Ashikaga Yoshitane (足利義稙)

Yoshitane (or Yoshiki) ASHIKAGA was the tenth Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") (in office from 1490 to 1493) of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Brief Personal History

Yoshitane's father was Yoshimi ASHIKAGA, a younger brother of Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA (the eighth Shogun), who was also once an adopted heir of Yoshimasa, and his mother was Shigemasa HINO's daughter (Tomiko HINO's younger sister).

Yoshitane was adopted by Yoshimasa and was appointed as the tenth Shogun after the latter's death. However, he came into conflict with the Kanrei (Deputy Shogun) Masamoto HOSOKAWA, and having been deprived of power and placed under house arrest, he fled to Ecchu Province. He changed his name to Yoshitada in 1498 and then to Yoshitane in 1513.

Although he later regained his position as the Shogun of the Muromachi Government with the support of Yoshioki OUCHI, he came into conflict with the new Kanrei, Takakuni HOSOKAWA, fled Kyoto and died in Awa.


Yoshiki (later Yoshitane) ASHIKAGA was born as a son of Yoshimi ASHIKAGA on July 30, 1466.

In 1489, after Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA, the ninth Shogun of the Muromachi Government, died during his war to conquer Takayori ROKKAKU, Yoshiki left the domain of Shigeyori TOKI, where he was hiding, in order to visit the Imperial Court in Kyoto with his father, who had signed a truce with his uncle, Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, was adopted by Yoshimasa and appointed by the Emperor as the tenth Shogun of the Muromachi Government in 1490. However, the real political power was in the hands of his father, and after his father died in 1491, Yoshiki tried to gain full control of the government with the support of Masanaga HATAKEYAMA, but came into conflict with the Kanrei, Masamoto HOSOKAWA, and Yoshimasa's widow, Tomiko HINO.

In 1493, while Yoshiki was fighting a battle to conquer Yoshitoyo HATAKEYAMA, Masamoto HOSOKAWA and Tomiko HINO conspired to have Yoshizumi ASHIKAGA, the son of Masatomo ASHIKAGA (a younger brother of Yoshimasa and Yoshimi), appointed as the new Shogun, resulting in Yoshiki's removal (the Meio Coup). Although Yoshiki was placed under house arrest, he managed to flee to Hojozu in Etchu and visited Naganobu JINBO, a retainer of Masanaga HATAKEYAMA, for support; accordingly, he was ridiculed as a puppet Shogun in Ecchu (Ecchu Kubo or Ecchu Gosho).

In 1499, believing that peace negotiations with Masamoto were being successfully conducted, Yoshitada (Yoshiki's new name) moved his residence to Sadakage ASAKURA's domain of Echizen. However, as negotiations with Masamoto resulted in failure, he changed his tactics and, in an attempt to return to Kyoto, launched a military attack in collaboration with Sadakage ASAKURA and Hisanobu (Naoyoshi) HATAKEYAMA but was defeated in the battle and fled to Yoshioki OUCHI's domain in Suo.

When Masamoto HOSOKAWA was assassinated in 1507, Yoshitada plotted to return to the Shogunate and, supported by Yoshioki OUCHI, Takakuni HOSOKAWA and several daimyo from western Japan and Kyushu, he returned to Kyoto in April 1508, deposed Yoshizumi and was reappointed as the Shogun (the Eisho Disturbance). He subsequently fought with Yoshizumi and his supporters for the position of Shogun but since Yoshizumi died from disease immediately before the Battle of Mt. Funaokayama in August 1511, resulting in Yoshitada's victory, Yoshitane (Yoshitada's new name) was able to secure his position as the Shogun.

In 1521, however, he again fled as a result of his conflict with Kanryo Takakuni HOSOKAWA. Takakuni supported Yoshizumi's son Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA as the new Shogun. Meanwhile, Yoshitane fled from Izumi to Awaji Province and reorganized his army to fight with Takakuni, but lost the battle and died in Muya, Awa Province (currently, Naruto City) on April 9, 1523. He died at the age of 58.

