Ashikaga Motouji (足利基氏)

Motouji ASHIKAGA (April 10, 1340 - June 2, 1367) was a busho (Japanese military commander) in Muromachi period. He was the first Kamakura kubo (Governor-general of the Kanto region) in Muromachi shogunate. His real family name was Genji (Minamoto clan). His family line came from the Ashikaga clan, which was a family of pedigree from Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) and a family line of Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan originated from Emperor Seiwa). He was Kamakura kubo and later becomes founder of Koga kubo (descendants of one of the Ashikaga families that held the office of the Kanto district administrator) lineage. He was the third son of Takauji ASHIKAGA and his mother was Toko AKAHASHI (he was the second son to Toko). His lawful wife was a daughter of Iekuni HATAKEYAMA. His childhood name was Kamewakamaru.

When an internal conflict of Ashikaga family led to Kanno Disturbance, his father Takauji summoned the eldest son Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA, who was at Kamakura, back to Kyoto, to attend to government as next shogun. In 1349, Takauji sent his second son Motouji as Kamakura kubo and operated as Kamakura Government. At that time, Noriaki UESUGI supported young Motouji as one of stewards (later a post of Kanto Kanrei [a shogunal deputy for the Kanto region]).

According to 'Kamakura Kudaigoki' (a history book in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts to Kamakura period), Motouji stayed at the side of Iruma-gawa River, away from Kamakura, for 6 years to fight against Southern Court. Therefore he was called 'Irumagawa dono' and his resident was called 'Irumagawa Gosho' (Irumagawa residence). After Takauji's death, he destroyed Yoshioki NITTA of Southern Court, and in 1361, he killed Kunikiyo HATAKEYAMA, who was a steward supported Motouji, as Kunikiyo resisted after a group of vassals who was opposing to Kunikiyo requested dismissal of Kunikiyo. Although Motouji temporary appointed KO no Moroari for a replacement, he summoned Noriaki UESUGI who was at Echigo, to Kamakura as Kanto Kanrei (a shogunal deputy for the Kanto region) on June, 1363. Around this time, it is said that, Motouji cooperated with his older brother Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA to secretly give Echigo shugoshiki (provincial constables of Echigo Province) to Noriaki UESUGI, without knowledge of Ujitsuna UTSUNOMIYA, who was appointed to Echigo and Kozuke shugoshiki (provincial constables of Echigo and Kozuke Province) as he helped the late Takauji. Zenka HAGA, who was a Kozuke no Shugodai (the acting Military Governor of Kozuke Province) and also a vassal of Ujitsuna UTSUNOMIYA, infuriated by the movement and tried to attack Noriaki in Kozuke but Motouji repulsed it in Nigabayashino, Musashi Province and headed to subjugation of Utsunomiya. On the way, he accepted a vindication from Ujitsuna UTSUNOMIYA at Gion-jo Castle with brokerage of Yoshimasa KOYAMA and returned to Kamakura. After that, he deprived Kozuke and Echigo shugoshiki from Ujitsuna and officially appointed Noriaki to the posts, consolidating power of Ashikaga family in Kanto region. He also contributed to the flourishing of Kamakura culture, such as inviting Shuho GIDO who was a disciple of Soseki MUSO.

He died in 1367, at age of 28. His older brother Yoshiakira also died on January 1, 1368 (in the same lunar year of Morouji's death). His homyo (a Buddhist name given to a person who has died or has entered the priesthood) was Zuisenjigyokugantoki.

One of Ashikaga family from line of Kamakura kubo (family lineage was divided into several line: see relevant items for reference), which was a descendant of Motouji, became a federal lord of 100,000-koku (approximately 18 million liters of crop yield) class as Kitsuregawa clan in Edo period, even though the clan was with low stipend of 10,000-koku (approximately 1.8 million liters of crop yield). The family was raised to the peerage and the line continues with family name returned to Ashikaga.

Date according to old lunar calendar

On September 9, 1349, he was appointed to Kamakura kubo.

In 1350, he was ranked to Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and appointed to Sama no kami (Captain of Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses).

On February 25, 1352, he had genpuku (celebrate one's coming of age) and named himself as Motouji. At the same day, he was promoted to Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) and transferred to Sahyoe no kami (Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards).

On April 14, 1364, he was promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank). He was retrained as Sahyoe no kami.