Kakita Artisan

Kakita Artisan

Kakita Artisans developed the gift for the arts inherited from Lady Doji and her husband Kakita. [1]

Beauty Edit

Kakita Artisan were respected throughout Rokugan for their contributions to civilization and works of beauty. They learned everything from origami, painting, dancing, music, to storytelling. Within the school there was a saying: "All people are born into life, but the Crane show them what it is to truly live." Artisans, respected for their learning and intellect, were welcomed by Emperors and peasants alike, and were often chosen as advisors. Reading and writing were not common knowledge in Rokugan, and lords often employed artisans to educate the people and teach the stories of the Tao. Such patronages were often rewarded with favors, money or political power. Due to the frequent travelling of the Kakita Artisans the heimin of the Crane lands were well educated. Daimyo of other clans sometimes asked the artisans to travel their lands and educate the people, at the expense of the governing lord, of course. The artisans were the soul of Rokugan, gloriously depicting every battle, singing songs of past heroes and telling myths and legends. They inspired to glorious deeds, and then recorded those deeds with a painter's brush. [2]

History Edit

The founder of the Kakita Artisan school was Kakita Kiyamori, sister of Kakita. [3] In the 5th century it enjoyed huge new prestige during the Gozoku rulership. [4]

Artisan Specializations Edit

The Kakita Academy taught a variety of subjects including the famous Kakita Duelists. Artisans starting out at the academy were required to choose a specialization. Over the time of training they could choose to focus solely on that specialization or diversify and learn others also. [5] Upon entry into the Artisan Academy, each student was assigned to a single discipline, a focused course of study that they would follow throughout their time there. [6]

Acrobatics Edit

Acrobat Troupe

Acrobat Troupe

Acrobatics was a popular form of entertainment in Rokugan, and came in various forms such as contortionists and high flying daredevils. The first prominent contortionists were a troupe of entertainers who were travelling with a Noh acting band. After a while the acrobats began outshining the actors, and they began to travel on their own. They were given the title of "Royal Performers to the Prince" by Hantei Kusada. Despite this the art of acrobatics was looked down upon by most other artisans. This did not mean they were not popular, and nearly every noble house had at one time hosted the Imperial Acrobatic Troupe. Being asked to perform alongside this troupe was a great honor. [7] The Rokugani art of acrobatics included muscle and joint control as well as simple feats of dexterity. [8]

Acting Edit

Acting was a highly stylized form of traditional theater, and very popular in Rokugan. It incorporated dance, music, acting and makeup to tell tales of ancient stories of love and war. The two most common types of theater was Kabuki and Noh. [9] An Actor had studied both, and he was a master of evoking emotion in others and a true student of the human nature. The Actor could effectively mimic others well enough to impersonate a specific person or pass themselves off as someone less specific. [10]

Kabuki Edit


Kabuki Actor

Kabuki focused on lively and almost violent action, dancing and tension. Singers and orchestra often provided the backdrop for the actors and key information about the setting. The name Kabuki came from the word kabuki-odori which meant "stylish and shocking dances". The plays made use of elaborate costumes, makeup, sets and special effects to accompany the story, and the actors moved in special stylized patterns known as kata. The set was changed by stagehands dressed entirely in black during the show, and the stage contained many trapdoors and rotating platforms to aid in this endeavor. There were two major types of Kabuki plays: the jidaimono, or "rough stuff style", and the sewamono, the "talk of the town". [11]

Noh Edit

In some cases, Noh was performed by puppeteers rather than physical actors and actresses, but typically Noh was performed by a troupe of performers. The group would consist of the protagonist (the shite) and a primary supporting character (the waki). The drama unfolded in slow rhythmic chants and restrained movements following a very rigid pattern. First the waki called the shite to the stage and asked questions which revealed the nature of the shite. The climax came in the form of a formal dance by the shite expressing its true feelings. The Noh actors kept their faces expressionless during the performance, letting the words of the play speak for the characters. Training of artisans could focus on being the shite, the waki or both. Masks were also sometimes used to hide the actors' faces, and gave an additional way of expressing the nature of the character they were portraying. There were no sets used in Noh, just a featureless black backdrop. There were few object used as props, and most would be very simple. Music was accompanied where necessitated, and nothing more. The emphasis of the play was not the plot, but the exploration of characters and emotion. Within the Noh plays there were five categories: the ghost plays, the woman plays, the warrior plays, the celebratory plays, and the demon plays. There was a sixth play, known as the burlesque play, but it was not popular among the courts of Rokugan. It held however great favor with the common man. [12]

