kanmon (more or less equal to 1000 koku, the amount of rice needed to feed 1000 people for a year).
Despite being under Shingen's personal command, the 1550 campaign for Toishi got nowhere. In 1551, Sanada got a free hand to try and capture the castle. Again, he managed to recruit hostile clans (this time Takanashi) to the Takeda side. Following that success, he bribed a few Murakami soldiers inside the fortress, and the castle fell to his assault. Toishi was an important auxiliary castle to Murakami's main base Katsurao and its loss was a serious blow to him.
In 1556, Sanada capured the Amakazari fortress for the Takeda. The castle had been used as a base for rebel forces who had previously been Murakami vassals.
In 1557, Sanada was called upon to defend the Ichikawa of the Takai district against Uesugi aggression. The Ichikawa were recent Takeda vassals and despite probably suffering a limited defeat at Uesugi hands Yukitaka accomplished his mission.
Yukitaka's local knowledge of Shinano proved vital to the Takeda war effort. His eldest son Nobutsuna took over clan leadership after his death.
Sanada Yukitaka's uma jirushi (personal banner) had the Sanada mon of 6 coins in black on a red background. The six coins represent the fee you need to pay to be taken across the river of death to gain access to paradise.
The sashimono (back banner) used by Sanada Yukitaka's followers.
Sanada troops left in the picture.
Sanada Yukitaka in the front row, supported by his own archers. In the back row Sanada soldiers wielding nagae-yari. The near flank is held by Yamagata Masakage; the far flank by Takeda troops.
Sanada Yukitaka in the middle of the fray