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Rokugan, which meant Emerald Land in the language of the Celestial Heavens, [1] is the central location of the Legend of the Five Rings universe and its ruling Rokugani Empire's culture is similar to that of feudal Japan. Rokugan is sometimes referred to as the Emerald Empire. Rokugani society is also based on aspects of other Asian cultures such as China and India, as well as their magical systems and mythical beasts.

Social Structure[]

Rokugani society is based on a clan structure, with seven (later eight, then nine) so-called "Great Clans", as well as several minor clans. Each clan has areas of land bequeathed to them by the Emperor, which they were tasked with maintaining. The Emperor retained ownership of all lands, however, and the clans essentially rented the lands they used by paying taxes annually.

There was no given name for the entire world which Rokugan was a part of, but the name of Rokugan could sometimes be used to refer to the entire world. Strictly speaking this was incorrect, but as the Emperor had a rightful claim to "all that was" as a right of being the descendant of Amaterasu and Onnotangu, the courtiers of the Emerald Empire saw this as an appropriate use. The citizens and rulers of the Burning Sands and Ivory Kingdoms might have disagreed, however.

Political Landscape[]


Rokugan is divided into various-sized provinces, each controlled by distinct groups. The largest groups, and the largest areas, are controlled by the clans of Rokugan -- groups of families descended largely from a common ancestor who had inherited control over their respective tracts of land, as well as the people living on them.

Great Clans[]

The Great Clans were each formed by one of the Kami after their fall from Tengoku, and their histories dated back to the very beginning of the Empire. [2] An exception was the Mantis Clan, which until the Second Day of Thunder was actually a Minor Clan, but through force and manipulation, Yoritomo was able to get his family granted Great Clan status in 1128. [3] In 1173 another Great Clan appeared, the Spider Clan, after several events including the end of the Destroyer War, the death of Fu Leng and the rise of Daigotsu as a Dark Fortune. [4] In 1200 the Mantis Clan was demoted from Great Clan status, after the destruction of the Mantis Islands during the Rise of Jigoku. [5]

The Great Clans were made up of several family lines, and each Family had their own general purpose within the Clan. Each Clan also had a specific purpose within Rokugan -- some area of expertise or mandate that the specific Clan could fulfill better than any others.

Minor Clans[]

There were many minor clans in Rokugan -- clans that had been formed since the birth of the Empire by those other than the Kami. New clans were not founded lightly, and the founders of these clans generally performed some extraordinarily valiant deed or favor for the Empire. Unlike the Great Clans, minor clans generally only had one family, but like the Great Clans, each usually had a specific duty they fulfilled.

Former Minor Clans[]

Throughout the history of the Rokugani Empire, there have been several minor clans that became non-existent. Some joined Great Clans as family lines and some were disbanded by the various emperors. Others were destroyed for various reasons.

Imperial Families[]

In addition to the clans, a very powerful faction in Rokugan are the Imperial Families. The Emperor of Rokugan has no clan of his own, but he does have his own family, currently the Iweko family, and three families that served his interests directly: the Miya, the Otomo, and the Seppun family. The Imperial Families have no standing army of their own, though they largely control the Imperial Legions, which recruited soldiers from all the clans of the Empire. Unlike the Great or Minor Clans, the Imperial families have no Champion, as the Emperor himself leads them.

The Imperial Families are often smaller than the families of the Great Clans, but what they lack in numbers they more than make up for in sheer political influence. With the Emperor at their head, the Imperial Families are possibly the strongest political group in all of Rokugan.


Rokugan was a rocky, mountainous land, surrounded by mountains on north, west and south sides and an ocean to the east. Only about a fifth of the land was flat: the majority was rolling hillsides, steep gorges, narrow valleys, ravines and mountains. Near the ocean were the flatter and more arable lands. Nobility made castles in mountainous regions or inaccessible passes, while flatlands were used for farms, ports, and cities. [6]

In Rokugan, all land was owned by the Emperor. The territory given to the respective clans and daimyo was granted by the Emperor for the daimyo to act as stewards, not as owners, over their respective provinces. In return for permission to live on the Emperor's land, the clans paid taxes to the Emperor. [7]

Should the Emperor believe that a clan can not protect the lands that they hold for him, he can turn their stewardship over to another clan. This was how many of the wars in Rokugan began, when one clan attempted to show to the Emperor that another clan could not sufficiently protect their land and therefore should be stripped of it.


The climate in Rokugan is diverse. Winter is generally short while Summer is long and sultry. Fall was cool and Spring was wet. Rokugan can experience heavy snowfalls during the winter. [7]

Earthquakes occurred regularly and there had been five great earthquakes in the history of Rokugan, quickly followed by a tsunami. Hurricanes can also be frequent and great storms have destroyed entire villages. There are many volcanoes in Rokugan, several being active. [7]

Creatures of Rokugan[]

Rokugan 3.jpg

Rokugan covers a large geographical area and contains many diverse types of terrain, from seas and marshes to mountains and deserts. As a result, it also contains a great diversity of animal life.


This section is covered more in-depth in the article Time

Time in Rokugan is measured in several ways. The seasons are the most obvious division of time, as the weather in Rokugan can switch from oppressive heat during the summer months to crippling blizzards in the winter. [8] A more formal system of months and days also exists, dividing the year into twelve months of 28 days. [9] Additionally, the years themselves can be counted according to two different systems: the Emperor's Right, which referred to the year of the reign of the current Emperor and was the official method of recording the passage of time in the Rokugani Empire; and the Isawa Calendar, which measured the number of years since the founding of Gisei Toshi, Isawa's city. [10]

List of centuries


  1. Imperial Histories, p. 13
  2. Dawn of the Empire, Part One, by Rich Wulf
  3. Time of the Void, p. 101
  4. Goddesses, Part 4, by Shawn Carman
  5. Echoes of Thunder, by Robert Denton III, Shawn Carman and Fred Wan
  6. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 22
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 23
  8. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 65
  9. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 66
  10. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 88

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