Ashigara was a Myōkō class heavy cruiser of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The other ships of her class were Myōkō , Nachi, and Haguro. Ashigara was named after a mountain on the border of Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures, also known as Mount Kintoki.
The ships of this class displaced 13,300 tons, were 204 metres long, and were capable of 36 knots. They carried one aircraft and their main armament were ten 8 inch guns. Ashigara was laid down at the Kawasaki shipyard in Kobe on April 11, 1925, launched on April 22, 1928, and was commissioned into the Imperial Navy on August 20, 1929.
In World War II she took part in the Invasion of the Philippines in December 1941. In the Battle of the Java Sea on March 1, 1942 she shared in the sinking of the cruiser HMS Exeter and the destroyer HMS Encounter.
From 1942 to 1944 she was assigned to guard duties and troop transportation and saw no action.
In the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 24, 1944, Ashigara, with Captain Hayao Miura in command, was assigned to Vice Admiral Kiyohide Shima's force along with Nachi and eight destroyers. This force entered Surigao Strait on October 25 after Admiral Shoji Nishimura's First Raiding Force had been destroyed. Ashigara and Nachi fired their torpedoes and retreated (Nachi with damage from a collision with Mogami).
In December 1944 Ashigara took part in an attempted attack on the American landings on Mindoro in the Philippines along with the Ōyodo and the destroyers Kiyoshimo, Asashimo, Kasumi, Kaya, Kashi, and Sugi. On December 26 she came under air attack and was damaged by a 227 kg (500 lb) bomb, but was able to shell the American beachhead on December 27.