Hirashima Kubo (平島公方)

Hirashima Kubo (or Awa Kubo) is descended from Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA, the second son of Yoshizumi ASHIKAGA who was the 11th Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and their family lineage is a branch family of the Shogun family succeeded by Yoshimi, Yoshitane and Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA successively. They lived in Hirashima, Awa Province (current Furutsu, Nakagawa-cho, Anan City) for generations. Also note that only the 14th Shogun Yoshihide ASHIKAGA actually assumed the position of Shogun among the lineage of Hirashima even though they are called "Kubo," so the word "Kubo" means the Shogun family for the other people.

The Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States)
From Mikoshi to Sakai Kubo (the municipal government based in Sakai City)
When Eisho Disturbance (also known as the assassination of Masamoto HOSOKAWA) happened in addition to Meio Coup, the war in and around the capital became complicated and prolonged because the battle for shogunate of the Ashikaga clan was related to the battle for Kanrei shoku (a post of shogunal deputy) of the Hosokawa clan.

Before long, shogunate was unified into the 12th Shogun Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA, but Takakuni HOSOKAWA and Harumoto HOSOKAWA still continued fighting over Kanrei shoku. At that point in time, in the event that it was possible to raise up Yoshiharu as Shogun, even if in name only, the forces of the current Kanrei (a supporter of Takakuni) would become the loyalist army, while the other combatants (who were supporting Harumoto) would become the rebel army.

Then, Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA was needed.

Succeeding in raising up Yoshitaka ASHIKAGA as Shogun would alleviate their position as the rebel army. Yoshitsuna was possibly engaged in it positively because he would be on track to becoming Shogun if circumstances allowed. The team of Yoshitsuna and Harumoto (Sakai Kubo) got a toehold to establish a new government after their situation changed to their advantage since Takakuni was defeated at the battle of Katsuragawa in 1527, and escaped to Sakamoto, Omi Province with their valued person, Shogun Yoshiharu.

Disappearance of Sakai Kubo
Although Harumoto had defeated Kanrei Takakuni HOSOKAWA, who tried to regain his power, at Setsu Province and forced Takakuni to commit suicide, he gradually started to change his mind after that. Harumoto got the vacant position of Kanrei, and also he abandoned Yoshitsuna and stood on the side of Shogun Yoshiharu.

Moreover, new Kanrei Yoshimoto was absorbed in self-protection, and he made Ikko Ikki (an uprising of Ikko sect followers) of rival religion attack Kenpon-ji Temple in Izumi Province with an attempt to debilitate the Miyoshi clan which was the strongest hikan (low-level bureaucrat) of Harumoto's army.

Motonaga MIYOSHI, Sosui (commander-in-chief) of the Miyoshi clan setting up the base ground on Kenpon-ji Temple, let Yoshitsuna escape to Awa Province and killed himself.

Then, Sakai Kubo was disappeared. Yoshitsuna, who had his dream of assuming Shogun ended, was confined to Hirashima, Awa. This is the origin of the blood line of Yoshitsuna being called 'Hirashima Kubo'.

From Yoshitsuna to Yoshihide
Nagayoshi MIYOSHI, a bereaved child of Motonaga, increased his power more than his dead father's with a long time, and finally exceeded Harumoto and was promoted to Shobanshu (officials who accompany the Shogun) of bakufu. In substance, he took the helm of state affairs of bakufu.

In the meantime, the lineage of Hirashima Kubo was under the patronage of the Miyoshi clan and was sustained as 'chief card' in the nick of time, but was passing the time without avenue for shogun.

Before long, due to the death of Nagayoshi, the Miyoshi clan shifted their system to the leaderships by Miyoshi Sanninshu (Miyoshi Triumvirate), but they started to suffer through the correspondence to the 13th Shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA who proposed exclusion of the Miyoshi clan from bakufu.

At their wits end, the Miyoshi clan attacked Nijo-jo Castle and kill their lord, Shogun Yoshiteru on June 27, 1565 (Eiroku Incident). It sometimes happened to urge Shogun to abdicate, but killing Shogun was so-called "prohibited strategy," so it can be said that it was a serious incident in which the existence of Hirashima Kubo let the Miyoshi clan move into the action.

When Hirashima Kubo was given a seat on new Shogun, Yoshitsuna, who was 20 years old at the time of disappearance of Sakai Kubo, was eliminated from the candidate because he was almost already 60 years old, and therefore, his son, Yoshichika ASHIKAGA (appointed as Sama no kami [Captain of Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses] and changed his name to Yoshihide) was enthroned. However, Miyoshi Sanninshu (Miyoshi Triumvirate) was preoccupied with internal power struggles against Hisahide MATSUNAGA and they didn't take any action for Yoshihide's assumption to Shogun.

