Shintakara, the City of Temples.   Posted by Hand of Fate.Group: 0
Hand of Fate
 GM, 1 post
Wed 5 Mar 2014
at 22:28
Shintakara, the City of Temples
Shintakara is a fictional Japanese city what follows is general information about Shintakara including an overview of its history, geography, culture and people.

Introduction


Shintakara is known as the City of Temples because of the large number of shrines and temples located in and around the city.  They dot the surrounding hills and mountains. They can be found nestled in hidden places on the small islands just off the coast and hidden among the rocky cliffs that overlook the West Blue. They are found along the various forest paths of the vast natural preserve known as Konohara Park. They can even be found in the heart of downtown nestled between the Gap and McDonald’s.

The people of Shintakara are proud of their city, which over the centuries has grown from a small town to a thriving metropolis of well over a million people, including the various suburbs that surround the city proper. They are also proud of their heritage and many families, especially those who act as caretakers for one of Shintakara’s many shrines or temples take great pride in their ancient lineages. Most can recite the various legends, heroes, relics and deeds associated with their particular family and temple in great length and detail purely from memory.

Every other week, some festival or celebration seems to be occurring within the city. Some of them are traditional and honor the ancient past such as the Moon Festival, which marks the beginning of the Lunar new year or Shogun’s Day, which honors Shogun Izaki Yoshiro the legendary founder of the city of Shintakara. Others are more modern, such as the Konda Film Festival, a yearly event that features screenings of both classic and modern martial arts movies in honor of the late action hero, Sonora Konda. Some of these festivals are citywide, others pertain only to specific districts or even a specific temple. The city council still retains the position of Cultural Minister from the days of the Shogunate to coordinate all of the yearly festivals and events throughout the city. It is an influential and highly coveted position for politically minded citizens, as the appointment puts one in contact with all of the city’s most influential citizens.


History

“Once, long ago, the world was ruled not by mortal men and women, but by terrible demons. These demons would inflict countless miseries upon humanity, robbing them of both hope and comfort. According to legend this was so because the greatest of the demons, Mikaboshi the Black Phoenix, had stolen the Mandate of Heaven from Amaru, Goddess of the Sun and the rightful ruler of Heaven. Mikaboshi then crowned himself Demon Emperor and ushered in the era known as the Red Sun Dynasty, releasing hell on earth.

“According to some texts, Mikaboshi then chose a demon known as Aziraka, the King of the Shadow Dragons and Lord of Nightmares to be his warden, entrusting the mighty demon lord with keeping Amaru imprisoned beneath the earth, hiding her glorious light away from the world forever. Thus the world would have remained shrouded in darkness and ruled by demons if not for the actions of the Five Noble Warriors: Kuma the Warrior of Jade, Kari the Roaring Fist, Hanshu the Rainbow Sage, Iwao the Wise and Tanika of the Tempest. Together they defeated Aziraka and released Amaru from her prison beneath the earth.

“Aiding the Five Noble Warriors was one Prince Izaki Yoshiro and his army of brave samurai. For his part in rescuing the sun goddess, it is said that Amaru blessed the Izaki family and bequeathed unto them the lands that would one day become Shintakara province. These blessed lands became prosperous and beautiful under the wise and noble rule of the Izaki Dynasty and eventually around Castle Izaki would rise the settlement that would one day become the city of Shintakara.”

-- Shintakara: Born of Legends, by Dr. Izaki Kazuhito

The Izaki Dynasty

While there are many legends associated with the founding of Shintakara, historians and archaeologists agree that a man named Izaki Yoshiro was responsible for founding a small settlement to the south of the Yamino River roughly two thousand years ago. Though texts written centuries after his death would give Yoshiro the title of Shogun and eventually Prince, most historians believe he and those he lead to the Yamino Settlement were exiles, driven from their own territory by a more powerful enemy clan far to the northwest. According to legend, Yoshiro named the settlement Shintakara, meaning ‘Blessed Land’ in the old tongue, however no records at the time can be found that verify the legend.

Accompanying Yoshiro was an equally legendary figure, Urahara Seshiro, the first disciple of the mythical figure known as Hanshu the Rainbow Sage. Seshiro would be responsible for spreading Hanshu’s teachings and creating the sect of Shintoism known as the Order of the Laughing Rainbow. It is said that together Yoshiro and Seshiro built Shintakara’s first temple with their own hands, erecting it upon the spot where Castle Izaki now stands. They named it Kamachi Taisha. While a temple named Kamachi Taisha still stands today in the courtyard of Castle Izaki it is not the original and was constructed roughly seven hundred years ago during Seijuro’s Restoration.

Over the next two hundred years, under a succession of Izaki leaders, the Yamino Settlement expanded and the first Castle Izaki was erected. By that time it is estimated that there were about a dozen temples scattered among the hills and what would one day become known as Konohara Forest. Among the temples erected in Konohara at this time is the oldest standing structure in Shintakara, Uzumi Taisha, erected by the Order of the Laughing Rainbow in honor of Hanshu and his patroness, the rainbow kami Uzumi. The order of warrior monks known as the Order of the Roaring Fist also rose to prominence during this time, erecting a series of fortress-like monasteries in the hills far to the south of the Yamino Settlement.

It is estimated that roughly two thousand people dwelled in the province at the time and that this number would more then double over the next five hundred years as time progressed to the Age of Warlords. By that time, the area would be known as the Izaki Shogunate and be under the leadership of Shogun Izaki Sagada, the first member of the Izaki family to truly claim the title of shogun. For the fifty years of Shogun Sagada’s reign over the region the Izaki Shogunate would escape the majority of the fighting that engulfed the rest of the provinces as the various warlords battled one another for dominance. However, by the time his son Izaki Kosuke had come to power an unprecedented event had occurred. Seven lesser warlords united together under one banner and calling themselves the Seven Thunders laid siege to the Izaki Shogunate. The reason for the actions of the Seven Thunders remains a mystery to this day.

It is due to the actions of the Seven Thunders that many of the temples and structures built in Shintakara Province during and before the Age of Warlords were destroyed. It is said not a single temple, monastery or shrine was left standing in the southern hills by the Seven Thunders and the rest of the province faired little better as the armies marched inexorably toward Castle Izaki. While the lands were prosperous and the Izaki Shogunate had plenty of able warriors, estimates suggest that the armies of the Seven Thunders outnumbered the Izaki soldiers somewhere between three and four to one.

As with the founding of Shintakara, the Hundred Days of Thunder is surrounded by much myth, legendry and romanticization. The most well known example of which is probably Mihara Yue’s epic play, A Thousand Broken Blades. Ignoring the fantastical elements suggested by some of the records, Shogun Kosuke in an unprecedented action at the time, allowed his estranged sister Izaki Yukina to lead a contingent of soldiers into battle along with five of his most trusted lieutenants. Legends then hold that Kosuke, Yukina and the other five warriors each then challenged one of the Seven Thunders to single combat on the field of battle and then defeated them. With their leaders fallen, the armies then scattered to the four winds. However, evidence suggests that the end of the battle was far messier then the romantic version suggested by the legends, but military historians still have no clear idea how Shogun Kosuke managed to achieve victory that day.

