Harakiri (1962) - full transcript

Peace in 17th-century Japan causes the Shogunate's breakup of warrior clans, throwing thousands of samurai out of work and into poverty. An honorable end to such fate under the samurai code is ritual suicide, or hara-kiri (self-inflicted disembowelment). An elder warrior, Hanshiro Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai) seeks admittance to the house of a feudal lord to commit the act. There, he learns of the fate of his son-in-law, a young samurai who sought work at the house but was instead barbarically forced to commit traditional hara-kiri in an excruciating manner with a dull bamboo blade. In flashbacks the samurai tells the tragic story of his son-in-law, and how he was forced to sell his real sword to support his sick wife and child. Tsugumo thus sets in motion a tense showdown of revenge against the house.




13th day of May. Fair skies.

Extremely hot from early in the day.


10:00 a.m. - Master Bennosuke...

pays a visit to the Kandabashi mansion
of the Honorable Lord Doi

to present fresh river trout
from the Shirakawa River,

which arrived from our domain.

No other official business to record.


at about 4:00 in the afternoon,

a samurai claiming to be a former retainer
of the Fukushima Clan in Hiroshima

appeared at our gate.


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Directed by



You were a retainer of the former
Fukushima Clan in Hiroshima?

That is correct.

My name is Hanshiro Tsugumo.

Written with the character
tsu as in " harbor"

and gumo as in "cloud."

What is the nature of your visit?

My master's house fell in 1619.

I subsequently left the domain
and moved here to Edo,

where I found shelter
in a back-alley tenement.

While eking out a meager living,

I sought connections
for employment with a new master.

But try as I might,
we live in times of peace,

and my every effort has been in vain.

Failing to find employment
and with little to do,

he finds himself in dire straits

and believes
he can endure it no further.

Rather than live on
in such poverty and disgrace,

he wishes to die
honorably by harakiri

and asks for permission
to use our forecourt.

Such is his request.

Not again.

Will they never stop?

How shall I respond?

Fine. Show him in.

This is the room, sir.

Please go in.

Thank you.

I am a former retainer

of Lord Masanori Fukushima
of Hiroshima,

Hanshiro Tsugumo by name.

I respectfully beg your favor.

I am senior counselor
of the House of lyi, Kageyu Saito.

I am much obliged
for this immediate interview.

The purpose of my visit -

I've already been told
of your request.

Rather than live on
in endless poverty,

idly waiting for death,

you wish to end your life in a manner
befitting a samurai, by harakiri.

I believe that was the gist of it?

That is correct.

In these times,
it is a truly admirable resolve.

I can only express the highest esteem.

You mentioned

that you served
the former Lord Fukushima.

Did you happen to know
a man named Motome Chijiiwa?




You don't recognize the name?

I'm quite certain he said
he'd served the former Lord Fukushima.

In its prosperous days,
the clan's retainers

numbered some 12,000 men.

One could hardly know them all.

I see.

But never mind that.

Earlier this year,
perhaps around the end of January,

this ronin named Motome Chijiiwa
came calling,

and the purpose of his visit
was the same as yours.

He requested the use of our forecourt
to dispatch himself with honor.

Is that right?

Would you like me to tell you
what happened in that case?

I would indeed.

You say you were a retainer
of the former Fukushima Clan in Hiroshima?

That is correct.

I served the former
Lord Masanori Fukushima of Hiroshima.

My name is Motome Chijiiwa.

What is the nature of your visit?

After the fall of my master's house,

I moved here to Edo
and found shelter in a back-alley tenement.

While eking out a meager living,

I sought connections
for employment with a new master.

But try as I might,
we live in times of peace...

and my every effort has been in vain.

So now it seems it's our turn.

How shall we respond?

Let me think.

It's amazing how such foolishness
can take hold.

Blame it on what
the Sengoku Clan did.

Say what you will, that was a mistake.
- I disagree, Yazaki.

That's not necessarily true.
- Why not?

The fellow who went to the Sengoku house
was serious about disemboweling himself.

There was nothing dishonorable
about his intent.