As a result, it was on March 16, 1568 that Yoshihide became Shogun. It had been two years since the attack to former Shogun Yoshiteru. Moreover, in the meantime, Yoshihide couldn't enter into Kyoto and stayed in Settsu Province even after getting the Imperial proclamation to become Shogun. It is also said that the fact that his tumor was getting worse affected his behavior.

Furthermore, having wasted time for assumption to Shogun brought undesirable result for the Miyoshi government which couldn't fix new system.

In October of the same year, Nobunaga ODA, who recommended Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, a younger brother of former Shogun Yoshiteru, as shogun, set the army heading for the capital. The Miyoshi clan, who remained the option of 'the decisive battle with Yoshihide' against the Oda clan advancing forward by avoiding the Rokkaku clan in Omi Province, finally selected the evacuation to Awa Province.
(There is a possibility that they abandoned the battle because of Yoshihide's death by disease.)

After that, the Miyoshi clan showed the resistance to the Oda clan several times, but the road to reinstatement of Kinai region was closed due to the aggravation of the state of the war.

After the death of Yoshihide, the family of Hirashima Kubo was kept by his younger brother Yoshisuke ASHIKAGA. However, Hirashima Kubo gradually lost the meaning of existence because not only was Nobunaga and his army, which was the supporter of the government led by Shogun Yoshiaki, too strong for the Miyoshi clan to stand down by themselves, but also there was the fear of the close-knit relationship between Hirashima Kubo and the Miyoshi clan, who went to rack after that.

From the Shokuho Period (Oda-Toyotomi period) to the Edo Period
Since the family of Hirashima Kubo was in an adversary relationship with Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, who was supported by Nobunaga ODA, they had been treated coldly between the Azuchi-Momoyama period and the Edo period.

After the Edo period, Hirashima Kubo was treated as Kyakusho (guest shogun) by the Hachisuka clan, the lord of Awa Tokushima Domain, but they were treated more coldly, such as getting nominal stipend as little as lower ranked feudal retainers from the Hachisuka clan, and being forced to change their family name from Ashikaga to Hirashima. In contrast, the descendant of the Kamakura Kubo could continue as the Kitsuregawa clan of daimyo (Japanese feudal lord), though they were a descendant of the Ashikaga clan like Hirashima Kubo.

Even though they were under such a misfortune, they have a lot of connoisseurs of Chinese classic books among the successive family heads including Yoshinori, and they used to establish a kind of large cultural salon. However, the ninth family head Yoshine ASHIKAGA, who couldn't stand for such a disfavor, finally broke away from the Hachisuka family and left from Awa, and changed their family name back to Ashikaga in 1805. After that they lived in Kyoto, and earned a sparse living as being supported from temples associated with the Ashikaga clan including Toji-in Temple.

The graveyard at the time of living in Hirashima located in Saiko-ji Temple (Nakagawa-cho, Anan City)

After the Meiji Period
In the Meiji Period, they required a peerage as legitimate descendant of the Ashikaga Shogun Family, but not only was it rejected but also they couldn't become even a Shizoku (warrior class), namely, their social status was just a Heimin (commoner) because they left Awa which had been their territory.

However, the Kitsuregawa clan, who was treated as direct line of the Ashikaga family, had accepted adopted children (adoption from the Hosokawa clan, their collateral line) to have them succeed to the family, whereas the Hirashima Kubo family was directly descended from the first family lord MINAMOTO no Yoshiyasu.

Successive Hirashima Kubo
Yoshifune ASHIKAGA (another name, Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA)
Yoshisuke ASHIKAGA (the younger brother of Yoshihide)
Yoshikazu (Yoshitane) ASHIKAGA
Yoshitsugu HIRASHIMA, also known as Matahachiro
Yoshitatsu HIRASHIMA
Yoshitake HIRASHIMA a.k.a Kumahachiro
Yoshine ASHIKAGA moved to Kyoto in 1805

Yoshitoshi ASHIKAGA
Yoshitaka ASHIKAGA
Yoshikane ASHIKAGA
Shingo ASHIKAGA (1908 - 2003), the former special adviser of Zenkoku Ashikagashi Yukari no Kai (national association of the Ashikaga clan)
Yoshihiro ASHIKAGA (the present head of the family), the present special adviser of Zenkoku Ashikagashi Yukari no Kai, professor of Sozo Gakuen University (University of Creation; Art, Music & Social Work).

Ashikaga-ke Monjo (written materials of the Ashikaga family)
"Awa Ashikaga-ke Monjo" (the written materials of the Awa-Ashikaga family), which is the records of the Medieval period and modern times passed down in the Hirashima Kubo family, was investigated in former Nakagawa-cho, Tokushima Prefecture for compiling the town history. Now the part of the materials contributed to Awa Kubo Minzoku Siryokan (Folk Museum of Awa Kubo) in Anan City, and it is permanent exhibition.

[Original Japanese]