The Japanese swords have become known worldwide as a 'must-have' for any weapon or sword aficionado. It stands out as an outstanding weapon of power and legendary work of art in appearance and make made by pattern wielding or folding. A Tanto knife may appear as one of the wide variety of ordinary, modern Japanese short swords. Did you know that Tanto knife plays a part in a deadly Japanese ritual? Let's turn back time and find out its part in a Japanese ritual called Seppuku.
Seppuku was an integral part of feudal Japan way back during the period of 1192 to 1868. Japanese uses Seppuku as a formal term for ritual suicide. It is also called Hara-kiri when used as a common language term. It was developed as an important part of the code of discipline for bushido or a code of the samurai warrior class. Seppuku entails stomach-cutting disembowelment or removal of some or all of the vital organs found in the abdomen of a samurai.
All samurai deeply regards honor dearer than life itself. When disgrace befalls a samurai, self destruction was not only considered simply as right but the only correct decision to make. A samurai resorts to hara-kiri or seppuku for the atonement of disgrace and defeat. When the samurai has ended his life, his loyal followers may express their grief and affection for their master by it. Seppuku is a practical solution when a samurai shows attempted for an enemy, protest against unjustice, as a way to get their lord to revoke an unworthy action and as a means to save others. In the eyes and judgment of a samurai, Seppuku was an acknowledged display of their courage, loyalty, moral character and honor. It is executed through regardless without whether ordered as punishment or chosen in preference to a dishonorable death at the hands of the enemy.
The Seppuku Ritual
The Tanto is a Japanese short sword with a traditional overall length of 11.93 inches or about 30 centimeters. The length of blade is 5 inches to 12 inches long. It is efficiently reliable for extremely close fighting as well as for a ritual called Seppuku. The Tanto was then the perfect choice as an instrument for Seppuku. In this detailed ritual, Seppuku was usually performed in front of spectators. A samurai was bathed and dressed in white robes, ate his favorite meal and after he's done eating, the Tanto was placed on the same plate. The samurai dressed ceremoniously sometimes confined on special cloths, preparations for his death by writing a death poem. Standing beside him is his selected attendant (kaishakunin), the samurai would open his kimono, take up his Tanto or Japanese knife and plunge it into his abdomen and make a left to right cut. The kaishakunin then performances dakukubi or a cut in which the warrior was all but intentally decapitated or having his head cut off. Such task should be transported out with precision requiring the kaishakunin often to be a skilled swordsman. It is usually agreed in advance that the kaishakunin swiftly do the decapitation as soon as the dagger was plunged deep into the abdomen.
Seppuku in Modern Japan
The year of 1873 marked the time when Seppuku as judicial punishment was officially abolished shortly after the Meiji Restoration. However, voluntary seppuku did not completely fade away in samurai history. Some military men used Seppuku as a protest against the return of a conquered territory to China by General Nogi and his wife on the death of Emperor Meiji in 1912. Thousands of soldiers and civilians were killed to die rather than surrender at the end of World War II . Author author Yukio Mishima and one of his followers committed public Seppuku at the Japan Self-Defense Forces headquarters after a failed attempt to list the armed forces to stage a coup d'etat. Mishima committed Seppuku in the office of General Kanetoshi. His attendant is Masakatsu Morita who tried thrice to ritually behead Mishima but failed. Hiroyasu Koga finally completed to behead Mishima. After this fatal ritual, Morita then tried to commit Seppuku on himself but his own cuts were not enough to be deadly. He gave the signal to Koga and was beheaded by the same person.
Despite the abolition of Seppuku in modern Japan, there are isolated sued cases committed by some Japanese for failed businesses, involvement in love triangles or even failing school examinations. Death is still considered by many as a better end than dishonor and disgrace.