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 Kuei-jin of Japan

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PostSubject: Kuei-jin of Japan   Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:03 am

Japanese Kuei-jin call themselves gaki or ketsuki, and their courts differ in important ways from those of other Kuei-jin. The gaki fall into extended “families” or “Houses” called uji. Each uji may claim several cities as their territory, though small uji are restricted to a single urban area. This structure imitates the mortal aristocratic clans, like the Fujiwara or Minamoto, who dominate Japan for much of its history. Of course these vampiric “families” grow only through adoption.

A senior gaki called a daimyo heads each uji, and regardless of Dharma, gaki must pledge fealty to their daimyo and obey him as parent, lord and commanding officer. Although the daimyo are old and powerful creatures, comparable to ancestors, they are not bodhisattvas, who actually founded several uji. New Kuei-jin traditionally join whatever uji claims the region where they took the Second Breath, though the tradition is not absolute since some uji pursue specializations leading them to recruit beyond their domains. Most uji permit new gaki to emigrate, especially if a hin finds herself drawn to a Dharma not widely popular in his family. Once a gaki swears fealty to an uji, however, she must obtain the daimyo’s permission to
emigrate. Kuei-jin defecting without permission incur decades or centuries of hostility from their former House.

In the 19th century, the two largest and oldest uji are Bishamon and Genji, which claim between them more than half of Japan’s Kuei-jin (including allied houses). Exactly which uji aligns with whom shifts from decade to decade, making a complete list of uji impossible. Genji and Bishamon both fathered sub-families with their own daimyo, while uji may merge or dissolve into a larger clan grouping. A particular group of vampires may be an independent but allied uji, a vassal clan or merely a collection of wu within Bishamon or Genji. Some gaki say Japan has six or seven Houses; others list more than
two dozen.

Kyoto, Osaka and Edo/Tokyo are the three exceptions to this rule. By 1840, all three are already enormous, large enough for multiple wu to find sustenance. More importantly, Kyoto holds the Imperial Court and Edo is
the Shogunate’s capital: Any uji claiming exclusive domain over such centers of power immediately provoke an alliance of all other uji against them. Osaka, Japan’s most mercantile city, has a reputation for doing things its own way, while Edo begins the century under Bishamon dominance. By 1900, Bishamon, Genji and a few independent uji claim domains in each of the three great cities, while Tokyo also holds a few coteries of Western
Cainites as well.

Note: The daimyo of the various uji remain unmentioned. This is deliberate. Bishamon and Genji appear in previous Kindred of the East publications, so
chances are good Storytellers have already invented their own elders for these clans or are using those mentioned in supplements like World of Darkness: Tokyo. Many uji also experience leadership changes during the Victorian Age, allowing Storytellers to include daimyo-related struggles into Chronicles. In House of Taira’s case, where we name the Daimyo who founded the uji, we do not specify whether Taira Antoku still leads the clan. These matters are the providence of each Storyteller.
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PostSubject: Re: Kuei-jin of Japan   Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:27 am

This information is based up through the Victorian Age. Modern nights includes various changes and shifts, most prominent is the sudden extermination called the Black Kites by the Bishamon against the Genji.

The House of Bishamon is Japan’s oldest surviving uji. Its vampires have a reputation as traditionalists and mystics who sought for centuries to shield Japan from foreign influences. This uji shows equal zeal in protecting Japan’s Dragon Nests. To hear some Bishamon elders talk, the shapeshifters, mortal mages and even other Kuei-jin are bumblers who shouldn’t be trusted with such precious sources of Chi. For Bishamon, protecting the Dragon Lines and Nests also means preserving the wilderness, or at least minimizing humanity’s disruptions.

Many Bishamon prefer dwelling in villages, rural regions or complete wilderness, and members of this uji must show the proper respect to Japan’s natural splendors. Finally, Bishamon boasts a long tradition of celebrated
Dharmic sages and teachers who claim House of Bishamon can guide all Kuei-jin back to redemption through the orthodox Dharmas. Only House of Bishamon, they say, can hold back the shadows of the Fifth Age and preserve the harmony of Heaven and Earth.

The Genji are a looser confederation of families than the more hierarchical Bishamon. Most Genji are firmly urban, drawing their power from Japan’s merchant, artisan and labor classes. Genji’s leadership is comparatively young compared to most uji, a situation even more pronounced among its jina and disciples. Since its beginnings more than 2,500 years ago, this House has changed radically. In fact only the name, derived from the Chinese guanxi by way of a common Japanese name, connects Genji to its ancient roots. For the last several centuries, Genji existed as a rallying standard for Bishamon’s opponents, its coalition including uji with wildly divergent Dharmas and goals. In the Victorian Age and after, Genji supports the government’s quest to industrialize Japan and make it a world power.