Precisely because
they were touched by his sincerity,

the Sengoku house decided
to take him in as a back-room retainer.

That was good.
They made the right decision in that case.

The problem

is the shameless imitators
who have followed.

They have no intention whatsoever
of performing harakiri,

and just because they're hurting a little
for food and clothing,

they show up at our gate
to practice their thinly disguised extortion.

We can't very well allow him
to disembowel himself in our gateway.

Our only choice is to follow
the example of other clans:

Give him a little something
and ask him to leave.


That will not do.

If we give him money
and send him away,

he'll soon be followed by others.

One after the other,

like ants drawn to a mound of sugar.

Ever since the Battle of Sekigahara,

Edo has been teeming with ronin -
masterless samurai.

They're like wild dogs
roving about in search of prey.

Think what people will say.

"The House of lyi has gone soft
like the others.

Everybody thought they had backbone,
so until now, the ronin avoided their gate.

But look what they've done now.

They boast of their martial valor,

but this is a time of peace,

so they're just
living in yesterday's dreams."

Would you have such laughable chatter

spreading all over Edo?

Especially when His Lordship
is away in his domain.

Under no circumstances can we allow

a stain to come upon our lord's name
while he's away.

Giving him money
and asking him to leave -

such lily-livered nonsense
is out of the question.

He hasn't the slightest intention
of killing himself,

yet he speaks of honorable harakiri.


If I may...

My apologies for keeping you waiting.

I am Umenosuke Kawabe,
a member of Lord lyi's mounted guard.

My name is Motome Chijiiwa,
a ronin from Hiroshima.

Kindly come with me.

Excuse me?

I am to show you to the bath.

Since Lord lyi is at present
away in his domain,

Senior Counselor Saito conveyed your
request to His Lordship's son, Bennosuke.

He finds your resolve most admirable

and wishes you to be brought forward
for an immediate audience.

I am to have an audience
with Master Bennosuke?

That is correct.

I must beg your pardon,
but your present attire will not do.

While you refresh yourself
in the bath,

we'll see to some new robes for you.

I place myself in your hands.

Your kindness overwhelms me.

I must be dreaming.

This is so...

completely unexpected.

Almost -

Pardon me.

My apologies
for keeping you waiting so long.

I must ask you to change again.

Your robes.

Is something wrong?

What about my audience
with Master Bennosuke?

I was told
I'd be granted an audience.

I don't believe so.

You must have misunderstood.
- No, I'm quite certain.

That was the word I received from
Umenosuke Kawabe of the mounted guard.


Now that you mention it...

Yes, that must be it.

So I'm not mistaken?

I believe I understand.

When Senior Counselor Saito
personally conveyed your desire

to Master Bennosuke,

he noted how rare it is these days to find
men with such a great sense of honor.

"I would like to add this man
to the ranks of our retainers," he said.

"But when a man declares
that he wishes to tear his belly open,

it can only come
from a most profound resolve.

I am sure it would be no use
trying to dissuade him.

Grant him his final wish.

Although I would like to meet
this man of such uncommon valor

and tell him how much
I admire his purpose,

I am unfortunately scheduled to go
to Lord Doi's residence at this hour.

Extend to him
every courtesy of this house,

and have all our retainers
witness his final act,

that they may remember it
as a proud example."

Such were Master Bennosuke's words,
I was told.

Tell me:
What do you think of this story?

A most interesting tale,

worthy of the famous red armor
that symbolizes the House of lyi

and its reputation for great martial valor.

May I ask what your intentions are?

You mean...

about this?


You may set your mind at ease.

I came here
with every intention of dying.

Well, well.

A most admirable resolve.

In that case, Master Tsugumo...

perhaps I should recount for you

a little more of Motome Chijiiwa's story.

By all means.

Now then,
we must be aware of the time.

Please change into those robes.

All other arrangements
are already in place

for a harakiri ceremony
with all the proper formalities.

I have a request.

I must beg a brief respite.


I will not run or hide.
I will return to this house.

But I beg you
for a day or two respite.

