Due to the mountainous region in which the Dragon’s reside, most of their lowlands grow millet and wheat while the upper reaches grow barley and buckwheat. They still eat traditional rice and fish, however most of it is from trade. The fish itself is primarily used for seasonings and for stocks and soups. Soybeans are is the primary protein source of Dragon cuisine, especially in curd form, known as tofu.
However, they also rely on more controversial food; goat meat. Goats are well-suited to the moutains and provide plenty of meat. Because eating red meat is considered scandalous, most Dragon refer to his meat as “mountain tuna”. In the Dragon provinces samurai and heimin alike eat noodles made of a blend of wheat and buckwheat flours, buckwheat being even more tolerant of poor growing conditions than normal wheat.
Due to the long wingers, cooks have developed methods to pickle vegetables to use in the later seasons, something that has picked up in cuisines across all clans. The monks of the Dragon use whatever the local peasantry uses. Dragon samurai usually don’t have much of a preference, though a set of plum wood chopsticks is considered a thoughtful and gracious gift.
--The Dragon are a smaller clan than many of the other Great Clans, and their birthrates tend to be low, so every child born to the samurai caste is seen as a fortuitous event. When a pregnant woman is about to come to term, it is the husband’s duty to make certain the house is protected from evil spirits. Blessed strips of coiled paper called spirit catchers are hung all around the inside and outside of the home. Local shugenja or monks are asked to visit the home and grant their blessings, and it is not uncommon for total strangers to stop at a house decorated with spirit catchers and offer their blessings and good wishes for the child.
Though the Dragon treat their peasants relatively well, many of their heimin are quite poor compared to those of other Great Clans. It is not unusual for Dragon peasants to be unable to support their children with their harvest. Fortunately, the Togashi are always willing to adopt unwanted children and raise them a members of the tattooed order. Destitute peasants wishing a better life for their children deposit the babies outside of Dragon monasteries. The practice is so common that many monasteries serve dual purposes as both holy sites and orphanages.
The families of the Dragon Clan vary widely in philosophy and purpose, and this affects the ceremonies each family uses for the gempukku. The Mirumoto show considerable variety even within their own ranks. Some branches of the family allow the student to complete his gempukku simply by presenting a poem his sensei deems acceptable. Other Mirumoto are more traditional, requiring their students to undergo a lengthy, solemn ceremony in which the samurai-to-be recites his lineage and the great deeds of his ancestors. He is then handed a pair of swords with which to demonstrate a mastery of the Niten stances before the assembled onlookers.
The Kitsuki also have a traditional gempukku, though they are less interested in martial prowess. Kitsuki gempukku ceremonies always involve some test of wits. Visual puzzles, riddles, and tests of memory are all common, but the specific test is rarely the same twice. Sometimes the samurai-to-be is not even informed he is taking a test until it is completed successfully—for example, perhaps he is told his new swords are missing and he must help find them.
The gempukku ceremonies of the Agasha are solemn and to the point. After several days of fasting and seclusion, the young student is brought before his master. The master offers a satchel of blessed scrolls and asks one question: “Why do you wish to bear our name?” If the master is impressed with the sincerity of the student’s answer the ceremony is complete. Some claim it does not truly matter what the student says, as long as he is concise and passionate in his beliefs. The gempukku ritual is then followed by ritual tattooing. Though the tattoos of an Agasha are not magical like those of a Togashi, they still have deep personal meaning and no two Agasha bear exactly the same tattoos.
The Togashi order is secretive about its initiation techniques, but it is known that they pursue study of the Tao, meditation, and of course ritual tattooing with magical ink. The senior monks of the order monitor the tattooing process carefully, for the tattoos reveal much about the wearer’s soul and destiny.
It is rare for members of other clans to seek a political alliance with the Dragon, and the families get along with each other relatively well, so marriages for political reasons are much rarer than in other clans. By contrast, marriages for love are actually somewhat common, though in all cases a samurai must ask permission from his daimyo before he can be married.
When a Togashi does take a spouse, he or she usually expects to leave the order, though there are exceptions. If the prospective spouse intends to join the Dragon Clan and pass the order’s initiation ceremony, or if the Dragon Champion deems that a tattooed monk can continue serving the clan’s interests even when married and far from home, the Togashi is allowed to retain a monastic affi liation. Those tattooed men who do marry and live with another clan frequently take the name of their spouse in recognition of the inherent contradictions between married life and affiliation with a monastic order.
Marriage ceremonies in the Dragon Lands are humble affairs, though they rarely occur in humble locations. The Dragon believe it is best for marriages to take place in natural surroundings rather than shrines. Waterfalls, forests, and mountain peaks are popular choices for marriage ceremonies. The most powerful and wealthy Dragon samurai can afford to arrange their ceremonies in exotic locations such as in sight of active volcanoes.
Dragon do not actually view retirement as a fundamental change in a samurai’s life. Quite the opposite, in fact: some Dragon decide to follow the path of Shinsei and take a monk’s vows while still serving as a samurai. In other clans such a thing is seen as entirely contradictory—the path of Shinsei requires too much dedication for a samurai to also serve his lord as he is expected. The Way of the Dragon, however, essentially reconciles the two. The clan’s conception of duty already emphasizes personal growth and enlightenment, so taking a monk’s vows is seen as a perfectly legitimate path. Still, the Mirumoto and Kitsuki do tend to have traditional views of Bushido, and thus most still view retirement as the end to a samurai’s career. Retired Mirumoto and Kitsuki do not continue to serve their family, though some of them join the Togashi and take that name.
Dragon funerals Funeral Rite are very informal. Most Dragon have little fear of death, viewing it as one more change in an existence fraught with it. When a Dragon dies, he is ritually cremated as normal. Elaborate gravesites are uncommon; scattering the ashes of the dead in areas of serene natural beauty is the norm. Friends and family will gather to say their goodbyes. Some choose to leave gifts such as rice, sandals, or warm blankets by the grave, all intended to make the deceased spirit’s continuing journeys more comfortable.
Dragon gravesites are typically unmarked, but they are invariably placed near a shrine or monastery. The monks keep careful records of which areas are resting places for the dead, and whose ashes lie there, for it is their duty to make sure unmarked burial sites are not defiled.