About the Daidoji, the family the Ota serves

Taken from the Book of Water:

The Daidoji have one of the most unenviable jobs in the Empire: they are tasked with protecting one of the most stubborn, difficult, and troublesome groups of samurai which has ever walked the face of the earth. The Crane are the Empire’s icons of honor, purity, perfection, beauty, and artistry. They are the glorious and noble upholders of Rokugan’s culture, a culture built by the wisdom of the kami Doji and Hantei Genji, son of Hantei himself. They directly symbolize and embody all that is worthy of respect in Rokugan. And despite the grumbling of other clans about the Crane Clan’s over-inflated sense of pride and importance, none deny that the Crane are the ideal to which every samurai aspires, their beauty the direct symbol of all that the Empire seeks to build and preserve.

As far as the Daidoji are concerned, there is only one problem with this picture: It is all a lie.

This is not to say the Crane’s vision can never be achieved. The Kakita make marvelous gestures toward perfection in every generation. The Doji, masters of the courtly path of Air, protect the Empire’s culture and share the most glorious and beautiful gardens and palaces with all their guests. The Asahina are among the only true pacifists in the entire Empire. The Crane maintain friendships in every other clan, even those who are their most bitter rivals. Every Crane has allies who owe him their lives, livelihoods, and the future success of their children. If the Doji were to ever to demand the repayment of all their favors, they could well bankrupt the rest of Rokugan. All these things are true.

The lie is that all this can be done without ever sullying honor, without ever being forced to adjust to circumstances or adapt to new situations. The Daidoji know better.

After the departure of the Yasuki in the fourth century, the Daidoji become the Crane family which does what must be done. Sometimes, indeed, they take this principle to an unhealthy extreme (as seen in the Harrier organization). More often, however, this is simply a willingness to stoop to levels the rest of the Crane find offensive. While the Doji listen to the breath of the courts and dance upon its winds, the Daidoji watch their cousins’ backs, ready to move in and protect their betters whenever the court turns against the Crane Clan’s favor. They supply the resources and information the rest of the clan cannot, and they react swiftly whenever there is a dangerous change in circumstances.

Rare is the true Daidoji courtier, but it is equally rare for any Crane diplomat or lord to lack a Daidoji advisor, preferably one with connections to the family’s Trading Council. The Daidoji also are the preferred choice for court yojimbo, guarding the physical bodies of their lords and masters while silently watching the political proceedings. Such men and women are always versed not only in iaijutsu but also in the essentials of the courtly arts. They are required to know a little bit about everything and to maintain both keen eyes and keen ears, ensuring their charges are never caught out by unexpected events. The Daidoji also run the Crane Clan’s small but efficient spy network, collecting information from all over the Empire and quietly funneling it to the Doji and Kakita… without ever requiring those individuals to know how it was gained in the first place.

Outside of an actual Daidoji court, it is exceptionally rare to see these individuals taking the lead of negotiations. Even the leaders of the Trading Council, who listen to the winds of commerce with the same attention as their Doji cousins listen to the courts, rely also on the patience and observation of Water. A Daidoji always  prefers to be the silent and easily-ignored aide or guard standing just behind the Doji. Every once in a while, they will offer a subtle gesture, a rolled-up scroll, or a quiet word of advice – and if their charge is wise, such guidance will be heeded. In this way the Daidoji allow their clan to utilize the adaptability of Water without ever admitting it in public. It is a thankless job but one they do not shirk, since without them the Crane Clan pearl might lose its shine forever.

About the Daidoji, the family the Ota serves

L5R: Chronicles of the Ota chakuva Scorpienne