Wednesday, January 29, 2014

47 Ronin

Ronin Samurai
Dear Reader,

Today, we are taking a moment to pause and celebrate one of the most enduring stories of heroism in Japanese culture. It occurred, today, January 30th, in 1703: 311 years ago.  It was retold in a recent movie released around Christmas. This story, the story of the Forty Seven Ronin, is one greatest examples in Japanese history of bushido, or samurai culture.

Essentially, the story is one of loyalty to a deceased lord. When Lord Asano was forced to committed suicide because he was bullied into striking his etiquette teacher, his retainers were forbidden to seek vengeance. The etiquette teacher was a powerful nobleman, with many guards, who suspected that these samurai would attempt to avenge their lord's honor.

Upon the death of their lord, the retainers became Ronin, or samurai with no master. These 47 Ronin waited for over a year, until the nobleman who had caused the death of their lord dismissed many of his guards. Then, on Tuesday, January 30th, 1703, they attacked his palace, and killed him. The Ronin knew that even if they succeeded, the penalty for their actions would be death, but they proceeded with the plan.

The gravesite of the Ronin

In the end, they were forced to committed ritual suicide to atone for their actions, but they earned immortality within the bushido code for their actions. While many debate the, "honor" of their decision to disobey a command not to take vengeance, all respect their courage.  You can still visit the graves of these warriors in Tokyo today.

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns

1 comment:

  1. Interesting! I had no idea that 47 Ronin was a real historical event.