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Updated February 20, 2024

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Family name origins & meanings

  • Japanese : meaning ‘place of reeds’ (usually written phonetically with characters meaning ‘foot’ and ‘advantage’), a habitational name from a place in Shimotsuke (now Tochigi prefecture). Although not a common surname now, it is one of the great names in Japanese history. Founded by Minamoto Yoshiyasu (1126?–57), the family gained prominence when Ashikaga Takauji (1305–58) established the Ashikaga (or Muromachi) Shogunate in 1338; the institution endured until 1573. The family produced many warriors and artists of renown, and several other important families are descended from them. The famous Ashikaga Gakkō, a school of military and Confucian studies which operated until 1872, was reputedly founded by Yoshiyasu’s son, Yoshikane (1147?–99). Another Ashikaga family, unrelated to the above, is descended from the Fujiwara clan.

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