Uesugi Shigefusa (上杉重房)

Shigefusa UESUGI (dates of birth and death unknown) was a court noble and samurai who lived in the middle of the Kamakura period. He was the founder of the Uesugi clan.

He was also called Shikikenmonin Kurodo (the chamberlain of Shikikenmonin), and his government positions were Shuri no daibu (Master of the Office of Palace Repairs) and Saemon no kami (Captain of the Left Division of the Outer Palace Guards). Yorishige UESUGI and a wife of Masauji YAMANA were his children.


He was the second child of Kiyofusa KAJUJI (a descendant of FUJIWARA no Takafuji of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan), a mid-ranking court noble from Kyoto who held the position of Saemon no jo (Lieutenant of the Left Division of the Outer Palace guards). When Imperial Prince Munetaka, a son of Emperor Gosaga, became the sixth Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in 1252, Shigefusa moved to Kamakura together with the prince to be his attendant. He was awarded Uesugi-sho, Ikaruga County, Tanba Province (around present-day Uesugi-cho, Ayabe City, Kyoto Prefecture), and thereafter he used Uesugi as his family name.

Imperial Prince Munetaka was forced to return to the capital on suspicion of rebellion in 1266, but Shigefusa remained in Kamakura, becoming a samurai and working for the bakufu. Later, he served Yasuuji ASHIKAGA, a powerful gokenin (an immediate vassal of the bakufu). His younger sister (or his daughter?) became Yoriuji ASHIKAGA's Ie no Nyobo (lady-in-waiting), and after that, through inter-marriage, the Uesugi clan became very influential in the Ashikaga family. It is said that these marriages were made because the Ashikaga clan valued the connections the Uesugi clan, as former court nobles, had with the imperial court.

Kiyoko UESUGI, his granddaughter, married Sadauji ASHIKAGA and gave birth to Takauji ASHIKAGA, who later became Seii Taishogun, and his younger brother Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA. A younger brother of Kiyoko became a priest of Daimokushu (a Nichiren sect), called himself Nichijo, and became the chief priest of Honkoku-ji Temple in Kyoto and Honjo-ji Temple in Sanjo, Echigo Province (present Sanjo City, Niigata Prefecture. Then he wrote 'Kamakura Denchu Mondo' (literally, questions and answers in a hall of the Kamakura bakufu), describing how his mentor, the great priest Nichiin, refuted arguments of all of the other Buddhist sects in a hall of the bakufu.

Where he was buried and what his posthumous Buddhist name was are unknown.

A seated statue of Shigefusa UESUGI (a national important cultural property) is owned by Meigetsu-in Temple in Kamakura (entrusted to Kamakura Museum of National Treasures).