GERHART Karen M.
- International Research Center for Japanese Studies
- Japan review : Journal of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (ISSN:09150986)
- vol.31, pp.3-24, 2017
Uesugi Kiyoko (1270–1342) was the mother of the founder of the Ashikaga shogunate, Takauji (1305–1358), and his brother and chief administrator, Tadayoshi (1306–1352). Although Kiyoko lived within the vortex of a new political order that was being formed by her politically important sons in the early decades of the fourteenth century, little is known about her. Hers is a story not easily told: because information about her is so fragmentary, no monograph or even a single article in English or Japanese has been published about her life. In this essay, I seek to reconstruct the life of Uesugi Kiyoko through an examination of written records by contemporary diarists, personal letters, and poetry written by Kiyoko herself, and a number of physical sites relating to her life. The result is a nuanced picture of an educated woman who wrote letters and poetry, wielded significant land stipends in her own interests, and helped her two sons work together for political gain.