You may already know that seppuku or harakiri is the Japanese art of committing suicide and dying with honor, preferred by samurai to execution. In this article we will go further and examine every detail of this suicide culture and some unknown facts.
Did you know that the most commonly used blade in seppuku was not a katana? Did you know that women also had a similar ritual? Do you know all the hara-kiri processes? Know the most famous people who have committed such an act?
- 1. What do Seppuku and Harakiri mean?
- 2. The complexity of a seppuku or harakiri
- 3. What is the origin and history of seppuku??
- 4. How did the seppuku ritual work??
- 5. Kaishakunin – seppuku is not done alone
- 6. Jigai – Harakiri for women
- 7. Seppuku and Bushido – Samurai Code of Honor
- 8. Japanese people who have committed seppuku
- 9. Jumonji Giri – No cuts on the head
- 10. How did Seppuko influence Japan?
What do seppuku and harakiri mean??
o Seppuku is a Japanese suicide ritual that is part of Samurai Code of Honor. The word sEppuku [切腹] means "to cut the belly.". Seppuku is used in extreme situations, z. B. If you do not serve your master or lose in a war.
In the West this act is better known as Harakiri [腹切 or 腹切り] where samurai or warriors they committed suicide honorably for love; honor and homeland. This act is used voluntarily as a choice to flee the hands of enemies.
o Seppuku It is also a form of capital punishment for samurai who have committed serious crimes and other reasons for shame. In its most basic form, seppuku is an honorable, ritually committed suicide.
The knife used for the ritual is called Tantō or Kozuka. This knife is much easier to handle than a katana or sword, so you can cut quickly, precisely and cleanly.
The complexity of a seppuku or harakiri
o Seppuku suitable was so complex that it even required a master swordsman. Some rituals have become so complex that planning can take days and hours.
The cut in the intestine is not a death blow, it is symbolic. The act requires a special technique with 3 movements.
Suppose you have a god’s tolerance for pain and wish to be especially honored in death. Remove the knife after the first three wounds, stab yourself in the abdomen and go through the previous cuts to the sternum.
In many cases, those who committed harakiri wrote poetry as part of the ritual. So seppuku has technical and literary aspects. Is this one of the first reports of the suicide letters?
It turns out that samurai were not only fierce warriors, but also an educated class trained in religion and the written word, both of which were closely linked to poetry in feudal Japan. Believe it or not, some samurai were really good poets.
Some samurai wrote haiku, others wrote waka. The death poems prove that the samurai understood the true nature of his death. These poems were typically influenced by Buddhist views on death.
Seppuku was not an isolated thing. On the contrary, some were committed in a garden or sacred place and had the presence of several spectators. When planning seppuku, wash first and put on your best clothes.
What is the origin and history of seppuku??
The first documented case of seppuku dates back to 1180. At this time, the Minamoto and Taira clans were at war and the Taira were decimating their enemy. The leader of the defeated clan, Minamoto no Yorimasa, saw his life crumbling around him.
Warrior and poet, he preferred suicide to a life of failure. There are several versions of the story of his death – according to one, he leaned on a massive pillar in his house and opened his stomach.
Originally, seppuku was a military action, usually performed in battle or in the face of defeat. However, in the 1500s it became a right allowed only to samurai and daimyo (feudal lords), which was forbidden to some warriors.
Seppuku as an honorable alternative to execution by the samurai and daimyo class was theoretically a right granted by the emperor. Those who were authorized to commit seppuku were given a richly decorated ceremonial knife and used it to cut the belly.
The decapitator returned the knife to the emperor to prove that the action was taken. Often committed as a result of shame or disloyalty to the emperor. In some cases he was judge, jury and executioner himself.
Such forced seppuku required little evidence or testimony. This form of compulsory seppuku lasted until 1868, when it was finally banned. Seppuku was also approved as an alternative to execution by the military or his enemy.
Instead of being killed, you could follow the honorable way of ending your own life. In such cases, you can keep in death some form of personal honor. This voluntary method of seppuku has never been banned until today.
How did the seppuku ritual work?
Only for samurai (suicide ceremony had a bath; sake; last poem and even coup de grace.)
The harakiri or seppuku begins with the samurai preparing himself with a bath that he believed was used to purify his body and soul. The warrior invited friends and relatives to witness his death and regain lost honor. He could wear a special white costume to symbolize a righteous and virtuous character.
The place chosen for the ceremony could be in a house, but usually outdoors, in a Buddhist garden. Seppuku simply could not be performed in the gardens of Shinto temples, sacred places that should not be desecrated by death.
The samurai sat on his legs. He wrote the last poem on a wooden table and took the last sake in two sips. Then he positioned the blade of the sword on the left side of the belly and struck himself.
After the first cut, the bravest brought the sword to the center of the body and raised it to reach the center of the abdomen. The Japanese believed that the soul was located there.
To strike himself, the warrior used a short sword (30 to 60 centimeters) called a wakizashi (脇差し). He swung it with a white handkerchief. Destroy all blades used in seppuku after death.
