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"But even if it meant that the Rowun Clan would have to be obliterated, a country can be built again... as long as blood continues to run through the bodies of the citizens. But in this land- -- the season of "spring" no longer comes."
—Temudan Rowun
"So Hokkan will freeze over...That's what the prophecy is about! It never prophezied anything about Kutou. It meant...that Hokkan will freeze forever if the Priestess won't come..."
—Takiko

Hokkan (北甲国; Houkan Koku) is a country in The Universe of the Four Gods. This country is guarded with the beast god Genbu. Its capital city is Touran. The first priestess, Takiko Okuda, traveled this area.

The geography, costumes, and culture of Hokkan are influenced by the lands of North-Western China and especially by the Mongol Empire.

Overview

Hokkan is the northernmost of the four countries in the world of the Book and by far the largest. It has a population of approximately one million people, most of whom are nomadic herders, as seen by the huge population of livestock they raise. Comparatively speaking, it covers an area three times larger than the southern country of Konan. The terrain varies greatly, with mountains in central and northern Hokkan, sweeping plains to the south, lush forests to the south-east, and barren deserts to the West, but the earth is rich with natural resources.

Climate

Hokkan

A Valley in Hokkan

The climate makes all these areas a harsh place to live. Winters, with the temperature plummeting to -40°C, violent winds, and long nights make for a brutal and harsh season. Summers are hot and dry, but brief. The refreshing life that comes with spring and summer is a cause for celebration, and hard work to prepare for another winter.

Spring is a time of beauty and precedes the usually abundant summer. Although large trees are sparse in most parts of the country exotic plants and flowers bloom on the steppes and in the valleys. Many of the plants have poisonous or medicinal properties, and healers with a thorough knowledge of the uses of these plants are valuable. The animals in the country are very diverse; wolves, bears and snow leopards frequent the mountains, boars, and deer the forest and camels and wild horses on the steppes and desert. Hokkans lakes and rivers are also filled with multiple species of fish. Domesticated animals include horses, sheep, cows, camels, goats, and yaks. The climate makes the people of Hokkan tough and practical as they focus on survival, but also lends them a strong sense of kinship and camaraderie because survival often hinges on working together. They can be characterized as hard and efficient workers with little respect for those who don't pull their own share of the load, or who make trouble for others. Responsibility is something children are taught to handle from a young age, so while families might live together as a tribe for generations, children are made to live and work as individuals as young as four or five.

Locations

Yerts

Yerts

While Hokkan has a few cities and settlements, most families continue to live as nomadic tribes or clans, usually in groups of loosely related families or 'families who have agreed to live and work together by either a pact or the domination of one tribe over another weaker tribe. The families are partially sedentary, setting up temporary villages near water and game for a few weeks or months before moving to a new location. Their shelter consists of circular, white canvas tents called gers or yurts, which are spacious on the inside, but easy to set up and take down, and light enough to transport. The tribes have no organized government and are typically lead by experienced elders or adults who have earned the respect of their kin.

Moutain

Mt. Kokureishin

Cities

  • Touran: Hokkan’s capital city. The royal palace is situated here. Both Uruki and Inami spent most of their lives inside the city walls.
  • Ifurei:

Landmarks

NurikoGrave

Nuriko's Burial Site

Touran

Touran

Tribes

Map

A map of Hokkan.

While there are many tribes in Hokkan, only a few are known by name. The Ha, Kan, and Urudai tribes are all examples of nomadic family groups who live and migrate within specific regions of the country. Each tribe has its own diverse physical characteristics, dress, and method of sustaining themselves. The Roun clan, which was historically nomadic, became sedentary by building cities, palaces, developing the iron industry, and through force establishing themselves as a monarchy over the people of Hokkan. Their position as rulers is unstable due to masses of people who continue to live as nomads, and who have little if no concept of a ruling monarchy. As a result, there are tribes of unrelated people, such as the Odo tribe, who have gathered and work together without the bonds of blood relationships.

Tribes are often very isolated from each other, due to transportation. There are no established roads that lead anywhere, so travel is via foot or horseback. For the nomad, the horse is a treasured and coveted animal for its strength, speed, and resilience.

