The Asako family is the third of the original families of the Phoenix Clan. Unlike Shiba or Isawa, there was nothing inherently “awesome” about Asako. She was a healer during the early days of the Empire, and she joined Shiba in his task to gather followers for his cause. Her people are perhaps the most sedate of the Phoenix, serving as scribes and monks, historians and lorekeepers.
Asako’s greatest claim to fame would be the secret left her by the Shiba. The kami gave Asako the secret of the Path of Man, a mysterious path that could lead to apotheosis, realizing human potential to be something akin to Gods themselves. Isawa coveted this power, but Asako kept it from him, a decision that has left a rivalry between the two families. Perhaps Asako felt that Isawa wasn’t ready yet, that in his ambition, the Path of Man could be turned to less noble ends.
That said, the Path of Man hasn’t been realized yet, and the Asako work tirelessly to delve its secrets and find the answers to the puzzles that it presents, working slowly to unraveling it’s true potential. This is an intriguing part about the Asako, and in many ways, a lot of people who are familiar with the L5R setting are wondering at just what marvels this can bring. I like this particular mystery since it plays up Asako’s humility, and sense of responsibility.
The Asako also serve as the Phoenix Clan’s diplomatic arm. A duty that suits them well given their more sedate natures. I imagine that the Isawa’s pacifism can only go so far in court, and the Shiba are still warriors, despite their alternative focus. The Asako on the other hand are the most suited to understanding and negotiating some form of compromise as far as the Clan is concerned with the rest of the empire.
If the Shiba are the humility borne from service, and Isawa bear the humility of responsible use of power (most of the time) the Asako are the humility of knowing that there is still much to know. Their focus is learning, and the humble acknowledgement that no matter what they know, there is still so much to learn and realize, and that is perhaps why they are one of the most interesting families in the Empire as a whole as it is very rare to see this kind of outlook in such an aggressive setting as Rokugan.