Sasaki Doyo (佐々木道誉)

Doyo SASAKI (also known as Doyo KYOGOKU) was a warlord between the end of Kamakura period and the period of the Northern and Southern Courts. Doyo was his posthumous Buddhist name and Takauji was his real name. He usually went by the name Sadohankan nyudo SASAKI or Doyo SASAKI. His official position was Saemon no jo (third-ranked officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards), kebiishi (a police and judicial chief), Sado no kami (the governor of Sado Province).

Born into the family of Sasaki-Kyogoku, which served as land stewards in Omi Province, he was in the service of the regent, Takatoki HOJO, as Oaitomoshu. Though he was a follower of Takauji ASHIKAGA, who had raised an army against the Kamakura bakufu under Emperor Godaigo's command, due to the fact that the political order Emperor Godaigo had attempted to create through the Kenmu Restoration did not garner the support of the samurai class, Takauji and Doyo had distanced themselves from him, and Doyo subsequently served Takauji, who founded the Muromachi bakufu, holding joint positions as an administrative official and as constable over six provinces.

He was known as the Basara daimyo (feudal lord); the term 'Basara' was associated with a school of Japanese aesthetics that challenged traditional ideals during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts.

Doyo was portrayed in the "Taiheiki" (A Chronicles of Medieval Japan) as a person who had been involved in intrigues, was disrespectful of power and status, and carried himself with a swagger.

Oaitomoshu (御相供衆)

He was born into the family of Sasaki-Kyogoku clan which served as land stewards in Omi Province, in 1296, and he took over as head of the family after Munetsuna SASAKI, who was his maternal grandfather, in 1304. He became Saemon no jo in 1314, and Kebiishi in 1322. He was said to have stayed in Kyoto to perform his roll as Kebiishi, and to have been in attendance at the visits of Emperor Godaigo. Serving for Takatoki HOJO as Oaitomoshu (御相供衆) in Kamakura bakufu, he also became a Buddhist priest, assuming the name Doyo, at the same time that Takatoki took the tonsure.

Overthrow of the Shogunate

In 1331, at the onset of the Genko War, which Emperor Godaigo had instigated by raising an army against the shogunate, removing himself from the capital (Kyoto) and setting up a base on Kasagi-yama Mountain, Doyo joined the shogunate army to put down the rebellion, and had been mainly in charge of implementing measures after the war in Kyoto had finished. Captured Emperor Godaigo was forced to renounce his claim to power, and was exiled to Okino-shima Island, with Renshi ANO and Tadaaki CHIGUSA in attendance, and Doyo guarding them on the journey. Even Emperor Godaigo had been exiled, Masashige KUSUNOKI, who lived in Kawachi Province, continued to fight against the bakufu. The Hojo clan dispatched Takauji ASHIKAGA, who lived in Shimotsuke Province, to put down the rebellion. It is said that Doyo made a secret pact with Takauji to defeat the Hojo clan in Kamakura, and to cooperate thereafter. Though there is no evidence that Doyo took part in the military operation, he did block Nakatoki HOJO's retreat at Bamba, Omi Province on May 9, 1333, thereby preventing his escape to Kanto, and forced Nakatoki to commit suicide at Renge-ji Temple along with 432 of his retainers. At that time, he captured Emperor Kogon and Emperor Hanazono, and took possession of the three sacred treasures (the Imperial regalia). After Takauji ASHIKAGA and Yoshisada NITTA, who lived in Kozuke Province, fought well and defeated Kamakura bakufu, the Kenmu Restoration was started by Emperor Godaigo, and Doyo was appointed as a judge of the Zasshoketsudansho (a type of civil court).

Battle against the Southern Court

As Takauji didn't join the new government, many members of the samurai class didn't support the new administration, and revolted against the restoration in various places. In 1335, Takatoki's son, Tokiyuki HOJO, rose in revolt in the Nakasendai Rebellion in Shinano Province, then attacked and occupied Kamakura, which had been under the protection of Takauji's brother, Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA; therefore, Doyo followed Takauji, and joined his army to defeat Tokiyuki's force. After vanquishing Tokiyuki's force and recapturing Kamakura, Takauji distributed rewards independently, and Doyo received Kazusa Province and Sagami Province as feudal domains. Though Emperor Godaigo requested that Takauji travel to Kyoto, Takauji was unable to make the trip due to conflagrations with Yoshisada NITTA and the like, as a result of which the emperor ordered Yoshisada to kill Takauji and Tadayoshi; though Takauji was hesitant to put an end to the Kenmu Restoration and install a government by the samurai class, Doyo actively encouraged him to do so. Takauji defeated the Nitta army in fighting at battles in Hakone, Takeshita, and the like, and entered Kyoto; however, he was defeated in Kyoto by Akiie KITABATAKE, who had come down from Oshu Province, and then escaped to Kyushu via Hyogo, temporarily. At that time, Doyo is said to have stayed in Omi, choosing not to go to Kyushu.

