“Shipwreck renders a man poor for a year; a bad marriage makes him poor for life.”
The Yoritomo family of the Mantis have the distinction of being even pickier about their fish than the Crane. Indeed, they are so adamant about freshness that their chefs have devised several dishes in which the fish is set before the diner while still twitching in its death throes. Few of these dishes have become popular on the mainland, although the concept of sushi (serving raw or lightly cooked fish over vinegar-infused rice) is a favorite everywhere.
The Mantis’ most famous contribution to the cuisine of the mainland is a special type of sushi known as fugu sushi, which became an immediate hit with the Crane Clan. A dish which requires the chef to have three years of intense training before preparing it, with the slightest mistake spelling certain death for the eaters, is a perfect match for the clan that considers Iaijutsu an art form.
Yoritomo like chopsticks made from rare woods like ebony and mahogany, sometimes ornamented with inlays of pearl, mother-of-pearl, or coral.
--Mantis samurai are encouraged to marry and have as many children as they can, and those who have three or more can expect to be swiftly promoted to reward this service to the clan. The Yoritomo a blessing from a monk of the Order of Kaimetsu-uo is a must to protect a newborn child.
The gempukku of the Yoritomo requires the student to demonstrate knowledge of the myriad of skills a Mantis samurai must master to serve the clan. Martial skills are of utmost importance, of course, including the peasant weapons their fighting style demands. Yoritomo samurai are also expected to be able to conduct basic commerce, as many of their number are involved in the mercantile interests of the clan. Sailing skills are necessary, of course, and the ceremony sometimes tests stealth and similar disreputable activities.
While Mantis lords arrange political marriages for themselves and their children, ordinary Yoritomo samurai sometimes have a great deal more latitude in their choice. The Yoritomo’s general philosophy that destiny is forged by one’s own efforts and not by one’s connections tends to devalue the idea of political marriages. Mantis who reach the age of 22 without marrying must generally consult a matchmaker, however, and find a suitable mate. This provides incentive enough for most young adults to choose their own spouses. More than a few Yoritomo marriages have formed out of fear of the matchmaker.
The Yoritomo rarely retire. The Brotherhood of Shinsei has few temples on the Isles of Spice and Silk, and the influence of its monasteries is quite small. Those who do retire tend to enter the Order of Kaimetsu-uo, which often satisfies the new monk’s taste for action and excitement.
Most Yoritomo samurai are buried as they live—at sea. The body is placed on a boat, which is set ablaze and pushed out to sea. The higher the rank of the deceased, the larger the ship that carries him to Yomi. Peasant burials are far simpler: the deceased’s ashes are simply strewn across the water. After the funeral the living are expected to move on with their lives. The dead have already reached their reward, so those who wish to honor them may do so without the need for further ritual.
The Moshi prefer chopsticks made from light, warmcolored woods, especially maples.
--The Moshi practice one of the most traditional gempukku ceremonies in the Empire, one dating back to their founding as an off-shoot of the Phoenix Clan. Prospective shugenja spend a great deal of time in meditation with the kami. This prayer vigil can be interrupted at any time by their sensei, who requests they cast spells at a moment’s notice. Calligraphy and knowledge of the Tao must also be demonstrated, as well as a command of basic theological and astrological precepts.
Moshi have more traditional views of retirement, allowing their samurai to retire to a monastary and become a monk of Shinsei.
The Moshi strictly follow traditional funerary procedures, with the added tenet that the dead must be honored under the light of the sun.
--The Tsuruchi will loudly twang bowstrings around the newborn child, believing the sound will help drive away malevolent spirits.
The gempukku ceremonies of the Tsuruchi are even more unconventional than the Mantis, for the Tsuruchi originated as men who rejected normal samurai ways almost completely. Indeed, when Tsuruchi himself first began accepting followers in the eleventh century, he demanded they break their own swords as the price of joining his Minor Clan. Gempukku begins with tests of athleticism and kyujutsu. Perceptive abilities are tested as well; Tsuruchi are expected to be able to hunt by sound alone if necessary. The ceremony culminates with an exercise in tracking and investigation, for those skills are the livelihood of the family’s prominent bounty hunters.
The Tsuruchi have more traditional views of retirement, but few Tsuruchi live long enough for the privilege.
Tsuruchi funerals are drawn-out, ritualized affairs in which the deeds of the dead are recounted at length—a legacy of the family’s origin, when it numbered only a few dozen members. The deceased’s bow is burned on the pyre with him, or passed on to a fellow Tsuruchi if that was his wish. Special humming bulb arrows are fired into the sky, creating a mournful sound that can be heard for miles around. Tsuruchi funerals conclude with lengthy drinking, dancing, and carousing, as the friends and family of the dead mourn the passing of their fellow Tsuruchi and celebrate the life they still have.