Shadowed Autumn Leaves
From Shishinza’s Dossier
The Twentieth Day of the Month of the Crane is the day of an outlandish holiday known as the Kao-no-Nai Narisumasu, the Faceless Masquerade. As I previously mentioned, there are few commodities in short supply on Kaigen’s Island, one of which is privacy. The Masquerade is one day where even the poorest ji-samurai has the privilege of anonymity. Virtually everyone in the city dresses in uniform dull gray kimonos, with a simple kagoboshi, a basket hat which completely obscures one’s face. Those who eschew anonymity are looked down upon; it is a major social faux pas, unless of course one’s duty demands it. Despite the lack of identity, most samurai are careful not to lose too much on or embarrass themselves as it is a simple matter to uncover the head of a particularly disgraceful individual. The streets become a stage for numerous plays, both noh and the baser kabuki, where the audience attempt to guess at the identities of the concealed actors. Some such productions are planned, while others begin without warning, with participants choosing roles from kagoboshi filled by clay tiles with the names of characters on them. These productions are especially valued, as even the actors are unaware of the identities of their fellow thespians. Two enemies in court may very well play out a forbidden romance on the stage with neither the wiser! There are many gala events and gatherings, nearly all of which occur publicly in the streets, open to any who wish to attend. Discussion which is usually devoted to fashion and presentation are given to other pursuits because, of course, discussing who wears a gray kimono and an ugly hat best is a pass-time which only the most chic and vogue-obsessed Crane would bother with. Magistrates and Watchmen, of course, are expected to keep order, though, any trained eye can see that there are considerably less Watchmen on duty during the Kao-no-Nai Narisumasu. The origins of the Masquerade are as strange as the festival itself. It began within the Natsu-Togumara’s Bounty six years ago. As the people came to the Bounty, they found all the merchants, the vagabonds, and the well-travelled dressed with the grey kimono and kagoboshi which are now synonymous with the holiday. The samurai and heimin who frequent the Bounty soon followed suit. Not wishing to look as though they were confused or unsure of what was happening the upper crust of Broken Wave City dressed as anonymously as their servants and house guards. In the early years of the celebration, there was no confirmed date, and the Masquerade occurred at the whim of the Bounty, for days on end sometimes. Tsuruchi Takamasa complained to the Governor that the observance was a frustration to social order, and asked him to do something about it. Yoritomo Ninsei, ever the pragmatist, realized that the Masquerade was now a well-enjoyed holiday which would be sorely missed by his samurai and underlings. Rather than displease the people of the City of Salt and Storms he took control of the festival, regulating it, and ultimately lessening its effect on public order. Still, this holiday can be frustrating to an esteemed Emerald Magistrate, though, I find that an infinitesimally small portion of the populace have committed the Charter of the Emerald Magistrates to memory, and of those who have very few possess a perfect recall of it. As such, it can be easy to sway suspect individuals to divest themselves of their concealing basket hats with little trouble.