Asukai family (飛鳥井家)

The Asukai is a branch family of the Nanba family in the FUJIWARA no Morozane line of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan. Its family status is the House of Urin (holding military ranks).

The founder of the Asukai family was Masatsune ASUKAI, a son of Yoritsune NANBA in the early Kamakura period. Grand masters of waka (a type of Japanese poetry) and kemari (an ancient Japanese Imperial court game like kick-ball) carry on the family tradition. Yoritune's father, Yorisuke NANBA was called the greatest master of Kemari in Japan, and Masatsune ASUKAI inherited the mastery of kemari talent from his grandfather and became the founder of the Asukai school. The second shogun of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) MINAMOTO no Yoriie was a kemari enthusiast and gave preferential treatment to Masatsune. On the other hand, Masatsune closely served the Emperor Gotoba and compiled "Shinkokin Wakashu" (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry) with FUJIWARA no Teika and others to tender it to the emperor, and thus he built the foundation of the family as the grand masters of waka and kemari.

In the Muromachi period, Masayo ASUKAI and his son Masachika ASUKAI closely served the Ashikaga Shogunal family and were among prominent poets of the time. Masayo was one of the compilers of Shinshoku Kokin Wakashu (the 21st and final imperial poetry collection), while Masachika excelled at calligraphy in addition to waka and kemari, resulting in inclusion of his school of calligraphy in the Asukai school.

Masatsune ASUKAI who had been the head of the family from the Sengoku period to the early Edo period was granted the title of iemoto (the head family) of a kemari school by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. The Asukai's karoku (hereditary stipend) in the Edo period was around 928 goku of rice. Masanori ASUKAI served as buketenso yaku (Imperial official in charge of communication between the shogunate and the court) during the last days of Tokugawa Shogunate.

After the Meiji Restoration, Masamochi ASUKAI received the title of Count.