Ashikaga Yoshimi (足利義視)

Yoshimi ASHIKAGA was a member of the ASHIKAGA clan from the mid- to late Muromachi period. He had once assumed the position of successor to the shogun.


He was the tenth son of Yoshinori ASHIKAGA, the sixth shogun. His mother was Shigeko HINO, the daughter of Shigemitsu HINO.

He was the younger brother by the same mother of the seventh shogun Yoshikatsu ASHIKAGA and the eighth shogun Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, and was the elder brother by a different mother of Masatomo ASHIKAGA, Horigoe kubo, quasi-shogun. His son was Yoshiki ASHIKAGA (Yoshitane ASHIKAGA) who became the tenth shogun.

First he became a priest of Jodoin Temple of the Tendai sect (Sakyo Ward in Kyoto City), and his name was Gijin. He became a successor of his older brother Yoshimasa who did not have any children, but after his older brother's son Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA was born there was a dispute over the position of the shogun, and the Onin War ensued. Upon the end of the war he fled to Mino, and after the death of his nephew Yoshihisa and his older brother Yoshimasa he backed his son Yoshiki as the tenth shogun and controlled shogunal politics as the doyen (guardian) until his death, which came a year after that of his brother.

Renouncing the cloth to join the Onin War

He was born on February 11, 1439 as the tenth son of the sixth shogun, Yoshinori ASHIKAGA. First he became a priest of Jodoin Temple of the Tendai sect (Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City).

In 1464 he renounced the cloth as requested by his older brother Yoshimasa, who had no son, called himself Yoshimi and became his brother's successor. He was promised to become the next shogun with the kanrei Katsumoto HOSOKAWA (the shogunal deputy of the Kanto region) as his guardian, and he took the younger blood-sister of Yoshimasa's official wife Tomiko HINO as his official wife. He was called Imadegawa dono because he lived in the Imadegawa residence.

However, when Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA, Yoshimasa's biological son, was born to Yoshimasa and Tomiko in 1465, Tomiko desired the succession of Yoshihisa to the shogunate and she began to oppose Yoshimi. In September the Bunsho political change occurred and caused the Yoshimasa faction to lose its position, when it was rumored that Yoshimi was contemplating a coup d'état; however, Yoshimi pleaded his innocence to Katsumoto, and Sadachika ISE, who was the husband of Yoshihisa's wet nurse, was tried for slander.

In 1467 the Onin War erupted in connection with the problems concerning the succession to the headship of the Ashikaga Shogun family as well as the succession to the headships of the Hatakeyama and Shiba families. Yoshimi first belonged to the eastern force led by Katsumoto, but in September, when Masahiro OUCHI of Suo Province went to Kyoto, he fled to the Isshiki and Kitabatake families of Ise Province. In 1468 he came back to Kyoto from Ise, persuaded by Yoshimasa, but he escaped from the Muromachi Tei (palace) because he was opposed to Yoshimasa, and instead he supported the western force of Sozen YAMANA (Mochitoyo YAMANA), making every effort to win the feudal lords of Shikoku and Kyusyu over to his side. He made peace with Yoshimasa in 1475, given that Sozen YAMANA and Katsumoto HOSOKAWA had both died in 1473. However, he fled to Shigenori TOKI of Mino because it was difficult to solve the differences between him and his older brother Yoshimasa.

Restoration to a Leading Figure

After Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA died in 1489, Yoshimi went to Kyoto with his son Yoshiki and entered Tsugen-ji Temple on Kyoto Sanjyo. There he became a priest with the title of Dozon. In fact, Yoshimi began to seek reconciliation with his older brother and his brother's wife in about 1487, and he let Yoshimasa adopt his son Yoshiki, making him the successor of Yoshihisa, who had no natural successor. In fact, this year Yoshiki was conferred Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and appointed to Samanokami (minister of the Horse Office of the Left).

After his older brother Yoshimasa died of a disease on February 5, 1490, Yoshimi supported his son Yoshiki as the tenth shogun on July 31, in collusion with Tomiko HINO, and he himself dominated the shogunal politics as the father of the shogun.

However, there was no way he could get along with Tomiko HINO, who had been so opposed to him in the Onin War, and Yoshimi gradually became opposed to Tomiko, destroying the Ogawadai manor (Tomiko's residence) and seizing her territory. Therefore, Tomiko approached the kanryo, Masamoto HOSOKAWA, who felt hostile to the succession of Yoshiki, and because Yoshimi decided that a confrontation with Masamoto was not to his advantage he proposed holding the ceremony of the Emperor's declaration of Yoshiki as the shogun at Masamoto's residence (however, Masamoto quit the position of kanryo the day after Yoshiki was declared shogun).

His Last Days

Curiously, on February 24, 1491, when he was in a dispute with Masamoto HOSOKAWA and in a disadvantageous situation, he died; it was exactly one year after the death of his older brother, Yoshimasa. He was 53 years old.

Chronology of Government Posts and Ranks

The dates given correspond to the old calendar.

December 2, 1464: He renounced the cloth. He was promoted to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), and was appointed Samonokami (minister of the Horse Office of the Left).

January 5, 1465: He was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Forth Rank, Lower Grade). He retained the post of Samonokami. On November 20, had a coming-of-age ceremony, took the name Yoshimi and was allowed to wear the prohibited colors. On November 25, he became Sangi (councilor) and also assumed the post of Sakone no chujo (Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards). On December 17, he was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), and was transferred to Gon Dainagon (provisional major counselor).

January 6, 1466: He promoted to Junii (Junior Second Rank). He retained the post o Gon Dainagon.

January 5, 1467: He was promoted to Shonii (Senior Second Rank). He retained the post of Gon Dainagon. On August 23, he fled to Ise Province.

December 1468: He was dismissed from his offices.

December 27, 1489: He became a priest.

July 5, 1490: By imperial decree, he was designated as Jugo, with status equivalent to three empresses.

January 7, 1491: He passed away. On February 24, he was posthumously elevated to Juichii Dajo Daijin (Junior First Rank Grand Minister of state).

[Original Japanese]