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Published by Tracy
Asian Values
Asian Values

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Published by: Tracy on Feb 03, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Seppuku, (Sape-puu-kuu) the Japanese formal language term for ritual suicide (Hara-kiri (Har-rah-kee-ree) is the common language term.), was an intregal aspect of feudal Japan (1192-1868). It developed asan intregal part of the code of bushido and the discipline of the samurai warrior class.Hara-kiri, which literally means "stomach cutting" is a particularly painful method of self-destruction,and prior to the emergence of the samurai as a professional warrior class, was totally foreign to theJapanese.The early history of Japan reveals quite clearly that the Japanese were far more interested in living thegood life than in dying a painful death. It was not until well after the introduction of Buddhism, with itstheme of the transitory nature of life and the glory of death, that such a development became possible.To the samurai, seppuku--whether ordered as punishment or chosen in preference to a dishonorabledeath at the hands of an enemy--was unquestionable demonstration of their honor, courage, loyalty,and moral character.When samurai were on the battlefield, they often carried out acts of hara-kiri rapidly and with very littleformal preparation. But on the other occasions, particularly when it was ordered by a feudal lord, or theshogun (as was directed of Lord Asano in the Tale of the 47 Ronin. ) , seppuku or hara-kiri was a veryformal ceremony, requiring certain etiquette, witnesses and considerable preparation.Not all Japanese samurai or lords believed in, even though many of them followed the custom. Thegreat Ieyasu Tokugawa, who founded Japan's last great Shogunate dynasty in 1603, eventually issued anedict forbidding hara-kiri to both secondary and primary retainers.The custom was so deeply entrenched, however, that it continued, and in 1663, at the urging of LordNobutsuna Matsudaira of Izu, the shogunate government issued another, stronger edict, prohibitingritual suicide. This was followed up by very stern punishment for any lord who allowed any of hisfollowers to commit harakiri or seppuku. Still the practice continued throughout the long Tokugawareign, but it declined considerably as time went by.Honor for the samurai was dearer than life and in many cases, self destruction was regarded not simplyas right, but as the only right course. Disgrace and defeat were atoned by committing hara-kiri or

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