Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai


  • September 26, 2012


Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai

Seeking a noble end, poverty-stricken samurai Hanshiro requests to commit ritual suicide at the House of Ii, run by headstrong Kageyu. Trying to dismiss Hanshiro’s demand, Kageyu recounts the tragic story of a similar recent plea from young ronin, Motome.

Peaceful times in Edo (ancient Tokyo) have resulted in massive ronin unemployment, and those who cannot find new samurai positions are condemned to poverty. Many turn to petty extortion by threatening to commit hara-kiri at a noble house in the hope of receiving a handout to leave the owners in peace. With this in mind, desperate Motome calls on the House of Ii to try and save his sickly wife and dying baby. But Kageyu’s samurai convince him to make an example of Motome and call his bluff. Dreadfully, Motome has long sold his sword and is forced into an agonizing suicide using a bamboo blade.

Hanshiro is shocked by the horrifying details of Motome’s fate, but remains true to his decision to die with honor. At the moment of the hara-kiri, Hanshiro makes a last request to be assisted by Kageyu’s samurai who are coincidentally absent. Suspicious and outraged, Kageyu demands an explanation. Hanshiro confesses his bond to Motome and tells the bittersweet tale of their lives. Kageyu will soon realise that Hanshiro has set in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against his house.