The Genji differ from all other uji in that they have more than one daimyo, though none are older or more powerful than the average Kuei-jin mandarin. Each daimyo leads a small uji of her own, consisting of just a few wu. The various daimyo are supposed to gather in a wu of leaders and act by consensus, but more often, each sub-uji does as it pleases within the broad limits set by Genji’s common interests. House of Genji’s daimyo fluctuate from three at the start of the 19th century to eight during the century’s last quarter, but the usual range is from four to six daimyo.

Genji’s federal structure gives the uji more flexibility than most other uji, and the clan’s fluid nature also attracts ambitious gaki willing to risk alienating former uji by defecting to Genji. Conversely, Genji sometimes has difficulty mustering its full strength for endeavors because the daimyo disagree. Genji can also be slow responding to a crisis, because its scattered daimyo can’t
communicate quickly enough to agree on a plan.

These two uji began as special strike forces organized by Bishamon in the 13th century, and are named after the Iga and Koga mountain regions, from whence the mortal ninja clans come. Iga fought mortal demon hunters, while Koga fought shen and other supernatural threats to the gaki. Over the centuries, both groups suffered “mission creep” and now fight any foe — including other gaki, if the price is right. The two uji seceded from Bishamon centuries ago, so if Bishamon mandarins want Iga or Koga saboteurs, spies or assassins, they must pay just like any other Kuei-jin. The two “samurai” uji find plenty of business in the Victorian Age, thanks to Japan’s thirst for knowledge.

The name of this uji roughly translates as “Outsider.” These Kuei-jin follow the heretical Dharma called the Spirit of the Living Earth, placing them beyond the bounds of acceptable Kuei-jin society. The uji’s founders
accepted the label of “outsider” as a badge of pride, believing they had surpassed the errors of the orthodox Dharmas by recognizing that their only duty lay with the spirits.

The Sotogawa No eventually forced the other uji to accept them as a fact of unlife that wouldn’t go away. The “outsiders” never became important players in gaki politics, though they did join the occasional alliance. Most importantly, other Kuei-jin used the Shinto/animist Sotogawa No as a go-between with kami and shen (with whom they maintained strong relations). This friendship also curbs occasional attempts to suppress the “heretical” uji and its Dharma, since few want to fight Sotogawa No’s allies.

During the Victorian Age, the Sotogawa No becomes one of Japan’s most isolationist uji. The thought of foreigners treading on Japan’s god-haunted soil horrifies them almost as much as the roads and railways severing Dragon Lines. This traditional outlook doesn’t stop Bishamon from maintaining their old vendetta against the heretics, while Sotogawa No relentlessly opposes the progressive Genji.

The Nukekubi reliably date their origin to the early Heian period (CE 794 to 1185) and at the Victorian Age’s inception, the uji is on its third daimyo. Its founder, the bodhisattva Nukekubi, appears once every few decades to examine their daimyo. Danrin-no-Nukekubi is one of Japan’s greatest mistresses of Flesh Shintai, as well as a profound exponent of the Way of the Resplendent Crane (even though the Nukekubi now practice all orthodox Dharmas).

Following their founder’s example, all Nukekubi strive to learn the Long-Neck power of Flesh Shintai at the very least. Their affinity for this Discipline is partly known even to mortals, who speak of legendary creatures called Nukekubi who look partly human, but sport impossibly long, flexible, gravity-defying necks. Gaki who cannot learn Flesh Shintai in their own uji sometimes
travel south to the Nukekubi’s demesne in Kyushu and negotiate for tuition.
In the Victorian Age, Nukekubi’s leaders try finding a middle path for the gaki that skirts both rejection of the outer world and surrender to it. They seek guidance in Danrin-no-Nukekubi’s dictum that Heaven and Hell’s true servant acts without wrath or greed, leaving no trace of her influence. The Nukekubi try accommodating Japan’s metamorphosis, establishing railways along Dragon Lines instead of across them, for instance. They change sides in the Bishamon-Genji rivalry several times.

This relatively young and small uji receives its name after its founder and Daimyo, Taira Antoku, who claims mortal membership in one of Japan’s ancient aristocratic families. Other ancient gaki confirm his encyclopedic knowledge of courtly life from the Kofun period, even though Antoku founded his uji nine centuries later, in the Muromachi period (CE 1333–1466).

Taira is Japan’s foremost conservative uji who regards the Bishamon as dangerous innovators. Throughout his long existence, Antoku steadfastly championed Imperial rule and kept his uji in Kyoto, through all the centuries when the Emperor remained just a figurehead. The Taira resist every change in Victorian Japan except for the resurgence of Imperial power. Even then, the Taira lobby for direct Imperial rule rather than a parliamentary government. The Meiji Restoration brings new prestige to Taira, though, and both the Bishamon and Genji factions court the clan’s favor. The Taira switch sides several times, with Antoku’s love of tradition conflicting with his desire to support the Emperor.

