Foreword: Hello all! This is a little different from my usual Genshin loredumps & theories; instead of basing this off in-game information to tell a coherent story, I’ll be basing a lot of this off actual Japanese history, and what I THINK will be major themes in the upcoming Inazuma story. Big disclaimer, my Japanese is very bad;
I failed my N1 at 14 and just... gave up... and a lot of the deeper research was done through second-hand sources rather than going straight to the actual source like I did with Chinese texts, so there may be some things lost in translation-- if you spot any, please let me know! Massive shout-out to the Extra Credits
’ Sengoku Jidai series for first helping me with Japanese history when I was a wee little 15 year old who played Samurai Warriors 4 and just... fell... into an endless rabbithole of history... never to return... it all started with Hakuoki... anyway watch their videos.
Without further ado, let’s get into it! 1. What We Know about Inazuma Seven ideals for seven gods, and of these, Eternity is nearest unto Heaven. —Electro Archon Baal, as quoted by Zhongli
Many first get an idea of the state of Inazuma from the escapee, Atsuko
. As you do her World Quest, you learn that the situation at home Isn’t Too Good: the environment in Inazuma has grown “tense” and “dangerous”, and if you speak with her afterwards she explains how getting permission to leave Inazuma from the Kanjobugyo
authority is incredibly difficult. To the point that she saw her only escape from such a restrictive life was to stowaway on a boat... and end up losing all her life savings as her raft sank. Thankfully, we help her get a job, hurrah!
Next, we have Zhongli’s exposition at the end of the Liyue story arc
. He explains about how Inazuma has suddenly steered towards isolationism because of Baal, the Electro Archon, suddenly choosing to confiscate Visions from their wielders. She also regards herself as the God of Eternity and seems to have some Megalomaniac Tendencies. Zhongli:
That is the case. And since Raiden is also the Shogun of the Inazuma Bakufu, people call her the Raiden Shogun. Paimon:
That said, thought people at the wharf were saying that the situation in Inazuma is very tense, Paimon doesn't remember that always being the case. It wasn't that bad last year... Paimon:
Zhongli, since you're Rex Lapis, shouldn't you know something about what's happening there? Just how did Inazuma become a closed nation? Zhongli:
It's because of Visions. Paimon:
When faced with circumstances beyond their control, humans often bemoan their lack of power. Zhongli:
But if a person shows true strength of will at a desperate and fateful moment in their life, the gods will look upon them with favor. Zhongli:
That is what Visions are. Magical foci bestowed upon those who have been acknowledged by the gods. Paimon:
Uh-huh. That's how people in Teyvat see it. Zhongli:
But starting from last year, the Raiden Shogun began promulgating the "Vision Hunt Decree." Paimon:
...Vision Hunt Decree? Zhongli:
Yes. It was an order to seize all Visions within Inazuma's borders, and to inlay them upon the hands of a statue of the Thousand-Armed, Hundred-Eyed God. Paimon:
They want to seize Visions? But why? Aren't Visions blessings from the gods? Zhongli:
I should think that in the Raiden Shogun's eyes, it is precisely because they are divine blessing, that they should be under the sole dominion of divinity.
Another chunk of lore comes from the Endless Research
World Quest, in which the scholars speaks of a Very Interesting conclusion explaining a lack of Electro Visions being granted in the past year: the Electro Archon is purposefully refusing to grant them. Alrani:
Wait. Don't you know? It seems that nobody has obtained an Electro Vision for a whole year now. Alrani:
I've heard that the Arcademia has been researching this matter for a while now, and they have concluded that the lack of Electro Visions granted to mortals is the will of the Electro Archon. Alrani:
I've also heard it said that Inazuma's Electro Archon has proclaimed a "Vision Hunt Decree," which has aimed to confiscate the majority of all Visions from Vision wielders throughout Inazuma. Alrani:
Those who disobey and withhold their Visions will be punished severely... Alrani:
I once wanted to travel to Inazuma to write a thesis regarding this decree, but it really does seem dangerous over there...
Interestingly, Childe sends his sister a gift of two dolls from Inazuma,
which implies the Fatui are either able to enter and leave unlike its own citizens, or there is some sort of trade agreement going on between them. Or Scaramouche, our beloved Inazuman Harbinger from the Unreconciled Stars event, gave Childe two dolls to surprise him before breaking his kneecaps. I’m going with the latter, because it’s funnier.
tldr; Inazuma lock country, tense atmosphere, some people escape and nearly lose everything in the process, Electro Archon won’t grant Visions and wants to collect ‘em all. Oh yeah and God of Eternity something something 2. Real Life Parallels: Isolationism & The Sakoku Edict 鎖国令
So most people who watched “history of japan” will probably know this part, but anyway: in 1635, Tokugawa Iemitsu instated the Sakoku Edict, quite literally meaning “Locked Country Edict”. There exist English translations of the edict online but I crosschecked with a Chinese source
because I am Chinese sorry kids. The general gist, quote unquote English Wikipedia
- Japanese people could not leave the country. If they were caught, they would be killed; if they returned after leaving, they would be killed; if a foreigner tries to enter Japan illegally they will, you guessed it, be killed. Much like how it is very difficult for us to enter Inazuma.