The victory over the Seven Thunders would be short lived. While the armies of the Seven Thunders had been defeated, the Shogunate itself was left weakened and nearly defenseless. The Warlord Goji Razan would not give the Izaki Dynasty time to rebuild. It would not be until over a century later that a member of the Izaki bloodline would again rule over Shintakara Province. That man would be Izaki Hojo, the trusted general of the first Emperor’s army, whose ancestors had escaped Warlord Goji’s sword a century before. In return for his aid, in helping the Emperor unite the warring provinces under a single rule, Hojo would have the lands of his ancestors returned to him and it would officially be renamed Shintakara Province. From that point onward, the Izaki family would rule Shintakara Province uncontested with the Emperor’s mandate until the rise of the merchant class and abolishment of the samurai.

Izaki Hojo’s grandson Seijuro would begin the process of rebuilding that which had been lost to time and war centuries before, guiding the city and province toward its modern appearance. Seijuro’s grand vision is known today as Seijuro’s Restoration and with the exception of Uzumi Taisha and a few other buildings as well as parts of Castle Izaki, he was responsible for the construction of many of Shintakara’s oldest buildings, though the restoration would not be truly complete until roughly a hundred and fifty years after his own death.

This message was last edited by the GM at 07:18, Tue 15 Apr 2014.

Hand of Fate
 GM, 2 posts
Thu 6 Mar 2014
at 08:35
Geography
Rukara and Nishiao Bay

Shintakara Province covers an area of roughly eight hundred square miles, with the city itself covering more then half of that area. On the west the province is bordered by Nishiao Bay and consists mostly of rocky coasts and cliffs with a few a sandy beaches, overlooking dozens of small coastal islands. One will also find Shintakara Port as well as the Rukara District here. Rukara was once a small fishing village on the coast, but as Shintakara and Rukara both grew and expanded the two eventually merged together.

The Rukara District has recently been part of a major redevelopment effort of the city, in order to change its image and make the area more tourist friendly. On the north end of the Rukara District is the Marina, which has been expanded and modernized. There, one can charter day-boats to the coastal islands or to fish. You can also find a special section of the docks made just for fishing off the coast. The yachts of many of the richer Shintakara families can also be found at the Marina and it is rare week that someone isn’t holding a party there.

As one travels south from the Marina into the Fisherman’s Wharf district the atmosphere changes slightly becoming more commercial. Dozens of trendy shops and restaurants face the ocean as one strolls along the pier, which gradually becomes a sandy beach as the boardwalk is reached. Here one will find Sparrow’s Wonderland, Shintakara’s very own amusement park complete with a roller coaster, ferris wheel, arcades and even a miniature golf course. South of Sparrow’s Wonderland is the Rukara Fish Market, which covers seven blocks and sells every kind of edible marine life imaginable amongst its two levels, fifty warehouses and seven hundred stalls.

Very few casually go beyond the Fish Market toward Shintakara Port where the massive cargo ships dock and the blocks upon blocks of industrial warehouses are located. While the Shintakara Police have made an effort to clean up the area as part of the Rukara Redevelopment Project, the Warehouse District is still seen as a rough neighborhood under the thumb of street gangs and the Kurozame yakuza.

The majority of the islands off the coast are protected by the National Park Service. With only a few exceptions, it is illegal to visit the islands without a permit. Those islands that can be freely visited are carefully watched over and maintained by the Park Service and most contain a visitor center, several hiking paths and one to three temples that can be visited. One of the most popular islands to visit is Koji Island, which if one climbs to the top of the eastern side of the island offers a wonderful view of the fireworks displays over the city during the festivals. Because the island can only hold so many people, special passes must be purchased from the city well in advance to book passage on a ferry to Koji Island on festival nights. While reasonably priced, very few families can afford to visit Koji Island for every festival.

Northern Shintakara

Shintakara Province grows mountainous and rocky as one travels north, until you come to the Northern Wall, the rocky peaks that serve as Shintakara’s northern border, separating it from Kamcha Province. Upon the peak of Takayu’s Perch, the tallest mountain in the Northern Wall, you will find Hirasuna Jinja an ancient monastic temple. It holds the distinction of being at the highest elevation of any temple in Shintakara and though it has not seen any active use in three hundred years, the Shintakara Preservation Society has ensured its status as a historical monument. Due to the monastery’s out of the way location it tends to receive few visitors, but for those who do brave the cold and windy climb to Hirasuna Jinja, the view it offers of Shintakara Valley below is breathtaking.

The city proper begins in the northern foothills known as the Blossom Heights district. This is where you will find the wealthier residents of Shintakara and the largest houses in the city. Winding roads descend from Blossom Heights’ hills into a collection of increasingly tall, residential, apartment buildings. Just beyond the apartments is the Bayside District also known as Downtown Shintakara. This is the heart of Shintakara’s business district. You will find the headquarters of many major companies, as well as Shintakara’s tallest buildings, the forty story tall Imawaru Building; and the six hundred foot tall Shintakara Tower, the city’s main broadcasting tower. Near Shintakara Tower one will also find Sunlight Studios, where several television shows and the Channel 8 news are recorded.

Sunset Plaza is the center for Shintakara’s shopping district and during the winter time, the large artificial pond serves as a popular ice skating rink. On the east side of the plaza is the three story tall Sunset Mall and on the west side is the central hub for the Shintakara Rapid Transit System, the light rail system that can quickly get you to any part of the city. The northern side of the plaza is where you will find the shining tower that is the Imawaru Building and the southern end is occupied by the Kawamura Convention Center where various events are held year round.

Toward the northeast of the Bayside District is Bayview High School, one of Shintakara’s three high schools and the one known for educating the wealthier citizens of Shintakara. Due to its alumni it also receives a greater share of donations then either of the other two high schools and as a result is believed to be the best high school to go to. While admission is supposed to be based upon residence, money and political clout can secure a spot in the school for anyone.

Jade Park and Central Shintakara

Central Shintakara is dominated by the sprawling and beautiful Jade Park, which covers an area of 154 acres. At the center of Jade Park is the beautiful structure known as Castle Izaki, which sits slightly apart from the rest of the park on a rise, surrounded by a small moat. The compound itself is also surrounded by a high wall. The compound once consisted of a second larger wall, but it was mostly removed two hundred years ago to make more room for the park. Castle Izaki is accessible only via a beautiful red bridge, flanked by a large stone tiger on one side and a large stone bear on the other. The four story castle itself consists of a large open courtyard, two wings, a two story servant’s house located on the same grounds, the temple Kamachi Taisha, two cellars and five guard towers, complete with quarters for the soldiers at arms who would have manned those guard towers.

Izaki Castle was converted into a museum sixty-seven years ago by the Izaki family who also made it the headquarters for the Shintakara Preservation Society. Today one can visit Izaki Castle Monday thru Friday from 9am until 5pm for a 1500 yen entrance fee for adults and an 800 yen entrance fee for children and seniors. The museum itself focuses mostly upon the history of Shintakara and the Izaki family, though different parts of the castle are also dedicated to other influential families in the city, such as the Konda family.

On the western edge of Jade Park one will find Shintakara University, known for its excellent history, archaeology and theology departments. It is also home to the largest library in the city and plays host to students and faculty from around the world. The university itself is fairly small, consisting of a cluster of five buildings, one dedicated to the science department, one to the humanities and one to the art department. The other two buildings are a gymnasium and the Lotus Building a unique building that houses eighteen different lecture halls, which is shared by all the departments and sometimes used to host productions by the universities drama department. The dormitories are scattered about the boundaries of the campus in the Bayside District.

