Ashikaga Yoshimasa (足利 義政? January 20, 1435January 27, 1490) was the 8th shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate who reigned from 1449 to 1473 during the Muromachi period of Japan. Yoshimasa was the son of the sixth shogun Ashikaga Yoshinori.[1]

In the third year of Kakitsu, on the 21 day of the 7th month (1443), 10-year-old Shogun Yoshikatsu died of injuries sustained in a fall from a horse. He had been shogun for only three years. His 8-year-old brother, Yoshinari, was then named shogun.[2] Several years after becoming shogun, Yoshinari changed his name to Yoshimasu, by which name he is better known.[3][4]

Shogunal successionEdit

Significant events shape the period during which Yoshimasu was shogun:

  • 1443—Southern supporters steal Imperial regalia.[5]
  • 1445 -- Hosokawa Katsumoto, Kyoto Kanryō.[5]
  • 1446—Southern army suffers crushing defeat.[5]
  • 1448—Remnants of souther dynasty suppressed.[5]
  • 1449—Yoshimasa appointed shogun; Ashikaga Shigeuji appointed Kantō Kubō.
  • 1450-55—Disturbances in Kamakura between Kubō and Kanryō.[5]

Events leading up to civil warEdit

A number of decisions lead eventually to armed conflict:

  • 1454—Dissension of Hatakeyama succession.[5]
  • 1455—Dissention in Kamakura Kubō's line: "Koga Kubō" (1455-1583) established.[5]
  • 1457 -- "Horikoshi Kubō" (1457–91) established.[5]
  • 1458—Imperial regalia restored to Northern Court.[5]
  • 1460—Hatakeyama rebels against Yoshimasa.[5]
  • 1464—Yoshimasa adopts Ashikaga Yoshimi.[5]
  • 1466—Yoshihisa born; Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado ascends throne.[5]
  • 1466—Dissension over Shiba succession.[5]
  • 1467—Oubreak of Ōnin War.[6]

Ōnin WarEdit

By 1464, Yoshimasa had no son as heir; and so he adopted his younger brother, Ashikaga Yoshimi, in order to avoid any conflicts which might arise at the end of his shogunate. However, in the next year, Yoshimasa was surprised by the birth of a son. The infant's birth created a conflict between the two brothers over who would follow Yoshimasa as shogun. By 1467 the simmering dispute had evolved, encouraging a split amongst the powerful daimyō and clan factions. The armed conflict which ensued has come to be known as the Ōnin War. This armed contest marks the beginning the Sengoku period of Japanese history, a troubled period of constant military clashes which would last over a century. A number of developments affect the unfolding Ōnin War's battles:

In the midst of on-going hostilities, Yoshimasa retired in 1473. He relinquishes the position of Seii Taishogun to his young son who became the ninth shogun Ashikaga Yoshihisa; but effectively, Yoshimasa continues to hold on to the reigns of power. With the leaders of the two warring factions dead and with the ostensible succession dispute resolved, the rationale for continuing to fight fades away. The exhausted armies dissipate; and by 1477, open warfare is ended.

  • 1477—The Ōnin War is considered at an end.[5]

Yoshimasa's heirsEdit

When Yoshimasa declared that Yoshihisa would be the next shogun after he stepped down from that responsibility, he anticipated that his son would out-live him. When Shogun Yoshihisa died prematurely, Yoshimasa reassumed the power and responsibility he had wanted to lay aside. Shogun Yoshimasa adopted the son of his brother, Yoshimi. In 1489, Shogun Yoshitane was installed; and Yoshimas retired again. Before Yoshimasa died in 1490, he again adopted a nephew as heir, this time the son of his brother, Masatomo. Although Yoshitane did outlive Yoshimasa, his shogunate would prove short-lived. Yoshitane died in 1493.[7]

Shogun Yoshimasa was succeeded by Shogun Yoshihisa (Yoshimasa's natural son), then by Shogun Yoshitane (Yoshimasa's first adopted son), and then by Shogun Yoshizumi (Yoshimasa's second adopted son). Yoshizumi's progency would directly succeed him as head of the shogunate. In the unforeseeable future, power struggles from outside the clan would also lead to a brief period in which the great-grandson of Yoshitane would be installed as a puppet leader of the Ashikaga shogunate.[7]

Higashiyama cultureEdit

During Yoshimasa's reign Japan saw the growth of Higashiyama Culture,[8] famous for Japanese tea ceremony (Sado), Japanese flower arranging (Kado or Ikebana), Noh Japanese drama, and Indian ink painting. Higashiyama culture was greatly influenced by Zen Buddhism and saw the rise of Japanese aesthetics like Wabi-sabi and the harmonization of imperial court (Kuge) and samurai (Bushi) culture.

In 1489, the retired Yoshimasa built Jishoji Temple (Also known as Ginkaku-ji Temple and Silver Pavilion) in Kyoto, one of the current most famous tourist attractions in the ancient capital.

Eras of Yoshimasa's bakufuEdit

The years in which Yoshimasa was shogan are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.[9]


  1. Titsingh, Issac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, p. 342.
  2. Titsingh, p. 342.
  3. Titsingh, p. 346;
  4. Titsingh, p. 340; Screech, Timon. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822, p. 234 n.10 -- Yoshikatsu (b.1434 - d.1443) = 8yrs. In this period, "children were considered one year old at birth and became two the following New Year's Day; and all people advanced a year that day, not on their actual birthday."
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 Ackroyd, Joyce. (1982) Lessons from History: The Tokushi Yoron, p. 331.
  6. In the name "Ōnin War," the noun "Ōnin" refers to the nengō (Japanese era name) after "Bunshō" and before "Bunmei." In other words, the Ōnin war occurred during the Ōnin era, which was a time period spanning the years from 1467 through 1467. Although the fighting continues long after, the conflict came to be identified with the nengō in which it began.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ackroyd, p. 298.
  8. JAANUS (Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System). Higashiyama bunka (東山文化).
  9. Titsingh, p. 331-361.


Preceded by:
Ashikaga Yoshikatsu
Muromachi Shogun:
Ashikaga Yoshimasa

Succeeded by:
Ashikaga Yoshihisa

Template:Ashikaga dynasty (Japan) Template:Ashikaga chronology (Japan)ca:Ashikaga Yoshimasa cs:Jošimasa Ašikaga de:Ashikaga Yoshimasa es:Ashikaga Yoshimasa fr:Yoshimasa Ashikaga id:Ashikaga Yoshimasa it:Ashikaga Yoshimasa ja:足利義政 fi:Ashikaga Yoshimasa uk:Асікаґа Йосімаса zh:足利义政

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