Kaishakunin – seppuku is not made alone
Seppuku is not something you can do alone (although some will cut your throat). You may have seen movies, shows, or comics in which a samurai, sitting in silence and solitude, stabs himself with a katana.
In reality, it is only the first part of seppuku to pierce your stomach. You cut your belly to free your mind from your body; After that you are alive and in excruciating pain. Your assistant, a Kaishakunin, decapitates you.
o Kaishakunin [介錯人] is a very experienced second samurai who accompanied the ceremony. He could be a friend of the suicide bomber or even an enemy who, recognizing the bravery of his rival, offered to accompany his death.
The function of seppuku was to inflict a fatal and painful injury to the suicide. But since death sometimes lasted hours, the Kaishakunin He could give a coup de grace to end the life of the warrior who had already proved his courage.
The single blow to the neck had to be accurate and secure the head to the body through a piece of skin. If it cuts off and rolls on the ground, it can be considered a great lack of respect.
The presumed decapitated invited to participate in a Seppuku They could only refuse on the grounds that their sword technique was inadequate. If at any time your assistant sees you falter, he may cut off your head.
Jigai – harakiri for women
Since seppuku was a popular act among warriors, most women were left out. What few know is that the woman had her own harakiri ritual and could occasionally commit honorable suicide.
If you were the wife of a samurai or a woman who had been involved in a war, raped, killed your husband, dishonored, or lost your home, the woman could end her life with a Jigai, which was obligatory in some cases.
Committing jigai starts with tying your body in a certain pose with a rope to avoid an ugly death (Japanese women had to be fit and beautiful all the time).
After attaching, take a very sharp knife and cut the artery around your neck all at once. Jigai caused a very quick death, but was also very confused and caused a flood of blood.
Seppuku and Bushido – Samurai Code of Honor
o Seppuku part of the samurai code of honor, the Bushido (武士道). He was taken very seriously by the samurai at that time. They gave their lives to their master, they themselves did not accept any mistakes. We have seen that even today the Japanese like to keep a perfect pace and dislike mistakes.
However, it is not essential for a samurai to honor the name of his family and ancestors by dying in battle or in a duel. And to fail before his master was the greatest shame for the warrior who finally had no choice but to commit suicide. This is only possible according to the standards that govern the samurai warrior by Bushido. ‘
If the samurai did something dishonest and did not carry it out Seppuku. He would become one Ronin (浪人), A samurai without a master, and he would not find another master who would hire him.
Japanese who committed seppuku
Kusunoki Masashige (from 1294 to 1336). – Be committed Seppuku According to the emperor, he ignored his advice during a war, resulting in the loss of the battle.
Ōishi Kuranosuke Yoshio + 46 Ronin were condemned to commit Seppuku after the revenge of the death of Asano Naganori. Asano Naganori himself committed Harakiri for his failed attempt to kill Kira Yoshinaka at Edo Castle.
General Akashi Gidayu engaged his Harakiri by his master after he lost a battle in 1582. Adopted son of Miyamoto Musashi committed his Harakiri because of the death of your master.
In 1970, the renowned writer Yukio Mishima and his followers committed harakiri while defending a political revolution against the postwar constitution. Embarrassed by the mockery, he marched to the general’s office and committed seppuku.
In 19. In the seventeenth century, warriors killed Frenchmen because they were hostile when they arrived in Sakai. The captain of the ship demanded compensation, of these 11 warriors who committed seppuku, the scene was so terrible that the captain could not participate.
Jumonji Giri – No cuts on the head
Isn’t seppuku unpleasant enough for you? There is an alternative version called Girum Jumonji where there is no decapitation. That is, just cut your stomach in the traditional way and bleed to death.
Admiral Takijiro Onishi, who was responsible for the Kamikazi races in World War II, killed himself this way with Japan’s surrender. It took him 15 hours to die.
General Nogi also committed Jumonji Giri in 1912 and was so unconditional that he buttoned his military uniform completely over his wounds before waiting for the end to come.
How Seppuko has affected Japan?
It is very common to see references to Seppuku In anime and manga I remember it Dear Hina, and other anime that have escaped me now.
And how not to mention the film 47 ronin, Despite the unreality, it was a tragic end Seppuku, It was pretty sad. I made an image that highlights some references in anime and film. See if they recognize each other.
We can safely say that the suicide culture in Japan had a great influence of seppuku or harakiri. Although the rate has decreased over the past 30 years, suicides in Japan have increased 20.000 exceeded. Was Seppuku responsible?
Another good example is that of Kamikaze’s in the Second World War. We have found that both Seppuku in terms of samurai honor culturally influences Japan today.
Unfortunately, thousands of Japanese commit suicide for dishonorable reasons. However, they keep their loyalty and take all work and life seriously, appreciate things, and try their best until they are ashamed of themselves.
To end this article, we will leave some videos showing the seppuku process. If you liked the article, share it and leave your comments. Thank you and until next time!