Buddhist name: Keirinin-ten Ganzan-doshun Daizenjomon

Yoshitane's grave: A Buddhist monument was erected in Saiko-ji Temple in Anan City, Tokushima Prefecture to commemorate Yoshitane. There is a mound known as Shogun-zuka (Shogun Mound) on the former site of Okazaki Castle in Naruto City, Tokushima Prefecture, which is believed to be Yoshiki's grave.

Yoshitane's portraits: There is a well-known wooden statue, made soon after his death, of Yoshitane wearing Sokutai (old ceremonial court dress) enshrined in Reikoden Chapel, Tojiin Temple. Statues of fifteen Shoguns of the Muromachi Government are enshrined in Banna-ji Temple in Ashikaga City, Tochigi Prefecture, including a wooden statue of Yoshiki wearing Sokutai. The statue of Yoshiki at the Anan Municipal Awakubo Minzoku Shiryokan Museum in Anan City, Tokushima Prefecture, was modelled after the statue in Banna-ji Temple. There are two bronze statues of Yoshiki on the Hojotsu-bashi Bridge in Imizu City, Toyama Prefecture: one wearing hunting clothes and the other wearing armor. There is also a portrait of a person believed to be Yoshitane (or Yoshizumi) ASHIKAGA at the Tokyo National Museum.

Personal Profile and Anecdotes

There is an anecdote about Yoshiki's period of wandering in the 'Story of Lord Keirinin' in the "Chirizuka Monogatari (Tales of Chirizuka)." In this story, Yoshiki, filled with anxiety at the sight of poverty-stricken people, tells the reader that through his own experiences, he has come to feel that those who are engaged in government must always have pity.

Due to his personal experience of having been deprived of power and wandering from place to place, he was known as the 'wandering Kubo' or the 'Kubo in exile.'
In the Intoku Taiheiki, it is written that when Yoshitane fled as a result of his conflict with Takakuni HOSOKAWA, a satirical poem (known as a "kyoka") posted on the ship that carried him read: 'Oh poor, miserable wandering Kubo on a wandering boat off the shore of Naruto as if it were his own palace!'

Although Yoshitane did not have any sons, he fled to Awa accompanied by Yoshitsuna, a son of Yoshizumi, the former Shogun and Yoshitane's opponent, whom he adopted as his son and after Yoshitane's death, Yoshitsuna came into conflict with his older brother Yoshiharu, who had succeeded to the Shogunate, causing another power struggle between the Yoshitane faction (Yoshitane, Yoshitsuna, Yoshihide and Yoshisuke) and the Yoshizumi faction (Yoshizumi, Yoshiharu, Yoshiteru and Yoshiaki).

Offices and Ranks Held

July 5, 1490: Yoshiki was promoted to the Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and was appointed a Middle Captain of the Imperial Guards. At the same time, he was appointed the Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") by the Emperor. On the same day, he was also appointed as a Sangi (councillor). He continued to remain in his position as a Ukone no chujo (Middle Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards).

1498: He changed his name to Yoshitada.

1501: He resigned from the positions of Sseii taishogun and Sangi.

July 1, 1508: He was promoted to the Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) and was appointed Gon dainagon (provisional major counselor). He was also appointed Seii taishogun by the Emperor. December 27, 1508: He was promoted to the Junii (Junior Second Rank).

November 9, 1513: He renamed himself Yoshitane.

September 27, 1519: He was appointed Head of the Genji choja (Head of the Genji) and also the betto (the superior of a temple) of Junnain and Shogakuin Temples.

December 25, 1521: He resigned from the position of Seii taishogun.

April 9, 1523: He died. April 8, 1535: Posthumously awarded the Juichii (Junior First Rank) and the post of Grand Minister of State.

Chinese Characters Used in Yoshitane's Names

Character 'zai' (材)
Character 'in' (尹)
Character 'tane' (稙)
Taneie KONOE
Tanekiyo KASAI
Tanenobu KASAI
Tanetsuna KUTSUKI (Busho (Japanese military commander) in the Sengoku period)
Tanemichi HATANO
Tanemune DATE
Taneyasu TOGASHI

[Original Japanese]