I'm afraid it's too late for that.

- But this is absurd!
- Absurd?

We made the harakiri arrangements
at your own request.

My most abject apologies!

Just a day or two respite.
I will return without fail.

A samurai's word is his bond.

There can be no delay!

Master swordsman Hayato Yazaki.

Fit and eager,
his skills honed to perfection.

One false step
and he'll slice you in two.

The others will descend on you as well.

Rather than being chopped up
like a dead fish,

perform harakiri
and die like a samurai.

Now, change into those robes.

O ancestors of the House of lyi...

I must beg your forgiveness
for defiling the mansion courtyard

with unworthy ronin blood.

I do this to preserve
the honor of this house,

as well as that
of the Tokugawa family,

and of the samurai code itself.

I beg you to be witness
to my decision.

His short blade is the same.

Look at it.

It wouldn't cut tofu.

He sells off his soul as a samurai,
replacing his blades with bamboo,

and then shows up
saying he wants to perform harakiri?

The nerve of the man!

Everything is in place
for the ceremony to begin.

Master Motome Chijiiwa...

rather than sit and wait
for death in dire poverty,

you've declared your wish
to die honorably by harakiri.

It is a commendable decision.

You are an example for all samurai.

I am ashamed to admit

that even in this house known for martial
valor since our ancestor Naomasa's day,

the resolve you've shown
is seen but rarely.

So that they may witness
the noble demise of a true warrior,

and engrave a lasting impression of it
upon their minds,

I've ordered all retainers
of this household to attend.

May your heart be at peace.

I beg of you!

What is it?

I beg for a brief respite -
a day or two's grace!

I swear I will not run or hide.
I'll return to this spot without fail!

Please! I implore you!

This is most unexpected.

I've heard lately
of incidents all across Edo

in which ronin who don't deserve
to call themselves samurai

demand the use of a clan's forecourt
to commit harakiri

but are happy to walk away
in exchange for a few coins.

Surely you're not -

Absolutely not, sir.

No, no.

Of course not.

I'd never believe that a man
of your noble character and mien

could be such a despicable extortionist.

Now then.

You may proceed.

Unworthy as I am,
I shall be your second.

I am an exponent
of the Shindo-Munen-lchi school.

I imagine you are aware,
but let me note just to be sure.

The rite of harakiri
has changed over time.

In recent years,
it is often harakiri in name only.

The subject reaches for the blade
on the wooden stand,

and his second immediately
strikes off his head.

In other words,
there is no disembowelment at all,

and in fact sometimes
the stand holds not a short sword

but only a folding fan.


our proceedings today will not sink

to such debased and empty forms.

We shall adhere strictly
to the traditional ways.

Is that understood?

You will rip your bowels open
crosswise, like this.

Once I see you have done so,
I will strike off your head.

Until I'm satisfied
you've fully torn open your bowels,

I will not bring down my sword.

Is that understood?
Now then.

It is your own sword.

That is the blade you will use.

A samurai's sword is his soul.

No blade could be more fitting
for this purpose than your own.

Come. What keeps you?


Strike! Strike me!

No, not yet!

Pull your blade across!

Why do you delay?

Draw your blade across!
Pull it to the right!

I suppose he had no other recourse,

but even so,
to bite off his tongue?

Would you say he was being resourceful,
or just unseemly?

Then again,

who in his right mind attempts harakiri
with just a bamboo sword?

Now then...

what are your intentions?

You mean...

about this?

The account I've given you

of Motome Chijiiwa's fate
is true in every detail.

Take my advice, Master Tsugumo.

Quietly take your leave.

You need have no such concerns with me.

Unlike this Chijiiwa fellow...

the sword in my belt
is not made of bamboo.

Rest assured, I will not bite off my tongue.
I will disembowel myself in grand form.

Very well.

Master Tsugumo,

since you are unswerving in your resolve,
I shall grant your wish.


This ronin from Hiroshima,
Master Hanshiro Tsugumo,

is to be granted use of the courtyard
to perform harakiri.

His present dress will not do.

