Since the almost 30 year old shogun Yoshimasa had no heir by 1464, he adopted his younger brother Ashikaga Yoshimi in order to succeed him. However, Yoshihisa was born in the next year starting a struggle for succession between brothers that erupted into the Onin War starting in 1467, beginning the Sengoku period of Japanese history. In the middle of hostilities, Yoshimasa retired in 1473, relinquishing the position of Seii Taishogun to Yoshihisa.
After the Onin war, Rokkaku Takayori, the daimyo of southern Omi province, seized land and manors owned by nobles of the imperial court, temples, and shrines. In 1487, Yoshihisa led a campaign (Rokkaku Tobatsu) against Rokkaku Takayori but died of disease in 1489 leaving no heir.
Yoshihisa was followed by the his cousin, the 10th shogun Ashikaga Yoshitane in the following year.