Ashikaga Ietoki (足利家時)

Ietoki ASHIKAGA was a Gokenin (shogunal retainers) of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in the middle of the Kamakura period. His father was Yoriuji ASHIKAGA, and his mother was a daughter of Shigefusa UESUGI. It is considered that a daughter of Shigefusa was Yoriuji's concubine, and he became the first family head of the Ashikaga clan whose mother was not from the Hojo clan since Yoshikane ASHIKAGA, a senior vassal of MINANOTO no Yoritomo.


He first appeared in the historical materials, when he granted hikan (low-level bureaucrat), 倉持忠行, sodehan kudashibumi (document issued by a superior or office with a signature ["han"] in the right hand margin ["sode"]). He was around seven years old at that time.

In 1269, he contributed his energy to prosper his Uji-dera Temple (temple built for praying clan's glory), Ashikaga Banna-ji Temple by establishing rules of this temple. Around that time, after the ancestor of the Shiba clan, Ieuji ASHIKAGA who is thought to have been his uncle and the acting head of the family retired, it is considered that Ietoki officially became the head of the family. In 1273, he disputed over shoryo (territory) with Hozen, a priest of Kongosanmai-in Temple on Mt.Koya; however, he lost the case in 1279.

At the time, conflict between TAIRA no Yoritsuna who was Kumonjo Shitsuji (a steward of administration office) for the regent Tokimune HOJO in the Kamakura bakufu and Yasumori ADACHI who was the influential shogunal retainer and a chief vassal of the bakufu became intensified. After the death of Tokimune, an armed conflict referred to as the Shimotsuki Incident occurred in November, 1825 (December, 1825 in new calendar); as a result Yasumori lost and died, and Yoritsuna's despotic government started afterward. The Ashikaga clan approached Yasumori at the time and Kazusa no Saburo ASHIKAGA (believed to be Mitsuuji KIRA) from the Kira clan of the Ashikaga family, agreed with and assisted Yasumori during the Shimotsuki Incident. Ietoki died on August 14, 1284, the year before the Shimotsuki Incident, and it is considered that he might have committed suicide in connection with downfall of Tokikuni SASUKE from the Hojo family who was a powerful comrade of Yasumori.

His graveyard is located in Koshinzan Hokoku-ji Temple (Kamakura City), and it is considered that Ietoki was Kaiki (patron of a temple in its founding); however, Kaiki of Hokoku-ji Temple was Shigekane UESUGI in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts. It is thought that the Uesugi clan who was closely-linked to Ietoki held a memorial service.

Legend of Okibumi (Will and Testament)

The Ashikaga clan had an Okibumi left behind by MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, their ancestor, in the Heian period which was as follows: "I will be reincarnated as a seventh-generation descendant and reign over the whole country." However, Ietoki, Yoshiie's seventh-generation descendant, thought that he could not achieve this, therefore, he prayed to Great Bodhisattava Hachiman to help the third generation descendant of him to conquer the whole country, and killed himself with a ganmon (a written wish) left behind. Takauji ASHIKAGA and his younger brother Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA saw the ganmon with their own eyes and so did Sadayo (Ryoshun) IMAGAWA according to "Nan-Taiheiki" (a critique of the historical epic "Taiheiki") written by himself. Takauji and Tadayoshi, who were descendants of three generations after Ietoki, conquered the Kamakura bakufu and made significant contributions to establish the Kenmu government of Emperor Godaigo. However, after they went down to Kamakura to suppress the war without the Emperor's permission when Tokiyuki HOJO, the son of the last Tokuso (the patrimonial head of the main branch of the Hojo clan), Takatoki HOJO started the Nakasendai War and occupied Kamakura, they broke away from the Kenmu government and started the movement to establish the samurai government again. It is believed that Ietoki's Ganmon led Takauji to raise an army. Some people said that Ietoki's Okibumi was a fake; however, there is a monjo (written material) described that KO no Moroaki who was a nephew of KO no Moronao, a grandson of Morouji and Takauji's steward, had the letter that Ietoki sent to his steward KO no Morouji, and Tadayoshi was deeply moved when he saw the letter and Tadayoshi sent his own writing draft of the letter to Moroaki and kept the official text of the letter on hand. It is unknown that this letter is the same as the Okibumi described in the "Nan-Taiheiki."

[Original Japanese]