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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Were designated Ryo Uesugi the Two Uesugi


An important episode of the Ouchi struggle was that Mitsukane, the third Kamakura kwanryo of the Ashikaga line, moved an army into Musashi to render indirect assistance to the Ouchi cause. In truth, from an early period of Kamakura's tenure by an Ashikaga governor-general of the Kwanto, there had been an ambition to transfer the office of shogun from the Kyoto to the Kamakura branch of the family. The matter was not mooted during Takauji's lifetime, but when, on his demise, the comparatively incompetent Yoshiakira came into power at Muromachi, certain military magnates of the eastern provinces urged the Kamakura kwanryo, Motouji, to usurp his brother's position. Motouji, essentially as loyal as he was astute, spurned the proposition. But it was not so with his son and successor, Ujimitsu. To him the ambition of winning the shogunate presented itself strongly, and was only abandoned when Uesugi Noriharu committed suicide to add weight to a protest against such an essay. Japanese annals contain many records of lives thus sacrificed on the altar of devotion and loyalty. From the outset the Uesugi family were the pillars of the Ashikaga kwanryo in Kamakura. Uesugi Noriaki served as shitsuji in the time of the first kwanryo, and the same service was rendered by Noriaki's son, Yoshinori, and by the latter's nephew, Tomomune, in the time of the second kwanryo, Ujimitsu. Confusing as are the multitude of names that confront the foreign student of Japanese history, it is necessary to note that from the time of their appointment as shitsuji at Kamakura, Yoshinori took the family name of Yamanouchi, and Tomomune that of Ogigayatsu. Balked in his design against Kyoto, Ujimitsu turned his hand against the Nitta, old enemies of his family, and crushing them, placed the Ashikaga power on a very firm basis in the Kwanto. His son, Mitsukane, had the gift of handling troops with great skill, and in his time the prestige of the Kamakura kwanryo reached its highest point.

In the eyes of the military men of the eastern provinces, the shogun in distant Kyoto counted for little compared with the governor-general in adjacent Kamakura. The latter's mansion was called gosho (palace); its occupant was termed kubo, an epithet hitherto applied to the shogun only, and the elder and younger branches of the Uesugi family, in which the office of kwanryo of Muromachi was hereditary, were designated Ryo Uesugi (the Two Uesugi). Mitsukane, when he abetted the Ouchi's attempt to overthrow the Kyoto shogun, persuaded himself that he was only carrying out his father's unachieved purpose, and the shogun, Yoshimitsu, took no step to punish him, preferring to accept his overtures--made through Uesugi Tomomune.


There is little question that whatever applause history can extend to the administration of the third Ashikaga shogun, Yoshimitsu, was won for him by his profoundly sagacious guardian and chief minister, Hosokawa Yoriyuki. After the latter's death, in 1392, many abuses and few meritorious acts appear in the shogun's record. Alike, the wise self-effacement and the admirable frugality which distinguished the Hojo rule were wholly foreign to the mood of Yoshimitsu. He insisted on being raised to the post of chancellor of the empire, and he openly spoke of himself as "king," designating as Go-sekke (Five Regent Houses) the families of Shiba, Hosokawa, Hatakeyama, Rokkaku, and Yumana. At the ceremony of his investiture as chancellor (dajo daijiri) he presented to the Throne a sword forged by Kunimitsu; one hundred pieces of white silk; one thousand silver coins; ten tigers' skins, and fifty pounds of dyed silk. To the ex-Emperor he gave a thousand silver coins; fifty pieces of white silk, and a sword, and among the Imperial princes and Court nobles he distributed ten thousand pieces of silver. Such was his parade of opulence.

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