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Matsu Tsuko

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Please note: This article is about the Lion Clan Champion. For other uses of the term, please see Tsuko (disambiguation).
Matsu Tsuko 
Matsu Tsuko 
Born: 1090 
Died: Month of the Dragon of 1128 
Parents: Matsu Uniri,
Matsu Yunaki 
Siblings: Matsu Hiroru,
Ikoma Ujiaki (half) 
Spouse: None 
Children: None 
Titles: Lion Clan Champion,
Matsu Daimyo,
Topaz Champion

Matsu Tsuko was a bushi of the Lion Clan, Matsu Daimyo, and Lion Clan Champion.

Childhood Edit

Tsuko's parents were strict with the education of their daughter, the heir of the Matsu family. They spent little time with Tsuko, and it was her uncle, Matsu Yasau, the Guard of the Hall of Ancestors, who took care of her, telling tales, battles and histories. Yasau died when she was eight. [1] Just before she began her training Tsuko was tattooed with the golden Lion's crest in her chest. [2]

Battle at Fate Gorge Edit

At the age of ten, Tsuko watched as her father got murdered by Phoenix assassins and saved her mother's life by killing one of them with her boken. The morning after, she stood next to her mother, urging the Lion Clan on to victory in the Battle at Fate Gorge. [3] [4] [5]

Other Family Edit

In addition to her brother Matsu Hiroru and her half-brother Ikoma Ujiaki, [6] Tsuko's uncle was Matsu Ochiman and his son, Matsu Gohei, was her cousin. [7] Matsu Ketsui was another cousin.[citation needed]

Topaz Champion Edit

Tsuko passed her gempukku after she won the Topaz Championship in 1104. [5] It was there when she met Akodo Arasou, the Lion's heir. [8]

Battles Edit

She fought the Unicorn in the Battle of White Shore Village. [5]

Betrothal Edit

In 1119 Tsuko was engaged with Akodo Arasou, the Akodo heir, and future Lion Clan Champion. Arasou in 1120 [9] tried to retake Toshi Ranbo from the Crane Clan. During a brash charge the force led by Arasou was ambushed by Daidoji. The Lion were outnumbered and killed to a man. Tsuko had hesitated to take the charge with her beloved, and from safety saw Arasou's death. [10] Her betrothed's death devastated Tsuko. He had been her closest confidant, the only she could be married, and Tsuko felt alone. [5]

Tsuko and Toturi Edit

After Arasou's death his brother Akodo Toturi became Lion Clan Champion, but Tsuko did not believe he could live up to his brother. [11] [12] She held a deep resentment toward Toturi. The Lion had lost land and prestige to the political machinations of the Crane Clan, and she felt Toturi had done nothing to prevent it. [13]

Matsu Daimyo Edit

Matsu Tsuko 4

Daimyo Matsu Tsuko

In 1122 she become the Matsu Daimyo after her mother retired to a monastery. [5] She had long hair, with smooth tan skin, spoke in a low voice and moved with quiet menace. Tsuko was quick to anger, slow to forgive, and also quick to reward the virtuous, however. She was never seen in feminine clothing and considered amorous offers an insult to her vow of celibacy. [14]

Seeking war with the Crane Edit

The Badger Clan Champion Ichiro Akitomo was found murdered at Tsuma, while the Topaz Championship was held. Akitomo attended it at the behest of Tsuko, who was seeking allies to begin a war against the Crane Clan. The alliance did not happen, and the Scorpion Clan Champion or his wife, Bayushi Kachiko, were rumored to be involved. [15]

Lion's Roar Edit

Tsuko gathered the Matsu contestants at the Topaz Championship and pressed them to attain their gempukku. Any who would fail had to commit seppuku to show they were not worthy of being a Matsu. [16] It was known that Matsu Shorisuso was one of those who failed and followed her Lady's will. [17]

Tsuko and Tsanuri Edit

Some time after Toturi became Daimyo of the Akodo and Champion of the Lion, Ikoma Tsanuri began to spend time with Tsuko and she quickly began to learn at Tsuko's feet, becoming her favored student. [7]

Peace Negotiations Broken Edit

In 1122 Tsuko attended at Toshi Ranbo the peace negotiations with the Crane, as an Imperial edict ordered. A Crane provokation led in the Battle of the Forgotten Tide. [18] Shortly after a group of samurai passed her a mirror, and Tsuko told no one what she saw upon its surface, the spirit of her beloved Arasou. [19]

Winter Court - 1122 Edit

Tsuko and Toturi came to winter court at Kyuden Seppun in 1122. Other Clans saw the disdain the Matsu showed to the Akodo. [20] Tsuko was pondering to declare Matsu sovereignty over the 'weak' Akodo Toturi, and to claim the championship for herself. [21]

Scorpion Coup Edit

Matsu Tsuko 2

Matsu Tsuko

Immediately following the news of the assassination of the Emperor by Bayushi Shoju in the Scorpion Coup of 1123, Tsuko sent out a general call to arms to the entire Lion Clan. Denouncing the Scorpion, Crane and even Toturi and the Akodo family she vowed that the Lion would be the ones to strike back at the Scorpion. [22] Doji Satsume was severely wounded, and his son, the weak Doji Hoturi, became the Crane commander. This event diminished the confidence of Tsuko about the leadership of the combined forces. [23] Until Toturi's eventual arrival the leadership of the united clans was going to be held by either Tsuko or Shinjo Yokatsu. [24]

