The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section
Ashikaga Takauji(足利尊氏) was the one of the main people who ended Kamakura Bakufu and started Nanboku-Cho period – North and South dynasty -(refer to 18 Nanbokucho – history). His grandson, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (often called Shogun Yoshimitsu) built a new beautiful Palace at Muromachi (室町) in Kyoto. This palace became the center of the government called Muromachi Bakufu (室町幕府), therefore, we call this time Muromachi period. Ashikaga Yoshimitsu built famous “Kinkakuji Temple” (golden pavilion)*.
In Muromachi period, emperor’s power became weak, instead shogun (将軍) held all the political power. Little by little, several groups of samurai who were called Shugo Daimyou (守護大名), started to gain the political power and economic power by holding the important offices in the Muromachi Bakufu (government). They also owned large land. Some of the names of Shugo Daimyo were Hosokawa family, and the Yamana family.
Ashikaga family made a great effort to make the Muromachi Bakufu a sound political power through the political maneuver. Yet by the time Ashikaga Yoshimasa (grandson of Yoshimitsu) became the Shogun, the Bakufu was corrupted very badly. Shogun Yoshimasa did not pay attention to his job as a politician. Instead, he was chasing women (his mother had to scold him for that), spend a huge amount of money to build a Silver Pavilion called “Ginkakuji” and retreated himself in there. Shogun Yoshimasa did not have an heir. Therefore his brother, Yoshimi was decided to be the next Shogun. But later, Yoshimasa’s wife Hino Tomiko (日野富子)* had a son, Yoshihisa (義尚). Now, brother Yoshimi (義視) allied with the Hosokawa (細川), Yoshihisa, the son allied with the Yamana (山名) and several other smaller groups of Samurai allied with either side, started a big battle. This is called Onin -no-Ran (応仁の乱) at 1467 and spread all over and continued for 11years.
As a result of this battle, beautiful Kyoto was burnt down to ashes, the authority of Muromachi Bakufu was reduced to the only a small surrounding area.
*Kinkakuji Temple (金閣寺) Golden Pavillion—————-Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満) built Kinkakuji in 1397. Rinzai-shu (臨済宗) school Buddhistic Temple, it was originally built as his second house. It is designated as the world heritage. It was burnt down by the arsonist in 1950, rebuilt in 1955. The novelist Mishima Yukio wrote the novel “Kinkakuji” dealing with the Golden Pavillion and as an arsonist. The famous quote, “The gold bird (Houou in Japanese, it is a Chinese phoenix) on the roof of the Kinkakuji temple is stationary but fly through the space of the time eternally”
*Hino Tomiko (日野富子)——————The wife of Shogun Yoshimasa. She took advantage of her political privileges to raise a large amount of money, then loaned them to the high officials with high interest. She also invested in rice commodity market to raise the price of rice and sold with a high profit. The corruption reached to an uncontrollable level.