The forty-seventh ronin, identified as Terasaka Kichiemon, eventually returned from his mission and was pardoned by the Shogun some say on account of his youth. He lived until the age of 87, dying in around , and was then buried with his comrades. The assailants who died by seppuku were subsequently interred on the grounds of Sengaku-ji,  in front of the tomb of their master. The clothes and arms they wore are still preserved in the temple to this day, along with the drum and whistle; the armor was all home-made, as they had not wanted to possibly arouse suspicion by purchasing any.
The tombs became a place of great veneration, and people flocked there to pray. The graves at this temple have been visited by a great many people throughout the years since the Genroku era. He then committed suicide, and is buried next to the graves of the ronin. Though this act is often viewed as an act of loyalty, there had been a second goal, to re-establish the Asanos' lordship and finding a place to serve for fellow samurai.
Hundreds of samurai who had served under Asano had been left jobless and many were unable to find employment, as they had served under a disgraced family. Many lived as farmers or did simple handicrafts to make ends meet. The 47 ronin's act cleared their names and many of the unemployed samurai found jobs soon after the ronin had been sentenced to their honorable end. Asano Daigaku Nagahiro, Takuminokami's younger brother and heir, was allowed by the Tokugawa Shogunate to re-establish his name, though his territory was reduced to a tenth of the original.
The ronin spent a year waiting for the "right time" for their revenge. It was Yamamoto Tsunetomo , author of the Hagakure , who asked this famous question: "What if, nine months after Asano's death, Kira had died of an illness? Even if they had claimed, then, that their dissipated behavior was just an act, that in just a little more time they would have been ready for revenge, who would have believed them?
They would have been forever remembered as cowards and drunkards—bringing eternal shame to the name of the Asano clan. The right thing for the ronin to do, wrote Yamamoto, according to proper bushido , was to attack Kira and his men immediately after Asano's death. The ronin would probably have suffered defeat, as Kira was ready for an attack at that time — but this was unimportant. He conceived his convoluted plan to ensure they would succeed at killing Kira, which is not a proper concern in a samurai: the important thing was not the death of Kira, but for the former samurai of Asano to show outstanding courage and determination in an all-out attack against the Kira house, thus winning everlasting honor for their dead master.
Even if they failed to kill Kira, even if they all perished, it wouldn't have mattered, as victory and defeat have no importance in bushido. By waiting a year they improved their chances of success but risked dishonoring the name of their clan, the worst sin a samurai can commit.
This is why Yamamoto and others claim that the tale of the Forty-seven Ronin is a good story of revenge — but by no means a story of bushido. Below are other authors' criticisms of the events surrounding Asano's attack on Kira and the subsequent attack on Kira's mansion by the forty-seven ronin. Template:Unreferenced section Template:Prose. The tragedy of the Forty-seven Ronin has been one of the most popular themes in Japanese art, and has lately even begun to make its way into Western art.
Immediately following the event, there were mixed feelings among the intelligentsia about whether such vengeance had been appropriate—many agreed that, given their master's last wishes, the forty-seven had done the right thing, but were undecided about whether such a vengeful wish was proper. Over time, however, the story became a symbol, not of bushido, as the forty-seven can be seen as seriously lacking it, but of loyalty to one's master and later, of loyalty to the emperor.
Once this happened, it flourished as a subject of drama, storytelling, and visual art.
The incident immediately inspired a succession of kabuki and bunraku plays; the first, The Night Attack at Dawn by the Soga appeared only two weeks after they died. It was shut down by the authorities, but many others soon followed, initially especially in Osaka and Kyoto , further away from the capital.
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Some even took it as far as Manila , to spread the story to the rest of Asia. In the play, to avoid the attention of the censors, the events are transferred into the distant past, to the 14th century reign of shogun Ashikaga Takauji. The play contains a number of plot twists that do not reflect the real story: Moronao tries to seduce Enya's wife, and one of the ronin dies before the attack because of a conflict between family and warrior loyalty another possible cause of the confusion between forty-six and forty-seven.
The play has been made into a movie at least six times,  the earliest starring Onoe Matsunosuke. The film's release date is questioned, but placed between and It has been aired on the Jidaigeki Senmon Channel Japan with accompanying benshi narration. They wanted a ferocious morale booster based upon the familiar rekishi geki "historical drama" of The Loyal 47 Ronin. The 47 Ronin was a commercial failure, having been released in Japan one week before the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Japanese military and most audiences found the first part to be too serious, but the studio and Mizoguchi both regarded it as so important that Part Two was put into production, despite Part One's lukewarm reception. Renowned by postwar scholars lucky to have seen it in Japan, The 47 Ronin wasn't shown in America until the s. Mifune was to revisit the story several times in his career.
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Kon Ichikawa directed another version in In Hirokazu Koreeda 's film Hana yori mo naho , the event of the 47 ronin was used as a backdrop in the story, one of the ronin being a neighbour of the protagonists. The film is scheduled to be released on November 21 , The Forty-seven Ronin are one of the most popular themes in woodblock prints , or ukiyo-e ; the list of artists who have done prints portraying either the original events, or scenes from the play, or the actors, is a Who's Who of woodblock artists.
