A Quietly Brewing Storm
If Rokugan would humor Kakita Ochiru, then life would imitate art. Whichever circle the shugenja and fashion designer has graced – from the hallowed halls of the Asahina Artificers to the grandiose parties of the Crane – she leaves an indelible mark on admirers and critics alike. For her designs inhabit a world of pomp and color: Exquisite blue peonies scattered like stars upon a sea of indigo, or rich purples and oranges that evoke the transience of dawn. Hers is unequivocal haute couture that can and ought to indulge the senses. In short, to invite both wearer and onlooker to partake of the cloud-swept realm of the kami.
Art by Akekarat Sumatchaya
And rightly so: For communing with the spirits comes natural to Ochiru. Though she hails from a long line of Kakita master weavers through her father Ushiro, the blood of the mystical Asahina flows through her veins care of her mother Masako. She was thus raised in a household dedicated to both spiritual and secular arts. It also gave her a unique insight into one of Rokugan’s most captivating subcultures – the ukiyo or ‘Floating World’ of geishas. For generations her Kakita elders had provided the dazzling ensembles worn by women of the Crane-sponsored okiya,
Nevertheless the young Ochiru was eventually enrolled in the famed shugenja dojo of the Asahina where she demonstrated strong bonds with the kami of Air and Fire. Within its temple walls, she trained under the rigorous tutelage of Asahina Renga, one of the Artificers’ most capable if unconventional spiritualists. Even years after her gempukku, Ochiru’s commitment to beauty through needle, thread, and prayer are defined by her mentorship under Sensei Renga.
Yet insiders remark that her creative genius is matched by an unflinching demand for perfection. This has rendered assistants and even the odd client with an amateurish appreciation for the avant-garde leery of Kakita-san’s temper. Nevertheless, the bleatings of skeptics only call to attention such a phenomenal career.
It was this very commitment to the arts that garnered her favor with Doji Ushitora whom she now serves. Vainglorious to no ends, the Crane socialite gloats at having such a stellar personality afixed in the constellation of his court. To him, Ochiru is not as much a servant – conducting rituals at his parties or dressing his entourage – as much as she is a thing to be marveled; to be preserved within a glass case.
But how long will this last? Even now, Ushitora sends her beyond the Crane realm, intending the shugenja artisan to acquire the latest in gaijin trends. Yet the Ring of Fire smolders within Ochiru. The embers of ambition, if stoked, might ignite something within her that can never be extinguished.
As Ushiro’s eldest, Ochiru has two other siblings, Midori and Orawa.