A Basic Guide to Honorifics

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The following may or may not be correct historically in the real world but then again, Amahara is not Japan.

Also, random information that doesn't go anywhere else!

Social Class and Rank

Nobility

Samurai
The samurai class is the basic level of nobility in Amahara. The original samurai clans of the classical era were landed families that trained as armoured horse archers in support of shrine maidens. In those days, a holy noble clan - that is, an ancient family claiming shared ancestry with the hereditary apostolic line and produced shrine maidens - would have extra male members branch off with an allotment of land to found a samurai family with this reduced position. These samurai families served the main family and both its male and female members would be samurai. Although the apostolic line ended with the shogunate era, this system of nobility was more or less preserved during the reign of the Watatsuki except that the samurai families were ultimately the ones running the country. In Takamachi times, shrines controlled by holy nobility adopted daughters of samurai nobility as "hostages". While there remained distinction in terms of how each clan distributed its offspring (samurai vs. shrine maiden vs. political hostage vs. marrying them off, etc. etc.) the two tiers of nobility eventually merged into a single pool of nobility. Among properly landed samurai and shrines, this remains the system currently in place.

Since the Rouran Invasions, the samurai class has become vastly more varied owing to drifts in economic status, upraisings of common soldiers and the increased complexity of genealogies making forgery easier. With actual fighting now endemic throughout the country, whether a person wears two swords and has the bluster (and perhaps even skill) to back them up is much more important than genealogy when considering samurai status. Many samurai have only their swords to their name, living otherwise in poverty, floating between masters whenever possible. Others are commoners who join the hosts of lords fighting nearby as cheap and unreliable mercenaries; those that looted two swords off the battlefield could easily present himself as a poor ronin. With constant warfare in the Sengoku period, whether one is a samurai has become quite the seller's market and as a result the legal opinion is that a person claiming to be a samurai who has a set of two swords should be considered and given the courtesies of a samurai unless proven otherwise. In practical terms however, there will be an enormous difference in wealth, equipment, education and political opportunities between the scion of a major clan and a peasant with two swords.

Clerics
The religious class can be defined as a subset of nobility or as a career path. When referring to a class, it usually refers only to the holy nobility - original founding clans of the Dominion of Amahara who share Mikohime, the first apostle, as a common ancestor. It may or may not extends to branches formed by extra daughters who go out to take over or found a new shrine. Many shrines, be they vast and wealthy or fallen on hard times, are managed by a single hereditary family and genealogy can be more important. From the perspective of a clan, the only difference between them and samurai clans is that most samurai clans will only send a single daughter every generation or two to be shrine maidens as a token while religious clans would have all their daughters be shrine maidens. Clans whose practice lies in between exist as well. Such daughters are still part of the religious class and respected because of their career but their families are not traditional religious nobility. Girls of common birth adopted into shrines - as has been increasingly done in recent centuries to staff an ever-increasing number of shrines - are granted the same courtesy in theory.

Shogun
The shogun is a daimyo appointed by the Apostle on the Grand Chamberlain's recommendation as her chief military commander with authority over all temporal warfare. In practice, the title is hereditary (until your dynasty falls of course) and initially granted on account of an army camped outside the capital. Since several centuries ago, the shogun has effectively ruled all aspects of the dominion besides strictly religious and ceremonial duties. The shogun is the penultimate link in the feudal heirarchy - he owes loyalty to the Apostle and all clan daimyo owe him their loyalty insofar as his military and political power can assure this. The shogun has the right to audience with the Apostle to discuss matters of state. In practice, this means meeting with the Grand Chamberlain in the presence of one of the Apostolic Regalia representing the Apostle's person.

Daimyo/Great Clan
Daimyo are the heads of Great Clans that are subordinate directly to the shogun. This can be unilaterally declared by any clan that believes they can get away with it. Generally, only clans with significant land holdings and very credible military forces would be recognized by their peers however.

Commoner

Peasant
They work the land!

Merchant
Merchants are considered the lowest social class in Amahara. In practice they are of course much better off than the average peasant.

Artisans/Learned People
Respected even if they don't fight.

Honorifics

-san
The vanilla honorific used between adults of comparable rank of either gender. It is appended to the person's surname with a dash like other honorifics.

It happens to be a homonym to the on'yomi reading of the kanji for mountain and when so appended as in Fujisan (without the dash) is the equivalent of putting the word "Mount" in front of a mountain's name.

-kun
Indicates address to a person of lower rank, of either gender. Appropriate for a lord or lady addressing a vassal or retainer, or an officer addressing subordinates.