Dancing Edit

Dancing was a major aspect of the Rokugani culture, and ranged in style from gentle delicate movements of the mai school to the energetic jumping and stamping of the odori school. Dancing was not only limited to high standing artisans, but heimin had also developed their own unusual styles. Dancing was said to lift the spirits and bring cheer and health, and dancers could often be seen streaming through the streets during great festivals. Geisha were also renowned dancers. Some warlike dances were even performed with weapons, and it was believed that this brought honor to the weapon as well as to the dancer. Due to the many Kabuki plays that requirde dancing there were more than a few dancers who were knowledgable about plays, playwrights and quite capable of performances as actors. [13]

Dueling Edit

The Kakita Iaijutsu Masters viewed their skills with the blade as an art form and they trained in the same academy as the artisans. The mastery of the art of the blade reflected the beauty and strength of one's spirit. [5]

Gardening Edit

Kakita artisans who studied gardening could create gardens with unique patters of spiritual energy, offering a sense of harmony and peace to visitors. [14]

Ikebana Edit

Ikebana was the art of flower arranging, and was a respected and beautiful form of expression. Flowers had forms to be arranged in that were as ancient as many other customs of Rokugan. Flowers were considered to be lucky, and arranging them would bring good omens from the kami to the household. Scattering petals was said to ward off ill fortune and disease, and often given to the sick or old to bring them long life and health. [15] Nearly all samurai respected the delicate art of flower arranging, and some found it as relaxing and cleansing as the tea ceremony or meditation. Ikebana Artists brought harmony to the soul of an understanding character or balance the energies in a room. [16]

Jester Edit



The Kakita Jesters were dancers who strutted around court and mocked the failings of others. Their arts were satire and public jokes about important figures in court. They were the only people who could speak openly about another person's loss of face without being challenged for it, but even so they were usually sponsored by a noble who would take the blame for a performance that went too far. [17] A Jester was trained to manipulate the emotions of others through a combination of acting techniques and trained wit. Jesters were intended to lighten a daimyo's mood, but many had a reputation for goading others into less sour moods and tales of skilled Jesters inciting duels were not rare. [16]

Music Edit

Music was possibly the oldest form of entertainment in the Empire, and ranged form the simple songs of the hinin to the elaborate court orchestra of the Emperor. One of the most popular instruments was the drum, ranging in type from the hourglass-shaped tsuzumi to the huge barrel-shaped taiko. Musicians often were referred to as kodo, or "children of the drum". Another common instrument was the gentle biwa, which was said to have been invented by Kakita himself. Flutes, whistles and gongs were also popular in orchestral settings. The most common style of music was gagaku or "elegant music", and much of that style originated in ancient temples and ceremonial rites where the slow, solemn, and majestic tones suited the mood. [9] The music of the Artisans tended to be traditional and known throughout the Empire. Musicians were adept at soothing others with their art, and quietly calmed the emotions of others even if he was not the center of attention. [16]

Oratory Edit

This maya encompassed all forms of public speaking, including storytelling. A skilled artisan could hold the attention of his audience for long periods of time through the skilled use of oratory. In order to be a capable public speak, the Orator must possess a great deal of knowledge on many topics. [16]

Origami Edit

The master of origami specialized in creating small beautiful objects and animals from small squares of rice paper. For centuries this skill had been used for ceremonies and rituals, and it had become highly regarded in Rokugan. Origami emphasized straight lines and sharp angles, and it originated from a monk who lived alone at a shrine to Hotei, the Fortune of Contentment. The most popular shape to make was the crane, a symbol of contentment and long life. Different paper was usable in the creation of origami, but the Kakita Artisans prefered to use only the finest rice paper. Origami using paper with wash-colored patterning was called kawari-e origami. [18]

