47 Ronin: Japanese Samurai Legend
The story of 47 ronin is a famous Japanese samurai legend.
Even today, more that 300 years after the actual events, Chushingura – the story of the 47 Ronin is one of the most popular Japanese story. It’s a story that every Japanese people knows about, regardless of their age or education level.
Told over and over again, and passing from generations to generations for centuries, the story of the 47 Ronin illustrates the heart and soul of the Japanese samurai society.
The 47 Ronin legend began on april 21st 1701, when lord Asano Naganori, the Daimyo of the Ako Domain was forced to commit ritual suicide for attacking Kira Yoshinaka in Edo Castle, a rude and arrogant Master of Ceremony under the Tokugawa Shogunate.
The loyal 47 Ronin took over a year to planned their raid on Kira’s mansion. On a snowy December night, they strike on Kira’s home, taking everyone by surprise.
After killing Kira, they went to their Master’s Grave, and turned themselves in to the authorities. For committing such a vendetta, the 47 Ronin were requested by the Shogun to commit seppuku, ritual self-disembowelment.
During the Meiji era, the rapid modernization of Japan forces people to return to their cultural roots and values, giving tremendous popularity of the 47 Ronin’s tale.
The 47 Ronin are regarded today by the Japanese people as ‘Cultural Heroes’ and are honored in traditional holidays and a in countless kabuki plays, movies, novels and manga.
Every year, the Gishisai Festival takes place on December 14th in Ako city in Hyogo prefecture, in memory of the 47 Ronin. On that day, schools and business are close and the streets are decorated with banners and colored lanterns.
Additionally, each year, at Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo, thousands of tourists visits the resting place of the 47 Ronin and pay homage to their dedication to Bushido.
The Tale of the 47 Ronin of Ako will never be forgotten, and like some Japanese people say: “…to know the story of the 47 Ronin is to know Japan.”