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  #1  
Old 04-05-2007, 02:29 AM
Akitora Akitora is offline
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Default A foreigners guide to the Lands of the Sunrise

The following are the sideline, historical notes to "A foreigners guide to the Lands of the Sunrise", posted on the Samurai's Blog at Meitochi.com (Got Tatsu?). The guide tells the tale of the journey's of a man we know only as
Jōjin no Ryūkyū, a satunushi pēchin living in exile in the court of Shimuzu Sanehisa, Daimyo of Satsuma Province. Loyal to the Ming Empire in China, he is writing all that he has learned of Japan so that the Chinese rulers will have up to date intelligence for the turbulent years ahead.

I have written this guide as an aide to players and developers in all aspects of life and the land of 16th century Japan, beginning in 1501. It is certainly by no means exhaustive. It is hoped that the combination of a fictional tale and historical notes will help people immerse themselves in the setting of Tatsumaki: Land at War. The guide will begin with a general overview of the country before focusing on individual provinces as Jōjin flees Kagoshima and journey's across Japan writing about all he sees. Along the way will be sidelines into various aspects of Japanese culture, particularly in the 16th Century.
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Historical Notes on the
Dedication of the Guide to
King Shō Shin of the Kingdom of Ryūkyū
and the Hongzhi Emperor of the Great Ming Empire

Let me begin by saying that I pretty well plagiarised this first bit. Many thanks and apologies to Niccolo Machiavelli whose Dedication to the Magnificent Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici in “The Prince” gave me the setting and tone to wrap my tale around. Like Jōjin, Machiavelli was also in displeasure when he wrote the Prince, and our fictional hero, being of prestigious memory, learning and intelligence (in that he will know things the average Japanese will not) hints at things to come.

Jōjin is a native of the islands of Ryūkyū, known in modern times as Okinawa Prefecture. The largest island is Okinawa Island, hence the name. According to Wikipedia:

Quote:
in the 14th century, small domains scattered on Okinawa Island were unified into three principalities, Hokuzan (北山, Northern Mountain), Chūzan (中山, Central Mountain) and Nanzan (南山, Southern Mountain). This was known as the Three Kingdoms or Sanzan (三山, Three Mountains) period. These three principalities, or tribal federations led by major chieftains, battled, and Chūzan emerged victorious, receiving Chinese investiture in the early 15th century. That is to say, the leaders of Chūzan were officially recognized by China as the rightful kings over those of Nanzan and Hokuzan, thus lending great legitimacy to their claims, if not victory outright. The ruler of Chūzan passed his throne to king Hashi (he received the surname "Shō" from the Ming emperor in 1430, becoming known as Shō Hashi, 尚巴志). Hashi had already conquered Hokuzan in 1416 and Nanzan in 1429, uniting the island of Okinawa for the first time, and founding the first Shō Dynasty.

Shō Hashi adopted the Chinese hierarchical court system, built Shuri Castle and the town as his capital, and constructed Naha harbor. Several generations later, in 1469, King Shō Toku died without a male heir; a palatine servant declared he was Toku's adopted son and gained Chinese investiture. This pretender, Shō En, began the Second Shō Dynasty. Ryūkyū's golden age occurred during the reign of Shō Shin, the second king of that dynasty, who reigned from 1478-1526.

Diplomatically, the kingdom established tributary relations with China during its Ming and Qing Dynasties. It also developed trade relations with Japan, Korea and many Southeast Asian countries, including Siam, Pattani, Malacca, Champa, Hue, and Java. Between the15th and 16th centuries, the Ryūkyū Kingdom emerged as the main trading intermediary in Eastern Asia. Japanese products (silver, swords, fans, lacquer-ware, folding screens) and Chinese products (medicinal herbs, minted coins, glazed ceramics, brocades, textiles) were traded within the kingdom for Southeast Asian sappanwood, rhino horn, tin, sugar, iron, ambergris, Indian ivory and Arabian frankincense. Altogether, 150 voyages between the kingdom and Southeast Asia on Ryūkyūan ships were recorded, with 61 of them bound for Siam, 10 for Malacca, 10 for Pattani and 8 for Java, among others.
Commercial activities in the kingdom diminished around 1570 with the rise of Chinese merchants and the intervention of Portuguese and Spanish ships, corresponding with the start of the Red Seal Ship system in Japan.