Give him fresh robes befitting
one who journeys to the next world.

If I may.

What is it?

Please do not trouble yourselves
over such things.

For the final moments
of a down-and-out ronin like myself...

surely nothing is more fitting
than the clothes I now wear.

I am deeply grateful for the courteous
and considerate treatment

you have accorded me today.

I can find no adequate words
to thank you.

Now then, I shall begin.

Might I ask, Counselor,

who will be serving as my second?

I have assigned Ichiro Shinmen.

Master Shinmen?

Did you wish for someone else?

Yes, sir.

I would like Master Hikokuro Omodaka.

You request Hikokuro?

I believe he's a retainer in this house.

I've heard he's trained
in the Shindo-Munen-lchi school.


Hikokuro is a fine choice.


I'm afraid he's not
in attendance today.

He sent a note saying he's ill
and requesting a few day's rest.

I see. That's too bad.

Master Tsugumo.

As you heard,
Omodaka is not present today.

You will need to make another choice.

That is most disappointing.

I had my heart set on Master Omodaka
performing the service.

I wonder if I might not beg
his special consideration.


he says he's ill,
but he seemed fine yesterday.

Surely it can't be anything serious.


Make all due haste
to Omodaka's residence.

Tell him to come immediately,
if his illness permits. Now hurry.

I'm putting you
to a great deal of trouble.

Please accept my apologies.

Now then,

do you wish to wait here

or would you like
to come inside and relax?


The comfort of your residence
might cause my resolve to waver.

My journey into eternity mustn't grow
distasteful. I shall remain here.

You display remarkable discipline.

I can but express my admiration.

If I may, Counselor,

it could be quite tedious for us both
to sit here and wait in silence.

To pass the time,

perhaps you'll allow me to tell you
a little about myself.

About yourself?


The hardscrabble tales of a half-starved
ronin don't amount to much,

but what befalls others today

may be your own fate tomorrow.

Perhaps your retainers

will find some small point or two
worth remembering

among my otherwise
useless ramblings.

"What befalls others today
may be your own fate tomorrow"?

This could be amusing.

I want everyone here
to listen carefully to this man.

The words of one
staring death in the face...

are unlikely to be useless ramblings.

I'm sure we'll all learn something.


That tale you related earlier -

may I be assured
it was true in every detail?


The ronin from Hiroshima
named Motome Chijiiwa

was a man of some acquaintance to me.

Motome Chijiiwa...

was a man of some acquaintance to me.

Motome was a lad of 15,

and my daughter Miho
was an angelic child of 11.

That was 11 years ago.

But when I close my eyes,

their images come back to me vividly,
as if it were only yesterday.

- My turn again.
- Never mind.

All we do all day is count stones
to repair the castle walls.

We won't be needing bows and arrows
for a good long while.

"The world is at peace.
The four seas are calm."

Incidentally, this coming 22nd

is the seventh anniversary
of Nui's passing.

I knew it was coming up,
but is it seven years already?

Yes, and I'm planning
a modest ceremony at my residence.

Don't bring any offerings.

Very well.

I can hardly believe it.

Seven years already.

What never ceases to amaze me

is how a rough warrior like you

has managed to raise Miho all these years
without taking a second wife.

Come, Jinnai.

Look who's talking.

When your Yuki died,
I wondered how you would ever manage.

But look at you.

You're a perfect example
of the kite begetting a hawk.

Kite begetting a hawk?

You were the widower kite,

doting so on your child
in every aspect of his upbringing,

that lo and behold,

the child grew not into a kite
but a magnificent young hawk.


He certainly keeps growing,
but he's got a long way to go

before you can compare him
to a young hawk soaring freely overhead.

You know,

I never figured either of us would be good
for anything but battlefield laurels,

but we haven't done too bad
at raising children.

Had life gone on like that,
all would have been well.

But it was not to be.

When all is said and done,

our lives are like houses
built on foundations of sand.

One strong wind and all is gone.

How my master's house
with its 498,000- koku domain

was brought to ruin...

I'm sure you already know
even better than I do myself.

