So What Did Ronin Spend Their Money On?

I’m taking this question from a samurai fiction perspective which is why it’s in Cafe Society.

I’ve been reading Lone Wolf and Cub lately and I’ve been struck by just how much money this guy who spends his life wandering from town to town makes. Even with the guys who offer the big payment consistently betraying him Ogami has made several thousand ryo in the course of just a few volumes. From other Samurai films and media I know that’s enough buy a nice house somewhere and retire.

Obviously a former Imperial executioner turned assassin isn’t going to do that but it does make me wonder what he spends his money on. Rice balls for Daigoro? Replacement baby carriages? A lot of prostitutes which he patronizes between stories?

You can extend this question to any of those wandering ronin serials which follow the same formula but given the length of Lone Wolf and Cub I thought there might be an answer actually in the pages…

Hookers and blow, dude. Whenever, wherever…hookers and blow.

I loved Lone Wolf and Cub. My favorite anything ever.

There were a few issues where various people are trying to figure out what he’s doing with his money, but they don’t reveal what he was doing with his money til nearly the end of the comic run. If you want to know now, I’ll give it to you as a spoiler:

he uses the money to buy weapons, mainly grenades, for Diagoro to use during their final showdown with the Yagyu.

Well if it’s actually a plot point then I’ll wait it out. Only twenty-four more volumes to go. :slight_smile:

As I am reading Musashi right now, it seems that most Ronin spend almost every night sleeping in the feudal Japanese equivalent of a hotel, and paying for all their meals.

This could, I am sure, get expensive.

Plus, it seems he has bought several hats and sandals, which makes me think that hats and sandals made from woven straw get worn out quickly, and must be replaced, so that’s another expense.

In addition, he has so far spent one night in a “red light district” type place, and the other Ronin mention it as being a regular thing, and pricey.

The ronin Kazamatsuri in Samurai Fiction (an excellent movie, IMO) earns a fair amount of money from fighting in duels. He stays a small inn where he picks up a retinue of hangers-on, including a prostitute, several hard-drinking entertainers and a fool. He himself maintains a fairly ascetic lifestyle, though, letting everyone else debauch on his tab while he just sits back and watches. All he seems to live for is waiting for another swordsman to come and challenge him.

And don’t forget gambling. I haven’t read the Lone Wolf and Cub stories, but all the feudal Japan stories I’m familiar with seem to involve gambling-houses.

Swords and armour are not cheap. As in - top notch examples can cost as much as a house, easy.

And while most ronins already have set of weapons, maintenance can be very costly. Professional sword sharpening is delicate work that needs educated expert to do it properly.

David, I haven’t finished the collection (mainly to lack of funds to keep buying the series), but it is mentioned a few times, at least in the early volumes, and this was before I read spoilers for the ending, that he (not really a spoiler, as it is vague and it IS said within the first few books)

is using the money to plot for vengeance against Yagyu

Not as specific as yours, but …eh… I thought it was fairly obvious as to what he was doing or planning to do with the money (revenge)… At least in general.

He seems to live fairly low key (at least through the first 10-12 books, which are the ones I own). Poor Daigoro may not see many rice balls… and he only seems to have seen one prostitute (in the first book).

And Ogami (for the most part) always demands the money before lifting a finger. Betrayed or not, he gets his pay. I can think of one situation (peasant revolt dissolved before he arrived) where he didn’t get pay (because he had to fight his way out of the castle against 8 female warriors).

Babysitters? Usagi Yojimbo doesn’t seem to get paid, and spends what little money he does have on inns, the odd cup of tea, and loans to Gen the bounty hunter, who seems to spend his dough on inns, hookers and sake.

Usagi is a good example of this but there’s two different things about him that make his the question of what he spends his cash on easier.

First, he doesn’t get paid nearly as much. 50 ryo is a good pay day for him.

Second, he overpays for things by a factor of around 100 leaving a couple of ryo behind to pay for food and drinks.

Keep in mind a ryo’s value was fixed as enough money to get rice to feed a person well for a year. It was a lot of money; several hundred dollars if you want to think of it in today’s currency.

It’s also very recognizable as big oval gold coins which I think is why movies and manga use it a lot more often than it should be.

True, but sometimes a ronin just really needs to get his sword sharpened, and he’s not going to be fussy about who does it.

My google ads: Professional Sword Sharpening, Lone Wolf and Cub sets, and Hook up with Sexy Asian Women.
As is usually the case, it appears Google has this one covered. :smiley: