Topics: Seppuku, Samurai, Japan Pages: 3 (853 words) Published: October 11, 2008
Title: The ancient art of Seppuku

Purpose: To bring awareness of the ancient samurai art of Seppuku

Audience: Anyone who has ever wondered why people commit suicide for honor

Seppuku, also called Hara-kiri (“belly-cutting”), the honorable method of taking one's own life practiced by men of the samurai class in feudal Japan. Seppuku (only outsiders reffered to it as "hari-kari") is a highly ritualized performance, as complicated as chado (a tea ceremony). The principle difference is that at the end of chado, one is merely nauseated from too much green tea, whilst at the end of seppuku, one is dead. Throughout history, many cultures of people from around the world have committed ritualistic suicide. And yet, none have done it quite like the ancient Japanese. The first thing to do is to recruit an assistant, a kaishkunin. Contrary to what is thought, almost all forms of seppuku do not technically involve suicide, but merely inflicting fatal injury upon oneself. The kaishakunin does the actual killing. “The way of ritual seppuku came up probably during the period of the civil wars in the 15th and 16th century.” (Seppuka,1) The art of seppuku mainly comes from a battlefield tactic used by many other clans or countries and is used to evade capture. Rather than being captured and revealing secrets or strategies, the defeated warrior in question would take a small to medium sized blade and thrust it into their lower abdomen. This sounds very hard to do, but that’s not the half of it. While the blade is inserted into the lower abdomen, the warrior would cut a “Z” shape up his stomach to insure no survival. When the circumstances allowed it, the ritual suicide was executed in a formal, procedural manner. If one is ordered to commit seppuku by the shogunal government, it will generally appoint its own kaishakunin (personal assistant). “Obligatory hara-kiri was abolished in 1868, but its voluntary form has persisted. It was...

Cited: “Seppuka” artelino- Art Auctions. 3 June 2007. 21 October 2007.
Redesdale, A.B.F “Tales of old Japan” (1919) 21 October 2007
“Seppuka” Encyclopedia Britannica. 21 October 2007.
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