  • The Ha Tribe is a small nomadic group who lived in north-western Hokkan before moving to warmer places in the east. The tribe is famous for their hunting nature. Tomite and his mother are from this tribe
  • The Kan Tribe is like the Ha Tribe. They are nomadic and like to move to warmer places in the east. Hikitsu and his sister Ayla from this tribe.
  • The Baku Tribe considers themselves to be part of Hokkan, but they live more on the plains of Sairou. This tribe is renowned for its skilled warriors and master horsemen. Soruen Wakaosa and his father Tauru are from this tribe.
  • The Urudai Tribe lived in what was considered the wastelands of a remote part of western Hokkan. The forests were infested with monsters, and the village the tribe had established suffered greatly. One of their members, Urumiya, protected them from the monsters, but when he was taken away the tribe was wiped out. Its few survivors established the Odo tribe.
  • The Odo Tribe is, unlike other tribes, not based on kin, but on the common desire to support the Priestess of Genbu. They have been living in the Naseru forest for years, training an army and preparing for the arrival of the Priestess. The Roun family has heard of them, but due to the protection of the forest, the tribe remains safe. Filka is a part of this tribe, joining them as a young teen after the death of her mother.

Exterior Layout and Families

Family is a central part of the tribe, and strong bonds typically exist between immediate members. There is no hesitance to put one's life on the line for a family member, and they will be relentless and fierce in a fight. Concepts of 'right' and 'wrong' can be pushed aside for the sake of working in your families best interests. Kinship goes beyond the immediate family, and often close friends can be adopted into a family and easily treated with the same love and respect, although not all tribes are open to such inclusion. Instead of pacts; whether they be by blood or sworn word, carry a huge significance and cannot be forsaken except at the expense of one's honor and the risk of exclusion from their family.

Cities paint a very different picture. Houses and buildings are made of stone, and small families live and function without the influence of a larger related community. Residents of a household are often limited to the parents, grandparents, and their few children. Instead of collectively working towards providing for the community, money becomes a valuable commodity, and families will run their own specialized business to make a living and purchase the things they need. The sense of closeness and generous compassion that fills nomadic communities is absent in the cities, and the rough, cynical nature of these diligent people becomes more prominent. Alcoholism and domestic abuse, while mostly unheard of in the tribes, is a growing occurrence within the cities.

The cities do, however, provide certain benefits to their culture. The nomadic families have had little use for written language, because of a strong oral tradition, and art is simply junk that must be carried when they next move. In cities, the development and spread of literature have begun, and art is starting to have a larger value. Most citizens have a rudimentary knowledge of the written language, but formal education is not common and is typically restricted to scholars and the social elite.

People and Cultures

Religion for the people of Hokkan is largely based upon oral tradition, and stories and rituals are passed on by stories or direct experience. Aside from the scroll given to the people by Taiitsukun, there are no written documents concerning their religion. They worship the northern god Genbu, who takes on the form of a turtle and snake, and their god is as harsh as the climate in which they live. He is an unforgiving god who values his people's diligence and dedication. He is a god of strategy, and while the population is not known for their military strength, they are strong and brilliant when it comes to planning ahead. While not a people to build shrines and temples, they are superstitious. Shamanic ritual and the prophecies of oracles carry a lot of weight and usually play the central role in decision making.

Cultural Activities

Further shared aspects of the culture are the love of horseback riding and archery. Even those who have little skill with either are excited to follow them as sports, and friendly inter-tribal competitions are popular. Music itself is highly appreciated, not simply as entertainment, but for it's believed spiritual properties. Song plays a role in training, teaching and tending livestock, and for its harmonic effect on the soul. Singing is the most common form of musical expression, and singers will devout much time to perfecting the more unusual and exotic vocal techniques which attempt to mimic the sounds of nature. The morin khour, or the horsehead fiddle, is a boxy, stringed instrument, similar in use to a cello. The strings are made of the hair of a horses tail and is played with a bow.

Influences

Hokkan has a limited influence on or from the other three countries. Economically, most exchanges are through trades or bartering, rather than money. The country does have vast natural resources though, of which the iron industry is the most prominent. Not only is there a lot of it, but the craftsmanship of Hokkan ironworkers is unrivaled by any other country. This has caused some stress between Hokkan and the flourishing Kutou army. Conflict is not something the people are unused to; pillaging by bandits and attacks between tribes are somewhat common, but the presence of an external organized military is beyond what the people of Hokkan are used to.

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