The seppuku ritual


The seppuku (切腹)is a highly ritualized realization, becoming as complicated as the chadō (The tea ceremony). This ritual is also known as harakiri, although it is a wrong word used by foreigners.

This ritual varies from one era to another in Japan. The first record of seppuku occurred in the Heian period, when one of the samurai de Minamoto was losing in the battle. The warrior fell on his sword, dying as the surroundings burned. This was later codified and dignified as a less unpleasant way to die than capture and torture. As the dark ages spread throughout Europe and Asia, torture and mutilation were common ways of punishing the defeated.

The seppuku on the battlefield it was carried out under different circumstances: If there was time to remove the armor, they simply cut their necks or fell on their sword. If you had time, it was done in a formalized ritual.

seppuku 3

For the rite, the first thing to do was get a kaishakunin. Contrary to popular belief, in almost all forms of seppuku people did not commit suicide, but inflicted a fatal wound. The kaishakunin he is the one who carries out the death of the individual. If one was ordered to commit seppuku for him bakufu (government of the shogunate), a kaishakunin. Otherwise, the one who committed the seppuku I could choose a iaijutsuka (practitioner of the technique to kill with a sword blow) or close friend. His friend could refuse the request if he was not skilled with the sword, but not if he was asked a second time. The author of seppuku he implied that he would forgive his lack of skill.



The seppuku ideally it was committed in a garden or a Buddhist temple (Shinto temples do not, because they are contaminated). The participant is wear white to symbolize purity, and sits with the legs under the body. Your assistant places the sanbo (a low table) in front of the participant. This contains a cup of sake, a leaf of washi (paper made from mulberry bark), writing material and a kozuka (knife for the ritual). It could also be a so much (dagger) without hilt, wrapped in several sheets of paper for a better grip. A true samurai however, he used his own wakizashi.

The sake cup served from the left. Whoever serves it must use their left hand (in any other circumstance it is considered rude). The person who commits seppuku Empty the glass into two shots of two sips each. In one sip the person is considered greedy, and three or more the person is considered indecisive. This makes a total of four sips. The number four is special in Japanese culture, as it is pronounced shias well as the word death (四 and 死 respectively. Both kanjis are pronounced the same).

jisei no ku

After taking the glass, the participant writes a poem in style waka (five lines, of 5, 7, 7 and 5 syllables). The poem should be elegant, natural and about the emotions of the moment. Under no circumstances should it be mentioned that you are about to die. Asano, whose seppuku resulted in the incident of the 47 ronin, had written a bad poem. This demonstrated his immaturity and lack of character, which led him to be convicted of committing seppuku first.

Then the person takes off his kamishino, a kind of coat, and puts his sleeves under his legs. Then take the dagger or sword and sit on it sanbo to lean forward.


The final act

The person took the dagger and drove it deep into the left side, dragging it to the right side. If he had the ability, he could proceed to nail him from the groin and open to the sternum. It could also follow a cut at the base of the rib cage. However the kaishakunin You must be attentive to the slightest sign of pain or doubt to execute it.

The sword strike of the kaishakunin it should not completely cut off the head. You must leave it attached by the throat. It was considered improper for the head to roll around the room, splattering with blood. You only did that with criminals. Especially it should not be cut through the jaw, as the kaishakunin Yukio Mishima did it in 1970. As mentioned before, the imperfection in the use of the sword was forgiven if it was friends.

After the person committed seppuku, they retired the sanbo, the dagger and the sword and were destroyed. They were considered to be contaminated by death. There was another way seppuku known as jumonji giri in which the person did commit suicide, since there was no kaishakunin. After being opened, the person bled to death, living another half hour. The last person to commit this act was the General Nogi after the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912.

seppuku 2

The causes for committing seppuku could be junshi (after the feudal lord died, his servants committed seppuku), kanshi (as a reprimand and as a way to win the favor of the feudal lord), for carrying out dishonorable actions, to avoid being captured and falling from grace, or in battle.