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Kingdom rankAshikaga
Primary culture
Saigoku (Japanese)

Capital province
Kyoto (1020)

Shogunate Government monarchy.png

State religion

Technology group
ChineseChinese technology group
Ashikaga ideas
Traditions.png Traditions:
−0.02 Monthly war exhaustion
+50% Chance of new heir

Prestige from land battles.png Head of the Genji

+100% Prestige from land battles

Yearly legitimacy.png Defenders of the Imperial Court

+1 Yearly legitimacy

Yearly prestige.png Higashiyama Culture

+1 Yearly prestige

Trade power.png Tosen-bugyo

+25% Domestic trade power

Advisor cost.png Bugyoshu and Hokoshu

−15% Advisor cost

National tax modifier.png The bakufu Chokkatsuchi

+15% National tax modifier

Income from vassals.png Reform the Shogun - Shugo System

+25% Income from vassals
+100% Vassal force limit contribution

Idea bonus.png Ambition:

+0.5 Yearly army tradition
Shield Ashikaga.png
In name the Empire of Flag of Japan Japan is ruled by Emperor Go-Hanazono from Kyoto, the latest in a 2000 year line of emperors. In practice the government of the realm has been left to the Shogun, nominally the emperor's deputy in military matters. However, in 1444 the Shogunate is not what it once was. A number of Ashikaga Shoguns have passed in quick succession over the last few years, due to accidents and assassinations. On multiple occasions raiders have proven that Kyoto is not safe, even for those tasked with keeping the peace in the entire realm.

Ever since the death of the last strong Ashikaga Shogun, Yoshimitsu, the more powerful clans of the realm have come to rival the Shogunate for power. The leading lords of such clans are known as Daimyo and have almost total power over their respective realms. Some, like the Flag of Hosokawa Hosokawa, Flag of Hatakeyama Hatakeyama and Flag of Shiba Shiba are closely tied to the shogunate and have monopolized the office of Kanrei, formal deputy of the Shogun. Others, like the Flag of Yamana Yamana, Flag of Akamatsu Akamatsu, Flag of Isshiki Isshiki and Kyogoku assert influence simply through their own wealth and influence.

Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the current Shogun has begun to attempt to stem these developments, appointing his own close retainers to important positions and taking an active interest in local conflicts in the realm. It remains to be seen if he can save the Shogunate however as other clans have wasted no time capitalizing on the weakness of Yoshimasha's predecessors.

The growing power of strong Daimyo still threaten to make the Shogunate inconsequential, the rivalry of the Hosokawa and Yamana especially could tear the realm apart as the clans now control a third of the Empire between them.

Ashikaga is a Japanese nation that is the Shogun in 1444. As a result, it is the overlord of all the other daimyo, though if another daimyo captures Ashikaga's capital of Kyoto they can take the shogun title and reduce Ashikaga to a mere daimyo.

Form Japan

As with all daimyo, Ashikaga is eligible to form Japan.



Because the strategies, risks, opportunities and pit falls of playing any nation in the shogunate are very similar, this guide not only aims to be valid for any nation in the shogunate, the different parts of playing in the area have overlapping relevance regardless of which side the player is on, therefore it is recommended to be read in its entirety.

The basic goal for the daimyos is to grow strong enough to successfully challenge the shogun and conquer Kyoto, thus becoming the new shogun.

Naturally, the goal of the shogun is to manage the situation in a way that doesn't happen.

The unique situation in the shogunate is that the shogun is overlord over all the daimyos. The daimyos are special vassals, their specialty being that their liberty desire does not take the strength of all vassals combined in relation to the shogun into account, but only their individual strength. They also do not need a diplomatic relation slot. Because of the regular overlord and vassal mechanics, the shogun is nominally in charge and gets a force limit and manpower contribution, as well as the regular income from its vassals. Which means that at the start of the game all daimyos will be loyal. Effectively, the daimyo has no power over the actions of its subjects. More on that and why it's very difficult to play as Ashikaga later.