Owing to an unreasonable and one-sided
judgment by the Tokugawa shogunate

regarding the repairs
being performed on Hiroshima Castle,

in June of 1619,

my master, Masanori Fukushima,
was ordered into exile at Kawanakajima,

leaving his 12,000 retainers
without any means of livelihood...

through no fault of their own.



In view of our long-standing friendship,
I ask your indulgence in the following:

The castle repairs commissioner,

the Honorable Masakatsu Fukushima,

will be electing death at any moment.

Therefore, I will precede him
on his journey.

My company alone will suffice.

I beg you not to follow.

Regarding my only child, Motome,

he has grown tall,
but he is still only 15.

Please look after him
as he finds his way in life.

Why did he have to be so hasty?

Committing harakiri
even before I have done so.

Hanshiro, I forbid you to follow.

If the house could still be saved, I might
wish you to accompany me in death.

But with the house abolished,
it would be pointless.

Jinnai's company will suffice.
- But, sire!

Don't be foolish, Hanshiro.

Jinnai died because he knew
you would if he didn't.

He died to accompany me
on your behalf as well.

Which means, Hanshiro,

that you must now live on.

Both for you and for him.

And also for his son, Motome.
Who will look after him if not you?

I go now to meet Jinnai.

Hanshiro, is there anything
you'd like me to tell him?

Do you have nothing for me to say?

Tell Jinnai...

Tell Jinnai this.

Have no fears about Motome.

I will watch over his every step
on the path to manhood.

I will not fail him.
I swear this on my life.

Go on, Master Tsugumo.

What did you find out?

It seems his illness
is indeed most serious.

What's the nature of the ailment?

According to his family,
a high fever

and excruciating pain
in all his joints.

Go on.

I asked if I might visit him
at his bedside,

but he sent word back
that his pain was so great

that he did not wish to be seen
in his present state.

All I could do was convey
the message you sent and return.

It seems
there's nothing we can do.

Perhaps he was overcome by
the relentless heat of recent days.

Master Tsugumo,

you heard what he said.

I must ask you to select
someone else as your second.

I am sorely disappointed,
but it appears I have no choice.

In that case...

I would ask for Master Hayato Yazaki.


Inaba, I believe he too
has been absent these four or five days?

That is correct.

He requested leave
because he wasn't feeling well.

Master Tsugumo,

I'm afraid Hayato Yazaki
is also absent due to illness.

Master Yazaki is also ill?

I'm sorry to hear that.

Again it seems I have no choice.

I request Master Umenosuke Kawabe.


surely it's not possible

that Master Kawabe
is also under the weather?

Well, well.

It seems he is indeed indisposed.

All three unavailable
on this particular day -

what a very odd coincidence.

Most curious.

- He's up to something.
- Clearly so.

Hikokuro was the one
who first insisted

that Motome Chijiiwa
be forced to go through with harakiri.

Yazaki was the one

who discovered his blades were bamboo
and insisted he be forced to use them,

and Kawabe was quick to agree.

That's why I urged that he at least
be spared the bamboo blade.

- Of what good is that now?
- Indeed, sire.

But how shall we deal with him?

I doubt he intends
to meekly disembowel himself.

He obviously has something
up his sleeve.

Whatever it is...

he won't get away with it.

We'll force his hand
and make him commit harakiri.

In fact, if he refuses,

we'll descend upon him in force
and cut him down.

What happens within the walls
of this compound...

is as secret as what happens
behind the walls of our castle back home.

One signal from me
and everyone will know what to do.

But I'm bothered
about Hikokuro and the other two.

I need to send someone
to find out more...

and under the circumstances,

I'd like you to personally hurry
and find out the real story.

Master Tsugumo...

summer days are long,
but the hour advances.

I must ask you to proceed
without further delay.

But, Counselor,

the ritual cannot take place
without a second.

I understand your concern,

but I've discussed the matter
with my senior colleagues.

With all three men of your choice ailing,
we cannot accommodate your wishes.

You will have to accept our selection.

Ichiro Shinmen!

