Ashikaga Yoshihisa


Ashikaga Clan

Ashikaga Yoshihisa


Lifespan:  11/23 of Kanshō 6 (1465) to 3/26 of Chōkyō 3 (1489)

Rank:  shōgun

Title:   Junior First Rank, Minister of the Interior, Imperial Guardsmen of the Right Division

Clan:  Ashikaga (Ashikaga shōgun family)

Bakufu:  Ninth supreme shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu

Father:  Ashikaga Yoshimasa

Mother:  Hino Tomiko

Siblings: Yoshihisa, Gikaku (monk)

Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Hino Katsumitsu

[Consort] Daughter of Tokudaiji Kinari

Children: Daughter

Ashikaga Yoshihisa served as the ninth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu from 1473 to 1489.  In his latter years, he changed his name to Ashikaga Yoshihiro, but is generally known as Yoshihisa.  During the Ōnin-Bunmei War (Ōnin-Bunmei no ran), Yoshihisa received support in opposition to his uncle, Ashikaga Yoshimi, as a candidate for the position of shōgun. After the conflict, he endeavored to restore the weakening authority of the bakufu, and actively engaged in reform of the bakufu administration including support for an expedition to subjugate the Rokakku clan, but later died of illness while on deployment in Ōmi Province.

Life events

Yoshihisa was born in the latter part of 1465 as the second son of Hino Tomiko, the formal wife of Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eighth shōgun.  For a long period, Yoshimasa did not have offspring so his younger brother, Ashikaga Yoshimi, resided with them.  However, the birth of Yoshihisa gave rise to a succession struggle over the next shōgun.  Yoshimasa intended to appoint Yoshimi to serve in an interim capacity and then to have Yoshihisa become the shōgun.  Nevertheless, Ise Sadachika, the secretary for the mandokoro, the highest administrative organ in the bakufu, who had been in charge of raising Yoshihisa, opposed having Yoshimi become the shōgun.  In the autumn of 1466, Sadachika represented to Yoshimasa that Yoshimi was suspected of plotting a rebellion in an attempt to have Yoshimi expelled.  This prompted Yoshimi to flee to the residence of Hosokawa Katsumoto for protection.  Katsumoto conspired with Yamana Sōzen to oppose Yoshimasa, causing Sadachika to lose his position and leave Kyōto in an event known as the Bunshō Political Incident (Bunshō no seihen).

The appointment of Yoshimi as the shōgun appeared near at hand, but Sōzen sought to seize control of the bakufu administration.  To this end, he allied with Hatakeyama Yoshihiro, a rival of Hatakeyama Masanaga to become the next leader of the Hatakeyama clan, and encouraged Yoshihiro to come to Kyōto.  Yoshihiro and Sōzen defeated Masanaga at the Battle of Goryō,  but, in 1467, Katsumoto launched a counterattack in support of Masanaga, triggering the Ōnin-Bunmei Conflict (Ōnin-Bunmei no ran) that lasted until 1477.  Based on the location of their armies in Kyōto, the Hosokawa identified as the eastern army and the Yamana were known as the western army.  Upon request of Katsumoto, Yoshimasa allowed the eastern army to operate under the banner of the shōgun, making the western army rebels.  This gave the eastern army the advantage of propriety in their cause, but after the arrival of Ōuchi Masahiro in Kyōto, the western army made a comeback, while the conflict became mired in a stalemate.  In 1468, Yoshimasa enabled Sadachika to return to political affairs despite Sadachika’s earlier attempt to topple Yoshimi. Yoshimi opposed this decision and joined the western army.  This prevented Yoshimi from becoming the next shōgun.  Early in 1474, Yoshimasa assigned his role to Yoshihisa, who became the ninth shōgun.

Although Yoshihisa completed his coming-of-age ceremony just before taking office, he was only nine years old at the time of his appointment.  Affairs of governance were in fact managed by Yoshimasa, Hino Tomiko (Yoshimasa’s formal wife), and Hino Katsumitsu (Tomiko’s older brother).  In particular, Tomiko excessively intervened in Yoshihisa’s affairs, causing him to avoid her.  In 1476, after the palace known as the Hana-no-gosho was burned down in the final year of the Ōnin-Bunmei Conflict, Yoshihisa moved with Tomiko to the Ogawa residence where Yoshimasa had retired, but soon came into conflict with him over his consort, whereupon Yoshihisa then transferred to the residence of Ise Sadamune, the secretary of the highest organ in the bakufu known as the mandokoro.  Yoshimasa built the Higashiyama mountain retreat in 1482, after which Yoshihisa returned to the Ogawa residence, but owing to further conflict with Tomiko, returned once again to the Ise residence.