All vassal daimyos have a special casus belli that allows them to attack daimyos they share a land border with or that are reachable via a strait.

That means in general that the daimyos will attack and conquer each other until they grow large enough to become disloyal. Once they become disloyal, they get a new special independence casus belli that allows them to attack the current shogun. The nominal war goal is to conquer the capital, but the player's goal should be conquer Kyoto, because whoever owns the province of Kyoto becomes the new shogun. All vassals get transferred.

As a daimyo

The basic goal for the daimyos is to grow strong enough to successfully challenge the shogun and conquer Kyoto, thus becoming the new shogun.

Technically the player can start as any daimyo, there are a few more obvious choices: Yamana, Hosokawa in the south, Uesugi in the north are the biggest daimyos. Combined with some alliances they have the best chances to become new shogun. Playing as a one province daimyo can be done but is a lot more difficult, simple because the force limit difference is so big.

There are three forts on Honshu, the biggest island, at the start of the game. The daimyos generally won't have the money to build new forts and they also don't have the force limit to siege them. The forts are in Izumo to the south and Mino and Etchu in the middle of Honshu. Mino especially is positioned in a way that it block movement in either direction if it's hostile.This mostly has an effect on the speed of conquest or whether conquest is possible at all. Not sieging or conquering a fort will mean it stays available to spawn new troops for the enemy. As such, the player should try to avoid wars against fort owning daimyos. Because of the fort positioning, it is likely that either Yamana or Hosokawa will conquer the south and another daimyo will conquer the north. Once the daimyos are strong enough to siege forts, they are nearly powerful enough to challenge the shogun.

Some daimyos will start with split up territory, Flag of Hatakeyama Hatakeyama and Flag of Shiba Shiba. If the player is not careful, these nations will be attacked or called into the war and prove hard to defeat and impossible to conquer completely.

As the player grows in strength by conquering its neighbors, it can be a good idea to strategically support a daimyo north or south against the dominant daimyo in the region, because that strong daiymo is going to be a problem once the player becomes shogun.

At the point when the player is powerful enough to challenge the shogun, a few things can be taken into consideration: all daimyos allied to the player will join in the war for independence and the disloyal daimyos will not help the shogun as disloyal vassals usually do. They will join the war on the side of the shogun, but only defend their territory, they will not leave it. Usually by the time the player has a force limit of roughly ten, can siege forts and making a few alliances, taking over the shogunate is no longer difficult.

The war to take over as shogun will transfer all daimyos that were subjects of the old shogun to the new shogun. If vassalization is not included in the peace deal, the old shogun will become an independent nation, which will lose its force limit and manpower contribution and will pose no threat to be revassalized later.

Ashikaga as the shogun

Because of the mentioned overlord vassal mechanics, initially it is hard to impossible to stop the daimyos from growing strong enough to secede.

The emperor does get a special casus belli when a daimyo becomes too strong, but using it comes with the heavy penalties of attacking a vassal (-3 stability) and will cancel the vassal/overlord relationship.

It's effectively a war over independence, except the overlord can start it as well. Because the vassal overlord relationship is canceled by the declaration of war, nations that are released in a peace deal will be independent. It also means that if the shogun does start this war and doesn't or can't pick force vassalization in the peace, the former vassal will become independent.

For similar reasons enforcing peace is not really an option.

Annexing daimyos to increase the strength of the shogun is technically possible, but for Ashikaga only after 1454 and ultimately Ashikaga can either annex the small vassals, which will neither increase their own strength or reduce that of the bigger daimyos. The daimyos will be at war so much that annexing will fail or not progress:

  • Most daimyos are so small that in the process of being annexed it can be conquered, wasting points.
  • The daimyo can start a war or be called into a war, halting progress.
  • Through conquest the daimyo can go above 50% liberty desire, halting progress.
  • Both of which are more likely the bigger the daimyo, because the process will take longer and the chance that the above will happen is greater.
  • Successfully annexing a daimyo will come with the usual penalty to the opinion of other vassals, so doing it too much will increase the liberty desire of the most dangerous daimyos to the point of revolt even faster.

