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Kozakura was a nation in eastern Kara-Tur.[1] It was composed of four large islands and dozens of smaller ones, the largest of which stretched 1,400 miles (2,300,000 meters) from tip to tip. It was a land where constant political power struggles were fought, and the central government in the imperial capital only had power within its immediate reach. Political intrigue was common as the great families of Kozakura sought to outmaneuver each other in their bid for power and wealth.[citation needed]

Geography[]

An archipelago nation, Kozakura consisted of many islands. There were four large islands as well as dozens of smaller ones that made up the entirety of Kozakuran territory.[citation needed] The largest island, which was roughly 1,400 miles (2,300,000 meters) in length, was named Shinkoku and was the location for the imperial capital, Dojyu. It was also the center of Kozakuran population and culture, and was the most widely settled of the four major islands. The other three islands were roughly the same size, at around 200 miles (320,000 meters) across, and were Tenmei (to the north of Shinkoku) and Mikedono and Hinomoto (both to the south of Shinkoku).[2]

A group of volcanic islands, Kozakura's land masses were generally characterized by steep hills or mountains toward their center, sloping sharply down to wide plains and beaches before meeting the sea.[citation needed] The islands were heavily forested in places, and there was no shortage of wood available for construction. At higher altitudes, forests tended to consist of cedar and pine, and in the lower, more humid areas, bamboo and cypress were more common.[3]

To the west of Kozakura were the islands of Wa, a rival nation that had clashed with Kozakura in the past.[citation needed] Across the Sea of Kozakura to the north was the peninsula of Koryo.[citation needed]

Politics[]

The nominal head of government was a hereditary Emperor, who traditionally took over from his father at a very young age, necessitating the services of a regent to rule in his name. The old Emperor was forced into retirement, but still maintained some influence with a title of Retired Emperor. This meant that generally there were three factions in the Imperial Court vying for control.[4]

Over several hundred years, the position of Emperor faded in importance and the shogun became the de facto ruler of Kozakura. The position of Shogun was, however, tainted with much of the same politics and maneuvering that affected the Emperor. This resulted in many shoguns ascending to the position at a young age themselves, and the need for a shikken, which was a regent for the Shogun.[5]

While the Imperial and Shogunate courts still had solid control over the imperial capital and the lands close by, many daimyos, or local lords, still had near-absolute authority in their own lands and did not defer to the central government.[citation needed]

Society[]

Kozakuran society had a caste system. At the highest level were the samurai caste.[note 1] The samurai caste were the nobles of Kozakura and responsible for the administration of the provinces and the nation. They were organized by their families.[6]

Beneath the samurai caste were the clergy, who served as priests in the various temples. The clergy welcomed people from all walks of life, including retired samurai, sons of peasants, widows, and so on.[6]

The majority of the population was made up of the peasants, who were divided into several groups. The farmers tended to be the backbone of the land, and were also organized into families in the same way as the samurai caste, with the head of a family responsible for collecting rent and taxes. Craftsmen had variable status depending on their craft, their skill, and their renown. Merchants, including moneylenders were found at this level, though they might have some control over the other members of the peasant class economically. The lowest of the peasant class were the entertainers, including actors, singers, and musicians.[6]

Below even the peasants were the outcasts, called eta, who performed duties that were considered distasteful, unclean, or forbidden. Outcasts were quite literally cast out from the rest of society. All the other castes treated them with contempt, and contact was generally avoided. They were considered non-people, and marriages with them forbidden. The trades that were filled by outcasts included executioners, butchers, tanners, and morticians.[6]

Religion[]

There were two major religions in Kozakura: the Eight Million Gods and the Way of Enlightenment. The former was a collection of ancient practices native to Kozakura devoted to a variety of nature spirits, and the latter was a religious practice brought from Shou Lung and devoted to guiding its practitioners to spiritual perfection.[7]

It was normal for a Kozakuran to recognize and participate in more than one religion, shrine, or school of thought. Those who dedicated themselves to the pursuits of only one religion tended to be priests, monks, shukenja, and sohei.[7]

The korobokuru of Kozakura worshiped a pantheon of animal spirits. Sometimes, their heroes were elevated mythically to the state of half-animalistic demigods.[7]

History[]

The early history of Kozakura is largely fogged by mythology and origin legends of the Eight Million Gods.[8]

