Ashikaga Yoshimochi (足利義持)

Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA was the fourth shogun of Muromachi Shogunate. His father was Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA and his mother was Yoshiko FUJIWARA, a daughter of Aki Hougen. He had Yoshinori ASHIKAGA and Yoshitsugu ASHIKAGA as his brothers. His legal wife was Eishi HINO, a daughter of Sukeyasu HINO. He had a son named Yoshikazu ASHIKAGA.

It is said that the relationship between his father Yoshimitsu and him was bad, and even though he was given the shogun post by his father at the age of 9 in 1934 (Ouei 1), he had no real power while Yoshimitsu as Grand Minister was still alive. The Assembly of the shogunate was held at Kitayama-dai villa, where Yoshimitsu lived, and Yoshimochi never participated in it. There is a record that he was reprimanded because of his aides, YAMASHINA brothers, in 1406, and when Emperor Gokomatsu visited "Kitayama-dai villa" right before Yoshimitsu's death, his half brother Yoshitsugu, having his father's favor, had an audience with the Emperor, but Yoshimochi was made in charge of security in Kyoto, which shows that he also suffered from his father's favoritism.

After Yoshimitsu died in 1408, Yoshimochi lived in the Flower Palace (Muromachi-dai, Kamigyo ward, Kyoto city) temporarily, and moved to the residence in Sanjo-boumon (Nakagyo ward, Kyoto city) where the second shogun Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA had lived. And he totally broke down "Kitayama-dai villa" which Yoshimitsu had built as the political center, with the exception of Rokuon-ji temple (Kinkaku). As for his politics, he was supported by such persons as Yoshimasa SHIBA, who held the post of Kanrei and was influential as an political advisor called Shukuro, and others, and revised the shogunate administration to a conservative style. By doing so, he was allegedly trying to bring back "military regime" style of Muromachi Shogunate, which had been once lost. He alienated Zeami, whom Yoshimitsu took under his wing (however, this is also said to be a matter of Yoshimochi's personal interest), declined the posthumous title as ex-Emperor offered to his father Yoshimitsu, from the Imperial court, and ended the trade with Ming dynasty China (Kango trade), of which tribute style had faced some opposition, in 1411.

In 1410, Emperor Gokameyama, who was the last emperor of the Southern Dynasty (Japan), took refuge in Yoshino. (He returned to Kyoto in 1416.)
Responding to this in 1414, Mitsumasa KITABATAKE expressed his dissatisfaction with accession of Emperor Shoko in 1412, and raised a revolt to demand for abiding by the agreement of the alternate enthronement, but reconciled soon. In the same year, Yoshishige SHIBA, the heir of Yoshimasa SHIBA, fell into disgrace with Yoshimochi, and secluded in Mt. Koya. In 1416, UENO Zenshu Rebellion broke out in Kanto region, and Yoshimochi confined his brother Yoshitsugu, who was involved in the rebellion, in Shokoku-ji temple, and killed him two years later in 1418. Furthermore in the process, Mitsunari TOGASHI, Yoshimochi's aide, accused Mitsumoto HOSOKAWA and Yoshishige SHIBA of supporting Yoshitsugu, which, according to a view, was planned by Yoshimochi to dampen the influence of powerful governors called Shugo at once, taking this opportunity, and to establish Yoshimochi-led shogunate administration, but on the contrary, counter-accusation by HOSOKAWA, etc., eventually resulted in TOGASHI's banishment. In 1423, after settling a series of such incidents, he gave the shogun post to his son Yoshikazu, and entered the priesthood in Toji-in temple in June of the following year (he continued to hold real power) and started to visit temples and shrines, but Yoshikazu died quite young in 1425. On the occasion of succession of the AKAMATSU clan after Yoshinori AKAMATSU died in 1427, Yoshimochi tried to leave the domain to his close aide Mochisada AKAMATSU, which made Mitsusuke AKAMATSU run away from Kyoto and go down to Harima, his governing province. Yoshimochi died at the age of 43 without choosing a successor after Yoshikazu's death.

In the reign of Yoshimochi, there existed a number of unstable factors - the OHTOMO clan, the OHKOUCHI clan and the KIKUCHI clan, as powerful lords, took over and ruled Kyushyu where Prince Kanenaga had conquered, or the Kamakura ministry in Kanto region became a semi-independent state - but politically, a brief period of tranquility lasted and it was relatively stable times during Muromachi era. After Yoshimochi died, his brother Yoshinori succeeded to the shogun post.

Although it is said that Yoshimochi was on bad terms with his father Yoshimitsu, he conducted politics taking Yoshimitsu's intentions into account in his actual basic policy. However, Yoshimochi himself came into power by the push from powerful Shugo's such as Yoshimasa SHIBA, and Mitsunari TOGASHI and Mochisada AKAMATSU, who were members of his aide, formed to match powerful Shugo's, were adversely ousted by powerful Shugo's, and Yoshimochi, after all, did not succeed in establishing absolute authority of shogun as Yoshimitsu did.

Buddhist name: Shojo Inden Kenzan Dosen Daizenmon

Portrait: Possessed by Jingo-ji temple in Ukyo ward in Kyoto city

History of government positions
*date=lunar calendar

December 17,1934, assumed Sho Goi-ge and appointed as Sa-konoe chujo. Also appointed as Seii Taishogun by the Emperor.

June 3, 1395, promoted to Ju Shii-ge. Stayed as Sa-konoe chujo.

January 28, 1396, concurrently served also as Mimasaka no Kuni Gonnokami. April 20, promoted to Sho Shii-ge. September 12, appointed Councilor. Stayed as both Sa-konoe chujo and Mimasaka no Kuni Gonnokami.

January 5, 1397, promoted to Ju Sanmi. Stayed as Councilor/Sa-konoe chujo. March 29, reassigned to Gon chunagon.

January 5, 1398, promoted to Sho Sanmi. Stayed as Gon chunagon.

January 5, 1400, promoted to Ju Nii. Stayed as Gon chunagon.

March 24, 1401, reassigned to Gon dainagon.

January 6, 1402, promoted to Sho Nii. Stayed as Gon dainagon. November 19, promoted to Ju Ichii. Stayed as Gon dainagon.

August 17, 1406, concurrently served as U-konoe taisho.

January 5, 1407, concurrently served as Umeryo Gogen.

March 23, 1409, reassigned to Nai daijin. Also stayed also as U-konoe taisho.

May, 1412, resigned as U-konoe taisho.

October 22, 1413, concurrently served as Manager of both Junna-in and Shogaku-in.

August 29, 1419, resigned as Nai daijin.

March 18, 1422, resigned as Seii Taishogun. April 25, entered the priesthood.

January 18, 1428, died. January 23, given Dajo daijin as posthumous title.

People Yoshimochi gave part of his name

Mochimoto NIJO

Mochimichi NIJO

Mochisada AKAMATSU

Mochimori OUCHI

Mochiyo OUCHI

Mochikiyo KYOGOKU

Mochimitsu KYOGOKU


Mochitane SHIBA

Mochimune DATE

Mochimasu TOKI



Mochikata HOSOKAWA

Mochimoto HOSOKAWA

Mochiyuki HOSOKAWA

Souzen (Mochitoyo) YAMANA

Mochihiro YAMANA

Books he appears in

"Great Prophecy in Muromachi" by Futaro YAMADA (published by Bungeishunju/included in Bunshun Bunko "Muromachi Boys Club," 1995)
"Akkanbe Ikkyu" by Hisashi SAKAGUCHI (published by Kodansha/Kodansha Manga Bunko, 1993-1996)

[Original Japanese]