Where the katana was the symbol of the bushi, the wakizashi was a weapon that symbolized the samurai as a social class. Every member of the samurai station in entitled to carry a wakizashi, and nearly all do. Wakizashi were generally between 30 and 60 centimeters (one to two feet) in length, and carried a slightly curved blade similar to that of the katana.
The wakizashi carried an additional role that the katana did not in Rokugani society: it symbolicaly preserved the honor of its bearer. A samurai's last refuge for protest was seppuku, which was performed with the wakizashi, washing the samurai in his own blood and cleansing dishonor from the blade and his soul. Although the katana was held in greater regard by the noble classes, the wakizashi was a constant reminder of a samurai's duties.
Because it was seen as the keeper of the samurai's honor, a wakizashi had heavy ritualistic significance. Whereas the katana would be removed upon entering a home, the wakizashi almost never left the side of an adult member of the samurai caste, except during sleep.
Mirumoto swordsmen used the wakizashi in combat with their fighting style called niten.
The wakizashi was the only weapon that might be taken into the presence of the Emperor, in case the Emperor demanded the seppuku of its bearer.
- ↑ Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 11
- Legend of the Five Rings: Third Edition, p. 313.
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