Ashikaga Takauji (足利 尊氏, August 18, 1305 – June 7, 1358)
was the founder and first shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate. His
rule began in 1338, beginning the
Muromachi period of Japan, and ended
with his death in 1358. He was a descendant of the samurai of the
Seiwa Genji line (meaning they were descendants of Emperor
Seiwa) who had settled in the Ashikaga area of Shimotsuke Province, in
present-day Tochigi Prefecture.
Zen master and intellectual Musō Soseki, who enjoyed his
favor and collaborated with him, Takauji had three qualities. First,
he kept his cool in battle and was not afraid of death. Second, he
was merciful and tolerant. Third, he was very generous with those
3 Timeline of shogunate
4 Eras of Takauji's bakufu
5 Literary references
7 See also
9 Additional Reading
His childhood name was Matagorō (又太郎). Takauji was a general of
Kamakura shogunate sent to
Kyoto in 1333 to put down the Genkō
War which had started in 1331. After becoming increasingly
disillusioned with the
Kamakura shogunate over time, Takauji joined
Emperor Go-Daigo and Kusunoki Masashige, and seized
Kyoto. Soon after,
Nitta Yoshisada joined their cause, and laid siege
to Kamakura. When the city fell to Nitta, the Shogunal regent, Hōjō
Takatoki, and his clansmen committed suicide. This ended the Kamakura
shogunate, as well as the Hōjō clan's power and influence. Go-Daigo
was enthroned once more as emperor, reestablishing the primacy of the
Imperial court in
Kyoto and starting the so-called Kenmu
However, shortly thereafter, the samurai clans became increasingly
disillusioned with the reestablished imperial court, which sought to
return to the social and political systems of the Heian period.
Sensing their discontent, Takauji pleaded with the emperor to do
something before rebellion would break out, however his warnings were
Hōjō Tokiyuki, son of Takatoki, took the opportunity to start the
Nakasendai rebellion to try to reestablish the shogunate in Kamakura
in 1335. Takauji put down the rebellion and took Kamakura for himself.
Taking up the cause of his fellow samurai, he claimed the title of
Sei-i Taishōgun and allotted land to his followers without permission
from the court. Takauji announced his allegiance to the imperial
Emperor Go-Daigo sent
Nitta Yoshisada to reclaim
Ashikaga Takauji at
Tōji-in in Kyoto
Takauji defeated Yoshisada in the battles of Sanoyama and Mishima.
This cleared the path for Takauji and Tadayoshi to march on to
Kyoto for a few days in Feb. 1336, only to be driven out
Kyūshū by the arrival of forces under Prince Takanaga, Prince
Kitabatake Akiie and Yūki Munehiro.:43
Takauji and his brother were forced to retreat to the west. Takauji
then allied himself with the clans native to Kyūshū. After defeating
Kikuchi clan at
Hakata Bay in the Battle of Tatarahama (1336),
Takauji was "virtually master of Kyushu".[attribution
His brother advanced simultaneously by land and both reached the
environs of present-day Kobe in July.:48–50
At the decisive
Battle of Minatogawa
Battle of Minatogawa in 1336, Takauji defeated
Yoshisada again and killed Masashige, allowing him to seize
Emperor Kōmyō of the illegitimate
Northern Court (see below)
was installed as emperor by Takauji in opposition to the exiled
Southern Court, beginning the turbulent Northern and Southern Court
period (Nanboku-chō), which saw two emperors fight each other and
which would last for almost 60 more years.
Besides other honors,
Emperor Go-Daigo had given Takauji the title of
Chinjufu-shōgun, or Commander-in-chief of the Defense of the North,
and the courtly title of the Fourth Rank, Junior Grade. His
buddhist name was Tojiinden Niyama Myogi dai koji Chojuji-dono
Father: Ashikaga Sadauji (1273–1331)
Mother: Uesugi Kiyoko (1270–1343)
Half-siblings: Ashikaga Takayoshi (1297–1317)
Wife: Akahashi Toshi (1306–1365)
Kako no Tsubone
Echizen no Tsubone
Ashikaga Tadafuyu (1327–1387) adopted by
Ashikaga Tadayoshi by
Ashikaga Takewakamaru (d. 1333) by Kako
Ashikaga Yoshiakira by Toshi
Ashikaga Motouji by Toshi
Tazuo by Toshi
Yoriko (d. 1353) by Toshi
Timeline of shogunate
Significant events which shaped the period during which Takauji was
1338 – Takauji appointed shōgun.
