Of Swords and Honour
The clan, is the basic unit of social structure in Tsurukoku. Each clan is headed by a daimyō, who holds dynastic control over a large section of land, known as a han. Under the daimyō are the samurai, noble warriors pledged to defend the daimyō’s territory, farmers who tend the land and artisans who produce weapons, tools and other items.
There are hundreds of clans in Tsurukoku, but few with significant economic or political power. The major clans are those that produce over 100,000 koku (a quantity of rice, about 5 bushels, that will feed one person for an entire year) annually. Together, the twelve major clans account for over one million people, nearly 1/5 of Tsurukoku’s total population.
The daimyō of the major clans are required by the shogun to spend three months of each year in the capital city of Itō.
Mon are Tsurukokan family crests. They generally consist of a circular motif surrounding a symbolic design of some sort, such as bamboo, cherry blossoms, or a sake jug. For example, the Mikado’s mon is a flying crane surrounded by a solid circle.
Mon are often worn on kimono, appearing on the sleeves, back, or chest – and the larger the mon, the more formal the kimono is considered. Mon are also found on a samurai’s kabuto, or helmet, and sashimono, or personal banner.
Daimyō: Itō Takeshi
The Itō shogunate has lasted for 337 years, due in part to its control of the port city of Kanba in Kansai. Their farmlands are fertile and extremely well irrigated, which allows them to produce enough rice to feed the 200,000 people that occupy the capital city of Itō.
Daimyō: Kobayashi Senzō
The Kobayashi lands in Nakasendō are some of the most fertile farmlands in Tsurukoku. Their ability to produce vast quantities of rice, and thus feed a large army, directly led to their establishment of the first shogunate. Losing control of the Land of the Crane to the Suzuki after two hundred years of power was a deep blow to their sense of pride, and the two clans have been bitter enemies ever since.
Daimyō: Kurosawa Hideki
Kurosawa han in Kawao is one of the smallest of the major clans. Their access to springs fed by melting glaciers contributes to their production of the two most highly-valued sakes in Tsurukoku. During the Nakamura period, the Kurosawa suffered from the seizure of lands by the shogun. In addition, the Kurosawa aids the Watanabe clan in their defense against the Nakamura. Consequently, the Kurosawa and Nakamura clans consider each other enemies.
Daimyō: Morimoto Yūko
The Morimoto clan is the second largest landholder, after the Suzuki clan. Their territory in Koguwa-jukai contains a variety of mulberry tree especially appetizing to the silkworm. Therefore, they are the largest exporter of silk in the empire.
Daimyō: Nakamura Nami
Located in Tetsumoto, the Nakamura clan is the largest producer of jade. They, along with the Tanaka clan, control over 50% of the jade market and have historically taken every opportunity to expand their influence over it. They periodically invade Watanabe han for this very purpose. The Nakamura shogunate, possibly the most brutal and violent period in Tsurukokan history, lasted less than fifty years. It was marked by constant warfare, as the Nakamura attempted to take control of neighboring lands. As a consequence, the Nakamura are considered enemies by many of their neighbors.
Ethos: Nakamura tends to be aggressive, materialistic, and obsessed with power. They take what they need – everyone else be damned.
Relationships: Nakamura is home to the Red Orchid monastery.
Daimyō: Okano Tōru
Located in Kansai, the Okano have historically been a devoted ally of the shogun. They have and do now act, both physically and politically, as a buffer between Itō and Kobyashi. The bond was cemented recently by the marriage of the shogun’s sister to the Okano daimyō. The Okano are one of the few clans that have enough grasslands to support the farming of cattle. Additionally, they are the largest producer of soybeans in the empire.
Daimyō: Suzuki Shuji
The Suzuki clan is the largest landholder of the major clans. Like the Morimoto clan, the majority of their territory in Koguwa-jukai is covered in mulberry trees. However, they focus on paper production instead of silk. The Suzuki shogunate lasted only one hundred years. Even though their territory is vast, little of it is suitable for rice production, and they simply could not sustain the army needed to retain control of the empire.
Daimyō: Takahashi Hajime
The Takahashi clan occupies the northeast corner of Tōsandō, which is home to the greatest of the five spiritual guardians, Hizuru, as well as several of the most sacred shrines and temples in Tsurukoku: the Temple of the Fire Crane, the Bridge of the East Wind and the Shrine of the Five Gates. By taxing the steady stream of pilgrims flowing through their lands, the Takahashi have become extremely wealthy. However, as the most remote of the major clans, they are also the most vulnerable to invasion by outside forces. Therefore, they have taken great pains to maintain a diplomatic and military alliance with Umeda, their neighbors to the south.
Daimyō: Tanaka Gaku
The Tanaka, who control several mountain passes in Iwayama, are the second largest producers of jade. They have a smaller output than the Nakamura clan, but their jade is considered to be of a slightly higher quality.
Daimyō: Umeda Kaoru
As with the Takahashi, Umeda’s lands in Tōsandō are far removed from the empire’s political and population centers. Therefore they place great emphasis on alliances with their neighbors. Through centuries of diplomacy, they have managed to absorb a large number of smaller clans.
Daimyō: Watanabe Naoko
The Watanabe clan’s tiny han in Kawao produces about 5% of Tsurukoku’s jade. Their Shiratama River, which carries pebbles and boulders of white jade with it as it flows down from the peak of Mt. Ina, has been coveted by the Nakamura clan, their neighbors to the west, for centuries. Their neighbors to the east, the Kurosawa clan, are their allies, due to a marriage that occurred between cousins of the two families in the distant past. They receive military aid from the Kurosawa to help defend their borders against the Nakamura clan’s constant incursions. Watanabe’s most famous landmark is Mt. Ina, from which flows the Shiratama river. At the top of Mt. Ina is Tengu no Daijiin, the Temple in the Clouds, which is the home of Sojobo, the King of Tengu.
Ethos: Watanabe are very defensive, as befits a people who keep getting invaded. Most everyone picks easily defensible locations to live, and most of their towns are well fortified. Heroes from Watanabe are likely to be cautious.
Daimyō: Yamamoto Mamoru
Yamamoto is the largest producer of iron ore in Tsurukoku. Their lands in Tetsumoto are riddled with mines and forges, and their artisans are generally considered the most skilled. Because they have traditionally supplied other clans with weapons and armor, the Yamamoto attempt to maintain a neutral political stance.
This material is from the Land of the Crane Campaign Setting © 2005, 2009 by David Garrett. Used with permission.