Isawa family


Clan: Phoenix Clan 
Founded: 25 
Daimyo: Council of Five

The Isawa family was founded by a shugenja named Isawa. Isawa was a great scholar and sorcerer before the Kami fell to the earth. In the year 25 Shiba convinced Isawa to say his tribe was part of the Phoenix Clan so they might stay peacefully within the Empire. [1]

Role of the Isawa within the Phoenix Edit

When in the year 33 Shiba came to him to ask for his help during the War Against Fu Leng, Isawa refused without first recieving an oath that Shiba would protect his family. In response, the Kami Shiba knelt before Isawa and gave him that promise. [2]

The Isawa used this promise to retain control over the affairs of the Phoenix Clan. The Shiba family controled the armies, but even this was done under the direction of the Isawa. There were those among the Shiba who would argue that the Kami did not promise servitude, but those were greatly ignored by the Isawa. There were also those in Rokugan who would argue, especially after the near-destruction of the clan during the Clan War, that the Shiba needed to do a better job of protecting the Isawa from themselves, but these people generally made sure that any Phoenix were not nearby to hear them.

Life in the Isawa family Edit

Isawa Shugenja Edit

Originally only a very select few were chosen by the Isawa to become shugenja. Once every ten years, the Isawa would hold a great festival, and the children of the clan would be tested. The Council of Five would test the children, and the ones who showed the most promise were accepted as apprentices -- one student for each Master. The number of students never outnumbered the number of Masters.

All training at this time was done orally, so no written records of the festival or the tests exist today. Later descriptions of them describe the process as a long, grueling process, possibly designed to kill those who had the pride to attend but lacked the skills to master the art.

With the War Against Fu Leng, this all changed. The Isawa, as part of the Phoenix Clan, were required to lend aid to the war effort. Isawa sent his siblings to tutor the other Clans, and also sent healers and other magic users into combat. [3]

Because of this need, the number of shugenja taught by the Isawa had risen compared to the time before the war. Today nearly all Isawa were taught the ways of the kami, and their training begins before they could walk.

Protectors of Magic Edit

The Isawa saw themselves as the protectors of all that was arcane within Rokugan. They hunted for maho. They sought for unknown nemuranai and other artifacts. They sought knowledge thought lost to time. They attempted to learn all that there was to be known about magic, from all of the clans. Isawa students were not an uncommon sight in the schools around the empire, studying under the sensei of other clans.

There were those that claimed that the Isawa suppressed knowledge and harbored vile sorceries. Some claimed that their libraries contained works on maho, oni summoning and other black arts. The Isawa vehemently denied this, claiming that the works they had on these subjects was scholarly, not practical, and that they destroyed evil sorcery whenever it was found. [4]

Isawa Peasantry Edit

Most of the heimin of the Isawa were fisherfolk living along the coastline near Kyuden Isawa. Peasant villages dotted the Isawa coastline, where the heimin fished for the great shoals of tuna and herring that thrived in the cold northern currents. These fishing villages were frequented by ocean-borne merchants, who sailed up the coast to peddle their wares to the Phoenix. These merchants were quite welcome in the lands of the Phoenix. The Clan was more secluded than most, and such interactions were a primary source of news and goods from the rest of Rokugan. [5]

Politics Edit

Isawa Daimyo Edit

Since the founding of the Phoenix Clan the Isawa family had been ruled by the Council of Five, in essence five daimyo working together in leading the family and Clan.

Vassals of the Isawa Edit

The following were the vassal families of the Isawa:

Within the family Edit

Mon of the Isawa Edit

The mon of the Isawa consisted of the five elemental symbols arrayed in a star pattern, arranged clockwise from the top, Void, Water, Air, Fire, Earth. What would be circles around the elemental symbols swirled into a spiral in the center of the mon. The mon symbolized Isawa's belief that all things in nature were truly part of each other.

The mon was worn by all Isawa and by all graduates of the Isawa schools. In addition, shugenja from all clans often spent some time studying with the Isawa after their gempukku. Many of these shugenja chose to wear the Isawa mon as a mark of pride. The Isawa mon was, behind the Emperor's mon, perhaps the most recognizable in the empire. [7]

Gempukku Edit

Tradition held that Isawa preparing for their gempukku ceremony must spend at least one night alone in the Isawa Woodlands, contemplating the universe and their place within it. To the particularly blessed, kami sometimes appeared and disclosed secrets. [8]

Lands Edit

The provinces of the Isawa family were difficult to access, being isolated by mountains, forests, and the sea. Their climate was the harshest found in the Phoenix lands. [9] They existed on the center of the lands of the Phoenix Clan. The largest of their holdings was Kyuden Isawa and its great library. The other castles of the Isawa were patterned after Kyuden Isawa. They all had magical defenses similar to Isawa castle and also contained libraries, though these libraries consisted mainly of copies of archives from the library at Kyuden Isawa. Most Isawa tried to study at each of the Isawa castles once in their lifetimes. They believed that the change of surroundings can increased their perspective. [10]

Provinces Edit

Isawa provinces

Isawa provinces

Major Isawa Holdings Edit

Minor Isawa Holdings Edit

See Also Edit


  1. Imperial Histories, p. 15
  2. A Gathering of Thunders, by Rich Wulf
  3. Way of the Phoenix, pp. 21-22
  4. Way of the Phoenix, p. 21
  5. Way of the Phoenix, pp. 109-110
  6. Secrets of the Phoenix, p. 55
  7. Way of the Phoenix, p. 23
  8. Way of the Phoenix, p. 109
  9. The Atlas of Rokugan, p. 137
  10. Way of the Phoenix, p. 110

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