I command you to serve
as second for Master Tsugumo.

Perform your duty with care.

I must protest!

To act as my second,

I have named
three specially selected men.

I must have one of these three.

Are you deaf?

All three you name are ill
and are not present today.

I explained this very clearly.
Did you not hear?

Then in that case,
I have no choice.

I must call off my harakiri for now.

Enough, Hanshiro Tsugumo!

Your extortion scheme
has gone too far.

It's bad enough to march in here
demanding a place to perform harakiri,

but then you quibble endlessly
over naming your second.

You never intended to commit harakiri.

All you really want is money!


If I were the extortionist you say,

would I be calmly sitting here
on this platform?

- Then why do you not quietly proceed?
- I am fully prepared to die.

But cutting my belly open
does not in itself

ensure smooth passage
to the netherworld.

I need someone to expeditiously
strike off my head -

a swordsman of reliable skill.

I do not perform harakiri
to atone for a crime or offense.

The least I can expect
is to choose my own second.

Further debate on the matter

is clearly a waste of time.

You are a fraud,
a disgrace to our class.

You never intended
to commit harakiri.

Insolent dog!



Wait, I say!

I beg of all those present

a moment - a brief moment.

You can't possibly have more to say.

But I do.
I do have more to say.

I haven't finished my story.

I have no ears
for your endless ramblings.


If you force me to,

I will fight desperately to the death,
no matter the odds against me.

Some of your men
will be wounded undeservedly.

Some may even lose their lives.

Would it not be better

to simply hear me out?

Once I have finished my story,

I will disembowel myself
with no further ado.

Or if you feel harakiri
is too good for me,

you may turn your men on me
to do what they will.

In any event,

I would first like you to hear
what I have to say.

As to these conditions you state,

do I have your word?

You have my word.

And as a samurai,
you will hold true to it?

Very well,

but make it short.

I will not listen
to your useless mutterings for long.

Men, fall back.

Now, where was I?

Oh, yes.

My master's house fell

and Jinnai Chijiiwa died,

but before doing so,

he asked me to look after Motome.

When my master's house fell...

we immediately left the domain
and moved to Edo.

The streets of Edo
were crowded with ronin,

flotsam from the Battle of Sekigahara.

In former times,

other clans would have gladly taken in
any ronin who'd earned a name for himself.

But in an era no longer in need
of warriors or horses,

so peaceful that no wind
even rustled the leaves on the trees,

it was a constant struggle
simply to find a meal.

Indeed, it shames me to recall

our miserable lives
of these last eight or nine years.

But amidst all our hardships...

my daughter Miho
was rapidly becoming a woman,

and soon it was
the spring of her 18th year.


I've set your lunch out
in case I'm not back in time.

The greatest delicacies
taste of nothing when eaten alone.

If you're not back, I'll wait.

I'll collect for these and then stop
by Yoshizakicho for dried fish.


Welcome, sir.

Busy as usual?
Looks like you're on your way out.

Yes, to the wholesaler
in Kyobashi.

The Mikawaya, I suppose.
Take care.

Experience is the best teacher.

You've become very deft at that.

Forgive me.

I hate asking you
for advances all the time,

but my earnings
simply refuse to catch up.

You disarm me
by beating me to the punch.

I came intending
to lodge a complaint or two,

but when you make the first move,

what can I say?

By the way,

what are your thoughts
on that matter I raised the other day?

Have you come to a decision?

Yes, I have.

Glad to hear it.

It takes a load off my mind.


I appreciate your proposal
regarding Miho,

but I've decided to decline.

In the end, her adoption
by the Joshuya family

would be a mere pretext
lasting perhaps six months.

Once established
as a member of their family,

she'd be sent to Lord Sakakibara
as his concubine.

Master Tsugumo,

the Sakakibara are a family
with a domain of 110,000 koku.

It may sound odd to seek benefit
from your daughter's connections,

but you need do nothing,
and doors will open to you.

I understand that.

But, Master Seibei,

no matter how far I've fallen,

I cannot make my daughter a concubine
to profit from her connections.