Toward the end of 1479, Yoshihisa began to perform his role in earnest, holding various ceremonies to observe his first official signing, first conference, and initial deliberations to conduct affairs of governance.  Nevertheless, Yoshimasa and the others were not willing to relinquish their powers, leading to discord with Yoshihisa.  In the summer of 1482, Yoshimasa expressed an intention to transfer his powers to Yoshihisa, and the following summer, withdrew to the mountain retreat in Higashiyama.  Despite taking these steps, Yoshimasa continued to exercise his powers and the tension with Yoshihisa failed to subside.  At the end of 1486, Yoshimasa once again expressed his intention to retire, but continued to engage in diplomacy with external parties and administer affairs in regard to Buddhist temples.

After the Ōnin-Bunmei Conflict, the tide turned toward the usurpation of power by provincial lords while the authority of the bakufu declined significantly.  In an effort to fortify the powers of the shōgun, in the autumn of 1487, Yoshihisa led an army of approximately 20,000 men including daimyō and troops under the direct command of the shōgun known as hōkōshū on an expedition to subjugate Rokakku Takayori, the military governor of Ōmi Province after Takayori had seized the holdings of nobles and the temples and shrines in the province.  This was known as the Chōkyō-Entoku Conflict (Chōkyō entoku no ran), encompassing two expeditions: one in 1487 and the second in 1491.  Takayori fled from the Kannonji Castle to the Kōga District, but guerilla attacks escalated across the province.  To maintain the resistance, Takayori had to remain in the Magari neighborhood of the Kurita District of Ōmi for almost one and one-half years.  Consequently, the base in Magari functioned as a provisional residence for the shōgun in which elaborate ceremonies were held to receive nobles and members of military families visiting from the capital.

In 1487, Shiba Yoshihiro, together with Yamato-no-kami Toshisada (the deputy military governor of Owari) and Oda Tōhiro, led a contingent of 8,000 forces from Owari Province, forming a primary unit of the bakufu army under Yoshihisa; however, apart from the objectives of the expedition in Ōmi, Yoshihiro fervently sought to restore control by the Shiba clan of Echizen Province.  In connection with the Ōnin-Bunmei War, the Shiba had been usurped by the Asakura in Echizen.  Meanwhile, Asakura Kagefuyu joined the bakufu army.  Yoshihiro was disconcerted by the prospect of deploying with members of the Asakura who were his former retainers now in control of Echizen.  This led him to appeal to Yoshihisa for support to oust the Asakura, led by Asakura Sadakage, the ninth head of the clan who remained in Tsuruga in Echizen at the time.  This event was known as the Chōkyō Appeal (Chōkyō no soshō). Yoshihisa was rumored to be considering an expedition against the Asakura, but hesitated to confront an army of 10,000 elite Asakura forces defending the province.  Finally, Yoshihisa recognized the assertions of the Asakura with respect to governance of the province, issuing a verdict by which the Asakura would become senior retainers of the shōgun.

In 1488, Yoshihisa adopted the name of Yoshihiro (with the second character in his name different from Shiba Yoshihiro).  That same year, Togashi Masachika, the military governor of Kaga Province, was killed in an uprising by members of the Ikkō sect in Kaga.  Masachika had deployed with the bakufu army during the Chōkyō-Entoku Expedition, and Yoshihisa ordered Rennyo, the eighth head priest of the Jōdo-shinshū sect of Buddhism, to excommunicate those responsible.  Hosokawa Masamoto advised against this action so that Rennyo only reprimanded those involved in the riots.  In 1485, with regard to riots that occurred in Yamashiro Province, Yoshihisa refrained from immediately resorting to military force, and, instead, acknowledged a certain level of autonomy.

The expedition against the Rokkaku in Ōmi enabled the bakufu to temporarily regain power, but Yoshihisa gradually turned to alcohol and a passion to literary arts, focusing less on political and military matters.  In 1488, he delegated governance to his close retainers, such as by appointing one of his cherished councilors, Yūki Hisatoyo, to serve as the military governor of Ōmi.  Other associates entrusted with governing power included Yūki Masatane, Ōdachi Hisauji, and Nikaidō Masayuki.  The situation led to arbitrary rule with members of the bakufu army seizing the land owned by temples and shrines in Ōmi under the pretext of converting these into designated sites for the collection of rice to support the military. Owners of the manors, or shōen, appealed to Yoshimasa to intervene while the deployment of forces to Ōmi reflected Yoshihisa’s view that the authority of the bakufu was for his own benefit.  This ultimately caused Yoshimasa to revitalize his political influence in response.  Additionally, Ichijō Kaneyoshi, an elder noble who taught cultural arts to Yoshihisa, warned him of the dangers of relying too heavily on his close retainers.

Yoshihisa died from illness in the spring of 1489 during the deployment in Ōmi.  His remains were returned to Hoskawa Masamoto and Hino Tomiko in Kyōto, in a triumphal return attended by a troop regiment.  His death at the age of twenty-three may have been caused by a stroke resulting from overindulgence. Yoshihisa did not have an heir, so his younger cousin named Ashikaga Yoshiki (Yoshimi’s son later known as Yoshitane) was adopted by Yoshimasa and, in 1490, became the tenth shōgun.