Legend of the 5 Rings Smoking Waters
Smoking Waters is a small village located in the far north of Phoenix lands, where the Isawa Mori meets the Great Wall of the North, in Kougen province. It sits at the top of a long, wide valley in the lap of Yume no Yama, a tall outlier from the mountain range. A small river flows from the mountain through the village and out of the valley, while a broad, well-made (if poorly maintained) road leads south to Kitamihari Towers and the rest of the Phoenix lands beyond. There is also a smaller road leading west toward Shiro sano Chujitsu.
The village proper consists of roughly forty structures, mostly small manor houses for samurai or wealthier peasants, or small shops. Another hundred or so houses are scattered about the valley, homes for the peasant farmers who worked the land. A burned-out ruin was once a small castle that housed the Smoking Waters’ lord and his family. A short distance up the side of the mountain is a sprawling complex of beautifully crafted structures built along a series of hot springs. Other than the burned ruin, all the structures, even the peasants’ homes, are in relatively good shape, their sturdy construction having survived a decade of neglect fairly well.
The valley is well-suited for agriculture, with rich soil and adequate water for irrigation. The primary crop is buckwheat, which thrives in colder climes and grows fast enough that two or even three crops can be brought in before the harsh Phoenix winters cover the fields. The peasants also rotate crops of soybeans through the fields, having developed a fast-growing variety suited to the short growing season, but one which provides relatively small yields compared to varieties grown in the south. Vegetables grow well in garden plots, particularly cabbage and radishes.
On the slopes of Yume no Yama are winding orchards of plum and cherry trees, relatively small and very tough to survive the long winters, producing large crops of sour plums and cherries, as well as filling the valley with blossoms in the spring. While the streams born on the mountain are too hot for fish, there are many ponds and streams in the nearby Isawa Mori that provide a wealth of trout and other freshwater fish. The forest is also rich with game, particularly wild fowl, which many peasants use to enrich their diet, although all are careful not to venture too far into the forest while hunting or fishing.
Just outside the valley, at the edge of the forest, is a lumberyard, where daring and pious woodcutters would bring the sacred wood they had harvested from the Isawa Mori. Paper made from the trees of the mystical forest are famous for their connections to the spirits, and temples constructed from such wood are said to be particularly blessed.