Born in Ichijodani Echizen, Yoshikage ascended to the head of the Asakura clan in 1548. He proved to be adept at political and diplomatic management, markedly demonstrated by the Asakura negotiations with the Ikkō-ikki in Echizen. As a result of the negotiations and effective governance by Yoshikage, Echizen enjoyed a period of relative domestic stability compared to the rest of Sengoku era Japan. Consequently, Echizen became a site for refugees fleeing the violence in the Kansai region.
It is said that Yoshikage's tragic flaw was indecision. After the capture of Kyoto, Ashikaga Yoshiaki appointed him regent and requested Asakura aid in driving Nobunaga out of the capital. As a result, Oda Nobunaga launched an invasion of Echizen. Due to Yoshikage’s lack of military skill, Oda's forces were successful at the Siege of Kanegasaki, leaving the entire Asakura domain open to invasion.
Fortunately for Yoshikage, the military intervention of Nobunaga's brother in law, Azai Nagamasa - who launched a pincer attack strategy against Oda Nobunaga in Kanegasaki) - the Asakura/Asai forces failed in the task of capturing him. However, during the Battle of Anegawa, he was defeated by the numerically inferior Tokagawa on the battlefield.
In 1573, he was betrayed by his own cousin and was forced to take his own life.