Painting Edit

Painting was a wide category of visual art and also contained the skills of calligraphy, sculpting and woodblock print. The most common form of traditional painting was called kachoga, or "bird-and-flower painting", which used distinctive landscapes and figures upon a flowing background. Paintings were usually displayed on long vertical scrolls or rolling horizontal scrolls. Brushes traditionally had bamboo or wooden handles, with animal hair at the top. For calligraphy a tubular brush known as fude was used, and the black ink was known as sumi. There were over three-hundred kinds of writing and painting brushes, and more than two-hundred types of hair for their creation. Calligraphy itself was the artistic writing of Rokugan, and believed to be the embodiment of the spirit of the Crane Clan. Each movement with a brush could only be made once, as the ink was indelible, leaving no hope to being again on that piece of paper. Wayo was the artform of calligraphy, which was more than simple writing of words. Often people could be judged by the beauty of their writing, and treaties had even been refused due to flaws in the artists writing. The characters used were known as kanji, and they were said to embody the character and state of mind of their renderer. Painting was one of the hardest arts in Rokugan, and a painter who did not devote enough time to perfecting his skill would find it ending in disturbing results. [19] Painting was unique among the Artisan schools because the product not only could be given as a gift, but could also be honorably sold and traded for favors from others. [16]

Poetry Edit

Poetry was admired in Rokugan as the highest form of literature. The traditional short poems and songs were known as waka, were written in short lines with thirty-one syllables following a 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic pattern. A popular challenge in court was to compose a short poem, and this would require the artist to think quickly on their feet to use what his opponent just performed and turn it back against them. The best known compilation of poems is the Manyoshu, which was compiled by Ikoma Ume and contained over four-thousand individual waka from great poet masters such as Kakita Kiyamori, Akodo Tomei and Rezan. The more modern form of poetry called renga followed the same syllabic pattern as waka, but was performed by two people. The first person performed the 5-7-5 then the second finished with the 7-7. One of the most highly regarded poets of the 12th century was Kitsune Shikitora who spent over fifty years collecting poems from across the Empire. Every year a poetry competition was held by the Emperor, and sponsored by the Crane Clan. Thousands of people entered their waka on a topic chosen by the Emperor himself. It was at one of these competitions many years ago that the ronin Rezan saved his own life by winning the competition. He had criticized the imperial policies of the then Emperor, and was subsequently commanded to commit seppuku. Rezan was also the first to develop the shortest form of poetry known as haiku. Until that time most poetry shorter than five lines was considered frivolous. [20]

Storytelling Edit

There were many forms of storytelling in Rokugan ranging from serious to comic. A professional storyteller was known as a rakugoka, used his voice and facial expressions with expansive gestures. The storyteller would often act out the story with only a fan as their prop. Charades were also commonplace, such as pouring imaginary tea into an imaginary teacup. The excitement of watching a storyteller lied in the portrayal of characters and episodes, and the emotion the teller provoked. Storytellers were also often requested to teach the children of nobles of myths and legends of Rokugan, as well as the Tao of Shinsei. One of the most famous storytellers throughout history was Kakita Ryoku, the author of the novel Winter. The novel was quite popular among the ladies in Rokugan, as it detailed some of the famous romances of her time. In addition, the romance novel detailed many political strategies, and was considered by many to be one of the best books on politics ever written. [21]

Known Techniques Edit

Kakita Toma

Kakita Artisan

See also Edit


  1. Live Action Roleplaying, p. 96
  2. Way of the Crane pp. 28-29, 58-69
  3. Way of the Crane, p. 28
  4. Imperial Histories, p. 46
  5. 5.0 5.1 Way of the Crane, p. 59
  6. Art of the Duel, p. 42
  7. Way of the Crane, pp. 59-60
  8. Secrets of the Crane, p. 70
  9. 9.0 9.1 Way of the Crane, p. 63
  10. Secrets of the Crane, pp. 70-71
  11. Way of the Crane, p. 64
  12. Way of the Crane, pp. 63-64
  13. Way of the Crane, p. 60
  14. Masters of Court, p. 59
  15. Way of the Crane, p. 61
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Secrets of the Crane, p. 71
  17. Way of the Crane, p. 62
  18. Way of the Crane, p. 65
  19. Way of the Crane, p. 66
  20. Way of the Crane, pp. 67-68
  21. Way of the Crane, p. 68

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