Daimyo Rules – Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan Iaido and Roukudan Jodo

Or Daimyos Rule? They did, they ruled the samurai. You don’t wannabe a samurai, you wannabe a Daimyo. Right?

Maybe. I was reading some daimyo rules this morning looking for inspiration and enlightenment. One of them was all about not letting men visit the wife if the husband was out of town. The Chosokabe of Tosa were all about folks deserting and not showing up for work lumbering. A third was about fighting, if two of your samurai are fighting, kill them both. If one doesn’t fight back and gets injured, maybe cut him some slack.

The rules aren’t anything special I’m afraid. Don’t go into debt to buy pretty things. If one of your samurai is effeminate maybe you can use him as a messenger. Spy on your peasants all the time, then when you need spies they are in place already.

What do you make rules like that for? Mostly I suspect because your guys aren’t doing what your rules say they should be doing, and you are worried about it. If you’re worried your wife will be seduced by the wandering monk, maybe you make a rule against it.

The one I like, because it applies to Daimyo as well, is to hire only people who can get the job done. If they can’t, even if they are loyal and related or both, don’t put them in the job. Not a bad rule, and contrary to what you may be thinking, not all that obvious.

People are put into jobs for all sorts of reasons, other than that they they would be good at it. People always get that promotion “because they deserve it”, but that may mean “because they are next in line” or “because they need the job” or “because they are my son-in-law”.

A daimyo ought to look at his own job and his own ability to do that job. He ought to say “can I do the job I’m supposed to do” and act accordingly. If you can’t do the job you ought to quit. Simple right? But again, it’s not. Who thinks they can’t do a job? Especially if it’s hereditary? I mean, some jobs are who you are, you don’t get a choice and you can’t quit.

But you can surround yourself with advisors who can do the job you can’t, and let them do it. As long as they aren’t incompetent or crooks themselves, and a lot of those close to a weak boss end up as those who are looking to get what they can before things fall apart.

A good honest look at yourself can tell you if you can do the task you’ve been given. Look at the job description and ask if you’re doing what you ought to be doing. Don’t fool yourself by changing the job description to one that you can do, that’s often done but it results in people being paid way too much. If you’re supposed to be designing widgets and you spend your time filing paperwork you’re doing a job you can, but not the one you should.

Don’t confuse part of the job with perks either. A while ago someone suggested that being the head honcho was all about flying around on someone else’s dime to various lovely seminars. That says a lot more about the guy who said it than the job itself. Some people love to travel, I don’t. To some the job is all about travel, to me that’s not a perk, it’s part of the job I’d rather not have to do. The job description says nothing at all about travel, by the way. I don’t have to be at a seminar because I’m Chief Examiner of Jodo, I have to be there if the grading can’t happen without me. I’m entirely dispensible as Mr. Bigshot, but perhaps needed as Mr. Panellist.

But wait, Daimyo were the warlords right? (We’re talking pre-Tokugawa era here.) They can do whatever they want. Well, no. Even warlords need to have their fighters behind them. Act too crazy, or be too incompetent and your samurai will bugger off to the next warlord, or one of them will get rid of you and take over. Again, it comes down to doing the job you are supposed to be doing.

So how do the underlings know if you’re doing your job or not? It depends on what they want and how bright they are. Some bands of samurai may figure they’re in it for what they can get out of it. Squeeze the peasants for as much as you can, as long as you can. There are folks out there that figure that can go on forever. Remember the rules against “desertion” against running away? As mentioned, you can tell a lot about what the head guy is worried about by what rules he hands down.

Are you doing a good job at whatever it is you are doing? Again, look at the rules, look at your job description and compare what you’re doing to that. A while ago the rules changed a little and I was having a hard time getting Jodo gradings done. That’s pretty much my job as chief examiner, make sure the gradings happen, and for a couple of years I wasn’t doing that. Since I was appointed and there is no particular way to remove me from my job except for me to quit or the President to remove me, I asked the seniors in the Jodo section if they wanted me to step down. How else would I get a job review except to ask for it myself? Turns out nobody else wanted to do the job and I was told to keep banging away at it. Eventually we figured it out and we got back to normal, whatever that is.

The point is that you ought to take your job, your role, your title seriously. If there is no review mechanism, YOU are the review mechanism. I can’t think of many jobs that require you to do nothing, they all need something, even if it’s to sit on a throne and make sure the rains come in the spring. If you aren’t doing that, you may find the checks and balances coming to send you to the rain god for a bit of a face to face.

If you’re a Daimyo, if your job is to make up rules, your job is to make up good rules. I liked the one where the underlings were told not to collect expensive swords. A sword worth 10,000 ryo can be defeated by 100 spears worth 1 ryo each. Better to buy 100 spears and hire the men to hold them, than that fancy sword. It’s a nice piece of advice. Of course, if you have to suck up to the lord one territory over you may also find a use for that expensive sword as a gift. In the Edo period there was no more land to reward your followers with, so you’d hand over a fancy sword instead.

The idea that giving the title “sanitary engineer” instead of a pay raise to your janitorial staff is not a new one. You can’t buy groceries with a fancy title any more than you can eat your fancy sword, but some folks like shiny things.

Check out your inner Daimyo and see if you’ve got good rules for those below, and then check out the Daimyo above you to see if they are doing their job.

The job is in the rules.

Kim Taylor
Mar 15, 2018

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