Ashikaga Yoshiakira (足利義詮)

Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA-July 4, 1330 AD to December 28, 1367 AD-was the 2nd Seii Taishogun of the Muromachi Shogunate. He was the 3rd child and heir of Takauji ASHIKAGA. His mother, Touko AKAHASHI, was the daughter of Hisatoki HOJO, and the younger sister of the last regent to the Kamakura Shogunate, Moritoki HOJO. His wife was Koshi SHIBUKAWA, the daughter of Yoshisue SHIBUKAWA. His name in childhood was Senjuou. Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA and Mitsuakira ASHIKAGA were among his children. His official ranks were Sho-Nii Dainagon (Senior 2nd Class Chief Councillor of State), and Ju-Ichii Sadaijin (Junior 1st Class Minister of the Left).

From Childhood Until Becoming Shogun

When his father, Takauji, went to the capital as a general commander of the Kamakura Shogunate's army to suppress the force that Emperor Godaigo was raising on Mt. Senjo in Houki Province, he and his mother, Touko, were held in Kamakura as hostages of the Hojo clan.

When Takauji raised the standard of revolt against the Kamakura Shogunate in Tanba province and captured Kyoto's Rokuhara Tandai, young Yoshiakira (Senjuou) fled Kamakura, carried away by Hosokawa and other Ashikaga vassals, and with Yoshisada NITTA participated in the attack on Kamakura. On that occasion Senjuou acted as his father's representative and issued a certificate of loyal service to the samurai of the Kamakura attack participation with the assistance of the vassals, thereby marking the beginning of the Ashikaga's later recognition as a leader of the samurai. Under the new Kenmu government he was placed in Kamakura with the support of his uncle, Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA, and fought the Southern Dynasty (Japan) alongside his father when Takauji became alienated from the Kenmu regime, mostly ruling the Kanto region in Kamakura.

After Takauji established the Ashikaga Shogunate, the opposition intensified between the Ashikaga family's Shituji (Shogun's deputy), Moronao KO, and Takauji's brother, Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA, and led to the Kanno Disturbance; then Tadayoshi fell to Moronao's coup and Yoshiakira was recalled to Kyoto and assumed control of the Shogunate in Tadayoshi's place. In 1351 Takauji and Yoshiakira capitulated to the Southern Dynasty and carried out the Shouhei Unification, changing the name of the era to the Southern Dynasty's "Shouhei", to antagonize the Tadayoshi faction. In the following year the Southern Dynasty's Chikafusa KITABATAKE and Masanori KUSUNOKI invaded Kyoto; and although three former Emperors, Kougon, Komyo, and Suko, were captured because Yoshiakira fled the capital and took refuge in Oumi province, he restored the name of the era to Kanno while recruiting an army to regain Kyoto, and enthroned Emperor Gokougon without the Three Sacred Treasures. He briefly lost Kyoto again in 1353 to an attack by Tadafuyu ASHIKAGA and Tokiuji YAMANA.

After Becoming Shogun

In 1358 (Shohei 13/Enbun 3) Takauji died, and Yoshiakira became the Seii Taishogun. Around that time the affairs of the Yamana and Ouchi clans of the Chugoku region were in disorder, while the influence of the Southern Dynasty such as Prince Kanenaga was intact in Kyushu. Furthermore within the Shogunate, Yoshinaga NIKKI opposed Kiyouji HOSOKAWA and Kunihiko HATAKEYAMA and went to the Southern Dynasty; Kiyouji, a Shogun's deputy (Kanrei) of the Muromachi Shogunate, left for the Southern Dynasty over remarks by Douyo SASAKI; with the Shogunate weakened by power struggles, the Southern Dynasty took the opportunity to briefly regain Kyoto; government was in flux. In 1363 the Ouchi and Yamana clans returned to the Shogunate, government began to stabilize, and progress was made toward peace with the Southern Dynasty. In 1365 he moved to a new mansion at Sanjo Boumon Madenokoji. Yoshimasa SHIBA filled the position of Kanrei that was left open by Kiyouji's fall; then Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA took over when SHIBA fell briefly. He also consolidated legal proceedings.

In 1367 (Shohei 22/Joji 6) he entrusted his heir, Yoshimitsu, who was born to him by his concubine, KI no Yoshiko, to Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA, then succumbed to illness and died. Aged 38. His brother, Motouji, died before him on March 5th (old calendar) of the same year.

His last request was "after I die, let me rest beside the grave of my beloved Masatsura KUSUNOKI at Kanrin-ji Temple" (present day Zennyuzan Hokyoin Temple). His grave (Hokyointo) was put next to that of Masatsura KUSUNOKI (Gorinsekito), in accordance with his will. Posthumously named Hokyoin Zuizandogon. His gravesite is at Mannenzan Toujiin Temple in Kita Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. Also, Zennyuzan Hokyoin Temple in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture. Also, Jifukuzan Hokyoin Temple in Kawaharagaya, Mishima City, Shizuoka Prefecture.

Wooden Statue: In the collection of Toujiin Temple

At the end of the Edo period there was an incident in which the head was displayed on the dry bed of the Kamo-gawa River, along with the wooden statues of Takauji and Yoshimitsu, by Sonno-Joi faction (Ashikaga Shogun Portrait Pillory Incident).

The Man

In the classic Taiheiki, he is drawn as a silly person, indulging in drink. Moreover, the Taiheiki ends the story in the chapter wherein Yoshiakira dies and Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA advances to Kanrei (Vol.37).

(Offices and Ranks)
NB: Dates are in the old calendar. April 7, 1335 - Awarded Ju-Goi-ge (Junior 5th Class, Minor).

March 16, 1344 - Advanced to Sho-Goi-ge (Senior 5th Class, Minor). March 18 - Appointed Samanokami.

December 3, 1347 - Advanced to Ju-Shii-ge (Junior 4th Class, Minor).

August 22, 1350 - Appointed Sangi, also acted as Sakonoechujo.

August 23, 1356 - Advanced to Ju-Sanmi (Junior 3rd Class).
Remains Sangi, Sakonoechujo

December 18, 1358 - Made Seii Taishogun
February 4, 1359 - Concurrently served as Musashi no Kami

January 28, 1363 - Switched to post of Gon dainagon
July 29 - Advanced to Ju-Nii (Junior 2nd Class).
Remains Gon-dainagon

January 5, 1367 - Advanced to Sho-Nii (Senior 2nd Class).
December 7 - Died
December 20 - Made Ju-Ichii Sadaijin (Junior 1st Class Minister of the Left).


Father: Takauji ASHIKAGA
Mother: Touko AKAHASHI
Child: Senjuou
Concubine: KI no Yoshiko
Child: Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA
Child: Mitsuakira ASHIKAGA
Children of Unknown Mothers
Girls (Houkyouji-dono; Keisho ?)

[Original Japanese]