The Nine Swords

Political History

Brief Explanation of Political Hierarchy

Typically, the Emperor of Nippon is never its direct ruler while the nation is unified. In a unified nation, the Emperor typically selects the most powerful and loyal daimyo in the land to act as the ruler only second to the Emperor himself. If the individual selected is of noble blood, then he is given the title of Shōgun, which is the highest possible title granted to an individual aside from the title of Emperor. Any and all acts by the Shogun are considered the direct will of the Emperor himself, and no other title carries that weight. If the individual placed in command of the nation by the Emperor is not of noble blood, then the title granted is Kampaku. The Kampaku is functionally identical to Shogun, but the Kampaku is not considered a direct extension of the Emperor’s divine will.

The position of Emperor, although rightfully treated as a living god by heritage, is somewhat of a figurehead and puppet. While the Emperor himself holds great religious significance, he has no political leverage whatsoever, because the ‘living god’ is considered above such involvement in the daily goings on of the nation. The Emperor is also not permitted to engage in any lucrative activities for similar reasons. As a result, virtually all income, living conditions, and lifestyle of the Emperor are based upon the whims of the current political ruler, since that individual is also responsible for taking care of the Emperor. This is one reason why choosing such a ruler is especially important for the Emperor. As long as the Emperor and the ruler get along, then the Emperor himself can easily live an easy life.

Beneath the political ruler, the nation is divided up into regions that are then assigned to individual daimyo. These daimyo are further responsible for dividing up these regions among more delegates and maintaining order.

The city of Edo (modern day Tokyo) is the Emperor’s capital city and seat of the throne itself. It is considered a very holy location, and thousands flock to Edo as part of a pilgrimage of loyalty to the Emperor and his will. The current Emperor of Nippon is Go-Nijō.

The city of Kyoto is the referred to as the Imperial Capital of Nippon, and it is where the current political ruler (such as the Shogun or Kampaku) sits. Persons and organizations that wish to lobby for change and assistance from the government go to Kyoto in order to seek audience with delegates of the current political ruler. Presently, there is no single political ruler as described below.

Story Synopsis & Brief History

The nation of Nippon is in turmoil, and the year is 1599. Hashiba Hideyoshi, also referred to as the Taikō, was the individual responsible for single-handedly unifying all of Nippon in 1584. Because he was not of noble birth, he was granted the title of Kampaku by the Emperor. The Kampaku’s first order of business in 1588 was to establish the caste system. Until that time, anyone was allowed to take up arms, join the military, and become samurai, just as Hashiba had done. However, after establishing his edicts, he banned all peasants and lower class citizens from bearing arms, which left samurai as the only class of citizens who could rightfully carry weapons. The hierarchy of citizenship looks something like this:

  • Samurai
  • Peasants
  • Craftsmen
  • Merchants
  • Actors
  • Outcasts
  • Bandits
  • Eta – “nonhumans” who deal with dead bodies, the curing of leather, public executioners, branders, and mutilators

After the Kampaku was on his deadbed from illness in 1597, he retired from his position. The title of Taikō was created for him to honor his name and family, although he no longer held the political rulership of the nation. His only heir, Yaemon, was 5 years old at the time and not yet old enough to inherit the position of Kampaku. For the duration of Yaemon’s minority, the Taiko created a Council of Regents to rule over Nippon. This Council was comprised of the five most powerful daimyo in the entire nation, and at the time of their election they swore an oath to uphold the Taiko’s edicts for the duration of their position. Additionally, they swore an oath that no alteration to any of the Taiko’s laws throughout the land could be made unless the decision was agreed upon unanimously by the Council. The Taiko died of illness one year ago in 1598.

The following five individuals formed the Council of Regents:

  • Lord Yoshi Toranaga – Head Regent of the Council; formerly the Captain General of Nippon’s Armies of the East and primary rival of Lord Ishido
    • Lord Toranaga is now the owner of the coveted “Kwanto,” which is the prosperous region comprised of eight provinces in north central Nippon
    • Lord Toranaga is the uncle of Yaemon, the heir to the title of Kampaku
    • Lord Toranaga is the only man to have ever forced the Taiko to yield on the battlefield, prior to Toranaga’s fealty to the Taiko
    • Lord Toranaga’s bloodline can be linked to noble blood, hence he could potentially become Shogun
  • Lord Ishido Kazunari – Regent; formerly the Captain General of Nippon’s Armies of the West and primary rival of Lord Toranaga
    • Lord Ishido was granted directly by the Taiko the duty of educating Yaemon
    • Lord Ishido’s bloodline cannot be linked to noble blood, hence he could potentially become Kampaku should the Taiko’s heir perish
  • Lord Sugiyama – Regent; wealthiest daimyo in all of Nippon
    • Lord Sugiyama’s ownership of the Kwanto was taken away by the Taiko and given to Lord Toranaga
  • Lord Kiyama – Regent; military genius
  • Lord Onoshi – Regent; charismatic man afflicted with leprosy

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