Of Rice and Men
Below is a list of common practices in Rokugan associated with proper etiquette. Some actions are considered dishonorable as the setting has a rigid view of what is acceptable and expected of samurai in Rokugan. Also, keep in mind not all clan’s customs are acceptable outside of a clan’s lands. For example, while shaking hands is acceptable amongst Unicorn, its generally not acceptable between non-Unicorn samurai.
*Giving a fan to another samurai is symbolic of having an affair.
*Carrying a katana implies you are a warrior and are capable of defending your own honor.
*It is inappropriate to reveal skin, especially for women. The only exception is for samurai-ko who can’t avoid it when training.
*Its appropriate to address samurai as -sama when first meeting. If a samurai has clearly identifiable family mons or has introduced himself, its an insult to not address him by his family name – unless he has expressed permission to use his chosen name.
*Its considered scandalous for an unmarried woman to be alone with a man. A handmaiden or vow of chastity would alleviate this circumstance.
*Protocol dictates a gift must be refused twice so the giver can assure his sincerity.
*Bow to your colleagues, bow lower to your superiors, and kneel to your lord. Its appropriate to touch your head to the floor when before a daimyo, champion or the Emperor.
*Perception is far more important than reality. Samurai speak behind fans because if you can’t see words spoken, then they do not exist.
*You do not wear armor or carry weapons of war within a lord’s lands without permission to do so. This excludes the daisho, which represents a samurai’s honor and soul.
*You do not cast spells within a lord’s home without permission to do so. You do not cast spells on a samurai without permission, either. It is an even greater dishonor to use magic in formal events, such as martial competitions and other tournaments. Most importantly, spells should never be cast before the Emperor without permission.
*Touching dead flesh is impure and a stain on your honor. For this eta perform the duty of touching the dead in place of samurai.
*Cleanliness is extremely important to samurai. Samurai are known to sometimes make multiple baths a day because of this.
*If you have been so greatly dishonored that you bring shame to your family, you may restore your honor through seppuku. This can only be done through permission from one’s lord. For non-bushi women, they may similarly perform jigai. Samurai protesting their lords may perform kanshi.
*Samurai do not engage in commerce, it is considered beneath them as money should mean nothing to them. However, for some samurai it is a necessity while others may have more creative means to avoid physically exchanging currency.
*The honorific “-dono” is used for a samurai of considerably higher station to your own. The honorific “-kun” or “-chan” is used for direct family, traditionally children and sometimes loved ones… Or insulting other samurai. Calling an enemy “-kun” is a surefire way to raise a samurai’s ire.
*It is extremely inappropriate to physically touch other samurai which includes, but is not limited to: holding hands, hugging and kissing. Samurai do not touch each other and even in private tend to avoid to do so because one can never be too sure when they are alone.
It is disrespectful to address a samurai by his chosen name without permission. A samurai should not take liberties in doing so.
*When entering an establishment such as a tea house or sake house, its general practice to leave your katana in a closet at the front for safe keeping. Its a general courtesy and is enforced more often at sake houses so drunk, angry samurai don’t draw their swords on their enemies.
*When staying at a samurai’s home it is generally expected a samurai should leave his sword in his room.
*It is extremely inappropriate to speak of Bloodspeakers (maho tsukai), Blood Magic (Maho), the Shadowlands, and the Taint in polite company.
*Reverence to one’s ancestors, worshiping the Ten Thousand Fortunes and following the Tao are all parts of Rokugani religion. Piety is a key to samurai culture in some form. Its blasphemous to question the divine right of the Emperor and the samurai caste.
It is rude to approach a table uninvited at an establishment such as a sake house or tea house. Worse is to seat yourself without permission from the occupants of the table.
*Listening in on another samurai’s conversation is quite rude. Its common practice for honorable samurai to ignore conversations if they are not directed towards themselves.