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The Assasination of Ashikaga Yoshinori, The Sixth Ashikaga Shogun.

Junenji Temple is of a modern design from 1993 of the Jodo-sect (one of the most widely practiced sects of Buddhism in Japan which dates back to the 12th century). Although this modern temple may not appeal to many at first glance, there is a point of interest in that the grave of Ashikaga Yoshinori(1394-1441) the sixth shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate, can be found here. And the story behind Yoshinori's demise is an interesting one indeed.

Ashikaga Yoshinori reigned from 1429 to 1441 during the Muromachi period and was the son of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. During his reign he restored trade relations between Japan and China, but was also known as an unpredictable ‘monster’ with oppressive tendencies. Yoshinori was eventually assassinated at the order of Akamatsu Mitsusuke, a samurai of the Akamatsu clan. Mitsusuke had discovered that Yoshinori planned to oust him from some of his land which Yoshinori intended to bestow upon a youthful male favorite. Some sources state that the male favourite was in fact his cousin, Akamatsu Sadamura, as Sadamura's younger sister became Yoshinori's concubine and bore him a son.Pictured below right, Ashikaga Yoshinori.

Although all sources seem to agree on the fact that Ashikaga Yoshinori had been invited to a meal and Noh play at the Kyoto residence of Akamatsu Mitsusuke at which he was assassinated, the details of the assassination do differ. One account tells that the gates of the residence were suddenly closed, causing Yoshinori to be suspicious, and then an armour clad samurai burst into the room and cut Yoshinori’s head from his shoulders. Other samurai then entered and killed the rest of Yoshinori’s entourage.

Another story is that whilst Yoshinori and his group were being entertained in the garden, some horses were let loose as a distraction and in the commotion Ashigaka Yoshinori was killed. It has also been said in some sources that the samurai who dealt the fatal strike on Yoshinori was the son of Akamatsu Mitsusuke, Akamatsu Noriyasu.

The orchestrator of Yoshinori’s murder was not to live long after the event though, Mitsusuke was captured by Yamana Sozen (Yamana Clan, also known as Yamana Mochitoyo) and his soldiers, and forced to commit seppuku.

Junenji Temple can be found as part of the route 'Ghosts, Graves, and Evil Spirits of Temple Town' in HIDDEN PATHS - Walking Historical Kyoto Volume 3

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