The origin of the Clans of the Sun is not recorded, although clues of Kuei-jin presence in the early Fourth Age are present. A contemporary to the Demon Warrior Empire, they originally predated the Fivefold Way, but quickly adopted it when Chinese Kuei-jin first arrived in the year 403, like their mortal contemporaries converted to Buddhism. The Clans of the Sun, alongside the Kuei-jin of Korea, were formally organized into the Five August Courts as the Azure Dragon Court of the East, who was nonetheless ruled over by Chinese Kuei-jin, much to the dismay of the natives.
The Court lasted until the 13th century. Tensions between the Korean, Japanese and Chinese Kuei-jin resulted into dissipation to bickering camps of warlords. In the Year of Black Kites, the natives ousted the outlanders and retook control over Japan. The first split within the Clans occurred during this time: In House Bishamon, who had been hostile against the Chinese governors and wanted to return to the traditional ways, and House Genji, who had cooperated with the foreigners and wanted a more progressive way for the Clans. Their struggle would define the political landscape within the Clans up to the Final Nights.
In the Final Nights, the situation is precarious. Genji and Bishamon alike have led the Clans of the Sun through tumultuous times and stand now on the threshold of the Sixth Age. Chi-corruption that runs concurrent to ecological disasters, a growth in akuma and the development of the Scorpion Eaters, revolting Running Monkeys under the leadership of Bamboo Princes, the development of the Hunter organization Strike Force Zero, stressed relations with the Quincunx following World War II and the Sixth Maelstrom that ravages the Shadowlands of Japan threaten them, but the Clans still fight for dominance among themselves, seemingly unconcerned with the world outside their island realm.
The gaki fall into extended “Clans” or “Houses” called uji. Each uji may claim several cities as their territory, though small uji are restricted to a single urban area. This structure imitates the mortal aristocratic clans, like the Fujiwara or Minamoto, who dominate Japan for much of its history. Of course these vampiric “families” grow only through adoption.
A senior gaki called a daimyo heads each uji, and regardless of Dharma, gaki must pledge fealty to their daimyo and obey him as parent, lord and commanding officer. Although the daimyo are old and powerful creatures, comparable to ancestors, they are not bodhisattvas, who actually founded several uji.
New Kuei-jin traditionally join whatever uji claims the region where they took the Second Breath, though the tradition is not absolute since some uji pursue specializations leading them to recruit beyond their domains. Most uji permit new gaki to emigrate, especially if a hin finds herself drawn to a Dharma not widely popular in his family. Once a gaki swears fealty to an uji, however, she must obtain the daimyo's permission to emigrate. Kuei-jin defecting without permission incur decades or centuries of hostility from their former House.
Interior Workings of a Clan
The gaki speak of relationships within a clan in terms of oyabun (father-role) and kobun (son-role), using male terms regardless of the vampire’s actual gender. A nascent gaki’s first trainer — the one who pulls him from chih-mei frenzy and teaches him the rudiments of Dharma and civilized unlife — is his first oyabun, and he is his kobun. He owes this Kuei-jin his respect and obedience thereafter. Even if a hin or disciple moves to a different clan, his oyabun retains the right to command him. A gaki who openly defies his oyabun brings contempt upon himself and shame on his teacher, and disgraced oyabun are known to exterminate kobun who dishonor them. In return, an oyabun must guide his kobun thereafter as his mentor, though he receives far less contempt for neglecting this aspect of the relationship than the kobun. When gaki join a wu, they must address each other's oyabun as “uncle,” displaying a modicum of respect. In return, the “uncles” generally treat their kobun’s wu with civility.
The respective Daimyo then appoints an older wu as a collective “father” for the new group, and as with individual gaki, the oyabun-wu serve as mentors and disciplinarians to their “sons” (though elder Cathayans may also neglect their mentorship with no social consequences). The daimyo may also change the oyabun-wu and kobun-wu relationships, assigning a wu an oyabun-wu based on the current interests or needs of the clan.
The bodhisattvas stand above all clans. Every vampire, from the youngest hin to the mightiest daimyo, stands as kobun to these ancient monster-sages, regardless of past or present affiliations. Clans claiming a bodhisattva as former or founding member gain prestige from the connection. The bodhisattvas, as oyabun to all, pass on as much of their wisdom as they choose and very seldom issue any commands. Most gaki believe their bodhisattvas aid them simply by existing.
Exactly which uji aligns with whom shifts from decade to decade, making a complete list of uji impossible. Below are the more powerful uji listed. Please note that Bishamon and Genji have separate articles due their long histories in gaki affairs.
- House Bishamon, a major house of the Gaki, a traditionalist society concearned with Dharmic redemption.
- House Genji, a major house of the Gaki, a wild and loose uji heavily involved in Japan's modern corporate culture.
- House Iga, a minor, independent uji of warriors that fight against mortal hunters and other mundane threats against the Clans of the Sun
- House Koga, a minor, independent uji of assassins that fight against shen and supernatural threats against the Clans of the Sun
- House Nukekubi, a minor, independent uji, who sought to find a middle-path between the conservative elements of the Bishamon and the progressive elements of the Genji.
- House Echizen, a minor uji of craftsmen , who work closely with the Green Courts
- House Taira, a minor uji founded by a former member of the Taira clan, who lobby for direct Imperial rule rather than a parliamentary government and a return to the truly ancient ways. Even the conservative Bishamon keep their distance from them
- House Hiyorumi, a minor uji allied to the Genji, who seek more contact with the mainland Kuei-jin
- Sotogawa No, a minor uji allied with the Bishamon that serves as a haven for followers of the Spirit of the Living Earth heresy