|Located at:||Ōmi, Shiga Prefecture|
|Crest(s)/Banner(s):||Three kikkō with hanabishi in the center surrounded by a circle|
|Major Figure(s):||Nagamasa, Yodo-dono|
The Azai clan (浅井氏 or 淺井氏), also romanticized as the Asai clan, was an influential clan during the Warring States period in Japan. "Azai" is the common reading for the family name based on its form in contemporary kanji (浅井). "Asai" is said to be closer to the traditional and archaic script it was originally recorded under (淺井). It is currently argued that "Asai" is the correct pronunciation, but it's still unknown if this is actually the case. In the Samurai Warriors series, the clan is represented by the color cyan.
They were known to have a thoroughly disciplined military and were considered to be upper to middle class lords of their time. It is believed that they were originally middle class vassals of the Kyōgoku family before they branched off. Their origins possibly date back to the Fujiwara clan, specifically the Kan-inryu division. This division is also the known root for the ancient Sanjouke, Saionji, and Taokudaiji families. They are recorded to have at least 76 generals serving them before their clan's end.
The kikkō is a hexagon pattern that has divine and fortuitous connotations. Believed to have originated from the Izumo Grand Shrine, it represents the durability of a turtle and the combination of six wishes. Usually a kikkō has something within the center which, in this case, is a hanabishi, a crest believed to have originated from the Heian period. Hanabishi generally don't have a meaning and were made popular due to the beautiful balance the design creates. They are usually used as a decoration for the upper class. The particular set of hanabishi used for the Azai crest is the four leafed water caltrop flower, commonly believed in Japan to originate from China. As a symbol of their alliance, the hanabishi were arranged in a similar pattern as the Asakura crest.
- Takamasa - Sukemasa's second son
- Masahiro - Sukemasa's third son
- Hidemasa - Sukemasa's fourth son
- Taya Akimasa - Sukemasa's mukoyōshi
- Masamoto - Hisamasa's second son, said to have taken care of finances, committed suicide in Raku Castle while the Oda army attacked Odani Castle
- Masayuki - Hisamasa's third son, died during the Battle of Anegawa
- Harumasa (Daimonja Shinjuro; speculative) - Hisamasa's fourth son, went into hiding after Nagamasa's downfall and was briefly helped by Maeda Toshiie, said to have served a merchant family for the rest of his living days
- Manbukumaru - Nagamasa's eldest son (possibly with Oichi), crucified by Hashiba Hideyoshi on Oda Nobunaga's orders
- Manjumaru - Nagamasa's second son, rescued but forced to become a priest at a young age
- Chōmei - Nagamasa's third son (with Yasei no Kata), fled from Nobunaga's army and was last heard to have been seen in Owari
- Seiji - Nagamasa's fourth son
- Iyori (Masanobu, Seiken, Masaharu; speculative) - real parents unknown, he is speculated to have possibly been Nagamasa's illegitimate son or Inori's son (different branch within the Azai family). Served Toyotomi Hideyasu and Ikoma Kazumasa, fought in the Battle of Sekigahara and the Siege of Osaka. He demonstrated great bravery in the latter conflict. Said to be the basis for one of the Sanada Ten Braves.
Three Azai Sisters
The Three Azai Sisters (浅井三姉妹, Azai Sanshimai) is a contemporary term used to describe Nagamasa and Oichi's three surviving daughters. These maidens were entrusted to Hideyoshi after their mother's death. Each woman was famous for being sent to different daimyo.
- Chacha - Toyotomi Hideyoshi's famous concubine who gave birth to Toyotomi Hideyori.
- Hatsu - married her relative, Kyōgoku Takatsugu. Nagamasa's older sister, Kyōgoku Maria, was married to Takatsugu's father, Takayoshi.
- Oeyo - Tokugawa Hidetada's concubine and second wife who gave birth to Senhime. Senhime was later married to Hideyori.
- Kuraya - Sukemasa's cousin and wife
- Chōan - Sukemasa's concubine, Hisamasa's mother
- Seishōin (Tsuruchiyo) - Sukemasa's daughter, Taya Akimasa's wife
- Aeba no Tsubone - Sukemasa's granddaughter, Chacha's wetnurse and maid
- Kaizu no Tsubone - Sukemasa's granddaughter, maid of Chacha and Senhime
- Ōmi no Kata - Sukemasa's daughter, Saitō Yoshitatsu's wife
- Shōankekyu-ni (Akuhime) - Hisamasa's eldest daughter
- Kyōgoku Maria - Hisamasa's daughter, Kyōgoku Takayoshi's wife.
- Ono-dono - Hisamasa's wife, Nagamasa's mother
- Oichi no Kata - Nagamasa's wife, Nobunaga's younger sister
- Hirai Sadatake's sister - Nagamasa's other wife
- Yasei no Kata - Nagamasa's concubine
- Azai Kusu - Nagamasa's illegitimate daughter (mother is debated but not certain), Kyōgoku Tatsuko's maid
The Three Great Generals of Azai
The Three Great Generals of the Azai (浅井三将) were three officers of the Azai who served all three generations. They were considered highly reliable and skilled in both war and administration.
From Other Sources
- Yoshitsugu Ōtani - Historically served Hideyoshi after the Azai's destruction
- Takatora Tōdō - Historically served Hideyoshi after the Azai's destruction
- Mitsunari Ishida - Historyically served Hideyoshi after the Azai's destruction. Mitsunari's father, Masatsugu, however, was a retainer of the Azai.
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