Seppuku 切腹


Seppuku (Japanese 切腹) refers to a ritualized type of male suicide that was widespread in Japan around the middle of the 12th century within the samurai class and was officially banned in 1868. A man who had lost his face due to a breach of duty was able to restore his family's honour through Seppuku.
Under the strict rules of honor, it was no longer psychologically possible for the person concerned to continue to live under the eyes of the others. Thus the disturbing person removed himself from society and freed his fellow human beings from his unpleasant presence.
Even today, in some countries, there are social constraints under the guise of honour, which result in honour killings in the family circle or which drive young people to suicide.

Is he studying the manual?

General Akashi Gidayo prepares for seppuku after losing a battle in 1582. He looks at his last poem, which can also be seen in the woodcut by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi at the top right. Allegedly, his Lord had forbidden him to commit seppuku because he did not want to lose such a capable general. But Akashi saw it differently.
The work was drawn around 1890, i.e. decades after the end of the Samurai epoch. The virtues of the samurai were thus subsequently idealized. The woodcut appeared in the series 月百姿 (Hundred Views of the Moon).

It was usual for Seppuku to write one last poem. It was mostly about the transience or illusion of life or the Buddhist paradise in the West. Ambiguous words were often chosen for the poem, so that it could be interpreted in many ways.
Akashi Gidayo reportedly wrote clear words:
弓取りの数に入るさの身となればおしまさりけり. Yumitori no kazu ni hairu-sa no mi to nareba oshimasarikeri. As a man of the bow, I have nothing to regret.

Demonstration of a method of seppuku

The second person plays the role of the assistant (Kaishaku-nin). The background music is from the Samurai trilogy, which tells the story of Miyamoto Musashi.