1349 – Go-Murakami flees to A'no;
Ashikaga Tadayoshi and Kō no
Moronao quarrel; Ashikaga Motouji, son of Takauji, appointed Kamakura
1350 – Tadayoshi, excluded from administration, turns
priest; Tadayoshi's adopted son, Ashikaga Tadafuyu is wrongly
repudiated as a rebel.
1351–1358 – Struggle for Kyoto.
1351 – Tadayoshi joins Southern Court, southern army takes
Kyoto; truce, Takauji returns to Kyoto; Tadayoshi and Takauji
Kō no Moronao and
Kō no Moroyasu are exiled.
1352 – Tadayoshi dies, Southern army recaptures Kyoto; Nitta
Yoshimune captures Kamakura; Ashikaga forces recapture Kamakura and
Kyoto; Tadafuyu joins Southern Court; Yamana Tokiuji joins
Kyoto retaken by Southern forces under Yamana Tokiuji;
retaken by Ashikaga forces.
1354 – Takauji flees with Go-Kōgon; Kitabatake Chikafusa
Kyoto taken by Southern army;
Kyoto retaken by Ashikaga
1358 – Takauji dies.
Ashikaga Yoshiakira succeeded him as shōgun after his
death. His grandson
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu united the Northern and
Southern courts in 1392.
Eras of Takauji's bakufu
Because of the anomalous situation, which he had himself created and
which saw two Emperors reign simultaneously, one in Yoshino and one in
Kyoto, the years in which Takauji was shōgun as reckoned by the
Gregorian calendar are identified in Japanese historical records by
two different series of Japanese era names (nengō), that following
the datation used by the legitimate
Southern Court and that formulated
by the pretender Northern Court.
Eras as reckoned by the
Southern Court (declared legitimate by a Meiji
era decree because in possession at the time of the Japanese Imperial
Eras as reckoned by the pretender
Northern Court (declared
illegitimate by a
Meiji era decree because not in possession at the
time of the Japanese Imperial Regalia):
The story of Ashikaga Takauji, Emperor Go-Daigo, Nitta Yoshisada, and
Kusunoki Masashige from the Genko rebellion to the establishment of
the Northern and Southern Courts is detailed in the 40 volume
Muromachi period epic Taiheiki.
Junior First Rank (9 July 1358; posthumous)
Media related to
Ashikaga Takauji at Wikimedia Commons
^ His name had originally been written with the characters
高氏，but he later received from
Emperor Go-Daigo the right to use
those 尊氏, under which he would become famous. According to Sansom
(1977:87), in contemporary chronicles he is rarely called with his
name, but referred to as Ō-gosho (大御所, Great shōgun) or
Dainagon (Great Councillor).
^ "Ashikaga Takauji" in The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago:
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 15th edn., 1992, Vol. 1, p. 625.
^ a b "Ashikaga Takauji". Encyclopedia of Japan. Tokyo: Shogakukan.
2012. OCLC 56431036. Archived from the original on 2007-08-25.
^ a b c Matsuo (1997:105)
^ a b c d e f g Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan,
1334–1615. Stanford University Press. p. 34.
^ Turnbull, Stephen (1977). The Samurai, A Military History. MacMillan
Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 102–103. ISBN 0026205408.
^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 290., p.
290, at Google Books
^ a b c d e f g h Ackroyd, Joyce. (1982) Lessons from History: the
Tokushi Yoron, p. 329.
^ Historiographical Institute: "Ashikaga Tadafuyu's Call to Arms", Dai
Nihon shi-ryō, VI, xiv, 43.
^ Titsingh, p. 304., p. 304, at Google Books
^ Titsingh, pp. 290–304., p. 290, at Google Books
Ackroyd, Joyce I. (1982) Lessons from History: the Tokushi Yoron.
Brisbane: University of Queensland Press. ISBN 9780702214851;
Matsuo, Kenji. (1997). 中世都市鎌倉をく:
源頼朝から上杉謙信まで (Chūsei toshi Kamakura o aruku:
Minamoto no Yoritomo kara Uesugi Kenshin made). Tokyo: Chūkō
Shinsho. ISBN 9784121013927;
Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Ōdai Ichiran; ou, Annales des
empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation
Fund of Great Britain and Ireland.
Ashikaga family tree
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^ a b c d Yoshimasa's successors were Yoshihisa (son), Yoshitane
(first adopted son) and Yoshizumi (second adopted son)
^ The broken lines indicate adoptions within the shogunal clan
Chronology, dates and paternity of the Ashikaga shōguns
Related topics: Muromachi period
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