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As Rokugan has a very advanced society, it has a very developed culture. In Rokugani society, there are cultural rules defining nearly every possible interaction between its citizens, from art and emotion to trade and war.


Rokugan is a caste based society, with at least three broad categories of people: hinin, heimin, and samurai.


Hinin, or eta, are outside of the Celestial Order and as such are unable to progress upward. They are considered unclean, and it is considered an indignity to have to speak with them. They are never to address a samurai and are to deal with peasants with great respect. They often dress in rags and live in their own slum villages connected to larger cities by winding dirt roads. They do the work that is so detestable that no one else will. They work leather, prepare the dead, clear battlefields, and other loathsome tasks, almost all of which involve touching dead flesh. Because they may be killed with impunity with almost no consequences, they are usually rightly terrified when forced into a confrontation with anyone of higher station. Entertainers and criminals are also hinin, though geisha are a peculiar exception to the usual abuse and hardship of eta life. The company of a geisha considered enjoyable and appropriate for samurai and their rights ensured by a samurai patron.[citation needed]


Heimin are the peasants, tradesmen, and merchants of Rokugan. They farm the lands, do household chores, and perform much of the actual work in Rokugan, and as such their role is respected by their superiors, even if they are relegated to a role of abject submissiveness. The main exception to this are master craftsmen, particularly those who forge masterpiece quality katana. These elite craftsmen often enjoy a considerable social advantage, occasionally above samurai at least under certain circumstances.[citation needed]


While monks (with a few exceptions, such as the Dragon Clan Ise Zumi, who are samurai) are technically heimin, their role as teachers and close students of the religions of Rokugan place them in a position where everyone including samurai pay them the deepest respect and at least make a great show of listening to and heeding their council. Certainly it would not do to mistreat a monk in any way, as they are personal representatives of the celestial order.[citation needed]


Expected to give their lives at any moment for the safety of their people, the warriors of the samurai caste are the most revered subjects of the Empire. They live by a formal and rigorous code of conduct called bushido, and their adherence to these codes determines how they are treated by their fellows, or even whether they are commanded to commit ritual suicide, which any samurai may be commanded of his lord to do at any time.[citation needed]

Samurai are to be fearless, courteous, unemotional, and selfless. They always carry their two swords, the katana and wakizashi a shorter sword of identical styling together in their belt, the two swords being called their daisho. Every action performed by a samurai is a reflection on his family and clan, for good or ill, and so samurai tend to try and life exemplary lives, though not all succeed.[citation needed]

Samurai life[]


This section is covered more in-depth in the article Naming convention

Children's names before their gempukku often reflect their position in their families and their birth order. Until a child reached their gempukku and chose a new name they would simply be called "first son" or "second daughter" and so on.[1] On gempukku, a child chooses a name of his or her own. Additionally, those samurai that retire into the Brotherhood of Shinsei choose yet another name that they will use after their retirement.


Most people of both genders wear kimono, a robe-like garment consisting of at least two, but can go past five different layers, especially in wintertime. Sometimes a sleeveless jacket, called a haori, is worn over ones kimono. Often it is considered respectful to incorporate the colors of your clan into your outfit (green for Dragon, orange or red for Phoenix, light blue for Crane, gold for Lion, grey or blue-grey for Crab, purple or white for unicorn, black or red for scorpion) though this is by no means required. Generally well to do people will have several outfits, plus at least one plain outfit for traveling.[citation needed]


A mon existed for every family, clan, and many other organizations within Rokugan and functions as a badge of heraldry, a circular design with a stylized image within. Most mon were a single color and made heavy use of negative space to artistically portray their imagery. Where a particular mon was worn said a great deal about the samurai and how he felt about his various lords. The kamishimo was a light overvest, typically where a samurai displayed clan and family mons as well as whatever others he chose. A mon worn on the right breast was considered to be over his sword arm, and represented who he fights for. A mon on the left was considered to be over his heart, and representede who his heart belonged to. A much larger mon was often worn on the back of the kimono or more often the haori, and this indicated that the samurai wished all who saw him to understand that he was of whatever group the mon indicated (often the case with figures such as magistrates or imperial officials who used such powerful symbols to command respect and obedience). [2]


The Rokugani diet consists largely of rice, a staple of every meal, and is accompanied by the consumption of steamed vegetables and lots of fresh seafood in coastal regions. The Rokugani nobility often participate in hunts for game as a pleasant courtly diversion, but would never eat the meat that comes of such recreation. Red meat is considered unclean, and is thought to make those who eat it smell dirty, though all classes enjoy fowl and pork, at least in moderation. Cows are raised in Rokugan, but almost exclusively for milk, which is valued tremendously more than their meat. Even the Fox clan, who often take upon themselves certain taboos to honor the capricious spirits of their homeland that require them to forsake some more civilized behavior for a more natural existance, will abstain from game meats and will subsist on wild nuts and berries instead.[3][4]


A form of suicide, called seppuku, is the primary means whereby a dishonored samurai may absolve his family of his shame (through taking all the blame upon himself) and involves the samurai disemboweling himself with his own sword (called a wakizashi) and his decapitation by either a respected friend or superior. This action is also the most powerful political statement a samurai can make, the ultimate protest a warrior can make against their lord's actions is committing seppuku without permission.

Considerably worse than seppuku is dismissal from their lord's service. This renders the samurai a ronin, a detestable position wherein the former samurai cannot serve and receives no support or honor, forced often times to live a life of thuggery to survive, ignored by all who once respected him. [citation needed]

The worst punishment a samurai can receive is execution, wherein their ancestral swords are broken and their entire family line ceases to be samurai.[citation needed]


  1. Way of the Crane, page 20
  2. Legend of the Five Rings Players' Guide: Second Edition, pp 31, 41
  3. Legend of the Five Rings Players' Guide: Second Edition, page 30
  4. Legend of the Five Rings Game Master's Guide: Second Edition, page 112

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