The Ashikaga Shogunate Family (足利将軍家)
The branch of the main families of the Ashikaga clan (head family) that had inherited the post of Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by shogun) since the first generation of Takauji ASHIKAGA was referred to as the Ashikaga Shogunate family. Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA, the eldest son of the first Shogun, Takauji, succeeded his father as the second Shogun, and subsequently, Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA became the third Shogun. The Ashikaga Shogunate family lasted until the fifteenth Shogun, Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA. After the second Shogun, Yoshiakira, successive shoguns used the character "義" (pronounced "yoshi") as a tsuji (distinctive character used in the names of all people belonging to a single clan or lineage) in their personal names.
History of the Ashikaga Shogunate family
The original surname of the Ashikaga clan was Genji (Minamoto clan). The Ashikaga Shogunate family was a distinguished samurai family descended from the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan), a line descending from the Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan).
If we trace the family lineage back from MINAMOTO no Tsunemoto (the founder of the Minamoto clan) to MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka, MINAMOTO no Yorinobu, MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi, and the renowned MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, we can see that these five generations of the Ashikaga Shogunate family were appointed Chinju-fu shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North), which was an honorable post for a samurai family. Based in Togoku (the eastern part of Japan, particularly in the Kanto region), the family enhanced its reputation as a leader of the samurai families and gained the confidence of the Imperial Court by suppressing civil wars, until eventually it acquired the name "Ashikaga clan" when MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni, the third son of Yoshiie, settled in Ashikaga Manor, Shimotsuke Province. During the Kamakura period, he was treated as Monyo (meaning a blood relation) having won the trust of the bakufu because he was a distant relative to MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, his father had a close relationship with Yoritomo's father (Yoshitomo), and his legitimate wife was a sister of Masako HOJO, who was Yoritomo's wife. After the Shogun of the Minamoto clan was overthrown during the reign of the third Shogun, MINAMOTO no Sanetomo, the family became respected samurai families as the direct descendant of the Minamoto clan. Although the family occasionally aroused the suspicions of the Hojo clan, which held control over the shogunate government as they held the post of regent, the lineage was maintained for generation after generation because of their marital relations with the Hojo clan.
The family was a powerful Gokenin (an immediate vassal of the shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods) whose territories expanded to Shimotsuke, Mutsu, Mikawa, and the Saigoku (western part of Japan, especially Kyushu, but ranging as far east as Kinki) such as Tanba, who had dozens of branch families. When Emperor Godaigo's rebellion broke out, the family at first marched to Kyoto as the army of the bakufu. However, after receiving the Imperial decree to track down the Kamakura bakufu in Tanba, Takauji ASHIKAGA took the Imperial Court's side and helped Emperor Godaigo to start the Kenmu Restoration. However, Emperor Godaigo's policy which aimed at political primacy of the Court nobles caused various confusion, resulting in the accumulation of discontent among samurai families. After Takauji ASHIKAGA received an inzen (a decree issued by a retired Emperor) from Emperor Kogen of the Jimyoin line, a rival to Emperor Godaigo's line, he established the Northern Court (Japan) and was appointed Seii taishogun; thus, the head family of the Ashikaga clan became the Ashikaga Shogunate family.
Brothers and sisters of the Ashikaga Shogunate family
Kamakura kubo (shogunate) family
Motouji ASHIKAGA, the third son of Takauji, who became Kamakura kubo (Governor-general of the Kanto region), went down to the Kanto region and established the Ashikaga family of Kamakura kubo. The family later used the name Koga kubo.
Successive generations of Kubo used the Japanese kanji character of "uji" (氏) as their tsuji (distinctive character used in the names of all people belonging to a single clan or lineage) for their personal names, to which another character taken from the name of the then Shogun was added. (An exception to this was the name given to the third Kamakura kubo, Mitsukane ASHIKAGA, which contained only the character "mitsu" (満), which was taken from the personal name of the then Shogun, Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, because otherwise he would have had the same name as his father, Ujimitsu ASHIKAGA.)
The third Koga kubo, Takamoto ASHIKAGA, had initially borne the name 'Takauji', but this coincided with the original name of the first Shogun, Takauji ASHIKAGA. Therefore, he later changed his name to 'Takamoto' (高基), which contained the character (Moto), taken from the personal name of the first Kamakura kubo, Motouji. Masatomo ASHIKAGA, a son of the sixth Shogun (Yoshinori ASHIKAGA), used the name Horigoe Kubo and went to Izu Province.
However, this branch of the family died off after two generations following its defeat by Soun HOJO. Following Yoshiaki's death, the Ashikaga Shogunate family seemed to die out. However, the Nagayama family, the feudal retainer of Satsuma Province, claimed to be the descendant of Yoshiaki.
In the Awa Province, the descendants of Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA changed their surname to Hirashima (Hirashima kubo) and continued through the end of the Edo period.
Goikka (the Ashikaga family group)
The Ashikaga Shogunate family appointed the entire Ashikaga clan and its branch families as the military governor or the close retainer of the Muromachi bakufu, treating them as Goikka-shu (the Ashikaga family groups).
Those who governed far-off provinces were also treated as Kyoto fuchishu (corps of special support troops in the Kanto region which worked for the bakufu in Kyoto). Oral tradition has it that the Kira clan and the Imagawa clan were entitled to produce successors to the head family of the Ashikaga clan if no official successor could be found.
However, there are no examples of such a succession taking place. The Shibukawa and Ishibashi clans held a high standing within the Ashikaga family group as they were direct branches of the Ashikaga Shogunate family.
The abridged genealogical and chronological table of the Ashikaga Shogunate family, Kamakura kubo, and Koga kubo
(The table does not include all modified names, but shows only those who were well known.)