The Shintakara Zoological Gardens occupy most of the northern section of Jade Park. Loosely affiliated with Shintakara University the Zoological Gardens are home to a Botanical Research facility, three separate tea gardens, an aquarium and of course numerous animals displayed in some of the most modern habitat facilities in the world.

The Masi-Oka Theater can be found in the southwest of Jade Park. The beautiful building is over two hundred years old and is renowned for the quality of the productions that are put on there. Over the year it can play host to everything from teiko drummers, traditional okaoru theater, ballet, jazz productions, modern dance and Shakespeare. Many believe it to be the center and height of Shintakara culture. Both great esteem and great pressure are put upon its theater director.

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:15, Sun 25 May 2014.

Hand of Fate
 GM, 3 posts
Thu 6 Mar 2014
at 20:20
Geography (Cont.)
The Yamino River and Southern Shintakara

The source of the Yamino River begins in the Northern Wall, where you will find the Hojo Dam, the main source of power for the city, which was constructed roughly ninety years ago. It then flows south for several miles before twisting to the west, then twisting south again towards the Temple Hills. It was at this second bend in the river that Shintakara’s first settlement was erected and today it is where you will find some of Shintakara’s oldest buildings and temples. Known originally as the Yamino District most people today just refer to it as Riverside.

The Yamino District was once the bustling heart of Shintakara. Prior to the construction of Shintakara Port and the Bayside District it was where the citizens of Shintakara congregated and this legacy can still be found today. Grand Avenue is still home to numerous shops, which are small and quaint in comparison to the great looming edifice that is the Sunset Mall. City Hall is also still located in the Yamino District and retains much of its traditional appearance thanks to the efforts of the Shintakara Preservation Society. North and south of the Yamino District are clusters of apartment buildings where the majority of Riverside’s residents dwell, clustered around one of the districts dozens of small parks.

Eight bridges in total cross the Yamino River as it travels through Shintakara, which for much of its course through the city is also on a much lower elevation, due to the Yamino River having run much higher in the past before the construction of the Hojo Dam. Thus, the area around the river has been heavily landscaped and reinforced with concrete walls to prevent erosion and improve its appearance. It also allows one to easily and safely walk the entire length of the Yamino River along the lower sidewalk from one side of the city to the other, a path that is frequented by both joggers and bicyclists at most hours of the day.

Yamino High School is located on the northern side of river and is Shintakara’s oldest high school. Most of the residents of Riverside consider it to be the better school because it is closer to the heart of Shintakara, allowing its students to feel the true heart of the city. The local residents also take great pride in Yamino High School’s sports events, each victory one of the Yamino High teams achieves over one of the other high schools is not only a victory for the school, but the entire neighborhood. Conversely losses are taken equally hard and any student perceived to be the cause of such a loss, can bring a great deal of shame upon his or her family.

East Shintakara

As one moves east of Jade Park, one reaches Shintakara’s suburbs known as East Shintakara. East Shintakara consists of about a dozen neighborhoods, which have only existed for the last fifty years. Likewise, Shintakara High School is the newest of Shintakara’s three high schools, only constructed about thirty five years ago to meet the needs of Shintakara’s growing population.

East Shintakara is almost considered a separate entity unto itself from the rest of Shintakara even though the majority of its residents all work in West Shintakara. Over the last thirty five years it has become increasingly independent with the construction of its own high school and the opening of the Sunrise Shopping Center. Other businesses are also moving in now, to take advantage of the growing suburban population.

Still, despite the areas recent development one can still find several old temples and shrines here, tended by families who have called the area home for centuries. These elder families are mixed in their opinions about the areas development. Some welcome the change, because it brings with it more convenience for their lives. Others decry the challenge to the sanctity of their ancestral home and look down upon the influx of newcomers and the changing landscape of the lands they once knew so well. While the Shintakara Preservation Society is more then willing to help these families and do what they can to mitigate any harm that might come to the temples, sometimes there is very little they can do in the face of the large sums of money that real estate brokers are investing in the area.

Beyond the suburbs, is Konohara National Park, a vast tract of protected wilderness that takes up a third of the area of Shintakara Province and serves as the province’s eastern boundary. Konohara Forest is home to about a dozen temples, the largest and oldest of which is Uzumi Taisha, which has been tended by the monks of the Order of the Laughing Rainbow for well over a thousand years since the temple was first constructed. The forest itself is considered to be one of Shintakara’s holiest places by the more traditional citizens of Shintakara and devotees of Laughing Rainbow sect make regular pilgrimages to the forest’s temples on holy days.

The forest consists mostly of beech, ash and pine trees. It is also home to a wide variety of wildlife including moon bears, a species of black bear marked by white crescent shaped markings on their chests. Also present are foxes, pine monkeys, raccoons, squirrels, hawks, owls, wood peckers, several types of deer and even tigers in the deeper parts of the forest toward the mountains.

The Temple Hills


Traveling south from the Yamino District one will eventually reach the southern edge of Shintakara City. After that, the area quickly becomes more rural, turning to vast tracts of farmland, which is mostly used for grazing land for cattle and acres of grain fields, with a few peach and pear groves scattered here and there. At the furthest edge of the province though, are the Temple Hills, which mark the southern border between Shintakara Province and Okima Province. The Temple Hills derive their name from the number of temples that once crowned the tops of the hills there. All of them were constructed by the Order of the Roaring Fist, the legendary sect of warrior monks who once lived in the area.

Most of the temples were destroyed a thousand years ago by the Seven Thunders. After Warlord Goji took control of the area, he threatened all members of the Roaring Fist with death, exiling them from Shintakara and then rebuilt several of the destroyed monasteries as fortresses and garrisons for his own soldiers. Both Warlord Goji and the Seven Thunders took a heavy toll upon the Order of the Roaring Fist. It is believed that the remaining monks joined other orders or found other pursuits. Over the years many have claimed to either be members of the Roaring Fist or to have learned its now legendary style of martial arts, however no formal order has existed for the span of a millennium.

When Izaki Hojo reclaimed Shintakara Province after the first Emperor’s ascension, he rewarded his good friend, General Konda Sonoda with a parcel of land in the Temple Hills. This parcel of land included the site where Kari Miya once stood. Kari Miya had once been the main temple and training ground for the Order of the Roaring Fist. After its destruction by the Seven Thunders, Warlord Goji had it rebuilt as a fortress garrison to guard the province’s southern border. General Sonoda had that fortress torn down stone by stone, then hired architects and scholars to help him rebuild Kari Miya as it had once been, rededicating it as a holy site and then retiring there to become an instructor in the martial arts. Today Kari Miya is the largest privately owned temple in Shintakara. General Sonoda’s descendents continue to both live on the grounds of the temple, tend to its upkeep and train martial artists from around the world. It has become one of the most renowned martial arts academies in the world thanks to their efforts.

As part of Seijuro’s Restoration many of the other lost temples would be similarly restored, which is why today you can find not only Kari Miya, but seven other restored temples south of Shintakara city. However, like Shintakara East, developers are taking an interest in the area and a small, but growing suburb has appeared in the Temple Hills in the last decade. There are also many small private residences now nestled amongst the forested hills. Only time will tell what impact this will have on the area. Developers are already theorizing that the Temple Hills will become the next big suburb of Shintakara.

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:56, Tue 08 Apr 2014.

Hand of Fate
 GM, 4 posts
Fri 7 Mar 2014
at 02:06
Local Culture
Festivals

Shintakara plays host to numerous festivals throughout the year, ranging from small celebrations at a local temple or shrine, to large, lavish affairs that engulf the entire city. It would be exhausting to list every single festival, holiday and celebration that occurs in the city, but the major celebrations that everyone tends to participate in or know of, are explained briefly below.