Becoming Clan Champion Edit

Tsuko's animosity towards Toturi was legendary and she leapt at the opportunity of becoming Lion champion in 1123 after Toturi's dishonor. [25]

Lion-Crane War resumed Edit

The Lion-Crane War, halted by the Scorpion Coup was retaken again. [26] Tsuko was so enraged that she killed a joking Court Jester in the Imperial Court. [27] In 1123 in front of Kyuden Doji, Tsanuri was trapped by a Daidoji trick and surrounded by enemy forces. Tsuko was advised by Kitsu Motso, and she charged alongside with the Lion's Pride to save the day. Tsanuri was saved by the personal intervention of Matsu Gohei. [7] Her success on the battlefield has impressed Hantei XXXIX, who had given her leave to act as she saw fit. [28]

Clan Wars Edit

Kisada's Ambition Edit

In 1125 the armies of the Crab were moving to the North, alongside with his Shadowlands allies. Tsuko moved the Lion in their way to confront Hida Kisada's ambition. The Lion camp was struck by an assassin, who killed a guard and a commander, and Tsuko decided to take care herself. She managed to find the murderer in the vicinity of the camp, and killed two of her Hida companions. The girl, who was barely twelve and had a Crab mon tattooed in the arm, escaped from her grasp. [2] The young assassin was most probably Hida O-Ushi, Kisada's own daughter.

Shiba Tsukune Edit

In the last days of 1126 [29] Shiba Tsukune destroyed a Lion army near the border Lion-Crane, [30] which had been placed there to ambush Toturi. [31] The Lion general's head was carried back to the Phoenix stronghold as a trophy. [32] Tsuko, enraged by the action, declared a Blood feud on Tsukune. [30] [33]

Pact with the Unicorn Edit

Lion had made a pact with the Unicorn: If Unicorn assisted Lion in destroying Toturi, Lion would give Unicorn half the Crane lands Lion would capture. This pact was suggested to Lion by Emperor's wife, Bayushi Kachiko. [34] Unicorn did not let to pass Toturi from Crab lands to Crane ones, guiding Toturi to Lion lands, his hatred foes. [35]

The Naga Awaken Edit

This year news came about a new threat to Lion Clan, the awaken naga race. Doji Shizue was caught by Lion scouts carrying letters to Kakita Yoshi in Kyuden Doji from the army of the ronin Toturi near the Beiden Pass. She was treated as a spy and imprisoned. Tsuko kept Shizue alive to know more about the naga. During the night Shizue fled helped by Tsuko's brother, Matsu Hiroru, who fought against his sister before scape. [36]

Fall of Doji Castle Edit

In 1127 after the Crane lost the Battle of Kakita Palace against the Crab, the Lion invaded the Crane lands. One army was commanded by Tsuko, and the second by her hatamoto Matsu Agetoki, [37] who put under siegeg Doji Castle. They were forced to retreat by orders from Emperor himself. After three days the Crane Champion returned with an army of Shadowlands Madmen. The False Hoturi marched his army against Kyuden Doji, while the Lion watched it, inactive. The False Hoturi fouled the defenders, who opened the gates. The Shadowlands army decimated the dwindling forces of the Crane. [38]

Attacked by the Naga Edit

Seeking to destroy the invading Shadowlands, the Naga marched toward the undefended Lion provinces, forcing Matsu Tsuko to draw her troops away from the destruction of the Crane. [39]

Protecting Imperial City against the Great Bear Edit

In mid-winter of 1127 [40] Hida Kisada converted his merchant ships into troop transports, loaded his army onto the war barges and proceeded to sail along the coast to the Imperial Palace. When the Crab army arrived Tsuko was waiting them. She had moved her armies out of Crane territory to the north where she could protect the capitol. What Tsuko did not know was that the information was provided by Bayushi Kachiko herself, who had learned of the plan through the Great Bear and had passed the information on to her ally in the Lion Clan, Akodo Kage. Kachiko saw an opportunity to crush the Lion Champion's heart and destroy the Lion armies once and for all. And so, just before the armies met, Tsuko received a message bearing the Imperial Seal. The message ordered her to stand aside and let her army fight by itself. Tsuko had no choice but to follow the Emperor's order. She rode her steed to a nearby ridge and watched as the Great Bear smashed her army, [41] whose command she had given to the still lowly-ranked Kitsu Motso. [42]

Return of Fu Leng Edit

In the Month of the Hare of 1128 the Crab breached the Imperial City walls. [43] Tsuko stared the outcome, the Imperial City occupied by Crab forces. Suddenly the undead forces, both Crab and Lion – shambled forward to attack their former brethren. From the Imperial Palace Tsuko heard the Hantei XXXIX's voice, yet much louder, much older. The Crab were defeated by the Shadowlands forces of the returned Fu Leng. [44]