- Christianity was outlawed. To a very spicy degree. Like, ‘publicly tortured and killed’ degree. Hopefully Baal won’t be nearly so terrible, but don’t be surprised if we see anything in the story about banning the worship of other archons or something.
- Trade was heavily restricted to only the Dutch and s o m e Chinese. (I guess the Fatui are Dutch now.)
This period of isolationism lasted until 1853 when the USA arrived on their Black Ships and practiced “Gunboat Diplomacy”, which basically went as described in the “history of japan” video: he threatened to destroy Edo if they didn’t let him in, so they let him in. I’ll expand more on this time period later, because I do believe what follows will likely parallel our role in Inazuma’s story. 3. Real Life Parallels: Vision Hunt Decree & Sword Hunt 刀狩り
At the start the Sengoku Period, which was a period of over 100 years of constant civil war within Japan spanning 1467 to 1615, everyone and their mom had a sword. Oda Nobunaga, the first of the Three Great Unifiers, came into power and he tried to have those swords confiscated, especially from certain rebellious groups. But it was Toyotomi Hideyoshi, second of the Three Great Unifiers that ordered the most famous Sword Hunt that served to not only disarm potential opponents, but solidify a class hierarchy: peasants were disallowed swords, but the higher-class samurai were allowed to keep them.
It is apt to know that Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a peasant’s son. He quite literally rose from nothing, and upon reaching the seat of power, did everything he could to make sure no peasant could ever do the same to him. This perhaps parallels how Baal, who is NOT the original Electro Archon victor from the Archon War (as Ganyu states that only Barbatos remains alive of that original seven
), rose to power herself-- and decided to keep her seat for all eternity by ensuring
all other Vision-wielders, who are allogenes capable of ascending to divinity
, will not be able to take her place. As expected, Hideyoshi’s sword hunt was Not Received Well; there was some dissent, but ultimately, he succeeded: the soldier-farmer division (兵農分離) was established, concentrating military might in the hands of a privileged few and setting the stage for the Tokugawa Shogunate to later rule with an iron fist for hundreds of years. For those interested, here’s a Chinese source you can Google Translate to somewhat-readable condition
Toyotomi Hideyoshi also claimed in the original order
that the swords were collected in order to be melted down to make a Great Buddha Statue (大仏) which was never actually made: paralleling how Baal wishes to take all Visions and “inlay them upon the hands of a statue of the Thousand-Armed, Hundred-Eyed God.” (The ‘Thousand-Armed’ part may be reference to the INCREDIBLE Thousand-Armed Kannon statue in Kyoto, which is a National Treasure of Japan-- it also is associated with Buddha, as Kannon is a Japanese interpretation of Guanyin, the equivalent term of the Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva, which is a person on the path towards Buddhahood. The ‘Hundred-Eyed’ may be reference to the story of the Domeki
or hundred-eyed demon, tales of which generally end in the demon giving up evil and changing their ways through Buddhism
.) 4. Real Life Parallels: Kanjobugyo 勘定奉行 & Samurai Officials in Edo Japan
The Kanjobugyo were a real office
in mid Edo Japan! Specifically, they dealt with shogunal finance. Just like actual Edo era Japan, it’s possible the Kanjobugyo aren’t All Authority but just a certain office which, in Genshin Impact’s world, has jurisdiction over Inazuma’s border control.
There’s not much we know about this authority, but if such offices exist, we may see some involvement of a class system within Inazuma’s story: there was hierarchy within these very offices, but outside of that they were high-class samurai with peasants below them, then artisans, then merchants. The class system actually doesn’t have much bearing on the actual quality of life of a person within the Edo era, as the lines between classes often blurred and samurai could also be dirt poor. Unless you were of the untouchable class
, in which you really
felt it, with discrimination still continuing to this day. 5. In Pursuit of Eternity: Buddhism’s Three Marks of Existence All associations have dissociations for their end, and life has death for its end; all action ends in destruction, and all that is born certainly dies. Everything is transient, everything ends; only of knowledge, there is no end. — Anugita, Aswamedhika Parva, Mahabharata Book xiv.44
(forgive me, i know Mahabharata is a Hindu text; this quote and the idea it presents is just a really good summary)
In Buddhism, the three marks of existence
are described as characteristics of all beings in existence: impermanence, suffering, and absence of self/non-self (which means that there is no static self; there is no permanent, unchangeable soul within us). The first, impermanence,
runs in direct contrast to Baal’s pursuit of eternity; the third, non-self
, goes against her quote in the Vajrada Amethyst Gemstone
about promising its people a never-changing eternity. At the great risk of oversimplifying things (of which I will take because it is 3am as I am writing this), Buddhist teachings accentuate that when we try to deny the reality of these three marks of existence, the only result is suffering. It is upon accepting them that we will be freed of said suffering.