The Lunar Festival (First Full Moon in February)

The Lunar Festival marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year and is typically held on the first full moon of the month of February. The exact day of the Lunar festival varies from year to year, but it is always a major event in the city. Typically, most businesses are closed that day and there are small celebrations at all of the local temples, as well as a fireworks display over Castle Izaki and Shintakara Tower in the evening after moonrise. There is also a Lunar Festival Parade that winds its way through the Yamino District, featuring bands from all three high schools, floats, dragon dancers, balloons and acrobats.

Around midday at the Masi-Oka theater, there is a special event, a re-enactment of Kuma the Jade Warrior’s epic battle against the demon Aziraka to free Amaru the sun goddess. The part of Kuma is always played by the Cadet Class winner of the previous year’s Konda Martial Arts tournament, with the part of Aziraka going to the second place winner in the tournament. The part of Amaru in the production is traditionally played by the previous year’s Blossom Princess. The battle is almost always well attended and holds the promise of a stirring and spirited performance.

Most of the local temples celebrate the coming year in their own unique way, but it is common at this time of year to find the traditional, moon cakes being sold, as well as rabbit masks and a number of high quality festival robes in the local markets. It is one of the few times of year, where almost everyone in the city can be found in high spirits.

This year’s Lunar Festival promises to be an especially exciting event as it coincides with a full solar eclipse over the city, an event that has not occurred in well over a thousand years. Apparently the plan this year is to launch a fireworks display over Castle Izaki during the height of the eclipse in order to ‘scare off’ the sun devouring demon, Aziraka.

The Blossom Festival (First Day of Spring, late March)

The Blossom Festival is held each year on the first day of Spring towards the end of march, when the blossoms of the cherry trees are in full bloom. It is a celebration of both spring and love, having much in common with Valentine’s Day in the rest of the world for the citizens of Shintakara. It is a time both for the reaffirming of loves already declared and the declaration of new loves. It is thought particularly auspicious for couples to announce their engagement on this day.

As with the Lunar Festival, there is typically a Blossom Day Parade held in the Yamino District. Various other events celebrating the day are held throughout the city as well, though the biggest event is the crowning of the Blossom Princess held in Jade Park in front of Castle Izaki. The Pageant of Blossoms is sponsored by the city each year and is open to all girls between the ages of ten and twenty-one. Mostly a beauty pageant and popularity contest, competition is typically fierce each year, especially among the members of the upper class. As mentioned before, winning the title of Blossom Princess earns one a place as Amaru in next year’s Lunar Pageant as well as a small cash prize along with other assorted gifts donated by local businesses. The Blossom Princess is also typically called upon in a ceremonial role for other events and festivals throughout the city.

The Konda Martial Arts Tournament (Last Week of May)

Held each year, typically during the last week of May, the Konda Martial Arts Tournament is a world famous event in which martial artists from around the world compete to win the title of Grand Champion. There are traditionally five classes, each counting as a separate tournament with its own weight classes. The Junior Class is for all competitors between the ages of 8 and 13. The Cadet Class is for all competitors between the ages of 14 and 17. The Master Class is for all competitors 18 and up. The Grand Master Class is for all competitors 18 and up who hold the distinction of winning a title in any other recognized martial arts tournament held within the last three years.

The tournament began as a local event over three hundred years ago by Shogun Izaki Ashigaru who wanted to honor his fallen comrade in arms Konda Osamu. From there, the Konda Martial Arts Tournament became a yearly event, during which the shogun personally honored the winner of each tournament and awarded lavish prizes. After Ashigaru’s death, his descendents continued to honor the tournament, but not in quite so lavish a way. The tournament evolved into its current incarnation forty seven years ago, when the mayor at the time, Kawamura Seijo decided that playing host to a world martial arts tournament would be a great boon to the city. The entire tournament structure was reorganized, invitations were sent out to all the world’s major martial artists and due to the reputation of the Konda family in the martial arts world, the tournament proved to be a rousing success. Since then it has only grown in popularity and attention.

The first three days of the tournament are typically devoted to the qualifying rounds where the number of contestants is whittled down to forty eight in each class, during single elimination matches. The fourth and fifth days of the tournament are then devoted to the Junior and Cadet matches respectively, leaving the sixth and seventh day for the Master and Grand Master tournaments. The top eight winners of the Master Tournament automatically receive invitations to next years Grand Master Tournament and any who compete in the Grand Master Tournament past the preliminaries are eligible to re-enter at the Grand Master level next year as well.

By the end of the seventh day the Grand Champion is given his honors, which includes both a 2 million yen cash prize, likely several endorsement deals and the Konda Champion’s belt. Second and third place in the Grand Master Tournament receive 1 million yen and 500,000 yen respectively. The winner of the Master Tournament receives 1 million yen while the runners up receive 500,000 yen and 100,000 yen respectively. The Cadet tournament awards its winner with a 500,000 yen prize, with 100,000 yen being offered to the second place contestant and 50,000 to the third place. In the Junior tournament the winner receives a 100,000 yen with a 50,000 yen and 25,000 yen cash prize for the second and third place winners.

Most residents of Shintakara consider the Konda Martial Arts Tournament a fairly big deal, though how interested they are in it depends on how interested that individual is in martial arts. Visitors can buy tickets for a single day of the tournament or week long passes depending on their inclination, but there is always a large crowd at the Kawamura Convention Center where the event is held. The Channel 8 news also typically broadcasts highlights of the day’s matches each evening.

The Konda Film Festival (Second weekend in June)

Typically held in the second weekend of June, the Konda Film Festival celebrates martial arts films in general and the life of the late Sonora Konda specifically. Sonora Konda was the daughter of Daniel Konda a world renowned martial arts instructor and winner of the Konda Martial Arts Tournament for three years running, once as a Master, twice as a Grand Master. Like her father, Sonora was a champion martial artist and placed second on two occasions in the Konda Martial Arts Tournament once as a Cadet, once as a Master. Her true fame within the city, came not from her victories in the martial arts ring, but in her popularity as an actress, first in her recurring role as Lei Chung on the television series Judo Ken and later for her supporting roles in various action movies. Her big break came when she landed the starring role in Roaring Fist, a martial arts epic based upon the adventures of the legendary, demon-fighting heroine Saeya Kari, purportedly one of Sonora’s ancestors and the founder of the Order of the Roaring Fist.

Tragically, the plane that Sonora was riding on to the premier of her own movie crashed over the ocean killing her, her husband the actor Jared Navarre. The film festival was started by Sonora’s fans five years after her death and has since grown into a minor gathering of martial arts film afficianados who take over a wing of the Kawamura Convention center for one weekend in June to screen, trade and discuss martial arts movies.

The Konda family has a mixed response to the film festival. Some members of the family see both Daniel and Sonora as sell-outs who parlayed their skill in martial arts for fame and fortune. Other members of the family have a great deal of respect for Daniel and his daughter and saw nothing wrong with how they comported themselves. Thus some see the festival as a proper way to honor the family, while others look at it with nothing but contempt and do their best to ignore the gathering.

Shogun’s Day (Third Friday of August)

Shogun’s Day honors the memory and legend of Prince Izaki Yoshiro, the legendary founder of Shintakara. It is typically celebrated with a parade in the Yamino District and various productions of Yoshiro, the Legend put on throughout the city. The most lavish production of the play of course, being the one held at the Masi-Oka Theater in Jade Park. Toy swords, demon masks and festival robes become common throughout the city. The day typically ends with a large fireworks display over Castle Izaki.