Toturi's Chase Ends Edit

The Unicorn Clan Champion Shinjo Yokatsu was concerned with the behaviour of the Lion during the siege of Kyuden Doji and the inactivity against the Crab landing near the Imperial City. Yokatsu did not rely in the Lion pact anymore, and in the first month of 1128 he ordered his son Shinjo Yasamura to leave the Beiden Pass. Toturi's ronin army was able to move south and escape the Lion's ire. [45]

The Death of Tsuko Edit

Meeting with Toturi the Black Edit

Eventually, Tsuko came to realize Toturi's part in the events. Shortly after the Hida Kisada was mortally wounded by Hantei XXXIX, Matsu Tsuko left the city of Otosan Uchi without preamble, and alone. She travelled to Toturi's camp and begged him to return and take the Lion Championship. [46] [47] This act was witnessed by Bayushi Aramoro, who returned to report to his mistress Bayushi Kachiko. [48]

Seppuku Edit

"The winter is bleak
Shadows are long with despair
My eyes are the dawn"
- Death poem of Matsu Tsuko
Death of Matsu Tsuko

Death of Matsu Tsuko

In the Month of the Dragon of 1128 Tsuko committed seppuku [50] to release herself from her personal vow to protect the Emperor. Her death would also release those Lion who were sworn to serve her in that task, and she hoped that they would follow the spirit of their family's ancient vow and protect the Empire, rather than the corrupted Emperor. To do so, she sought out the disgraced Toturi to serve as her second. [51] [49]

""They need you, Akodo. They need you."
- Tsuko's Last Words

After news of Tsuko's death spread, many Lion rallied to the banner of Toturi, but not all. Many could not abandon the letter of their ancient vow, and instead, chose to defend the Emperor, whoever and whatever he may be. [53]

Succession Edit

Tsuko was succeeded by her cousin Matsu Ketsui.[citation needed]

Matsu Domotai Edit

Tsuko personally met Matsu Domotai in Yomi when he ascended in 1160 following his death which had been in much the same fashion as her own. [54]

See also Edit

External Links Edit

Preceded by:
Topaz Champion
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Matsu Yunaki
Matsu Daimyo
1122 - 1128
Succeeded by:
Matsu Ketsui
Preceded by:
Akodo Toturi
Lion Clan Champion
1123 - 1128
Succeeded by:
Ikoma Tsanuri


  1. Way of the Lion, p. 77
  2. 2.0 2.1 Player's Guide; 2nd Ed, p. 234
  3. Way of the Phoenix, pp. 42-43
  4. Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, p. 16
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Way of the Lion, p. 78
  6. Way of the Willow, by Ree Soesbee
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Visions of the Past, by Ree Soesbee
  8. Imperial Histories, p. 143
  9. Way of the Lion, p. 65
  10. Way of the Lion, pp. 4-6
  11. Way of the Lion, p. 6
  12. Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, p. 17
  13. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, pp. 76-77
  14. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 177
  15. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 213
  16. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 211
  17. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 216
  18. Legacy of the Forge, pp. 4-5
  19. Legacy of the Forge, p. 40
  20. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 84
  21. Otosan Uchi: The Scorpion's Sting, p. 11
  22. Clan Letter to the Lion Clan (Imperial Herald v.2 #4)
  23. Otosan Uchi: The Scorpion's Sting, p. 60
  24. Flyer (Scorpion Clan Coup Scroll 2)
  25. Matsu Toshiro (Honor Bound Foil Chase Cards flavor)
  26. Bad Kharma (Honor Bound Foil Chase Cards flavor)
  27. Court Jester (Honor Bound Foil Chase Cards flavor)
  28. Game Master's Guide; 2nd Ed, p. 105
  29. Time of the Void, p. 9
  30. 30.0 30.1 The Gaijin's Guide to Rokugan - Part 4: Distant Thunder
  31. The Battle of Beiden Pass, Imperial Herald #2
  32. The Story So Far: Imperial Edition (Imperial Herald #4)
  33. Clan Letter to the Lion #1 (Imperial Herald v1#1)
  34. Clan Letter to the Lion #2 (Imperial Herald v1 #2)
  35. Light Cavalry (Obsidian flavor)
  36. Way of the Willow, by Ree Soesbee
  37. Time of the Void, p. 32
  38. The Story so Far: Shadowlands (Imperial Herald #4)
  39. The Arrow Knows the Way (Ambition's Debt Foil Chase Cards flavor)
  40. Time of the Void, p. 53
  41. The Story So Far: Forbidden Knowledge (Imperial Herald v1 #4)
  42. Glory and Honor
  43. Time of the Void, p. 54
  44. Eyes of Dawn
  45. Time of the Void, p. 55
  46. State of the Empire 5 (Crimson and Jade)
  47. Secluded Ravine (Fire and Shadow Foil Chase Cards flavor)
  48. Rulebook Story (Crimson & Jade)
  49. 49.0 49.1 The Death of Matsu Tsuko
  50. Time of the Void, p. 73
  51. Legend of the Five Rings History: Crimson and Jade
  52. Copper Mine (Crimson and Jade flavor)
  53. Legend of the Five Rings History: Time of the Void
  54. A Lion's Honor

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