Asukai Masatusne (飛鳥井雅経)

Masatusne ASUKAI (1170-April 5, 1221) was a court noble and poet in the early Kamakura period. His father was Yoritsune NAMBA. His mother was a daughter of MINAMOTO no Akimasa. He was the founder of the Asukai family. He had children, including Norisada ASUKAI.

He confered the dignity of a peerage in 1181 and then worked as a chamberlaina and in different positions. However, when MINAMOTO no Yoritomo and his brother MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune were opposed to each other, Masatusne's father, who was close to Yoshitsune, was exiled. Masatusne was also implicated in and sent to Kamakura. However, Masatusne was admired by Yoritomo for his waka (Japanese poetry) and kemari (Japanese ancient Imperial court game like kick-ball) talent, and also formed an intimate friendship with Yoritomo's sons, MINAMOTO no Yoriie and MINAMOTO no Sanetomo. Consequently, he was adopted by Yoritomo as his own child. Moreover, he was valued and married to a daughter of OE no Hiromoto, Mandokoro betto (Director of the Administrative Board) of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). When Masatsune was forgiven and returned to Kyoto in 1197, Yoritomo gave him various gifts.

Then he was valued as a trusted vassal of Emperor Gotoba. He was confered to the Jusani (Junior Third Rank) in 1218, and was assigned sangi (councillor) in 1220. Moreover, he was active at poetry circles in the In (the Imperial palace). In July, 1201, he became wakadokoro yoryudo (a key member of waka house), and in November (the old calendar) of the same year, he compiled and presented waka from ancient times. Moreover, he became a senja (compiler of waka collection) of "Shinkokin Wakashu" (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry) (given to the emperor in 1205), which was a Chokusenshu (anthology of poems collected by Imperial command) started at the occasion. Furthermore, he was valued as a kemari player. When Yorizane OINOMIKADO had a Kemari Party inviting retired Emperor Gotoba in 1208, Masatsune received the title of "Kemari Choja" by the retired emperor for outstanding performance. Later, he was considered as the founder of the Kemari of Asukai school and authored "Kemari Ryakki." Moreover, he was often invited by Kamakura bakufu and left the capital to Kamakura to bring Sanetomo, who has became the third shogun, together with FUJIWARA no Teika(Sadaie) and KAMO no Chomei.

He left his diary, "Masatusne Kyoki,"and personal collection of poetry, "Asukaishu," and was selected for "Shinkokin Wakashu."

Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (the Ogura Anthology of One Hundred Tanka-poems by One Hundred Poets)
No.94:"From Mount YoshinoBlows a chill, autumnal wind,In the deepening night.Cold the ancient hamlet is;--Sounds of beating cloth I hear." ("Shinkokin Wakashu" autum 483)

[Original Japanese]