Gisho (義昭)

Gisho (1404-April 13, 1441) was the son of the third seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA. He was a Buddhist priest of the Shingon sect and assigned to the Daisojo (priest of the highest order), Daikakuji monseki (head priest of Daikaku-ji temple) and Toji choja (the chief abbot of To-ji temple). To be distinguished from the last shogun of the Muromachi bakufu, Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA (the same kanji 義昭, pronounced as Yoshiaki, are applied for both Gisho and Yoshiaki), he was also called Gisho DAIKAKUJI.

The mother is unknown, however, "Myohoin dono" thought to be a three-year old boy nurtured as an adopted child of Shigemitsu HINO in 1406 is thought to be the same person as Gisho when their ages are considered. As the Hino family was "gaiseki," maternal relatives for generations of the Ashikaga family positioned to accede to the shogunate, it is assumed that the real mother of Gisho was of a woman of a certain rank because Gisho became an adopted child of the Hino family. Later, Gisho entered the priesthood at the Daikaku-ji Temple in 1414 and took part in a kanjo (a ceremony to be the successor) by Daisojo Shunson as an officiating monk in 1419, and was appointed to Toji choja in 1422 and 1427.

In 1428, however, the next year of the Gisho's second appointment as Toji choja, the sixth shogun had to be chosen from the sons of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA. The circumstances around the sons of Yoshimitsu including Gisho became frantic, and Shoren-in Monzeki Gien (head priest of Shoren-in temple) (Yoshinori ASHIKAGA), a half brother of Gisho who was older than Gisho by 11 years was finally chosen as the sixth shogun.

While Yoshinori tried to reconstruct the Muromachi bakufu shogunate, he was very suspicious and a lot of kuge (court nobles) and Buke (samurais) were punished or killed for minor reasons. For this reason, many people called Yoshinori "Fear for all people" and were terrified of him. In 1434, the legal son of Shigemitsu HINO, the adoptive father of Gisho was killed under suspicion of treason for the reason that his real sister and a concubine of Yoshinori gave birth to a baby boy (the next seventh shogun, Yoshikatsu ASHIKAGA). Among these circumstances, the custom of the visits and invocations by Daikakuji monseki at Muromachi-dono, since the era of Yoshimitsu, discontinued, and the relationship between Gisho and Yoshinori gradually became estranged.

Before the dawn of August 21, 1437, Gisho secretly escaped from Daikaku-ji temple and disappeared. The heads of the shogunate including Yoshinori thought that because Daikaku-ji was a temple that had a relationship with the Southern Court and further, Kogakubo, Mochiuji ASHIKAGA was clearly anti-shogunate, Gisho escaped while allied with either of them, and the shogunate ordered to search for Gisho elsewhere across the Kinai area. In the next month, a rumor that Gisho returned to secular life and raised an army in Yoshino reached the shogunate, and the shogunate dispatched a punitive force to the Yamato Province in April of the next year (1438), and the monks of Daikaku-ji temple and the Yamana clan's former retainers who resisted in Yoshino were defeated in September. Although some call this incident "Daikaku-ji Gisho no ran" (The rebel of Daikaku-ji Gisho), actually, there is no evidence that Gisho stayed at Yoshino during the time of the turmoil and Gisho was among those who raised army against the shogunate, and the fact was that only a rumor spread. Further, There were no factors in Gisho's behavior revealing that he had a relationship with the Southern Court or Kamakura Bakufu, and it is possible to interpret his behavior that he was only scared of Yoshinori's purge and escaped the temple before it happened. And when considering the relationship of Daikaku-ji temple and the Southern Court, there is a great possibility that monks of the Daikaku-ji cooperated with Gonancho (Second Southern Court) and the Kitabatake clan who advocated the reconstruction of the Southern Court, raised an army without Gisho (or only using the name of Gisho), so whether the rebels really had something to do with Gisho was quite doubtful.

By contrast, the information that Gisho was in Shikoku was brought to the shogunate, while the punitive force chasing the shadow of Gisho ordered by Yoshinori in Yoshino, and in April 1438, it turned out that Gisho was placed under the protection of the Sagawa clan, a Kunishu (samurai) of Tosa Province through an order to Kunishu of Tosa and Awa Provinces written in Gonaisho (official document) by Mochiyuki HOSOKAWA, kanrei (shogunal deputy). Further, it turned out that Gisho moved to Kyushu in around 1440, to a secular life and was named "Son-yu," and was placed under the protection of a Kunishu of Hyuga Province, Nobe clan. With this information, Yoshinori ordered Satsuma no kuni Shugo (provincial constable of Satsuma Province), Tadakuni SHIMAZU who also was Hyuga no kuni Shugo (provincial constable of Hyuga Province), to put down Gisho. Among the Shimazu clan, however, it seems that opinions were divided to those who try to protect Gisho and those trying to put him down, and there is an entry in the "Kennai ki" (a name of private historical record) of Tokifusa MADENOKOJI as a hearsay that there was a betrayal by a member of branch family of Shimazu clan that Tadakuni sheltered Gisho. Then Yoshinori ordered Mitsumasa AKAMATSU and Mochiyo OUCHI who were acquainted with Tadakuni to persuade him. Tadakuni who firstly hesitated to attack Gisho fell under both pressures of the repeated orders of Yoshinori and subordinates who were discontent with Tadakuni's disobedience to the shogunate, Tadakuni finally ordered his senior vassals, including Tadahisa YAMADA and Tadaomi NIIRO to put Gisho down. However, Tadakuni was distressed and ordered YAMADA and his fellows to treat Gisho well and give some consideration for his status as a noble man even if they were obliged to catch him and cut his head off. Before long, YAMADA and his fellows got Gisho boxed in at Kushima Eitoku-ji temple. Gisho finally understood that he could not escape and killed himself.

It is said that Yoshinori was very gratified when he received the head of Gisho from Satsuma. However, Yoshinori was also assassinated himself just three months later in the Kakitsu no hen (Kakitsu Incident).

[Original Japanese]