Political Marriage

A Political Marriage

Marriage in Rokugan was rarely about true love, and almost inevitably a tool of political convenience.

Planned Edit

They were often planned among the influential families often as early as childhood, as if the child was not matched early the good political connections would be taken. Some parents held out for the best match possible, but this could be risky. Only a few selected samurai were allowed to select their spouse, and this could be found more commonly when a child with several older siblings and indulgent parents.[1] The selected marriages were known as mi-ai. ​​​​​​[2] The matchmaker who found a pair to the young samurai and negotiated it with their parents was named nakodo.[3]

Long before the wedding, there would be a period of official courtship after the realization of the Tokoro-arawashi. The nakodo would help on it, bringing messages back and forth and even organizing physical encounters if the couple have not yet met.[2]

Fealty Edit

Typically one of the couple swore fealty to the clan of their spouse and took the family name. In most cases it was the female that took the males name, known as yome-iri, but when a female of one of the matriarcal families (such as the Utaku, Matsu or Moshi family) the male changed his name, known as muko-iri. The Doji family must also be noted, as they expected anyone who married them to take their name regardless of gender (almost always). These arrangements, whatever they might be, were typically made a long time before the wedding. [2] [1]

Ceremony Edit

The marriage was usually made in a shrine with a presiding shugenja. Family of both bethrothed were present. The bride wore a white kimono, [4] the color of death symbolizing she was dead to her family, [5] and she was accompanied by the future husband matching their pace. The shugenja chanted prayers of purification to the kami. The groom recited the ceremonial words:

“I will be your husband. I will provide for you and our family. I will honor you and accept you into my home.”

A small cup of purified sake was drunk by the groom, three sips more from a larger cup, and three more from the largest one. The shugenja placed a branch of a cherry blossom tree on the ground which was burnt as an offering to the kami. The couple stood and separated, walking toward their respective parties.

Maidens helped unfasten the outermost layer of the bride's clothes and took the pieces away, showing a red dress underneath, symbolizing her rebirth. [5] Her former life with her parents and her family was over, and she would begin anew. Cherry blossoms slowly drifted to the ground around her. [4]

The Phoenix had originated the custom of wearing red and white clothing during the wedding ceremony. [6]

After ceremony Edit

In front of all their guests and the officiating priest the groom and bride performed the san-san-kudo, 'ceremony of the three-times-three', the traditional exchange of nuptial cups. Inside the familiar shrine the married burned seven twigs of sakaki, a sacred tree, in worship of the Seven Fortunes. [2] The bride was taken away by the groom's mother to be taught while the husband went on a pilgrimage to a holy place to meditate on this new phase of his life. [5]

Wedding receptions Edit

During the wedding reception the bride wore kanzashi ornaments, sticks of wood, covered in hanging flowers or pearls, in the hair, hidden under the tsuno kakushi, a hood. The uchikake was the gown worn over the wedding kimono. The soup served at the reception might have ingredients of red and white, to symbolize the wedding colors. [2]

House of married Edit

During the early age of Rokugan's aristocracy, a bridegroom would visit his bride at her home, in a special apartment known as Fukirio, or 'wiving house'. Only after the birth of a child or the loss of parents to the bridegroom or husband would the bride be accepted in the man's home. Currently a married couple lives together from the day of their wedding. [2]

Duties Edit

Most commonly one of the couple would take up the duties of the clan, and the other would take up the duties of the village where they lived. Which spouse did which was again up to the gender roles of the individual families, and in some cases both would continue with active lifes as bushi. [1]

Household Edit

A proper Rokugani wife was educated, cultured, and able to perform mathematical calculations as well as social customs. [7] The wife would handle all of the money and was in charge of the household in every respect, and the male samurai was given a stipend by his wife. Other than that, a wife had little to do but gossip with the wives of other samurai and read romantic tales called "Pillow Books". [5]

Love Edit

Love was known and highly valued, and seen as a grand thing, especially if set aside for one's duty. Romantic tradgedies throughout history had been the subject of many plays, but generally viewed as warnings. Mostly you would find that the peasants marry for love, and some suspected that the samurai were a little envious. [1]

Infidelity Edit

Due to the nature of some of the arranged marriages infidelity was common. This was commonly accepted, as long as it was kept from the public eye and did not bring shame to one's house, spouse or family. [1]

Inter-clan marriages Edit

Blackmailed Bride

A Bride

In 1169 the inter-clan marriages must be approved by someone of Imperial birth, in the absence of an Emperor. It was edicted by the Otomo Daimyo Otomo Hoketuhime to garner support in her Race for the Throne. [8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, p. 34
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 77, 79-80
  3. A Good Little Wife, by Ree Soesbee
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Life of the Warrior, by Brian Yoon
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 26
  6. Secrets of the Phoenix, p. 6
  7. Way of the Crane, p. 65
  8. Conversations in the Garden, by Shawn Carman

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