In just over a hundred years from now, the Shimazu family of Satsuma, the nearest Japanese neighbours of the kingdom, will take control of the Kingdom.
The Shimazu clan wanted Okinawa's trade with mainland as well as with South East Asia, and wanted favour with the regime in Edo (modern-day Tokyo), and the Ryūkyū Kingdom had not paid respects to the new regime in Edo. Permission to invade the kingdom was granted by the rulers in Edo.
The invasion of the Ryukyus by Satsuma took place in 1609. Three thousand men and more than one hundred war junks sailed from Kagoshima at the southern tip of Kyūshū. The Ryukyuans did not put up a fight, due to the order of the king, who told them "nuchidu takara" (Life itself is a treasure). Many priceless cultural treasures were looted and taken to Kagoshima.
This period of effective outside control also featured the first-ever international matches of Go, as Ryukyuan players came to Japan to test their skill. This occurred in 1634, 1682 and 1710.
The Satsuma introduced the policy of banning the sword ownership by commoners, which was already well established in the mainland. This lead to the development of the indigenous martial art, karate which utilizes domestic items as weapons.
Immediate after the annexation of Okinawa to Japan, the hostility against the mainland was high. However, as Japan introduced modern institution which they copied from the West including the public education where standard Japanese are taught. When Japan became the dominant power of the Far East, many are proud of being the citizen of the Empire, while there is always the undercurrent of dissatisfaction for being treated as a second class. For example, at the earlier part of Meiji era, Japan once offered Okinawa to the Qing Dynasty in exchange of treaty concession though the negotiation eventually failed.
The kingdom became tribute state of both China and the Satsuma clan, with Satsuma exercising the ultimate control. Because China would not have a formal trade agreement unless a country was a tribute state, the kingdom was a convenient loop-hole for Japan to trade with China. When Japan officially closed off trade with European nations except the Dutch, Nagasaki and Ryukyu become the only trade connection to outside world.
Perry's "black ships", official envoys from the United States, came in 1853. The Kingdom was formally annexed to Japan by the Meiji government in 1879, and the monarchy in Shuri was abolished.
However, in 1501, the Kingdom was at its peak. It had the protection of the Ming Empire in China, access to all the trade goods of Asia, and what was essentially, a Japanese culture. The idea that the Chinese will one day want to have such a guide for its spies is not unfounded – in less than 30 years, China will cut off all trade to Japan, and the Chinese will certainly find it harder to know what is going on inside their neighbour’s borders.
Jōjin no Ryūkyū (Jōjin of Ryūkyū) is a satunushi pēchin or upper class pēchin. Outwardly very similar to the samurai in dress and custom, they were more disposed to the arts then their neighbours and the King held the true reins of power in the Kingdom unlike in Japan.

The gejun of Shimotsuki in the 9th Year of Meiō, (November 16, 1500) is a significant date. The gejun is the final third of the month and Shimotsukii is the 11th month. On this day, Kashiwara II is named Emperor. His family is impoverished and he cannot formally ascend to the throne as he cannot pay for the ceremony. The Ashikaga Bakufu or Shogunate should at this point be ruling the country, but it is essentially a gilded peacock in a cage – the Ashikaga are no longer real warriors and they don’t get involved in the politics of the day.

The Ōnin War of 1467 to 1477 had marked the start of the Warring States period in which Tatsumaki is set. By 1500, the Kanrei, or Shogun’s Deputy position was held by the Hosokawa clan and they were in effect the puppetmasters of the Ashikaga. All across Japan dozens of small scale wars and border skirmishes were being fought between rival Daimyo who took the Shoguns lack of action in the Ōnin War as permission to start their own private conflicts. In effect, every province is its own country now, with travel across provincial borders or clan boundaries being much more controlled.

In our next instalment we will be looking at Japan itself.



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  #2  
Old 04-06-2007, 06:11 PM
Miyakami_Tatsuya Miyakami_Tatsuya is offline
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Default Re: A foreigners guide to the Lands of the Sunrise

Oh! I must say, that is a pretty excellent write up. You provide both entertainment and historical education in your writings and I admire you for having such a great writing skill. You are an asset to both Tatsumaki and Meitochi! Well Done!
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Old 04-06-2007, 06:27 PM
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Zorbon Zorbon is offline
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Default Re: A foreigners guide to the Lands of the Sunrise

heh, maybe after the game launches yall can compile all the writings on meitochi together into a book and publish it...

you also might wanna post the side notes on Meitochi as well (i didn't see them on there when i visited earlier)
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Old 04-06-2007, 07:50 PM
Akitora Akitora is offline
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Default Re: A foreigners guide to the Lands of the Sunrise

Thanks No - they are posted here for a reason - it brings/sends people to EoE and Meitochi and vice versa. New instalment today!
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