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Ashikaga Bakufu
Ashikaga Shogunate




Capital Kyoto
Language(s) Late Middle Japanese
Religion Shinbutsu shūgō
Government Feudal military dictatorship
 - 1332-1334 Kōgon
 - 1557-1586 Ōgimachi
 - 1338-1358 Ashikaga Takauji
 - 1568-1573 Ashikaga Yoshiaki
 - Established August 11, 1338
 - Surrender of Emperor Go-Kameyama October 15, 1392
 - Ōnin War 1467-1477
 - Oda Nobunaga captures Kyoto September 2, 1573
Currency Mon
Marker for Site of Muromachi Bakufu, Kyoto

The Ashikaga shogunate (足利幕府 Ashikaga bakufu ?, 13361573) was a feudal military dictatorship ruled by the shoguns of the Ashikaga family.

This period is also known as the Muromachi period and gets its name from the Muromachi street of Kyoto where the third shogun Yoshimitsu established his residence. This residence is nicknamed "Hana no Gosho" (花の御所) or "Flower Palace" (constructed in 1379) because of the abundance of flowers in its landscaping.



During the preceding Kamakura period (1185–1333), the Hōjō clan enjoyed absolute power in the governing of Japan. This monopoly of power, as well as the lack of a reward of lands after the defeat of Mongol invasion, led to simmering resentment among Hōjō vassals. Finally, in 1333, the Emperor Go-Daigo ordered local governing vassals to oppose Hōjō rule, in favor of Imperial restoration, in the Kemmu Restoration.

To counter this revolt, the Kamakura bakufu ordered Ashikaga Takauji to quash the uprising. For reasons that are unclear, possibly because Ashikaga was the de facto leader of the powerless Minamoto clan, while the Hōjō clan were from the Taira clan the Minamoto had previously defeated, Ashikaga turned against the Kamakura bakufu, and fought on behalf of the Imperial court.

After the successful overthrow of the Kamakura bakufu in 1336, Ashikaga Takauji set up his own bakufu in Kyoto.

North and South Court

After Ashikaga Takauji established himself as the Seii Taishogun, a dispute arose with the Emperor Go-Daigo on the subject of how to govern the country. That dispute led Takauji to cause Yutahito, the second son of Emperor Go-Fushimi, to be installed as Emperor Kōmyō. Go-Daigo fled, and the country was divided between a North Court (in favor of Kōmyō and Ashikaga), and a South Court (in favor of Go-Daigo). This period of North and South Courts (Nanboku-chō) continued for 56 years, until 1392, when the South Court gave up during the reign of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.

Government Structure

In part because Ashikaga Takauji established his shogunate by siding with the Emperor against the previous Kamakura shogunate, the Ashikagas shared more of the governmental authority with the Imperial government than the Kamakura shogunate had. Thus, it was a weaker shogunate than the Kamakura shogunate or the Tokugawa shogunate. The centralized master-vassal system used in the Kamakura system was replaced with the highly de-centralized daimyo (local lord) system, and the military power of the Ashikaga shogunate depended heavily on the loyalty of the daimyo.


Foreign relations

The Ashikaga shogunate's foreign relations policy choices were played out in evolving contacts with the Joseon Dynasty on the Korean peninsula [1] and with Imperial China.[2]

Fall of the Shogunate

As the daimyo increasingly feuded among themselves in the pursuit of power in the Ōnin War, that loyalty grew increasingly strained, until it erupted into open warfare in the late Muromachi period, also known as the Sengoku Period.

When the last effective Ashikaga shogun Yoshiteru was assassinated in 1565, an ambitious daimyo, Oda Nobunaga, seized the opportunity and installed Yoshiteru's brother Ashikaga Yoshiaki as the 15th Ashikaga shogun. However, Yoshiaki was only a puppet shogun.

The Ashikaga shogunate was finally destroyed in 1573 when Nobunaga drove Ashikaga Yoshiaki out of Kyoto. Initially, Yoshiaki fled to Shikoku. Afterwards, Yoshiaki sought and received protection from the Mōri clan in western Japan. Later, Toyotomi Hideyoshi requested that Yoshiaki accept him as an adopted son and the 16th Ashikaga Shogun, but Yoshiaki refused.

The Ashikaga family survived the 16th century, and a branch of it became the daimyo family of the Kitsuregawa domain.[3]

List of Ashikaga Shoguns

  1. Ashikaga Takauji, ruled 1338–1358
  2. Ashikaga Yoshiakira, r. 1359–1368
  3. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, r. 1368–1394
  4. Ashikaga Yoshimochi, r. 1395–1423
  5. Ashikaga Yoshikazu, r. 1423–1425
  6. Ashikaga Yoshinori, r. 1429–1441
  7. Ashikaga Yoshikatsu, r. 1442–1443
  8. Ashikaga Yoshimasa, r. 1449–1473)
  9. Ashikaga Yoshihisa, r. 1474–1489
  10. Ashikaga Yoshitane, r. 1490–1493, 1508–1521
  11. Ashikaga Yoshizumi, r. 1495–1508
  12. Ashikaga Yoshiharu, r. 1522–1547
  13. Ashikaga Yoshiteru, r. 1547–1565
  14. Ashikaga Yoshihide, r. 1568
  15. Ashikaga Yoshiaki, r. 1568–1573

See also


  1. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 320-342; Kang, Etsuko H. (1997). Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean Relations: from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century, p. 275.
  2. ^ Ackroyd, Joyce. (1982) Lessons from History: The "Tokushi Yoron", p. 329; Titsingh, pp. 322-324.
  3. ^ With the end of the Kitsuregawa line following the death of Ashikaga Atsuuji in 1983, the current de facto head of the family is Ashikaga Yoshihiro, of the Hirashima Kubō line.


External links


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