The Imperial seats during the Nanboku-chō period were in relatively close proximity, but geographically distinct. They were conventionally identified as:
Emperor Go-Daigo
Portrait traditionally identified as that of Ashikaga Takauji
Ashikaga Takauji
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Tomb of Ashikaga Takauji at Tōji-in in Kyoto

The Nanboku-chō period (南北朝時代, Nanboku-chō jidai, "North and South court period", also known as the Northern and Southern Courts period), spanning from 1336 to 1392, was a period that occurred during the formative years of the Muromachi (Ashikaga) shogunate of Japanese history.During the early period, there existed a Northern Imperial Court, established by Ashikaga Takauji in Kyoto, and a Southern Imperial Court, established by Emperor Go-Daigo in Yoshino.

- Nanboku-chō period

Emperor Kōmyō of the illegitimate Northern Court (see below) was installed as emperor by Takauji in opposition to the exiled Southern Court, beginning the turbulent Northern and Southern Court period (Nanbokuchō), which saw two emperors fight each other and which would last for almost 60 years.

- Ashikaga Takauji
The Imperial seats during the Nanboku-chō period were in relatively close proximity, but geographically distinct. They were conventionally identified as:

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Emperor Go-Daigo

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The 96th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

The 96th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

Woodblock print triptych by Ogata Gekkō; Emperor Go-Daigo dreams of ghosts at his palace in Kasagiyama
Memorial Shinto shrine and mausoleum honoring Emperor Go-Daigo
Empress Kishi and Emperor Go-Daigo. From Taiheiki Emaki (c. 17th century), vol. 2, On the Lamentation of the Empress. Owned by Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore.
Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom

The Kenmu restoration was in turn overthrown by Ashikaga Takauji in 1336, ushering in the Ashikaga shogunate, and split the imperial family into two opposing factions between the Ashikaga backed Northern Court situated in Kyoto and the Southern Court based in Yoshino led by Go-Daigo and his later successors.

Kenmu Restoration

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Three-year period of Imperial rule in Japanese history between the Kamakura period and the Muromachi period from 1333 to 1336.

Three-year period of Imperial rule in Japanese history between the Kamakura period and the Muromachi period from 1333 to 1336.

Emperor Go-Daigo
A portrait of Ashikaga Takauji bearing his son Yoshiakira's cipher
Prince Morinaga's statue at Kamakura-gū in Kamakura

Go-Daigo launched a second uprising, and with the assistance of the defected Kamakura general Ashikaga Takauji, defeated the Kamakura Shogunate at the siege of Kamakura in 1333.

The Kenmu Restoration was ultimately overthrown when Takauji became Shōgun and founded the Ashikaga Shogunate in 1336, beginning the "Northern and Southern Courts" period and the Muromachi period.

Kanji that make up the word shogun

Shogun

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The title of the military dictators of Japan during most of the period spanning from 1185 to 1868.

The title of the military dictators of Japan during most of the period spanning from 1185 to 1868.

Kanji that make up the word shogun
Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (758–811) was one of the first shoguns of the early Heian period
Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun (1192–1199) of the Kamakura shogunate
Ashikaga Takauji (1336/1338–1358) established the Ashikaga shogunate
Ukiyo-e of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate
Shogun hearing a lawsuit at Fukiage (of Edo Castle) by Toyohara Chikanobu
Imperial Seal of Japan
Ashikaga Takauji (1336/1338–1358) established the Ashikaga shogunate

Around 1334–1336, Ashikaga Takauji helped Daigo regain his throne in the Kenmu Restoration.

For the first fifty years of the Shogunate the Ashikaga were unable to assert power over the entire country, as the descendants of Go-Daigo formed a rival court challenging their authority in the Nanboku-chō period.

Ashikaga shogunate

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The feudal military government of Japan during the Muromachi period from 1336 to 1573.

The feudal military government of Japan during the Muromachi period from 1336 to 1573.

Structure of the bakufu
Marker for the site of the Flower Palace, Kyoto

The Ashikaga shogunate was established when Ashikaga Takauji was appointed Shōgun after overthrowing the Kenmu Restoration shortly after having overthrown the Kamakura shogunate in support of Emperor Go-Daigo.

The Ashikaga shogunate began the Nanboku-chō period between the Pro-Ashikaga Northern Court in Kyoto and the Pro-Go-Daigo Southern Court in Yoshino until the South conceded to the North in 1392.

Southern Court

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The Imperial seats during the Nanboku-chō period were in relatively close proximity, but geographically distinct. They were conventionally identified as:

The Southern Court (南朝) were a set of four emperors (Emperor Go-Daigo and his line) whose claims to sovereignty during the Nanboku-chō period spanning from 1336 through 1392 were usurped by the Northern Court.

The Northern Court established in Kyoto by Ashikaga Takauji is therefore considered illegitimate.

Ashikaga Tadayoshi depicted in an Edo period print

Ashikaga Tadayoshi

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Ashikaga Tadayoshi depicted in an Edo period print

Ashikaga Tadayoshi (足利 直義) was a general of the Northern and Southern Courts period (1337–92) of Japanese history and a close associate of his elder brother Takauji, the first Muromachi shōgun.

Hana-no-Gosho (Flower Palace) in Kyoto

Muromachi period

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Division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573.

Division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573.

Hana-no-Gosho (Flower Palace) in Kyoto
Muromachi samurai (1538)
A ship of the Muromachi period (1538)
Muromachi-era illustration to a fictional narrative
Music scene during the Muromachi period (1538)
Nanban ships arriving for trade in Japan. 16th-century painting.
A Japanese votive altar, Nanban style. End of 16th century. Guimet Museum.
Ryōan-ji rock garden

The period marks the governance of the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate (Muromachi bakufu or Ashikaga bakufu), which was officially established in 1338 by the first Muromachi shōgun, Ashikaga Takauji, two years after the brief Kenmu Restoration (1333–1336) of imperial rule was brought to a close.

The early years from 1336 to 1392 of the Muromachi period are known as the Nanboku-chō or Northern and Southern Court period.

Kitabatake Akiie (portrait property of Ryozen Shrine)

Kitabatake Akiie

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Kitabatake Akiie (portrait property of Ryozen Shrine)

Kitabatake Akiie (北畠 顕家) was a Japanese court noble, and an important supporter of the Southern Court during the Nanboku-chō Wars.

Three years later, he led an army nominally under the command of Norinaga to the outskirts of Kyoto to reinforce the forces of Nitta Yoshisada against Ashikaga Takauji.

Kitabatake Chikafusa, as drawn by Japanese painter Kikuchi Yosai

Kitabatake Chikafusa

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Kitabatake Chikafusa, as drawn by Japanese painter Kikuchi Yosai

Kitabatake Chikafusa (北畠 親房) was a Japanese court noble and writer of the 14th century who supported the Southern Court in the Nanboku-cho period, serving as advisor to five Emperors.

In particular, he disliked Ashikaga Takauji, the first Ashikaga shogun, who had originally supported Go-Daigo's claim to the Throne, but who ultimately headed the Northern Court and sought to destroy all who supported the Emperor's Southern Court.

Emperor Go-Murakami

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Memorial Shinto shrine and mausoleum honoring Emperor Go-Murakami
Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom

Emperor Go-Murakami (後村上天皇) (1328 – March 29, 1368) was the 97th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession, and a member of the Southern Court during the Nanboku-chō period of rival courts.

However, in 1336, because Ashikaga Takauji had raised a rebellion, the Emperor returned to Sakamoto with a strong force to confront him.