Legends of Rokugan
Matsu and Bushido
“In my sword, the wind. In my heart, courage. In my eyes,
- Lady Matsu in Kakita Morushijin’s play, No Man’s Bride
The Matsu are far and away the largest of the Lion Families;
in fact, the current Imperial census identifies them as the most
numerous Family in the Empire, although recent conflicts may
have altered their position somewhat. Regardless, the Matsu
are accustomed to viewing other Families or individuals as
weaker than themselves, almost purely as a result of their superior
numbers and martial training. They are, as a rule, brash,
combative, and somewhat abrasive.
To the Matsu, war is a religion. This is not something that
they recognize consciously, nor would they take kindly to such
a comparison being made. Nevertheless, war is the essence
of their being in every way. They spend their entire lives in
preparation for it, and when it comes upon them they embrace
it with a passion that would be completely shameful if it were
displayed toward almost any other activity. Older Matsu samurai
recount their most heated battles as the greatest moments
of their lives, and younger Matsu look forward to battle with a
vibrant enthusiasm and anticipation that others might reserve
for an impending marriage or a prestigious appointment to a
high-ranking position. When other young samurai pray to the
Fortunes and their ancestors for wisdom, guidance, or clarity,
the Matsu pray for the strength to wage war in their Clan’s
name. Fortunately for the Matsu, their ancestors are typically
happy to answer such prayers.
THE MATSU PHILOSOPHY
AND THE TENETS OF BUSHIDO
The Matsu have embraced Bushido with every fiber of their
Family’s collective being. They live for it, and they disdain any
who fail to live up to their interpretation of it. This has created
a problem in the past, as Matsu were often fiercely hostile
toward others whom they considered to be poor samurai
because they do not exemplify Bushido in the way the Matsu
prefer. Objective observers have occasionally made note that
the Matsu Seem to be selective in their adherence to Bushido,
greatly extolling the importance of courage and duty above
other tenets, particularly compassion. Regardless, the Matsu
are religiously devoted to observing Bushido, even if their view
of the code is an unusually narrow one.
Gi (Honesty) – Honesty is the default position for the Matsu.
They believe that lies arc told by the weak to hide their weakness,
by fools to cover their folly, or by cowards who seek to
shield themselves from the wrath of the righteous. A Matsu is
honest because he has nothing to hide, and fears nothing.
Yu (Courage) – Courage is exceptionally important to the average
Matsu. The notion that he might be afraid to take a certain
course of action or face a certain opponent is completely
unacceptable. Young Matsu are sometimes easy to manipulate
as a result of this, since they will undertake Virtually any
course of action if it is suggested that they are afraid to do it. As
a Matsu gets older, he recognizes the folly of this and instead
will Simply take insult from whoever suggests that he is afraid,
often going so far as to kill in order to defend his honor.
Jin (Compassion) – Compassion is not a particular concern
for the Matsu. They protect and provide for those of the
lower castes who serve them, and do not persecute them as
one might expect from such a belligerent and warlike Family.
Beyond that, however, they are not concerned with their
treatment of others. A samurai must be true to himself and his
lord above all, and concern for others only interferes with this
The concept of showing mercy to an enemy is almost completely
foreign to the Matsu, who typically allow defeated foes
to survive only so that they are forced to live with their humiliation
and may spread the word of the Matsu Family’s prowess.
Rei (Courtesy) – The Matsu extend courtesy only to those
who have earned it, either through their actions or because of
their rank. Matsu treat one another with the minimal amount
of courtesy necessary, simply because it is considered a frill
and something that is not important between warriors with
mutual respect for one another.
They generally treat samurai from other Clans with contempt
if they are of lower rank. with general indifference if they are
of equal rank, or with proper deference if they are higher rank.
This applies only to those with whom a Matsu has no personal
acquaintance, of course. Those who have proven themselves
to be worthy opponents or otherwise deserving of respect for
their accomplishments are treated appropriately by all Matsu,
for to do otherwise would risk staining the Family’s honor.
Meyo (Honor) – Honor is all that matters to the Matsu. Every
action a Matsu takes is weighed against his own individual
sense of honor and judged worthy or unworthy according to
that single standard. Only honorable actions are permitted to
a Matsu. Even considering a dishonorable act is unworthy of a
Matsu, and requires atonement.
Makoto (Sincerity) – A Matsu who does not say exactly what
he means at all times is an extraordinary rarity. There is no
difference between the thought and the action of a Matsu,
save for those occasions when he takes care to restrain himself
from an outburst that might be inappropriate under the
circumstances. Still, the Matsu are less likely to keep their true
thoughts or feelings to themselves when asked than anyone
else in the Empire, save perhaps for the ever-forthright Hida
Family of the Crab Clan.
Chugo (Duty) – Like the other Lion Families, the Matsu have
no real feelings toward their duties. Duties are to be completed
without question or hesitation. There is no doubt about this,
nor any room for considering the ramifications of one’s actions.
If a Matsu is given a duty to perform by his lord, he is obligated
to perform it to the best of his ability or die in the attempt. To
the Matsu, there are no other acceptable outcomes.