Naturally, the Taira also support the sonnô jôi radicals, wielding great influence in the movement. Through the Victorian period they also promote the “Japanese Learning” movement that seeks to purify Japanese culture
of foreign accretions — Chinese as well as Western. More Taira gaki follow the Dance of the Thrashing Dragon than any other Dharma, but all Dharmas earn fair representation here. Obligation is by far the most popular Discipline, for it grants an aristocratic power of command.

The Echizen uji dates back to the Nara period (CE 710-794), when its founder (now destroyed) became interested in Buddhism. The House’s interest persists to the present nights. Over the centuries, the Echizen developed a strong curiosity in the practical application of mysticism through Chi-shaping. Tapestry is Echizen’s single most popular Discipline; many also learn sorcerous rituals as well, while Echizen gaki craft more talismans than any other uji. Song of the Shadow and Resplendent Crane are the most popular Dharmas in this clan, though the House does not discourage any Dharma. The Echizen also possess exceptional sympathy toward Japan’s mortal artisan and merchant classes, and relish the downfall of the Bakufu.

The Echizen maintain contact with the Green Courts and the Quincunx all throughout Japan’s isolation. Their chief interest lies in acquiring jade and keeping abreast of new sorceries, but they also study new developments in Buddhist philosophy. During the Sino-Japanese War, this places the Echizen in the minority that dissent against war with the continental courts, though up until that war, the Echizen support the Genji faction.

Echizen Chi-shapers receive Japan’s first Kin-jin visitors with more curiosity than suspicion. All Kuei-jin sense that Western vampires manipulate Chi in a different way than themselves, and while Echizen find this difference disturbing, they seek to describe this difference precisely as the first step in explaining it. Echizen savants do not always rely on Kin-jin volunteers for their studies, but they do develop contacts within certain Hellfire Clubs scattered across East Asia.

Last edited by yanamari on Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Kuei-jin of Japan   Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:31 am

The gaki speak of relationships within a clan in terms of oyabun (father-role) and kobun (son-role), using male terms regardless of the vampire’s actual gender. A nascent gaki’s first trainer — the one who pulls her from chih-mei frenzy and teaches her the rudiments of Dharma and civilized unlife — is her first oyabun, and she is his kobun. She owes this Kuei-jin her respect and obedience thereafter. Even if a hin or disciple moves to a different clan, her oyabun retains the right to command her. A gaki who openly defies her oyabun brings contempt upon herself and shame on her teacher, and disgraced oyabun are known to exterminate kobun who dishonor them. In return, an oyabun must guide his kobun thereafter as her mentor, though he receives far less contempt for neglecting this aspect of the relationship than the kobun. When gaki join a wu, they must address each other’s oyabun as “uncle,” displaying a modicum of respect. In return, the “uncles” generally treat their kobun’s wu with civility.

The gaki’s hoariest traditions recommend that all oyabun of a new wu’s vampires are themselves part of the same, older wu. In practice, this almost never happens. Instead, a daimyo appoints an older wu as a collective “father” for the new group, and as with individual gaki, the oyabun-wu serve as mentors and disciplinarians to their “sons” (though elder Cathayans may also neglect their mentorship with no social consequences). The daimyo may also change the oyabun-wu and kobun-wu relationships, assigning a wu an oyabun-wu based on the current interests or needs of the clan. During a midnight war, for example, the daimyo may assign all wu to a senior wu specializing in military affairs. Senior wu generally assume specialist roles, with large clans maintaining several senior wu that take responsibility for midnight and twilight wars, relations with mortals or shen, diplomacy with other uji or foreign courts, finding and maintaining Dragon Nests, spying on rival clans and courts, learning and teaching magical rituals, preserving the clan’s lore and heritage, adjudicating disputes between wu and even providing entertainment for meetings of the daimyo’s court.

The daimyo acts as oyabun to the entire clan and demands unquestioning obedience. Unlike a Quincunx ancestor, a daimyo is not part of any wu. She stands alone, to avoid supposed favoritism to former wu-mates and their kobun. Actually, this custom may stem from Japan’s smaller and more scattered population as compared to China: the gaki simply have fewer vampires of sufficient age and Dharmic advancement to claim ancestorship.

Until recent centuries, any ancestor-grade gaki could establish her own clan and demesne by  claiming territory too remote for other daimyo to hold. Indeed, many smaller uji daimyo in the further reaches of the Japanese islands are merely mandarins by Quincunx standards. The bodhisattvas stand above all clans. Every vampire, from the youngest hin to the mightiest daimyo,
stands as kobun to these ancient monster-sages, regardless of past or present affiliations. Clans claiming a bodhisattva as former or founding member gain prestige from the connection. The bodhisattvas, as oyabun to all, pass on as much of their wisdom as they choose and very seldom
issue any commands. Most gaki believe their bodhisattvas aid them simply by existing.
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