The Harvest Festival (Last week of October)


The Harvest Festival is an ancient celebration of the fall harvest, where the gods are thanked and honored for the blessings and bountiful harvest they have bestowed this year. These days, the city typically treats it as an opportunity to celebrate the good fortune of the year. Small gifts to friends and family are typical, as a gesture of both good will and an attempt to share one’s fortune with others. Tradition holds that gifts given to others during the Harvest Festival will return to the giver three-fold over the next year. Most of the larger temples and all three of the High Schools hold a lively Harvest Dance on the Saturday of that week.

The Winter Festival (second week of December)


The Winter Festival marks the beginning of winter and traditionally is when the Sunset Plaza is opened for ice skating. Most of the activity centers around Sunset Plaza with an ice skating competition. Ice sculpture contests are held around Izaki Castle in Jade Park and the high schools all host Winter Formals on the Saturday of that week, just before the schools close for the two weeks of winter break. There is also typically a fireworks display over Izaki Castle and at Shintakara Tower at the end of the week.

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:55, Tue 08 Apr 2014.

Hand of Fate
 GM, 5 posts
Fri 7 Mar 2014
at 02:10
Local Culture (Cont.)
Shrines and Temples

The distinction between a shrine and a temple is a simple one for the purpose of Shintakara. A shrine is any place that has been dedicated to one or more kami, that is maintained either by a particular family, order of priests or the Shintakara Association of Shrine Keepers. A temple always contains a shrine, but in addition it also includes buildings where priests or others dedicated to the preservation and maintenance of the shrine can reside.

About half of the shrines and temples in Shintakara fall under the protection of a particular family who are dedicated to its maintenance and preservation. For those families who tend a shrine, almost all consider it a great honor and take any desecration of their shrine or accusation that they are letting their shrine fall into disrepair as a great insult. As a result, almost all family tended shrines appear to be immaculate, with fresh paint, carefully maintained trees and not a sign of litter.

About ten percent of the shrines and temples are maintained by either the Order of the Laughing Rainbow or another sect of Shinto priests. Most of these are public shrines and temples that offer daily services to any who wish to partake in them. Like the family tended shrines, the priests take good care of their property, but typically without the zeal or pride of the shrine families.

The last forty percent, mostly relating to shrines and temples found beyond the city limits or on public property are tended by the Shintakara Association of Shrine Keepers. The Shrine Keepers are a non-profit organization that works with the city to maintain the untended shrines, keeping them in good condition and performing services at untended shrines in order to properly propitiate the kami of those shrines. Anyone may volunteer to join the Shrine Keepers and participate in their weekly maintenance of the local shrines. Many of the city’s priests belong to the organization as well as many of Shintakara’s most upstanding and well known citizens.

Most shrines and temples are simple affairs, consisting of a small ‘spirit house’ depicting small effigies representing all of the kami worshipped at that particular shrine. Offerings are typically left before the spirit house with a small area directly in front of the spirit house dedicated to the burning of sticks of incense. Shrines become more elaborate from that point, but this basic model may be found at every shrine and temple in Shintakara.

Larger shrines and temples may have either a tree or a wall where ema, or prayers may be hung. Typically ema, special wooden plaques on which an individual may write a personal prayer, can be purchased for a small donation to the temple. Some shrines and temples require that an individual purchase an ema from the shrine before it can be hung on their prayer tree or prayer wall. Other shrines and temples are less strict and allow anyone to hang prayers. This is commonly done by those seeking good fortune before a major event in their life.

Religion and Spirituality


Shintakara is an extremely diverse place and members of all religious denominations can be found within the city, though the vast majority profess to follow Shintoism. However, saying that the vast majority of Shintakara residents are Shintoists is rather like saying the vast majority of Americans are Protestants. It sounds nice, but it doesn’t actually say anything about what they truly believe. For most residents, though, it means that they celebrate the major festivals and occasionally attend services at their local shrine or temple. The kami that each family venerates varies from neighborhood to neighborhood based on both family tradition and local custom.

The following is a list of major kami associated with Shintakara Shintoism. Some are very similar to kami known in other parts of Japan, others are unique to Shintakara. Whether a resident follows Shintoism or not most are familiar with these names as they are associated with major temples and shrines.

Amaru

Known as Amaterasu in other parts of Japan she is the Kami of the Sun, the patron kami of the Imperial Family and the nation of Japan as a whole. Most venerate Amaru as the Queen of Heaven and the most powerful of all the kami.

Amaru’s main temple is located in the Yamino District near city hall. Known as Shisato Jingu it is maintained by both the city and priests of the Order of the Jewel. The restored Shisato Jingu compound was one of Seijuro’s first major projects and he spared no expense on its reconstruction.

Kiyomi

In other parts of Japan, Amaterasu’s brother the moon kami is known as Tsukuyomi. In Shintakara, they venerate Kiyomi instead, a female kami who is said to be Amaru’s elder sister, the goddess of night and dreams. Kiyomi is commonly invoked to protect against madness and receive pleasant dreams. Kiyomi is often associated with rabbits and depicted as either a great white rabbit, or a woman in flowing dark blue robes with silver hair.

Kiyomi’s main temple is located in Rukara, known as Kiyomi Jinja it stands somewhat apart from the other buildings clustered in the area, at the center of its own small park, surrounded by reflecting pools. While the rest of the neighborhood is somewhat run down, the Umeki family, ancestral keepers of the temple ensure that Kiyomi Jinja and its grounds are in pristine condition.

Susano

Known as Susanoo in other parts of Japan, Susano is the Kami of Storms and younger brother to both Amaru and Kiyomi. This violent and temperamental spirit is cautiously venerated, for to anger him brings great misfortune. However, there are also legends about Susano’s Redemption, a saga of tales in which the Storm Kami was exiled to earth and had to slay a great many demons in order to prove to his sister Amaru that he was worthy of a place in heaven once more.

Susano’s main temple, known as Gozen Jinja is also located in the Rukara district on a plot of rocky land located north of the warehouse district. Maintained by the Order of the Laughing Rainbow, it is a grim building surrounded by rough pillars of carved stone. The temple is built around a boulder that sits in the courtyard and appears to have been split in two. Legend says that the boulder was once a demon that Susano struck down with a single blow. The temple itself was once much larger centuries ago when it served as a training ground for warriors who supposedly sought Susano’s blessing to fight demons. Today it is typically only visited during festival days to honor Susano.

Inari

The Fox Kami is also the Rice Kami. Possessing a dual female and male nature, this strange god is still worshipped today as a protector of fields and one of the kami who grants good fortune.

Inari’s main temple Yamino Inari is located in the Temple Hills. It is maintained by the Masaki family and the Order of the Laughing Rainbow. Local families have celebrated the Blossom and Harvest Festivals at Yamino Inari for centuries.

Uzumi

The Rainbow Kami and patroness of the Order of the Laughing Rainbow, a prominent Shinto Sect in Shintakara. She is revered for bringing joy to all and is often invoked to bless any party or festival with good cheer. Some hold that she is also a goddess of intoxication and as a result several local varieties of beer and sake bear her kanji.

Uzumi’s main temple is Uzumi Taisha, the main temple of the Order of the Laughing Rainbow itself located in Konohara Forest. Uzumi Taisha is one of the largest temples in Shintakara, with seven sessha or auxiliary shrines in addition to the honden.

