Hino Tomiko


Ashikaga Clan

Hino Tomiko


Hino Tomiko (1440 – 1496) lived during the late Muromachi period and early Sengoku period.  She was the formal wife of Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eighth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.  Her father was Hino Shigemasa, who held the titles of Junior Controller of the Right Division for the Chamberlain’s Office and Minister of the Interior.  Her mother, Kitakōji Naeko, held the official title of Junior Third Rank.  Tomiko’s siblings included an older brother named Hino Katsumitsu who served as a noble, Nagatoshi (the father-in-law of Ashikaga Yoshizumi, the eleventh shōgun), Sukeharu (the adopted son of Hino Kaneoki), and a younger sister named Yoshiko (the wife of Ashikaga Yoshimi).  She was the mother of Ashikaga Yoshihisa, the ninth shōgun.  She held the title of Junior First Rank.

Birth and marriage

Tomiko was born in the capital of Kyōto in Yamashiro Province.  She originated from the Hino family who had marital relationships with the Ashikaga family of the shōgun, rulers of the Muromachi bakufu.  The natural mother of Ashikaga Yoshihisa, Hino Shigeko, was Tomiko’s great aunt.  In 1455, Tomiko wed Yoshihisa at the age of sixteen.  Her first child was born early in 1459, but the child died that same day.  This was blamed on a curse from the nursing mother, Imamairi-no-tsubone.  As a result, the nursing mother was banished to Okishima, an island in Lake Biwa, whereupon she killed herself en route.  In addition, four of Yoshimasa’s mistresses were also exiled.

Ōnin-Bunmei War

Tomiko gave birth to daughters in 1462 and 1463, but could not bear a son.  In 1464, Yoshimasa had his younger brother (Ashikaga Gijin whom had entered the priesthood) return to secular life and change his name to Ashikaga Yoshimi.  Yoshimasa then designated Yoshimi as his successor to the role of shōgun under the care of Hosokawa Katsumoto.  However, in 1465, Tomiko gave birth to Yoshihisa, and owing to her devotion to him, she made plans to support him as the successor.  This led Yoshihisa’s guardian, Yamana Sōzen, and the Hino family, to oppose Yoshimi.  The confrontation between Katsumoto and Sōzen, both influential members of the bakufu, further complicated by succession struggles among the Shiba and Hatakeyama clans, triggered the Ōnin-Bunmei War.

The conflict raged in Kyōto and its environs from 1476 to 1477.  Tomiko supported the Eastern Army under Hosokawa Katsumoto as the commanding general, but she loaned large sums of money to daimyō from both the Eastern and Western armies.  She also speculated in rice, possessing quantities of significant value.

In 1471, Tomiko was suspected of secretly collaborating with Emperor Gotsuchi-mikado who had taken refuge in the Ashikaga palace known as the Hana-no-gosho in the Kamigyō District of Kyōto.  This owed to his interactions with Tomiko’s lady attendants, but the spread of this rumor highlighted the chill in relations between Tomiko and Yoshimasa.

In 1473, Yamana Sōzen and Hosokawa Katsumoto both died, while Yoshimasa retired.  After Yoshihisa held his coming-of-age ceremony and became the ninth shōgun, his older brother, Hino Katsumitsu, became the deputy shōgun.  Yoshimasa completely lost interest in governing, whereupon, in 1475, he built the Ogawa residence in Horikawa in the Kamigyō District and moved there by himself.  Following the demise of Katsumitsu in 1476, Tomiko became the de facto leader of the bakufu.  On a gift-giving holiday known as hassaku, citizens lined up for one or two blocks to deliver gifts to Tomiko, who was known as 御台一天御計い.  That autumn, the palace burned down so she moved to the Ogawa residence, but, in 1481, Yoshimasa then moved to a mountain lodge known as the Nagatani-Shōgo Temple.  Thereafter, she lived apart from Yoshimasa for a long time.

In 1477, the Western Army finally withdrew, and the conflict in Kyōto came to an end.  Thereafter, Tomiko declared to Hirohashi Kaneaki, the messenger to the emperor, that Emperor Gotsuchi-mikado’s palace was not burned down owing to her agreement with Ōuchi Masahiro of the Western Army.

Aftermath of the conflict

Beginning in 1460, checkpoints were located at each of the seven primary entrances into Kyōto to collect taxes.  These funds were intended for redevelopment of the Imperial palace and to cover the expenses of various ceremonies.  Tomiko’s practice of retaining most of these funds upset the populace, stirring a local uprising that resulted in destruction of the checkpoints.  To protect her wealth, Tomiko took steps to suppress the uprising and, soon thereafter, set about to restore the checkpoints.  This, however, caused disfavor among both the commoners as well as the nobles.

After maturing, Yoshihisa began to distance himself from Tomiko, and, in 1483, leaving Tomiko behind he moved to the residence of Ise Sadamune, where he indulged in a life of dissipation.  This caused a temporary loss of authority for Tomiko.   In 1489, Yoshihisa died at the age of twenty-five in the Chōkyō-Entoku Expedition, an undertaking aimed at overthrowing Rokkaku Takayori.  The unexpected loss of her son caused Tomiko to become depressed, whereupon she negotiated with Yoshimasa for Ashikaga Yoshiki (later known as Yoshitane, the son of Yoshimi and Tomiko’s younger sister) to become the next shōgun, and they reached agreement in the spring of that same year.  After Yoshimasa died early in 1490, Yoshiki became the tenth shōgun.  However, while serving in the role of guardian of Yoshiki, Yoshimi began to quarrel with Tomiko for maintaining power.  This led to the destruction of the Ogawa residence where she resided along with the seizure of her domain.  After the death of Yoshimi the following year, Yoshiki then conflicted with Tomiko as he sought to govern in his role as the shōgun.

In 1493, while Yoshiki was on an expedition in Kawachi Province, Tomiko joined with the deputy shōgun, Hosokawa Masamoto, to launch a coup d’état, expelling Yoshiki from his position, and appointing Ashikaga Yoshizumi (Yoshimasa’s nephew and son of Ashikaga Masatomo (the Horigoe kubō)) to become the eleventh shōgun in a seminal event known as the Meiō Political Incident.  Tomiko died in 1496, while the usurpation of Yoshiki in the Meiō Political Incident is viewed as the opening act of the Sengoku period.


Tomiko was disliked by the local populace who resented her accumulation of vast wealth while they bore the hardships of war, regarding her as an evil hoarder of funds.  She was further scorned for making no contributions when her husband, Yoshimasa, struggled to raise funds for the construction and operation of the Higashiyama Mountain Villa.  Meanwhile, after the Imperial palace burned down, she helped cover the significant cost of reconstruction from her own funds.  The finances of the bakufu were in the midst of changing from a dependency upon ceremonial contributions and commission income, while Tomiko’s sources of wealth were of a similar origin.  She left behind an inheritance of approximately 70,000 kan mon.

Having an interest in studies, Tomiko received lectures in regard to the Tales of Genji from Ichijō Kaneyoshi, a scholarly noble with the title of chief advisor to the Emperor, or kanpaku. Although Tomiko was a leader within the ruling shōgun family, it was unusual during this period for the kanpaku to give lectures to a female, for which Tomiko made large financial contributions.

Owing to the early demise of Yoshihisa in battle followed thereafter by the death of Yoshihisa from illness, Tomiko leveraged her role as the wife of the shōgun and almost forty years of experience to exert significant influence on the internal affairs of the bakufu during a period of deep instability.  Moreover, the ouster of Ashikaga Yoshiki, the shōgun, in the Meiō Political Incident was made possible only by the support of Tomiko.