-dono
An honorific used to address someone of the same high rank as yourself - effectively -sama without implying a lower rank on your own part. Appropriate between nobility with no liege-vassal relationship.

-sama
An honorific indicating great respect and difference in rank. It at once denotes high rank on the part of the person being addressed and acknowledges lower rank of the speaker. Appropriate for a retainer or vassal addressing their liege.

hime
Means princess and has multiple uses. The simplest one is "hime-sama" which is a way of respectfully addressing a young lady of high rank. It can also appear at the end in a princess's style which can be as simple as appending it to the normal given name, appending it to her homeland (eg. Nohime meaning "Lady of Mino"), her place of residence, or some other adopted name entirely. In this case, it is usually appended without a dash.

gozen
Honorific appended to a name as a style for a female samurai with prestige in skill at arms.

-oujosama
Means lady (of higher rank) and is less distant than -hime. This would be what Zanka grew up being referred to as by the maids.

-sempai
This is a familiar honorific used towards a senior colleague.

-sensei
Denotes a master of any profession, art or craft.

-shishou
Like -sensei but denotes greater respect and indicates grand mastery of a limited number of traditional arts - other arts may use -sensei universally.

-chan
Very intimate and dimunitive form of address.

Shrine Classification

The first part of a shrine's name is the meisho – usually one or more of; the location of the shrine; the enshrined kami; or the family controlling the shrine.

The second part of a shrine's name indicates its status. One could simplify it as a given shrine's "honorific". Where shrines fall under more than one category for whatever reason, the name is determined by tradition, usually with the more prestigious title having precedence.

Jinja
The default name of any shrine and the standard word used in gaijin translations. In Amahara, shrines are designated jinja if they are full fledged shrines with regular human presence but don't qualify for any other designation. Most jinja house terrestrial kami related to natural forces or features but some may venerate kami who were once mortal humans. In the latter case, unlike Buddhism which rewards mortals for faith, virtue or achievements, Shinto enshrinement is connected to the stories surrounding the person and is independent of morality. Generally, the shrine will have virtues, blessings, curses, taboos and festive observances related to the stories surrounding the enshrined kami.

Hokura
Literally a "spiritual repository", hokura are shrines that are usually very minor and/or have no regular human presence. Numerous hokura dot the countryside of Amahara, especially along roads where they protect travellers in exchange for offerings. They may be used for ancestor veneration which, in theory, demands less ritual pomp than veneration of gods. Under some interpretations, every gravestone is technically a hokura. Finally, the term also applies to mini-shrines erected on the grounds of larger complexes. In addition to the main deity being venerated, large shrines may have numerous hokura of other kami located on their grounds (often branch hokura of other major deities). This is treated as a courtesy of the kami of the major shrine.

Mikoshi
A divine palanquin or mobile temporary shrine paraded about during festivals or used to found branch shrines. In the latter case, the kami involved is first divided, a portion of divinity is placed in the palanquin and then it is transported to the new facility to be re-enshrined.

-ja/-sha/-ya
Appended to names for shrines of any physical size, indicating a shrine of lesser prestige that received a portion of divinity from a more important shrine.

-ji
Appended to name for Buddhist temples.

Gongen
The term gongen was originally Buddhist and such establishments are essentially Shinto shrines (as opposed to Buddhist temples) that recognizes Buddhist figures. Since posthumous elevation of mortals to enlightened status is common under some schools, most shrines of significance that venerate historic figures are designated gongen built starting in the 6th century onwards.

Jingu
A shrine dedicated to a celestial deity or a figure related to Amahara's foundation or creation and is thus exclusive with the designation of jinja which venerate terrestrial deities and elevated mortals. The definition includes the shrines dedicated to demigod figures related to celestial deities, a few conceptual shrines, as well as all past apostles. The status of jingu is slightly more prestigious than a jinja but not as prestigious as a taisha.

Taisha
Usually translated as Great Shrine or Grand Shrine, these are the largest and most important shrines of Amahara. This is the most prestigious category of shrine. A taisha may venerate a terrestrial or a celestial god (so either a jinja or a jingu of sufficient importance may be a taisha). There are few enough of these in the country that many people can readily list them all and, depending on the branch of Shinto, will do so in more or less the same order. Among the highest ranking taisha are of course Aki Taisha in which the person of the apostle herself is the honden enshrining Kaguyahime, and Yakumo Taisha where all kami are said to meet once a century.

Random Information

Apostolic Order of Succession

The count always begins on the first full year of reign.

Mikohime (660-561BC)
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Kumo (999-1031)
Uhime (1033-1035)
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Kansho (1312-1331)
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Mukyu (1541-???)
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Mutsumi (2003-???)