The world of Genshin Impact is very much influenced by real world history, such as the longstanding Sakoku Decree, which had closed Inazuma off from the rest of Teyvat.
The in-game decree mirrored a similar isolationist policy set by the Tokugawa shogunate in real world Japan (sakoku means "locked country" in Japanese), which saw the country limit relations with other nations for 264 years during the Edo period, lasting until 1867.
Warning: The following contains spoilers for Raiden Shogun's second story quest, Imperatrix Umbrosa Act II, and the Irodori Festival quests in 2.6. If you've not completed them, continue at your own risk!
Much like the real world, in the second chapter of Raiden Shogun's story quest, Ei finally lifts the Sakoku Decree, allowing Inazuma to open up once again.
Developer HoYoverse expanded upon this significant change in version 2.6 and its main event, the Irodori Festival, which has proven to be, among other things, a celebration of a new beginning for the nation of Eternity.
Aside from being a cultural celebration, Yae Miko — the Guuji of the Narukami Shrine and Chief Editor of the Yae Publishing house — organised and modernised the festival in a way that brings people of all walks of life together to appreciate poetry and all kinds of literature, even those from outside Inazuma’s borders.
Throughout the course of the event, the player, as the Traveler, is tasked with being a guide to some of the playable characters from the nations of Mondstadt and Liyue by Yashiro Commissioner Kamisato Ayato and Guuji Yae Miko.
Who would have thought you’d see the Traveler, Paimon, Albedo, Kamisato Ayaka, Xingqui, Kaedehara Kazuha, and Venti in one frame, Avengers-style, solving a decades-old mystery through the legend of the Five Kasen?
Or have our favorite Spark Knight and resident fish blaster Klee visiting Inazuma city and making friends with the one and only Fireworks Festival Queen Yoimiya?
We also saw the Numero Uno Arataki Itto finally meeting Thoma, whom he had a one-sided rivalry with because the latter was supposed to be the 100th person whose vision was taken before the Vision Hunt decree was abolished.
To quote Itto, “Ugh, are you kidding me?”
And in classic Arataki Itto fashion, the oni challenges the Kamisato housekeeper to a duel and wins... but comically loses in the end due to his bean allergy.
We also saw the sleepy Shuumatsuban ninja Sayu making unlikely acquaintances with tengu general Kujou Sara, who is (not secretly) a big Raiden Shogun fan with tons of figurines, or as she calls them, the “Statue of Her Excellency the Almighty Narukami Ogosho, the God of Thunder”.
Even Ei herself made an appearance, cheerfully strolling around Inazuma and taking in all of its welcome changes, all stemming from her own change of heart. And on a comedic note, her professional handling of Kujou Sara’s fangirling moment was a nice touch.
We were also treated with Watatsumi’s Divine Priestess Sangonomiya Kokomi and Yae Miko’s literary friendship, as well as General Gorou’s trials and tribulations with the cunning Shrine Maiden.
And who could forget Yae Publishing House’s Miss Hina?
Meanwhile, Ritou, the gateway island of Inazuma, witnessed the most visual changes during the Irodori Festival.
Its once empty streets were now packed with bustling stalls, and the stranded foreigners replaced by crowds of tourists and festival goers eager to experience what the nation has to offer.
During the event, we found ourselves watching characters create and nurture meaningful relationships during the festival, regardless of position or nationality, and band together to solve mysteries or find ways to have fun and enjoy the celebrations.
This was a far cry from Inazuma before the Sakoku Decree was lifted.
Back then, the nation's extremely limited contact with the outside world, not to mention the civil war between the Shogunate and Watatsumi Island, blanketed the islands in a tense and desolate atmosphere.
Inazuman characters that were previously at each other's throats are now cheerfully celebrating a festival together.
The nation once shrouded by a seemingly eternal storm is now looking towards a much brighter future.
Who would have thought that the Inazuma we first saw in version 2.0 would ever become like this?
The Irodori Festival is the landmark for the new vision that Ei found for her nation during the 2.5 Archon Quest: an Inazuma that is no longer tied down by pursuits of a stagnant Eternity to avoid erosion, but instead working towards a better future without rejecting the world and closing off both herself and her people from it.
And the new friendships forged during the Irodori Festival are a testament to this.
Yan Ku is a full-time dog parent, part-time (gacha) gamer, and part-time writer.