Because of all this Ashikaga can do very little to stop from being dethroned as shogun. A strategy to mitigate this is to simply start the game at a later date. To get the required 190 relations, 90 have to built by diplomats, with a speed of 2 per month, so the game can be started in 1451. Because the time to set up annexation is not null and because a single war can shuffle the political landscape in unpredictable ways, investments into building relation with daimyos to annex them are always a gamble.

Because the special casus belli is only valid for neighboring daimyos, annexing one province daimyos in strategic positions where they prevent other daimyos from growing is the way to go.

A daimyo as new shogun

However, if a strong daimyo has become shogun, the situation is likely to have changed dramatically. Of the ~25 daimyos that exist at the start of the game, less than 10 will have survived the political struggles. The new shogun will be so strong that a new war for independence would be unlikely to be successful for any of the remaining daimyos. Managing the daimyos at that point can be annoying, but there is no realistic chance for the new shogun to lose his position. Through expansion into Indonesia the shogun should grow strong enough eventually to reduce all daimyos liberty desire below 50%.

Even if a daimyo becomes independent, there are no realistic possible allies, meaning they will just be independent for a while until the shogun is strong enough to revassalize them.

Around this point, the player can form Japan.

But there is a real choice to be made, because the daimyo system can be gamed quite a bit:

The special casus belli for daimyos is only available if a daimyo directly borders another daimyo. If there is a province between them, they will not go to war, not grow in strength and because of how their strength is calculated, they're almost guaranteed to never become strong enough by themselves to increase their liberty desire.

A big factor in short: the daimyo vassal system is limited to the shogunate. If Japan is formed, daimyo vassals can become independent and no new daimyo vassals can be created.

In more detail: All vassals created by the shogun are daimyo vassals, the system is not limited by geography. That means it is easy to expand into Indonesia and grow the shogunate by force vassalizing and snowballing into a blob of shogun and lots of small, loyal vassals. There are two national decisions that can form Japan, "Unite Japan!" releases all daimyos as independent nations, but has less strict requirements and "Japan is united" allows the player to keep his daimyo vassals, but the government type will change. Because of the new government type, Vassals created as Japan will be regular vassals and not daimyo vassals and will have the usual limitations of needing a diplomatic relation slot and having their military force liberty desire calculated in the normal way. Because of the different religions and the distances in east Asia, it can become impossible to annex them.

Nations to play as

All nations in Japan have unique ideas and traditions. That can make a choice who to play as difficult and confusing. Because of the initial phase of becoming shogun, a strategy for individual daimyos does not really make sense.

As mentioned Flag of Yamana Yamana, Flag of Hosokawa Hosokawa and Flag of Uesugi Uesugi are the biggest daimyos and therefore the easier choices to grow initially.

Ashikaga is very tempting with its +25% vassal income idea and +100% vassal force limit contribute, but hard and it can be very random.

All other daimyos are either one or two provinces big and easy to defeat. Especially at the start can a badly timed lost battle or another war mean the end of the campaign. However, it's not impossible to rise to shogun nonetheless, and there are some interesting, strong and unique national ideas and traditions:

Flag of Satake Satake: with the starting idea of +25% force limit modifier, it will have additional force limit other daimyos simply don't have access to.

With its +10% artillery combat ability tradition, which can be combined with quality ideas to give you a combined bonus of +20%, it starts with alliances to its neighbors and can conquer date to north, which starts the game with no alliances. The next steps are to attack and conquer uesugi directly or conquer a few provinces to the north first.

Flag of Ouchi Ouchi: global Trade power +20%, a merchant, trade steering +15% and trade efficiency +10%

Flag of Kono Kono: Naval force limit +25%, naval morale +20%, galley combat ability +15% cost -20%, yearly naval tradition +1


Cherrypicking icon
Conscript a 3 star general from a Daimyo Subject.
Made in Japan icon
Embrace "manufacturies" institution as Japan by 1655.
Sakoku Law icon
Go full isolationist in 6 Incidents.
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