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When Go-Daigo's attempt to seize power in 1331 failed (the Genkō War), Moriyoshi fled Enryakuji to the province of Kii, meeting up with Kusunoki Masashige. They tenaciously defended the small fortress of Akasaka before finally being forced to withdraw.
He then moved to Mount Yoshino.
Masashige's heroics defending Chihaya, together with Moriyoshi's efforts to rally troops, brought a large number of warriors to the loyalist cause. By 1333, Ashikaga Takauji and Nitta Yoshisada had joined the cause. The Hōjō shogunate was soon destroyed.
Restored to the throne, Go-Daigo started the Kemmu Restoration. After refusing to appoint Ashikaga Takauji to the post of seii taishōgun, he made the double mistake of giving the title to his sons Prince Moriyoshi and Norinaga, two civilians, thus alienating Takauji and the warrior class, who felt he, as a military man and a descendant of the Minamoto, should have been shogun instead.
Takauji made false charges that Moriyoshi was planning to overthrow his father, and forced Go-Daigo to hand him over. Moriyoshi was then sent to Takauji's brother Tadayoshi in Kamakura and imprisoned in a cave near Kamakura for eight months. The cave is now within the premises of a Shinto shrine in Kamakura named Kamakura-gū. A rebellion headed by Hōjō Tokiyuki forced Tadayoshi to retreat from Kamakura. Being unable to take the prince along, Tadayoshi had him beheaded on July 23, 1335. Kamakura-gū, built around the cave where Prince Moriyoshi was imprisoned, was dedicated to him by Emperor Meiji in 1869.
- A Guide to Kamakura, Kamakura-gū, retrieved on June 21, 2008
- Shirai, Eiji (1976). Kamakura Jiten (in Japanese). Tōkyōdō Shuppan. ISBN 4-490-10303-4.
- John Whitney Hall, Peter Duus (1990). Yamamura Kozo, ed. The Cambridge History of Japan (Hardcover). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-22354-6.