Ashikaga clan (Fujiwara)

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  • Japanese: 足利(Ashikaga-shi)

The Ashikaga clan was a branch family of the Fujiwara clan of kuge (court nobles), more specifically Fujiwara no Hidesato of the Northern Fujiwara branch. The clan was a powerful force in the Kantô region during the Heian period (794-1185). The clan bore no direct relation to the samurai Ashikaga clan which ruled Japan under the Ashikaga shogunate from 1333 to 1587 and which was descended from the Minamoto clan.


The clan was based in the city of Ashikaga, in Shimotsuke province, over which Fujiwara no Hidesato was Imperial Governor (kami). Ashikaga no Nariyuki was the first to take the Ashikaga name, after the city.

In 1161, the position of jitô (manor lord) of Ashikaga came to be disputed between the Koyama clan, descendants of Fujiwara no Hidesato, and Utsunomiya Ietsuna, a member of the Shiroi Utsunomiya clan, also descended from the Fujiwara, whose son Toshitsuna controlled several thousand hectares of land in that area. The dispute eventually ended in Hidesato's descendants being granted the post of shugo (shogunal governor) in the northern Kantô. The area soon came to be in dispute once again, between the Minamoto-descended Ashikaga clan (who took their name from the same city) and the Nitta clan, but this dispute ended when both clans, along with the Utsunomiya, joined Minamoto no Yoritomo in the Genpei War (1180-1185) against the Taira clan.

Following the Genpei War, Yoritomo established the Kamakura shogunate, and the descendants of Ashikaga no Nariyuki, now known as the Sano, Ôgo, and Asonuma families, came to serve as direct vassals (gokenin) to the shogun.


  • This article was written by User:LordAmeth and contributed to both S-A and Wikipedia; the author gives permission for his work to be used in this way.
  • Much of the content of this article is derived from the corresponding article on the Japanese Wikipedia.
  • 『国史大事典 第1巻』吉川弘文館 国史大辞典編集委員会(編)ISBN 4642005013