Shadowed Autumn Leaves
Festival of the Falling Plum Blossoms
From Shishinza’s Dossier
The Twenty First Day of the Month of the Dragon is celebrated throughout Rokugan as the beginning of the Cherry Blossom Festival. It is, of course, three days set aside to value the transcendent beauty of nature through the perfection of the flowers of the cherry tree. On Kaigen’s Island, however, there was no festival. There were no cherry blossoms to marvel upon, and so the island’s people grew dark and grim. They longed for the gentle falling of the cherry blossom in the wind. In 1174, Yoritomo Obaami, the wife of the now deceased Governor, Yoritomo Okai, went to great expense to decorate Kyuden Kumiko in the traditional colored paper lanterns found elsewhere in Rokugan during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Just before the Hour of the Tortoise, when the wind was blowing just right, she instructed her servants to cast baskets filled with plum blossoms, purchased from the mainland, off the walls of Kyuden Kumiko. The plum blossoms gently drifted on the currents of Kaze-no-Kami’s breath and fell among the Old Quarter, which was at that time nearly the entirety of the city. Yoritomo Okai, who was away attending to business on the mainland, was furious at the needless expenditure of the city’s treasury. The next year, though Obaami begged and pleaded with her husband, she was forbidden from organizing a similar display. To his shock and surprise, the wealthy samurai of the city hung paper lanterns and released all manner of flower petals to the wind upon the Hour of the Tortoise, just as twilight fell into night. Not wishing to be upstaged, and shamed, again, Yoritomo Okai gave his wife her celebration. And so the Festival of the Falling Plum Blossoms was born from Obaami’s love for Broken Wave City, and her desire to lift the spirits of its populace. Today, the festival has grown in size, scope, and importance. Those who put on the most extravagant displays are awarded social favor, and, Kaigen’s Island being a Mantis holding, such displays are seldom judged on their subtlety. Brightly colored paper lanterns decorated with kanji of good fortune are strung throughout the city or affixed to silk strands and left to waft in the wind. Flower blossoms of all types and colors are released en masse near the Hour of the Tortoise, while the people watch in reverence, eat bountiful meals, or meditate as the first petals fall. Those petals are made into laurels and worn on the head and shoulders and are traded for gifts of alcohol, song, dance, or otherwise. The festival continues for three days of revelry and at the Hour of the Tortoise on that third day all the laurels are cast into the sea to float about the island. Despite the debauchery that exists among the lower caste, and the heavy consumption of sake, the festivities are rarely marred by serious violence. Nearly all samurai are prohibited from being armed during the festival. Only the esteemed Emerald Magistrate and his yoriki, the local magistrates, the elite squadrons of the Watchmen, and those who are given a special permit from the Governor are permitted on the streets while carrying weapons. At first, some abhorred the weapons ban, but such issues were forgotten after its merits became clear. Most brawls which occur are long forgotten by the festival’s end, and those which aren’t are taken care of by the local magistrates. As such, I recommend that the esteemed Emerald Magistrate take in the Festival of the Falling Plum Blossoms in its totality, as it, like so much of Broken Wave City, is entirely unique and found nowhere else in Rokugan.