You remember the Japanese historical figures I brought up before? Yeah, uh, they’re not too chill with Buddhists. In fact, Oda Nobunaga-- first unifier I mentioned to ordered the first sword hunt-- was faced with a lot of opposition from militant Buddhist sects, most famous being the Ikko-ikki monks which were said to prompt him to do the whole sword hunt thing in the first place. Eventually, he besieged them at Mt. Hiei, burning buildings and killing every monk, woman, child, everything
. It was this act which got him the renown ‘Demon King’ title you may be familiar with (looking at you fate/ fans, that cute Demon Archer would not hesitate to kill you in the class war... but that’s part of her appeal).
Our second unifier, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, isn’t too great either. In a fit of rage, ordered Sen no Rikyu
to commit suicide. Sen no Rikyu had a profound effect on popularizing the traditional Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi
, a world-view focused on simplicity which revolved around the Buddhist three marks of existence: impermanence (無常), suffering (苦) and emptiness/absence of self-nature (空). Hideyoshi still took to Sen no Rikyu’s aesthetics after his death, though, so maybe he regretted his actions. Still, Hideyoshi was obsessed with the idea of ‘eternity’-- to solidify his legacy beyond himself, which drove him to try to conquer China (only to be repelled at Korea by THE EXTREMELY OVERPOWERED YI SUN-SIN). In the end, all it got him was a senseless, bloody war of horrible suffering. After he died, his shogunate would not see another generation: Tokugawa Ieyasu took control after the Battle of Sekigahara a mere two years later, and he would instate the Tokugawa Shogunate that would persist for hundreds more.
These themes, even if not explicitly stated, will likely carry forward into the Inazuma story: that in pursuit of a futile eternity when even the gods are impermanent, Baal will only bring undue suffering onto herself and her people. Much like the historical figures she draws parallel to, that suffering may come in the form of senseless war and violence, all to chase the idea of an immortal legacy. Her promised dream to her people of a never-changing eternity can never be achieved, and she must accept it in order to be free of suffering. 6. Where We Come In: Black Ships 黒船
With how many parallels Mihoyo is drawing to Japanese history, I wouldn’t be surprised if we swing by Inazuma by hitching a ride on Beidou’s pirate boat. “Black Ships” is the name given to Western vessels that arrived upon Japan’s shores, the most famous referring to Commodore Perry’s fleet of ‘open up the country. stop having it be closed’ fame. Also Beidou’s totally smuggled shit from Inazuma and back before, 100%.
The arrival of Perry’s fleet also signalled the beginning of the end for the bakufu
-- also known as the start of the Bakumatsu
period. The traveler’s arrival onto Inazuman shores will likely represent a similar turning point in Inazuma’s history: the end of what seems to be unending. (If we meet Sakamoto Ryoma-expy, he better be hot as all hell.)
Now, the part everyone’s probably been waiting for: what historical figure do I think Kamisato Ayaka represents? Unfortunately, we really don’t know much about her, other than how she’s supposedly the princess of the Kamisato house. Kamisato
is not the name of any prominent clan or house in actual history. There are some very cool warrior women of the Bakumatsu period, such as the defenders of Aizu, but nothing that instantly strikes me as ‘Ayaka was based off this’. Sorry. (But if more info comes out and I spot something interesting, I’ll probably make another post about it.)
Sacramouche, too, doesn’t really have enough information out to derive his motives. Did he join the Fatui in order to get free access in and out of Inazuma to fulfill his own goals? Is he just a very murder-happy twink? Who knows. There may be someone in Japanese history with a ridiculous frisbeehat like his (Japanese helmets can get fucking wild
), but I don't know any myself.
Still, the amount of parallels Mihoyo has already drawn to Japanese history is very cool. Even the Electro element symbol looks similar to the tomoe
That’s all I have for now, folks! It is officially 4:23am in the morning so I will go off and die now. If you’d like to yell about Genshin Impact to me, you can check out my twitter
and read my fanfiction! That’s no longer a suggestion, that’s a threat! Please read it and join me in the Xiao/Zhongli agenda! Also, I’ve got other loredumps about Guizhong, Xiao and Mondstadt’s history on my profile if you’re interested. I hope you guys enjoyed my unhinged ramblings about Japanese history from the deepest recesses of my reki-jo brain and more greatly appreciate the amazing details Mihoyo puts into crafting their stories!