Kanshigumi: The Ivory Lotus
I am the man you were warned would get you for such behavior
Earth:3 Water: 3 Fire:3 Air:3 Void:2
Skills: Athletics 3, Battle (Skirmish) 3, Commerce (Mathematics, Merchant) 5, Courtier 3, Craft (Sailing) 3, Deceit (Intimidation) 4, Defense 4, Etiquette 3, Instruction 2, Investigation 3, Jiujutsu 4, Kenjutsu 3, Lore: Law 2, Peasant Weapons (Kama) 5, Theology 1, Underworld 3
Glory: 2.8 (Infamy 0.2) Honor: 2.5 Status: 2.0
Advantages: Strength of the Earth (4), Daikoku’s Blessing, Merchant Patron (Imada), Wealthy (5), Way of the Land (Dragon District of Toshi Ranbo)
Disadvantages: Bad Reputation (Bought Position, “Peddler”), Compulsion (Alcohol, TN 15), Contrary, Sworn Enemy (Yoritomo Haruko)
Shunsen is a stern-looking samurai with a sunburnt face and dark hair in a somewhat unruly topknot. His daily outfit consists of a dark green gi, his daisho tucked in on one side and his kama tucked in behind. He has large, bony hands and generally only wears sandals on his feet. On formal occasions, he is capable of cleaning up fairly well and has a selection of finely-made kimono.
(The picture is Karasawa Toshiaki as Maeda Toshiie in NHK’s Taiga Drama Toshiie and Matsu.)
To understand Yoritomo Shunsen, you must understand his family. This is true for many samurai, but for Shunsen, it is critical. Shunsen's family has only been samurai for three generations and his grandfather has keen and bitter memories of how he was treated as a heimin. The story of this Mantis family starts in a small Scorpion port town.
It was simply called Umi Mura and young Hiyoshi grew up listening to his drunken and embittered father rail against the arrogant samurai. The young man sought work as a porter, dockworker and rikishi, but never to any great effect. Hiyoshi's father was murdered for attempting to enforce port custom against the wrong merchant and Hiyoshi's size and education found him work with the Black Lotus smugglers as a legbreaker. This might have been the end of his story, but a fortuitous turn of events put him in contact with Shigehisa, a fence for both the Black Lotus and for the smugglers of the Mantis clan.
Hiyoshi uncovered a group of smugglers trying to sell the old fence some inu botan and saved Shigehisa from a dire fate in revealing it. Shigehisa, both in appreciation of the boy's efforts and in recognition of his keen perception, took him on as an assistant. When the Wasp took over the territory, Hiyoshi and Shigehisa reorganized the dock fee and custom system in such a manner that the district became remarkably prosperous. When Hiyoshi was taken in by a Mantis merchant patron and made similar arrangements for the Mantis holdings at Koutetsukan, he was adopted by Yoritomo into the minor clan, taking the new name Hasekura. Hasekura quickly married and became a prominent merchant patron in his own right, though his connection to commerce forever stymied his relations with the other Great Clans.
Hasekura's son is Hogakura and is very much a product of his father's rough youth. Hogakura started working on the docks of Toshi no Inazuma. That rough port city produced a man capable of managing trade fees and surviving in a fight. While he's never been as innovative as Hasekura, Hogakura is dependable and was promoted to harbormaster at Koutetsukan when his fourth child was born.
Shunsen is the oldest of seven children. He spent the first six years of his life in Toshi no Inazuma, fostered by his grandfather, who acts as "overseer emeritus" at Heaven's Bank Hold. Thanks to his grandfather’s tutelage, Shunsen was doing long division and basic accounting before he had mastered his first thousand kanji. When Shunsen turned six, Hogakura was promoted and the family moved to Koutetsukan. As part of Hogakura’s promotion, Shunsen was accepted early into Dojo Raiden, the most prestigious of the Mantis Bushi dojo.
The ungentle raising of Shunsen by his grandparents helped prepare him for the regimen at Dojo Raiden. He was used to working with heimin and, due to his age, spent a larger proportion of his time working in the fields and on boats than many students did in their first two years. When his combat training began in earnest, Shunsen was an eager pupil. While he proved a competent warrior, his real talent proved to be his tirelessness. Days without sleep and endless drills seemed to affect him no more than the breeze and, in a habit that unnerved his sparring partners, he seemed to be impervious to pain. When sparring for some visiting Crane, Shunsen's opponent cracked him across his face with a tonfa. With blood pouring from his mouth and nose, Shunsen snickered slightly. A Crane lady fainted.
In 1165, Shunsen underwent his gempukku ceremony and was assigned as a minor magistrate (in reality, a tax collector) working for his father at Koutetsukan. Shunsen learned about commerce from his grandfather and about maintaining order from Yoritomo Ryu. Ryu was a master of laying down the law while keeping his own pockets well-lined. Despite his father and grandfather comfortably existing in legal gray areas, Shunsen’s honor got the better of him and he turned in his superior and mentor. Shocked by the betrayal, Ryu committed seppuku rather than face a trial. Shunsen was immediately reviled by his fellow magistrates as a snitch. The realities of following his conscience crushed Shunsen’s idealism flat. The young Mantis took up some of Ryu’s shadier practices, distanced himself from friends and family, and consoled himself with drink. His work dropped off in quality and he was formally reprimanded twice. His future might have been drowned in an ocean of shouchu, but Fortune then lent him a hand.
In 1167, the Mantis agreement to avoid piracy for two years expired. Yoritomo Kumiko was looking for ways to expand Mantis wealth but she also took the opportunity to deal with an ongoing problem. Two years of keeping her more rowdy bushi on a leash had taken its toll on the Mantis district of the Imperial capital, Toshi Ranbo. The new governor, Yoritomo Satoshi, requested to replace all the currently serving magistrates. Shunsen had not yet become enough of a drunk to destroy the memory of turning in his superior and he was selected for transfer (it was also an opportunity to exile him from the Mantis territories).
As a magistrate in Toshi Ranbo, Shunsen began to rediscover his sense of purpose. Since many of the more complex crimes were handled by Emerald Magistrates, Shunsen's principal responsibility was to keep the peace and maintain civil order, which he did very well. Years of accounting training at his grandfather’s knee enabled him to ferret out graft and corruption and his hard demeanor helped ensure that trouble became quieter as he approached. Soon the roughest criminal elements were seeking quieter hidey-holes in the Crab or Unicorn districts. He tried, with moderate success, to avoid alcohol, and was back on the road to being an acceptable samurai. He didn't improve his overall reputation much as he proved too willing to beat first, ask questions later, then finish by beating some more. He also made a permanent enemy of the merchant patron, Yoritomo Haruko, who slipped his grasp when one of her patsies confessed to a murder she committed.
Then came the Kanshigumi.
No one is entirely sure why Governor Satoshi thought it would be a good idea to send Shunsen to join a multi-clan police force. No one is sure what Shunsen's appointment says about the Mantis opinion of the Seppun's pet project. Nevertheless, Shunsen is determined to do as good a job as he can with the tools he has at his disposal. He's stuck with something of a reputation as a thug (which he doesn't fight – it's too helpful in quieting suspects) and he's still fighting an attachment to drink and an urge to find and bash in Yoritomo Haruko's pretty little skull, but he may have, at last, discovered a sense of duty.
Shunsen has only slowly made friends with his comrades in the Patrol, more closely bonding with the other less-refined samurai, such as Hiruma Taifū. He has, however, begun to build significant contacts among the peasantry and feels much more comfortable interacting with people who, in his unvoiced opinion, work for a living.