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Ashikaga Yoshimitsu
足利 義満
3rd Ashikaga shogun

In office
Preceded by Shogun:
Ashikaga Yoshiakira
Succeeded by Shogun:
Ashikaga Yoshimochi
Personal details
Born (1358-09-25)September 25, 1358
Died May 31, 1408(1408-05-31) (aged 49)
Spouse(s) Wife:
Hino Nariko
Hino Yasuko
Relations Father:
Ashikaga Yoshiakira
Ki no Yoshiko
Children Ashikaga Yoshimochi
Ashikaga Yoshitsugu
Ashikaga Yoshinori

Kinkakuji Temple, 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][2]

In the year after the death of his father Yoshiakira in 1367, Yoshimitsu became Seii Taishogun at age 11.[3]

"The principal beneficiary of these achievements [the solid political and economic standing of the Muromachi Bakufu] was the adult Yoshimitsu, who assumed power in his own right upon the forced resignation of Hosokawa Yoriyuki in 1379" - The Ōnin War - H. Paul Varley: Page 58. "The adult Yoshimitsu dominated Bakufu politics for nearly 30 years, from 1379 until his death in 1408." - The Ōnin War - H. Paul Varley: Page 61


Significant events shape the period during which Yoshimitsu was shogun:

  • 1368 – Yoshimitsu appointed shogun; Chōkei ascends southern throne.[4]
  • 1369 – Kusunoki Masanori defects to Ashikaga.[4]
  • 1370 – Imagawa Sadayo sent to subdue Kyushu.[4]
  • 1371 – Attempts to arrange truce.[4]
  • 1373–1406 – Embassies between China and Japan.[4]
  • 1374 – En'yū ascends northern throne.[4]
  • 1378 – Yoshimitsu builds the Muromachi palace in Kyoto's elite district of Kamigyo, on the site of the former residence of the nobleman Saionji Sanekane.[5]
  • 1379 – Shiba Yoshimasa becomes Kanrei.[4]
  • 1380 – Kusunoki Masanori rejoins Kameyama; southern army suffers reverses.[4]
  • 1382 – Go-Komatsu ascends northern throne; resurgence of southern army.[4]
  • 1383 – Yoshimitsu's honors; Go-Kameyama ascends southern throne.[4]
  • 1385 – Southern army defeated at Koga.[4]
  • 1387–1389 – Dissension in Toki family in Mino.[4]
  • 1389 – Yoshimitsu pacifies Kyūshū and distributes lands; Yoshimitsu opposed by Kamakura kanrei Ashikaga Ujimitsu.[4]
  • 1390 – Kusunoki defeated; Yamana Ujikiyo chastises Tokinaga.[4]
  • 1391 – Yamana Ujikyo attacks Kyoto – Meitoku War.[6]
  • 1392 – Northern and Southern courts reconciled under Go-Komatsu.[6]
  • 1394 – Yoshimitsu officially cedes his position to his son;[7] Ashikaga Yoshimochi appointed shogun.[6]
  • 1396 – Imagawa Sadayo dismissed.[6]
  • 1397 – Uprising in Kyūshū suppressed.[6]
  • 1398 – Muromachi administration organized.[6]
  • 1399 – Ōuchi Yoshihiro and Ashikaga Mitsukane rebel – Ōei War.[6]
  • 1402 – Uprising in Mutsu suppressed.[6]
  • 1404 – Yoshimitsu is crowned Nippon Koku-Ō (King of Japan) by Emperor of China.
  • 1408 – Yoshimitsu dies.[6]


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.[8]

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 age daimyo who might challenge that central authority.[9]

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.[10]

Yoshimitsu also played a major role in the genesis of Noh theatre, as the patron of Zeami Motokiyo, the actor considered to be Noh's founder. His close relationship with Zeami was not only based on his appreciation of Zeami's aesthetic sensibilities but also on the fact that Yoshimitu, known as an enthusiastic practitioner of Shudo, or Samurai pederasty, was infatuated with the young Zeami and took the young man as his lover.

Yoshimitsu died sudd

nly in 1408[10] at age 50.[11] 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.[12]

Eras of Yoshimitsu's bakufu[]

The years in which Yoshimitsu was shogun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[13] Nanboku-chō southern court

  • Eras as reckoned by legitimate Court (as determined by Meiji rescript):
    • Shōhei (1346–1370)
    • Kentoku (1370–1372)
    • Bunchū (1372–1375)
    • Tenju (1375–1381)
    • Kōwa (1381–1384)
    • Genchū (1384–1393)

Nanboku-chō northern court

  • Eras as reckoned by pretender Court (as determined by Meiji rescript):
    • Ōan (1368–1375)
    • Eiwa (1375–1379)
    • Kōryaku (1379–1381)
    • Eitoku (1381–1384)hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
    • Shitoku (1384–1387)
    • Kakei (1387–1389)
    • Kōō (1389–1390)
    • Meitoku (1390–1393)‡

Post-Nanboku-chō reunified court

  • Eras merged as Meitoku 3 replaced Genchū 9 as Go-Kameyama abdicated.
    • Meitoku (1393–1384)‡
    • Ōei (1394–1428)


  1. Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 307., p. 307, at Google Books
  2. "足利義満" (in Japanese). Nihon Jinmei Daijiten (日本人名大辞典) [Ashikaga Yoshimitsu]. Tokyo: Shogakukan. 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  3. Titsingh, p. 308., p. 308, at Google Books
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Ackroyd, Joyce. (1982) Lessons from History: The "Tokushi Yoron", p. 329.
  5. Stavros, Matthew. (2009) "Locational Pedigree and Warrior Status in Medieval Kyoto: The Residences of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu," in Japanese Studies (vol. 29, no. 1, May) p. 8.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 Ackroyd, p. 330.
  7. Titsingh, p. 321., p. 321, at Google Books
  8. Morton, W. Scott et al. (2004). Japan: Its History and Culture, p. 89., p. 89, at Google Books
  9. Turnbull, Stephen. (2005). Samurai Commanders, p. 31., p. 31, at Google Books
  10. 10.0 10.1 Titsingh, p. 325., p. 325, at Google Books
  11. Turnbull, p. 32.
  12. Pier, Garrett. (1915). Temple Treasures of Japan, pp. 228–237., p. 228, at Google Books
  13. Titsingh, pp. 308-321., p. 308, at Google Books


Preceded by
Ashikaga Yoshiakira
Muromachi Shogun
Succeeded by
Ashikaga Yoshimochi

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