One book on subjects depicted in woodblock prints devotes no less than seven chapters to the history of the appearance of this theme in woodblocks. Among the artists who produced prints on this subject are Utamaro , Toyokuni , Hokusai , Kunisada , Hiroshige and Yoshitoshi. But they were ordered to move from Hirado to Dejima, an artificial island in Nagasaki harbor which had been originally planned for the Portuguese.
Together with the Chinese, the Dutch dominated foreign trade with Japan; they also became the main source of information about Europe.
Frequently ill, Ietsuna relied on members of his father's entourage, and ultimately was little more than a figurehead shogun. Still, Ietsuna's year reign was a transitional period that solidified the Tokugawa family's rule of Japan. Beginning in a small temple in Edo's northern section, the blaze was carried by flying sparks across moats and canals, demolishing dozens of daimyo estates near Edo castle.
As winds shifted, the flames spread to the merchant quarters along the Sumida River; elsewhere, a cooking fire from a samurai residence fed the inferno. Before the blaze was contained, most of Edo Castle had burned and , souls perished. However, Tsunayoshi served ably as daimyo of Tatebayashi, and Ietsuna, on his deathbed, adopted Tsunayoshi so that he could legally become shogun. Characterized by lavish spending and spiraling prices, Tsunayoshi's reign coincided with the Genroku Era, Edo's cultural renaissance. Tsunayoshi made his court a center of Chinese and Buddhist studies, and issued various edicts on "Compassion for Living.
This earned Tsunayoshi much ridicule, and he became known as the "dog shogun. One of the first to write about ordinary people, Saikaku's writings appealed to commoners as well as the idle samurai. Ironic and irreverent, Saikaku wrote in the vernacular of the day. A bawdy tale of a male traveler's amorous experiences with both sexes, it sold more than 1, copies in the first printing. The book was the first of a new genre known as ukiyo-zoshi meaning "a tale of the floating world" that combined images with the written word.
Although ostentatious displays of wealth had been prohibited, vast amounts of time and money were spent at theaters, brothels and teahouses in Edo's pleasure districts. As a new urban culture developed in Edo, various art forms flourished including Kabuki theater, Ukiyo e and Bunraku puppet theater. During one of two trips to Edo, Kaempfer met with Shogun Tsunayoshi, and through the help of a young interpreter, unearthed many details of Japanese life. Published posthumously in , Kaempfer's History of Japan provided vivid descriptions of Japanese life, and the book became an immediate best-seller, available in English, Dutch, French and Russian.
It remained the Western world's principal reference on Japan for over two hundred years. Furious, the daimyo, drew his sword against the official, Kira Yoshinaka, wounding him. Shogun Tsunayoshi declared Asano's behavior was unacceptable within the castle grounds and ordered him to commit suicide. The shogun then transferred Asano's domain to another family clan. Asano's samurai retainers were now ronin and vowed revenge. To fool the authorities, they pretended to abandon their samurai honor and began living degenerately.
Then, one snowy night, they broke into Kira's mansion, decapitated him, and paraded his head through the streets of Edo.
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Arriving at the burial spot of their beloved Asano, the ronin washed Kira's head, placed it before their fallen leader's tomb, and then turned themselves over to the authorities. Confucian scholars and government officials debated the dilemma for over a year: the 47 ronin had obeyed their samurai code of honor, yet they had challenged the shogun's authority.
The public, meanwhile, embraced the ronin as heroes for embodying the traditional warrior codes. But Tsunayoshi, issuing the final ruling, ordered the 47 ronin to commit suicide. Depicting the incident of the 47 ronin, Chushingura "The Treasury of the Loyal Retainers" , continues to be the most popular dramatization in Japanese theater.
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Ienobu was also the brother of Ietsuna, the fourth shogun. His mother was of such low rank she was forbidden to rear her son. One of the most forceful and capable of the 15 shoguns, Yoshimune rejected the luxurious lifestyles of his predecessors. He ate only brown rice and vegetables and wore plain clothes. He often went hunting dressed in cotton and straw sandals.
Known for mixing with commoners, Yoshimune tried to free himself from the conventions that kept the shogun confined to the castle. The 8th shogun also had an academic bent: His compilation of legal precedents and support for scientific experimentation helped lead to the relaxation of the ban on Western books. The measures were enacted, in part, to mollify the Dutch on Dejima Island, who were increasingly frustrated by the limitations placed upon commerce. Skilled at chess about which he wrote a book , Ieshige had little interest in governing, and the aging Yoshimune continued to rule during his son's first two years in office.
Ieshige's reign lasted from Beginning his career as an illustrator for a major publisher, Utamaro gained popularity in for his close ups of women. As publishers clamored to sell his prints, Utamaro became the leading ukiyo-e artist of his day. But in , the government ruled that one of Utamaro's prints was offensive. Jailed and forbidden to paint, he died two years later.
Widely ridiculed, he was unable to assert authority and many believed he was leading the country to ruin. What they witnessed corresponded closely to a Dutch book on anatomy owned by one of the scholars, Dr. Sugita Genpaku. Although the ban on Western books had been lifted years earlier, very few books on Western medicine were available. Genpaku was so impressed by the book he immediately committed himself to learn Dutch so that he could translate it into Japanese for further study.
Published in , the book helped usher in a period known as Dutch Learning.
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