Ananta

The Kami of Secrets is an ancient kami said to watch over the waves as well as the secrets of the world. Shrines to Ananta can be found on many of the islands off the coast of Shintakara. Often depicted as a great black sea snake, the serpents were once revered at coastal temples. Worship of Ananta was more common in ages past, today only a few families still venerate the ancient spirit.

Ananta’s main temple is known as Mokai Yashiro and is located upon Moon Island, one of the larger islands found off the coast of Shintakara. It is built around an ancient stone torii known as the Moon Gate that legend says is a gate to the spirit world. Maintained by the park service and Shrine Keeper’s Association no one actively worships at Mokai Yashiro anymore due to its remoteness. Some people also claim that the temple itself is haunted.

Mitara

The Great Protector is the Kami of Gates and the patron spirit of the Izaki family, the Shintakara Police and Shintakara as a whole. Often depicted either as a bear or a massive lion-dog, shrines to Mitara are common among any place that is to be protected, including most major shrines and temples even if those shrines or temples are not specifically dedicated to Mitara.

Mitara’s main temple, Yoshino Jinja is located in Jade Park and maintained by the Izaki family. A modest building of mostly stone construction it is surrounded by carefully landscaped park land and contains the largest statue of Mitara in the city. The Great Guardian as its known is made of marble inlaid with jade and gold. It stands ten feet tall in the shape of a massive seated lion-dog with one paw resting upon a massive polished stone orb. Rubbing the statue is supposed to bring good fortune, but in order to preserve it the temple’s priests have actively discouraged this practice for years.

Inana

The Kami of Passion as well as Lightning is according to local legend a daughter of Susano. Shrines to this kami are commonly visited by those having trouble with their love life. She is often depicted as either a beautiful woman riding upon a storm cloud or simply a winged woman holding a lightning bolt in either hand.

The main temple of Inana is known as Ukihashi Jinja and it is located in the Temple Hills where the Order of the Laughing Rainbow tends it. Like almost all of the temples in the Temple Hills, it was rebuilt during Seijuro’s Restoration. The modern temple sits upon a hill top facing south toward a second taller hill where a large torii stands known as the Sun Gate. The Sun Gate is a reconstruction of an ancient stone torii that once stood there. It was said to be twin to the Moon Gate on Moon Island. Ukihashi Jinja and the Sun Gate are a popular spot to hold weddings, especially in the summer time.

Daiga

The Tiger Kami of Battle is the legendary patroness of the Order of the Roaring Fist. Today she is also venerated as the Kami of Martial Arts in Shintakara and shrines to the Tiger Goddess can be found in most martial arts studios. Many soldiers and martial artists also pray to her before engaging in battle, though never to ask for victory just the strength to fight well and be protected from dishonor.

Daiga’s main temple is Kari Miya, which is tended by the Konda family and also serves as a renowned martial arts academy. It is located in the Temple Hills in the Konda Estate atop a grouping of high, forested hills. The road stops at the base of the hills, after which anyone wishing to go to the temple must climb the winding path of stone steps and series of stone bridges that leads to the top of the highest hill. Kari Miya itself resembles a fortress as much as a temple with high stone walls and parapets surrounding the five story main building.

Janosuke & Janoko

Janosuke and Janoko are dosojin, twin male and female kami that in ancient times were believed to watch over the roads leading into and out of Shintakara. They protected travelers and barred evil spirits from entering the kingdom. They are typically represented along roads by stones carved with either a prayer or a depiction of man and woman standing together. These guide stones can still be found throughout Shintakara to this day.

Janosuke is said to be the Kami of Endings, while his sister Janoko is the Kami of Beginnings. When the the first railroad station was built in Shintakara, both kami were enshrined within the train station. Later, when the Shintakara Rapid Transit System was built the tradition continued and hokora dedicated to the dosojin were erected in each station.

Kosaten Jinja is considered the main temple of the dosojin. It is located in the Bayside District built on top of Sakura Station, the largest of Shintakara's subway stations and main transfer point for all of the Shintakara Rapid Transit System's subway lines. It also holds the distinction of being Shintakara's most modern temple in design and aesthetic.

Nuga

Known as the Queen of the Depths, Nuga is an ancient kami who is said to watch over the souls of the deceased and guard the mysteries of the spirit world. According to local legend, Nuga is the mother of Amaru, Kiyomi and Susano, however there is very little solid information about this kami. Due to her similarity to Ananta, some scholars believe that worship of Ananta may have eclipsed or absorbed the worship of Nuga.

Her symbol, a pair of snakes curved around a lotus blossom, can be found in many temples to Amaru, Kiyomi, Susano and Ananta, but there are no existing temples to Nuga. The closest thing to one is a cave located upon Nisano Island off the coast. Scholars believe it was once used as a site of worship for Nuga, inside is a primitive stone altar and the walls are covered by a faded mural of a serpentine dragon.

Kaida

The Bear Goddess is believed to have once been widely worshipped by the ancient inhabitants of Shintakara. Like Nuga she is an ancient kami who is always depicted as a large moon bear. Shintakara University has a large collection of wooden bear carvings believed to depict Kaida. A guardian deity, she is still invoked today especially by mothers for the protection and health of their children. A few small temples to Kaida can still be found in Konohara Forest tended by the Order of the Laughing Rainbow and the park service.

While it is not a temple proper, deep within Konohara Forest there is a place known as Kaida Mori where seventeen stones stand in a circle, each carved into the rough shape of a standing bear. They surround an eighteenth larger stone elaborately carved into the shape of a seated bear holding a stone bowl. It is believed that the ancient inhabitants of Shintakara used it as a site of worship for Kaida. Today the site is occasionally used by those who particularly revere nature kami. Meditating at the site is believed to promote good health and help individuals commune with nature.

This message was last edited by the GM at 23:54, Tue 08 Apr 2014.

Hand of Fate
 GM, 6 posts
Sun 9 Mar 2014
at 08:37
Famous Families of Shintakara
The Izaki Family

The Izaki are sometimes referred to as Shintakara’s First Family or Noble Family, for they have guided the city’s destiny in one way or another ever since Izaki Yoshiro founded the city over two thousand years ago. Since then there has been no shortage of important and respected individuals bearing the Izaki name. Today members of the Izaki family are known for being active advocates of civic pride, historical preservation and urban restoration. The family is also said to still maintain close ties to the Imperial Family.

Dr. Akatsuka Mei, curator and caretaker of Izaki Castle is one of the foremost experts on the history of both Shintakara and the Izaki family. She carries on a love of history instilled in her by her late father Dr. Izaki Kazuhito, author of the famous book Shintakara: Born of Legends.

Her cousins, known as the Brothers Izaki serve upon the city council. Izaki Tanaka, the elder brother has served as Shintakara’s Minister of Culture for the last twenty years, while his younger brother Yoshi is a successful architect and has overseen much of Shintakara’s redevelopment in the Rukara District.

The father of the two brothers, Izaki Tanaka Sr. served with distinction as both one of Shintakara’s finest police officers and later as mayor of Shintakara for eight years. While he has long since retired, the venerable Izaki patriarch still wields a great deal of influence in Shintakara.

