L5r: Legend of the Five Rings Wiki


Monks in Rokugan were the followers of Shinsei. They studied the Tao of Shinsei, hoping to find the secrets of enlightenment within the ancient pages. Monks were generally revered, though they did not have a specific place within the Celestial Order. As such, samurai were not required to show respect or deference to monks, though most did. In addition to worshipping the Tao there were branches of the Brotherhood who worshipped the Fortunes, a number of powerful primordial beings. A schism was widening between the faiths for a time, until an imperial edict merged the two faiths. [1]


When Shinsei brought his wisdom to Rokugan many shugenja saw the wisdom of the Tao and devoted their lives to pursuing his enigmatic wis­dom. They shaved their heads and built isolated mountain temples, retreating to lives of deep contemplation. [2]

Life of a Monk[]


There were certain traditions that were nearly universal to all monks in Rokugan. The initiation process was almost always a series of gruelling physical labours, often for no apparent reason. This was done to prepare the mind for a journey undertaken by the spirit. Asceticism was also very common amongst the clergy, as trappings of the mortal realm were viewed as a burden that weighs down the soul. Even the most ostentatious monks in the service of Daikoku, the Fortune of Wealth, set aside their personal wealth in pursuit of his doctrine. Most monks take vows of chastity and poverty, known as an, but these practices varied from sect to sect. Their only goal in the physical realm was the pursuit of enlightenment, and helping others was a necessary step to complete that goal. Purity of the physical body was also a common belief, and contaminating the body with worldly materials was a barrier to the achievement of spiritual purity. Fasting, rigorous exercise, and consumption of only the bare essentials such as rice and water were also common vows among the monks. [3][4] [5]

A Monk's Past[]

As a rule, the monks of the Brotherhood were not forthcoming about their past, and it was almost considered blasphemous to even inquire about it. The monk had left their old life behind, and the fact that some of them were once peasants and others samurai would make it difficult to interact with them, as one would not know what station should be afforded them. Therefore they were mostly treated with respect and admiration, as to do otherwise could be an insult to a former daimyo. [6]


Wandering Monk

Some monks sought enlightenment as Shinsei himself did, wandering the towns and villages of Rokugan, learning all they could, helping the unfortunate, and teaching any who would listen. These wandering monks had no fixed home, so they often relied on donations from pious samurai or generous commoners. [7]

Roles in Rokugan[]

The monks of Rokugan tended to fall into roles as advisers, teachers, and spiritual guardians. Even though most samurai outranked them, they were always very much respected, and a samurai would never give an order to a monk, out of respect for Shinsei and his teachings. [3]


The three ranks of monks were the sojo, the sozu, and the risshi. [5]


Worshipping the Fortunes[]

Worshipping the Fortunes was practically the oldest form of religion in Rokugan, pre-dating the Fall of the Kami. The traditions and mannerisms of monks of these orders varied incredibly from order to order, as they all depended on the fortune they worshipped. The monks at a temple to Daikoku, the Fortune of Wealth, would urge others to make donations, while monks at a temple to Osano-Wo, the Fortune of Fire and Thunder, spent their time developing their martial prowess. Fortune worship was also the most popular religion among the peasants, as in their eyes the ancestors were not looking down upon them and the Tao was far too complex for their liking. Inari, the Fortune of Rice, was very popular amongst peasants due to most of them working the farms that fed all of Rokugan. [4]

Students of the Tao[]

A Student of the Tao

Studying the Tao of Shinsei was by far the most common practice among the monks, and was the first thing that came to peoples minds when they thought about the Brotherhood. Every monk in Rokugan studied the Tao, and even the devotees of the most militant Fortunes admitted Shinsei truly was a prophet. Few dared malign it, but that did not mean it received universal reverence either. The most notable of the naysayers were the monks who were formerly samurai in service of the Lion Clan. Their strong beliefs in ancestor worship as well as the Kami Akodo's infamous disagreements with Shinsei were the primary reasons for a former lion not considering the Tao their primary pursuit. [4]

Monks and Others[]

Monks and the Clans[]

Though the Scorpion and Lion Clans might not have the greatest respect for the Tao of Shinsei, they did not deny that its students were worthy and enlightened souls. [3] Crab monks were relatively rare, since fewer Crab samurai survived to retirement age. [8]

Monks and Shugenja[]

To an outsider, the monks of Rokugan might seem similar in form and function to shugenja, but such was not truly the case. Monks were generally keepers of temples and shrines, as opposed to shugenja, who travelled where they will (or where their daimyo commands). Also, monks drew upon their own chi for power, not the kami. [9]

Monks and Peasants[]


While samurai were uncertain as to how to interact with monks, the peasants revered them. Monks were teachers as often as something else, and treated all people equally, and many monasteries sent their members to teach in villages and towns, and even aid eta in menial tasks. [6]


Monks were not obligated to pay taxes, but in turn they did what they could to serve samurai by keeping the peace among the peasant populace, and distributing the teachings of enlightenment and gentle wisdom promoting order in the lands of the Empire. [3]

The Elements[]

Although they could not call upon the spirits through spells as shugenja could, the path of a monk granted an understanding of the kami nonetheless. This was embodied most obviously in their use of kiho. [3]

See Also[]


  1. Legend of the Five Rings: Third Edition, pp. 28, 249
  2. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 138
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Legend of the Five Rings: Third Edition, p. 28 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "3E28" defined multiple times with different content
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Legend of the Five Rings: Third Edition, p. 250
  5. 5.0 5.1 Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 81
  6. 6.0 6.1 Legend of the Five Rings: Third Edition, p. 249
  7. Secrets of the Empire, p. 161
  8. Way of the Crab, p. 53
  9. Way of the Phoenix, p. 10

Isawa.png This magic or religion related article is a stub. That means that it has been started, but is incomplete. You can help by expanding this article.