After regrouping, the Ashikaga troops advanced toward the northeast again, defeating the Nitta and Kusunoki armies in the Battle of Minatogawa, and entering Kyoto. Setting up the Northern Court, Emperor Komyo ascended the throne, and had Takauji establish a samurai government (the Ashikaga shogunate, also referred to as the Muromachi bakufu), while Emperor Godaigo escaped to Yoshino and set up the Southern Court.

Ashikaga Bakufu

Doyo served as the Shugo (constable) of six provinces, including Omi, Hida, Izumo, Wakasa, Kazusa and Settsu. He built a castle in the precincts of the Shoraku-ji Temple (now the town of Kora, in Shiga Prefecture) in 1337, and used it as his base until he died. As he and his son Hidetsuna had burnt down the Imperial residence of Shirakawamyoho-in monzeki, Cloistered Imperial Prince Ryosho in 1340, the followers of his sect had vociferously called for their punishment by the Imperial Court. Imperial Court also agreed with the sanmon shuto, and ordered the Ashikaga bakufu to banish Doyo to Dewa Province, and Hidetsuna to Mutsu Province. However, even Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA, who had frequently been critical of Doyo, came to his defense, rejecting the Imperial order; as a result, Doyo and Hidetsuna were banished to Kazusa Province, but soon returned to the shogunate. In the Ashikaga shogunate, Doyo worked as court official, a member of the council of state, and as a chancellor who conducted negotiations with nobles (i.e., members of collateral houses of the Imperial Court). He also took part in the fighting against the Southern Court in the battle of Shijonawate in 1348, and the like.

The Ashikaga shogunate was split into two competing factions, one led by the Shogun Takauji and his steward Moronao KO, and the other by Takauji's brother Tadayoshi; the relationship between the two factions gradually worsened, eventually escalating into an internal feud known as the Kano Incident in the Kano period, in 1350. Though Doyo belonged to Takauji side, he had advocated Takauji's making peace with the Southern Court, and having Emperor Gomurakami issue an Imperial order directing that Tadayoshi, who was on the Southern Court side had defeated Takauji, be killed should he rise against Takauji. As a result of Takauji's following the course suggested by Doyo, the reconciliation of Shohei no itto was achieved, Tadayoshi fell from power, and was subsequently killed with poison. When the Retired Emperor of the Northern Court was deprived of the Shohei no itto by the Southern Court, Doyo supported the Emperor Gokogon, reestablishing the Northern Court and strengthening the power of shogunate. After Takauji died in 1358, Doyo served as steward of the Administrative Board of the Muromachi government for the 2nd shogun Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA, who was Takauji's son, and mediated a settlement between Shugo daimyo (Japanese territorial lord as provincial constable). Meanwhile, he took an active role in bringing about the downfall of Kiyouji HOSOKAWA, who was a chief of the bakufu's Administrative Office (later Kanrei, shogunal deputy), Takatsune SHIBA, and the Yoshimasa SHIBA family. Doyo also opened up a line of communications with the Southern Court and conducted negotiations, and when the Governor-general of Kamakurafu, Motouji ASHIKAGA, who had been installed by the shogunate to control Kanto area, died in 1367, Doyo went to Kamakura to assume the post. In the same year, being recommended by Doyo, Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA was appointed to the post of Kanrei (a shogunal deputy to the Kanto region). Doyo died in 1373. He was 78 years old. His posthumous Buddhist name was Shorakujidono tokuo.

Burial sites for him are found in the Kyogoku clan's family temple, Tokugen-in Temple, located in Kiyotaki, Maibara City, Shiga Prefecture, and in the Shoraku-ji Temple in the town of Kora, Shiga Prefecture.


Doyo was fond of Basara, which was an aesthetic trend with social undertones that was current during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts. There are several episodes about Doyo in "Taiheiki," for example, in which Doyo is portrayed as being critical of the base overcoming the exhalted; however, there are also episodes recorded that portray his sense of grandeur, such as that in which Doyo is seen to decorate his mansion with flowers, preparing to throw a party instead of burning it down when the ousted Kiyouji HOSOKAWA along with Masanori KUSUNOKI and others from the Southern Court occupied Kyoto. In another episode, he ignored an invitation to a flower viewing party from Takatsune SHIBA, who had opposed Doyo within the bakufu, holding a bigger party in the Oharano district of Kyoto (present day Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto City).

He was also fond of cultural activities such as waka and renga (linked poem), flower arrangement, tea ceremony and traditional incense-smelling ceremony, was a patron of Omi Sarugaku (a precursor to Noh), and was also himself regarded as being a highly educated and cultured person, owing to activities such as his engaging in negotiations on behalf of the bakufu with the court nobles in relation to political affairs. Many of his renga poems are included in the Tsukubashu (Tsukuba Collection), which was compiled by the renga poet Kyusai and the Kanpaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) Yoshimoto NIJO.

A portrait of Doyo in priestly garb, which was painted by his third son Takahide KYOGOKU, was found in the Shoraku-ji Temple in Kora, Shiga Prefecture, and is currently held at the Kyoto National Museum.

[Original Japanese]