The Urahara Family

The descendents of Urahara Seshiro, the first disciple of Hanshu the Rainbow Sage was a renowned artist, especially known for his paintings and exquisite jade carvings. Over the years the Uraharas have parlayed their ancestor’s name and art into fortune and fame. The Urarahara’s are known for living large, being eccentric and spending the family fortune on luxuries. While some consider them dilettantes and poseurs, they remain extremely influential thanks to their extensive media ties, including almost full ownership of the Shintakara Times.

The Urahara family has invested a large part of its fortune into the entertainment industry. The family owns the Sparrow’s Wonderland Amusement Park and most of the movie theaters in the city. In television the family owns Sunlight Studios, which is overseen by Urahara Keiji who is also a producer for the movie studio Lost River Pictures. As a major producer, he regularly travels to Tokyo and Los Angeles. The family also owns KSTT the local radio station, which also broadcasts its programming from inside Sunlight Studios. Additionally, another member of the family, Deguchi Keiko started the record label EDZ in 1992 giving the family a stake in the music industry. Grinning Mask Publications, where Urahara Rikyu is editor in chief, publishes books, manga and magazines.

Urahara Minoru the current patriarch buys and sells art. Minoru also serves as patron of budding artists, while trying to maintain the family’s fortunes with careful investments. Probably the most famous Urahara at the moment is Minoru's niece, the popular idol singer Chihiro who appears to constantly be in either the news or tabloids for one reason or another due to her wild antics.

The Konda Family

The name Konda appears within Shintakara’s history almost as frequently as the Izaki name does. Many of Shintakara’s greatest military heroes were members of the Konda family. They are also closely associated with the Roaring Fist, the legendary order of warrior monks that are said to have had their origins in Shintakara, as well as the much romanticized martial art associated with the warrior monks.

These days most folks know the Konda name because of the late action heroine, Sonora Konda whose tragic death, just before the premier of her epic action film Crimson Dawn, made her a legend. A legend kept alive ten years later by the Konda Film Festival. While Sonora Konda is definitely the most famous Konda in recent memory the rest of the family is known for taking great pride in their family and their ancestors.

Despite being one of Shintakara’s ancient noble families, the Konda’s are known for disdaining high society and anyone who capitalizes upon the legacy of their ancestors without doing anything for themselves. Most people give the Konda’s their due respect, wary of arousing the legendary Konda ire, which has not only lead to the deaths of many Konda over the centuries, but also the deaths of almost everyone the Konda have named an enemy as well.

Konda Takato is the current head of the family, a former soldier, respected martial artist and the former head of Temple Vari. Takato is known as a stern traditionalist and has retired to a distant part of the Konda estate, where he lives a mostly ascetic existence, eschewing most modern conveniences.

Konda Ureshi is the current head of Temple Vari and Konda Takato’s nephew. He is a respected martial artist and twice Grand Champion of the Konda Martial Art’s Tournament. He was handpicked as Takato’s successor fifteen years ago and like Takato is a traditionalist.

Konda Daisuke more well known as Daniel Konda is Sonora Konda's father, Konda Takato's cousin and Konda Ureshi's uncle, though he is closer in age to Ureshi. Daniel Konda is a world renowned martial arts instructor. He is specifically known for training actors and stuntmen in martial arts for movie roles. He lived for many years in Los Angeles, California before moving back to Shintakara and founding the Konda Martial Arts Studio in the Yamino District. These days he prefers teaching martial arts to disadvantaged youth rather then actors.

The Kurokawa Family

The Kurokawa’s are one of Shintakara’s new money families. They rose to prominence in during the Industrial Revolution, making their fortune in weapons development and ship building. These days, Kurokawa Industries is more well known for its aircraft, oil and industrial contracts, as well as the cars that its subsidiary Konada develops. The family has a long history in Shintakara, especially concerning the cities modern development. Their money and support have funded many large scale projects such as the construction of the Shintakara Rapid Transit System, Shintakara Tower and the Hojo Dam.

The head of the family is Kurokawa Hideo, who currently resides in Yokohama overseeing Kurokawa Industries, but Hideo has recently decided to move the company’s headquarters from Yokohama to Shintakara. His son Kurokawa Tosho has come to Shintakara in order to oversee that project as well as the company’s interests in Shintakara.

To further this goal, Tosho has purchased several plots of land in the northern part of Shintakara. There, under protest of the Shintakara Historical Society he plans to build the Hideo Industrial Park with a fifty story tall building known as Kurokawa Tower to be located as the central structure. When completed Kurokawa Tower will be the tallest building in Shintakara.

People have mixed opinions about Tosho, Hideo and the Kurokawa family. On one hand they have brought numerous jobs to the city. Nearly half the population of Shintakara works for Kurokawa Industries or one of its affiliates in one way or another. The Kurokawa family is also responsible for much of Shintakara’s modern look as well as funding and constructing a great many buildings, especially in the northern part of the city.

On the other hand the Kurokawa family, especially Tosho, have an almost blatant disregard for history and tradition. Progress trumps sentimentality and profit is the bottom line. Hideo has repeatedly shown that he will never take no for an answer when he wants something, which has served him well in making his company a success, but earned him few friends among Shintakara’s more traditional citizens.


The Masaki Family


The most prominent of the dozen or so “shrine” families of the Temple Hills, the Masaki family has faithfully and quietly tended their ancestral temple of Daru Yashiro for centuries. The Masaki family claims descent from the legendary hero Daru the Dawn Bringer and are known for their sharp sight and dedication to honoring the spirits. They are also seen as somewhat anachronistic in the modern age, carrying on and placing emphasis on traditions others have long abandoned. The Masaki family founded the Shintakara Association of Shrine Keepers and continues to be the driving force behind it to this day.

The Masaki family are also known as prominent patrons of the arts, especially more traditional expressions such as theater. One of the most prominent members of the family is Masaki Nokuma, the director of the Masi-Oka Theater, which plays host to both traditional Okaoru theater, a style developed in Shintakara, as well as more modern theater and dance.

Masaki Koba, the current head of the family, is known to carry on the family’s tradition of kendo mastery and is also said to be the former sensei of both Izaki Tanaki Sr. and his two sons, the younger of whom married Koba’s late daughter, Kaoru. Koba is also said to be incredibly fit for being nearly eighty years old, possessing the strength and stamina of a man half his age.

The younger cousin of Masaki Koba, Masaki Eriko is the current director of the Shintakara Shrine Keeper’s Association and the head priestess of Daru Yashiro. She has a reputation for being regal and composed, restrained in her actions, yet unyielding as stone when she sets her mind to a task.

The Arakida Family

Like the Kurokawas, the Arakida are a mercantile family who rose to prominence during the Industrial Revolution. They primarily made their fortune in shipping, fishing, imports and exports. However, rumors persist that the Arakidas true fortunes lie with their associations with the Kurozame yakuza. The majority of the family and its holdings are based in the Rukara District and their ancestral home White Crane manor can be found in southern Rukara.

Recently times have become tougher for the Arakidas as the Kurokawa family has been making a bid to buyout the family businesses: Lucky Frog Exports and White Crane’s Catch. While the Arakida family is doing what it can to remain independent it is slowly losing ground to the Kurokawa’s tactics. As a result, Arakida Uryu the current head of the family has a poor relationship with Tosho Kurokawa. Uryu is a massive man, who does not take kindly to being pushed around by anyone, but Tosho remains unimpressed by Uryu’s bluster and his influence often exceeds Uryu’s.

