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Ashikaga Yoshimitsu
Kinkaku, the Golden Pavilion at Kinkaku-ji, originated as the villa of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利 義満?, September 25, 1358—May 31, 1408) was the 3rd shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate who ruled from 1368 to 1394 during the Muromachi period of Japan. Yoshimitsu was the son of the second shogun Ashikaga Yoshiakira.[1]

In the year after the death of his father Yoshiakira in 1367, Yoshimitsu became Seii Taishogun at age 11.[2]

Significant events shape the period during which Yoshimitsu was shogun:

  • 1368 -- Yoshimitsu appointed shogun; Chōkei ascends southern throne.[3]
  • 1369 -- Kusunoki Masanori defects to Ashikaga.[3]
  • 1370 -- Imagawa Sadayo sent to subdue Kyushu.[3]
  • 1371 -- Attempts to arrange truce.[3]
  • 1373-1406 -- Embassies between China and Japan.[3]
  • 1374 -- En'yū ascends northern throne.[3]
  • 1378 -- Yoshimitsu builds Hana-no-Gosho.[3]
  • 1379 -- Shiba Yoshimasa becomes Kanrei.[3]
  • 1380 -- Kusunoki Masanori rejoins Kameyama; southern army suffers reverses.[3]
  • 1382 -- Go-Komatsu ascends northern throne; resurgence of southern army.[3]
  • 1383 -- Yoshimitsu's honors; Go-Kameyama ascends southern throne.[3]
  • 1385 -- Southern army defeated at Koga.[3]
  • 1387-89 -- Dissension in Toki family in Mino.[3]
  • 1389 -- Yoshimitsu pacifies Kyūshū and distributes lands; Yoshimitsu opposed by Kamakura kanrei Ashikaga Ujimitsu.[3]
  • 1390 -- Kusunoki defeated; Yamana Ujikiyo chastises Tokinaga.[3]
  • 1391 -- Yamana Ujikyo attacks Kyoto -- Meitoku War.[4]
  • 1392 -- Northern and Southern courts reconciled under Go-Komatsu.[4]
  • 1394 -- Yoshimitsu officially cedes his position to his son;[5] Ashikaga Yoshimochi appointed shogun.[4]
  • 1396 -- Imagawa Sadayo dismissed.[3]
  • 1397 -- Uprising in Kyūshū suppressed.[4]
  • 1398 -- Muromachi administration organized.[4]
  • 1399 -- Ouchi Yoshihira and Ashikaga Mitsukane rebel -- Ōei War.[4]
  • 1402 -- Uprising in Mutsu suppressed.[4]
  • 1404 -- Yoshimitsu appointed Nippon Koku-Ō (King of Japan) by Chinese emperor.
  • 1408 -- Yoshimitsu dies.[4]



Yoshimitsu constructed his residence in the Muromachi section in the capital of Kyoto in 1378. As a result, in Japanese, the Ashikaga shogunate and the corresponding time period are often referred to as the Muromachi shogunate and Muromachi period.[6]

Yoshimitsu resolved the rift between the Northern and Southern Courts in 1392, when he persuaded Go-Kameyama of the Southern Court to hand over the Imperial Regalia to Emperor Go-Komatsu of the Northern Court. Yoshimitsu's greatest political achievement was that he managed to bring about the end to Nanboku-cho fighting. This event had the effect of firmly establishing the authority of the Muromachi shogunate and suppressing the power of the regional daimyo who might challenge that central authority.[7]

Although Yoshimitsu retired in 1394 and his son was confirmed as the fourth shogun Ashikaga Yoshimochi, the old shogun didn't abandon any of his powers. Yoshimitsu continued to maintain authority over the shogunate until his death.[8]

Yoshimitsu died suddenly in 1408[8] at age 50.[9] After his death, his retirement villa (near Kyoto) became Rokuon-ji, which today is famous for its three-storied, gold-leaf covered reliquary known as "Kinkaku." So famous is this single structure, in fact, that the entire temple itself is often identified as the Kinkaku-ji, the Temple of the Golden Pavilion. A statue of Yoshimitsu is found there today.[10]

Eras of Yoshimitsu's bakufu

The years in which Yoshimitsu was shogun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[11]

Nanboku-chō southern court
Nanboku-chō northern court
Post-Nanboku-chō reunified court
  • Eras merged as Meitoku 3 replaced Genchū 9 as Go-Kameyama abdicated.


  1. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 307.
  2. ^ Titsingh, p. 308.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Ackroyd, Joyce. (1982) Lessons from History: The "Tokushi Yoron", p. 329.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Ackroyd, p. 330.
  5. ^ Titsingh, p. 321.
  6. ^ Morton, W. Scott et al. (2004). Japan: Its History and Culture, p. 89.
  7. ^ Turnbull, Stephen. (2005). Samurai Commanders, p. 31.
  8. ^ a b Titsingh, p. 325.
  9. ^ Turnbull, p. 32.
  10. ^ Pier, Garrett. (1915). Temple Treasures of Japan, p. 228-237.
  11. ^ Titsingh, pp. 308-321.


Preceded by:
Ashikaga Yoshiakira
Muromachi Shogun:
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu

Succeeded by:
Ashikaga Yoshimochi


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