Kozakuran Year 1 (−73 DR) was marked by the ascent of Emperor Mori of the Akimatsu family to the position of Emperor. His claim to the throne was said to be supported by the gods in displays of divine power. He made his claim based on the support of many of the other families, which had been won through military might and a system of diplomacy that was largely based on strategic weddings of Akimatsu family women into other clans. Emperor Mori originally held court and centered his government in the city of Fukama, in Shizume Province, home to the ancestral lands of the Akimatsu family.[8]

As time went on, the Akmitasu Emperors took control over the fertile Dai Plain in Kodo Province in order to better maintain the position of emperor—this plain was one of the largest rice-producing regions in the Kozakuran islands. They continued the tradition of intermarriage with other clans in order to cement their power, and in Kozakuran Year 514 (440 DR), they moved the imperial capital to Dojyu on the Dai Plain in order to have a closer economic foundation for their power base.[8]

As a result of the constant expansion of the Akimatsu family, eventually several branches split from the Imperial line. Most of these cousins sought to control the Emperor through marriage to one of their own daughters, and attempting to manipulate succession to put a child emperor on the throne. In these cases, the regent to the Emperor (sessho) could often take power over the court by controlling appointments, land grants, and taxation. The Honda clan proved to be the most successful at this manipulation and they effectively ran the country through this system of sessho until Kozakuran Year 1119 (1045 DR).[8]

Over the course of Imperial power, provinces grew more isolated and uncontrolled by the central authority and the landowning families far from court tended to fend for themselves, as help from Doyju took a long time to get and then to arrive. As a result, the provincial families funded their own soldiers for protection and tax collection, and developed an independent attitude. This led to the growth of a military class, and the fact that many landholding lords developed their own private armies (and fighting skills) contributed to decline in influence of the Akimatsu emperors.[8]

The Tennu war began in Kozakuran Year 1108 (1034 DR). In Kozakuran Year 1119 (1045 DR), when the dust had settled, it was the Hojo family who emerged as the most powerful. Seizing their opportunity, they forced Emperor Showaji to grant their family head Hojo Tademashi the title of shogun, or great warlord. From this point on, the real power in Kozakura lay with this military leader, though the Emperor continued to hold his position.[9][10]

In Kozakuran Year 1120 (1046 DR), the Shogun set up an alternate government center called the bakufu in the city of Gifu. While technically still inferior to the emperor, the shogun controlled the military. He still maintained a careful pretense of obedience to the will of the emperor, however, because the common folk believed in the Emperor's divine right to rule.[9][10]

In Kozakuran Year 1242 (1168 DR), the office of Shogun became hereditary under the rule of Emperor Ijo. Unfortunately, this led to the same kind of political maneuvering and machinations that haunted the Imperial Line eight centuries before.[9][10]

The Hojo War was fought between Kozakuran Year 1415 (1341 DR) and Kozakuran Year 1421 (1347 DR), a battle between branches of the Hojo family to determine who would succeed to the shogun's throne. Hojo Todahiro fought supporters of his infant son, Hojo Kawabuko, and lost. In Kozakuran Year 1422 (1348 DR), the nine-year-old Kawabuko was installed as shogun with his maternal grandfather, Takenaka Okawa as regent.[9][10]

Around 1458, as the Spellplague was ravaging Kara-Tur, Kozakura became embroiled in a civil war.[11]

Trivia[]

The half-kender Gaeadrelle Goldring from Krynn once studied art in Kozakura.[12]

Appendix[]

Behind the Scenes[]

Like Wa, Kozakura is modeled after Japan, but where Wa is modeled after Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate, Kozakura would be Japan between the Kamakura and Sengoku periods (Ashikaga shogunate).[13]

Notes[]

  1. This should not be confused with the samurai class for player-character class.

Appearances[]

Further Reading[]


References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), pp. 127–155. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  2. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), pp. 127, 129–132. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  3. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 127. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  4. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 150. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  5. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 139. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 David "Zeb" Cook (1986). Swords of the Daimyo. (TSR, Inc), pp. 11–12. ISBN 0-88038-273-2.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), pp. 149–150. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 David "Zeb" Cook (1986). Swords of the Daimyo. (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-88038-273-2.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 151. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  11. Tim Eagon (October 2011). “Ecology of the Hengeyokai”. In Steve Winter ed. Dragon #404 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 4.
  12. Roger E. Moore (May 1992). The Maelstrom's Eye. (TSR, Inc.), p. 11. ISBN 1-56076-344-2.
  13. Jim Bambra (June 1988). “Role-playing Reviews”. In Roger E. Moore ed. Dragon #134 (TSR, Inc.), p. 77.
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