The Golden Cup is one of the largest and most popular hotels in Shintakara and the building is completely owned by the Arakida family. Arakida Gempachi is the hotel manager and plays host to the majority of Shintakara’s visitors of importance, staking both the reputation of his family and hotel upon making sure they have a pleasurable stay in his hotel. Ryugu-Jo, the restaurant on the first floor of the hotel is one of the largest night clubs in the city as well as one of the most exclusive. The stage of the Ryugu-Jo has played host to dozens of famous acts over the years and always boasts live music every night of the week.

While Ryugu-Jo is more popular among the older citizens, the Arakida’s also own Warehouse 77, the most popular night club among the younger crowd. Gempachi’s daughter and Uryu’s niece, Arakida Haruko is the manager of Warehouse 77. She has a reputation for being wild and outgoing in her manner. She is often seen in the company of Kisaragi Kiyoko the daughter of Kisaragi Daisetsu one of the most influential members of the Kurozame.

This message was last edited by the GM at 00:09, Wed 09 Apr 2014.

Hand of Fate
 GM, 7 posts
Sun 9 Mar 2014
at 08:47
High Schools
Bayview High

Located in the Bayside District, Bayview High School mostly serves the students of the Blossom Heights District. As a result it has a reputation for educating Shintakara’s elite and providing the best education for its students. The typical student attends Blossom Elementary, graduates to Izaki Middle School and then goes on to attend Bayview High. In theory students of White Sail Elementary should graduate to Izaki Middle School as well, but most end up attending Shintakara North instead and then going to Yamino High, a discrepancy that has not gone unnoticed by the community, but in general there is little most parents can do about it.

Bayviews reputation for being the most elite of Shintakara’s High Schools is not entirely undeserved. While all teachers are paid according to a national pay scale, teachers at Bayview High School fall under a great deal more scrutiny from rich and powerful parents then teachers at other schools. Those teachers who fail to meet what the parents of their students find to be acceptable standards, rarely last long at the school and will quickly find themselves transferred to other locations. As a result a teaching position at Bayview High comes with a bit more prestige as well as more gifts from pleased parents. Likewise, Bayview High School itself is slightly better funded then the other two high schools thanks to donations from wealthy parents and alumni.

For the students this reputation gets mixed reviews. Some students take great pride in the school’s reputation, while others wish their parents would just mind their own business. Due to high parental expectations most Bayview students are pressured into participating in extra-curricular activities. A mindset of more is better also pervades this pressure, thus many students are involved in multiple activities leaving them little time for themselves and often leading to a greater degree of burn-out among the student population then at either of the other two high schools. Both teachers and parents tend to overlook the burnouts in the short term, hoping with a little “break” the students will return to their old ways. Unfortunately for everyone involved, it rarely ever turns out that way.

Bayview’s school colors are blue and red, the typical uniform for male students is blue slacks with a red sweater, or a white buttoned shirt and red vest on warmer days. Female students may wear either the male attire or a blue skirt with a red sweater or a white blouse with a red vest. The school’s mascot is the Bayview Tiger, which is typically displayed on a crest on the right breast pocket of the student’s sweaters or vests.

Currently the school fields a Kendo, Archery, Track, Basketball and a Soccer team. The Basketball and Soccer Teams are divided by gender, but the other sports are open to students of both genders. Bayview also has both a Debate and competitive Math team, as well as a competitive Robotics program.

Shintakara High

The newest of Shintakara’s three high schools, Shintakara High is located in East Shintakara and boasts the most modern look and equipment of the three high schools. It also has the smallest student body, educating a mere eight hundred students compared to the roughly twelve hundred students at Yamino High and the thousand students at Bayview High. The typical student attends Sunrise Elementary and then Urahara Middle School before going on to Shintakara High.

While the parents of Shintakara High students are typically not as wealthy as Bayview parents, in general they take a more active interest in their children’s education. Shintakara’s Parent Teacher Association is probably the largest of the three high schools and much to the chagrin of their children, parental involvement on school trips and as chaperones for school events is all too common. As a result, the number of students involved with extra-curricular activities totally unrelated to the school is probably greater then at either of the other two high schools.

Shintakara High’s school colors are green and white. Male students typically wear either a white long-sleeved or short-sleeved collared shirt with green slacks. Female students typically wear a green skirt and a white blouse. On colder days students of both sexes may wear green blazers. Shintakara High’s mascot is the sparrow, which typically appears emblazoned on the right breast of both their shirts and their blazers.

Currently Shintakara High has a Track, Soccer, Wrestling and Archery teams. Like Bayview High, the school’s Soccer team is divided by gender and Wrestling is only open to male students, but the other sports are open to students of both genders. Shintakara also has both a Debate team and competitive Math team as well as a competitive Robotics program.

Yamino High

Yamino High located on the north side of the Yamino River, has the distinction of being both Shintakara’s oldest and its largest school. It also has a reputation for being a bit rougher then either of the other two high schools. While this reputation is exaggerated somewhat, it is all too common for members of different classes to settle their disputes physically off of school grounds where administrators can’t follow. Generally this is more common among the male students, but female students have been known to get into brawls off of school grounds as well. The administration of course frowns on this practice and anyone caught fighting off of school grounds is likely to receive stern disciplinary action. However, a code of silence tends to exist among the students and a loose system of honor and unspoken rules of conduct surrounds the offsite fights. If no one talks to the teachers or parents, then no one gets into trouble after all. Besides its not really anyone else’s business, now is it?

Yamino High has the least parental involvement of the three high schools. Most of the students come from poorer families, where both parents work hard just to make ends meet. While they encourage their children to get a good education, the oversight that occurs at the two wealthier schools simply isn’t present at Yamino High. Fewer students participate in extra-curricular activities, most either have after school jobs they need to attend to or simply don’t care enough to get involved in any activities.

Yamino High’s school colors are red and gold. The typical uniform for a male student are red slacks, with a white t-shirt and a dark yellow vest or sweater. Female students wear red skirts with a white blouse and like the male students either a dark yellow vest or sweater over the blouse. Female students may also wear the male attire if they wish. The school’s mascot is the Yamino Bear, typically displayed as a black bear’s paw on the right breast pocket of the student’s sweaters or vests.

Currently Yamino high fields a Kendo, Track, Basketball, Soccer and Wrestling team. The Wrestling team is only open to male students and the Basketball and Soccer teams are divided by gender. Yamino High also has an ailing Debate and Math team.
Hand of Fate
 GM, 17 posts
Thu 20 Mar 2014
at 23:55
Shintakara Monogatari
The following is a catalog of stories, myths and legends that somehow relate to Shintakara and its inhabitants. None of these stories are required reading, but each one expands the setting in some way and serves as an example of the kind of stories that the Paranormal Activities Club looks into.

All of the stories below are linked and referenced offsite for ease of reading and editing.

Mythic History
These stories expand upon and concern events that occurred in Shintakara's Mythic Past. Most concern folktales and legends that are part of Shintakara's shared culture.

The Five Noble Warriors
The Seven Thunders
Sarubusa the Forest Guardian
The 72 Scrolls of Inauspicious Spirits
Zenki the Clever

Urban Legends
These stories concern modern myths and legends that typically relate to present day Shintakara, though many of them also have ties in some way to Shintakara's distant past.

The Black Priest of Mokai Temple
The Ghost Warriors of Nobura Hill
The Lake of Bones
Mishima Island and Inoga Manor
The Rukara Reaper
The Lady in Saffron

Monogatari

The Hokkaido Yuki-Onna
Tawara and Mikami

This message was last edited by the GM at 09:34, Mon 18 Aug 2014.