Legend of the Five Rings: Rise of the Four Winds
Time Keeping in the Empire
Time in Rokugan was measured in several ways. The seasons were the most obvious division of time, as the weather in Rokugan switched from oppressive heat during the summer months to crippling snow in the winter. A more formal system of months and days also existed, dividing the year into twelve months of 28 days. Additionally, the years themselves could be counted in two different systems: the Emperor’s Right, which refered to the year of the reign of the Emperor and was the official method of recording the passage of time; and the Isawa Calendar, which measured the number of years since the founding of Gisei Toshi, Isawa’s city.
The seasons of Rokugan defined what sorts of activities can happen at any given time. The summers were harsh and the winters more so. All of Rokugan revolved around the cyclical march of the seasons and the limitations they imposed.
Grove of the Five Masters
Blossom festivals are important springtime events in Rokugan.
Winters in Rokugan are harsh, and the coming of spring was a return to normal life for most of Rokugan’s inhabitants. The farmers across the land return to their work, planting the year’s crops. Courtiers gain the prestige of having the treaties and agreements they drew up at the Empire’s various winter courts finally ratified. Merchants begin crossing the land, bringing their wares to a populace eager to see anyone from outside their own communities. It is also a time of many celebrations, particularly the Cherry Blossom Festivals that takes place across Rokugan.
During the summer, Rokugan is filled with heat and humidity. There is little rain, and there are frequent droughts. Making war is very difficult during the heat of the summer, so battles are generally few. The summer lasts until the winds off the seas bring the monsoon; turning the lands to mud, flooding the rice fields across the Empire and heralding the onset of autumn.
Autumn is a time of preparation. The year’s crops are harvested, and the year’s tax is collected. While there is time for war, the end of the season marks the time when all armies return to their homes for shelter from the coming winter.
Winter is a time of strangling cold. The snow and ice that falls across the Empire make roads impassable; effectively trapping everyone wherever they happened to be when winter starts. The nobles of Rokugan retreat for the season into winter courts across the land. There, the courtiers of the clans go to work securing alliances and trade agreements, and the artisans of the land try their best to display their skills to all who would bear witness.
Months, days, and hours
The Rokugani calendar was a “lunar calendar” divided into twelve months of 29 days each. There were two general naming conventions used to identify the months. The traditional naming system named the months with the names of animal spirits, but the calendar used by the nobles of the samurai caste named the months with the names of the Kami. The nobles’ naming convention, however, was ratified only by Hantei XXXV, and had not had great success in replacing the common naming system, except in court.
The table below listed the various month names used in Rokugan. The seasons listed were based on climate, not astronomy, and so were somewhat variable, depending on weather and location.
Common month Noble month Season
Hare Sun Spring
Dragon Moon Spring
Serpent Hantei Spring
Horse Akodo Summer
Goat Doji Summer
Monkey Shiba Summer
Rooster Bayushi Autumn
Dog Shinjo Autumn
Boar Hida Autumn
Rat Togashi Winter
Ox Fu Leng Winter
Tiger The Tenth Kami Winter
Additionally, the common names of some of the months might vary, with some regions within the empire using different names. The most common of these replacements were to see the Month of the Rooster being called the Month of the Crane, the Month of the Dragon being called the Month of the Tortoise, and the Month of the Goat being called the Month of the Sheep.
The day in Rokugan was divided into twelve hours. The hours follow the same naming convention as the months (above), including the two different naming systems. The day in Rokugan begins with the Hour of the Hare, at sunup (6 AM), the night began with the Hour of the Rooster. A folktale known as the Great Race depicted how Onnotangu and Amaterasu had given the names.
These were the hours of the day:
Name Starting Hour Ending Hour Day/Night
Hare 6AM 8AM Day
Dragon 8AM 10AM Day
Serpent 10AM 12PM Day
Horse 12PM 2PM Day
Goat 2PM 4PM Day
Monkey 4PM 6PM Day
Rooster 6PM 8PM Night
Dog 8PM 10PM Night
Boar 10PM 12AM Night
Rat 12AM 2AM Night
Ox 2AM 4AM Night
Tiger 4AM 6AM Night
The Hour of the Dog was previously known as the Hour of the Wolf, but it was renamed after the bloody Battle of the Hour of the Wolf, to remove the unpleasant association with the battle.
There were two different systems of measuring the passage of years within Rokugan. The more formal method was known as the Emperor’s Right. This method measured the passage of years according to the reigning Emperor, for example, “the fourteenth year of the reign of Hantei XIX.” Alternately, this method could be paired with the cycle of animals used to name the months, for example, “the second year of the rat during the reign of Hantei XIV.”
This method allowed for a great deal of confusion for many reasons. First, upon the coronation of a new emperor, the year would automatically change from “the fourteenth year of the reign of Hantei XIX” to “the first year of the reign of Hantei XX.” Also, there might be confusion over the differences in “the thirtieth year of Hantei XXV” and “the thirtieth year of the reign of Hantei XXV,” with the first phrase used to define the emperor’s age and the second used to denote a point in time during his reign. Finally, with the added confusion of the cycle of animal totems, a simple mistake in copying a document, such as changing “the second year of the rat during the reign of Hantei XIV” to “the second year of the reign of Hantei XIV,” would render the document utterly worthless.
The second method, Isawa’s Calendar, was less commonly used but was much more precise. The Isawa Calendar measured the passage of years beginning with the founding of Gisei Toshi, an event which defined the year 1. Each successive year since the founding of that city had counted up from year 1. This method was very consistent and had achieved widespread use in record keeping throughout the Empire, even among the Ikoma family historians.
Note on age measurement
The people considered a newborn child to be one year old, so all ages in Rokugan were actually one year greater than the actual number of years a person had lived.