It's fine to uphold your pride.

But as a parent, you must consider
your daughter's feelings too.


She's young and beautiful,

yet she doesn't have
a single fancy kimono to wear.

She can only look forward to endless days
of slaving at her father's side.

Master Tsugumo,

you can't fight the world you live in

nor go against
the tide of the times.

It's a good proposal for Miss Miho,
and for you,

no matter how you look at it.

In fact, to be honest,

is it not precisely because Miss Miho
was blessed with such beauty

that an avenue like this
remains open to you?

Confucius said:

"He who knows not the will of heaven
is not a superior man."

"He who knows not proper decorum
must not rise to his feet."

"He who knows not the heart of words
cannot know the heart of man."

That will be all for today.

Thank you, sir. Good-bye.

Hey, Katsuzo,
let's go sparrow hunting today.

Hello, Uncle Hanshiro.

It's good to see you.

Have some tea.

Much obliged.

I know this house well enough
to at least boil water.

As it happens, Motome,

I came today to discuss
a matter of some weight.

You sound so formal.
What could it be?

How quickly the days
and months fly by.

Miho is now 18.

She looks more
like her mother every day.

In fact, it's hard to see
how she could possibly be of my blood.

If she'd taken after me,
she'd never have grown so beautiful.

What are you trying to say, sir?

Well, Motome...

I'd like you to take Miho as your wife.

I realize this is all very sudden,

but what do you think?

Will you do it, Motome?

You know as well as I

the state of my livelihood at present.

I offer classes in the Chinese classics
to a handful of children

and live from hand to mouth.

How could I possibly take a wife?

Do you dislike Miho?

All I'm asking
is how you feel about her.

It's not only because
of the promise I made to your father

that I hope you'll marry Miho.

Boorish and dull as I am,

I'm not entirely insensitive
to your feelings for each other.

It was more difficult than I expected

to persuade Motome.

I didn't realize

he had such a stubborn
and willful streak.

But I knew he loved Miho,

and I knew Miho
would have no objections to the match.

The crane that lives a thousand years

A symbol of myriad joys

The tortoise that lives 10,000 years

Bears on its back the three worlds
of heaven, earth and man

The sands upon the beach

Numberless and smooth

May they ever reflect the morning sun

After two years

a child was born.

It was a boy,
and they named him Kingo.

Of course,

I was the one who chose the name.

Hello, Father.

What's this? Asleep again?

Father, you're too generous.


Even after I married you off,
you still cook for me.

And besides,
I now have only myself to support.

I save more money
than I know what to do with,

and I can't take it with me.

Well, well.

Did you wake up?

Now, none of that, you little rascal.

A warrior's son
should not be flashing dimples.

What did I tell you now?

Really? Even the Matsudaira Clan
of Dewa province?

That's right.

I can understand abolishing
the domains of newer vassals,

but to treat vassals who've supported
the Tokugawa for generations so harshly?

The shogunate's policy toward
the warlords is completely beyond me.

We'll see another jump
in the number of ronin.

Did you hear?

One of them tried to commit harakiri
at the Sengoku Clan's gate.

A ronin named Shume Ooi,
formerly of the Kurume Clan.

I heard the Sengoku
were so impressed

that they offered him employment.

That much was fine.
It's what happened next.

Yes, I heard.

Other ronin who got wind of the story

began presenting themselves at the gates
of daimyo houses all over Edo,

insisting on committing harakiri
and refusing to budge.

In order to get rid of them,

the houses offered them money
to leave.

It's a shameful turn of events.

It certainly is.

No matter how hard-pressed
they may be,

it's a despicable thing to do.

In these difficult times,
it's no help growing desperate.

Becoming too impatient
in seeking employment

is a danger we must all
take care to avoid.

You are absolutely right.

If you stop worrying so much
about finding employment,

you can sit here like this
without answering to a superior,

at no one's beck and call.

What's the matter there, little one?

It's time for his milk.
I'll nurse him.

You mustn't give him
your breast every time he cries.

He'll develop bad habits.

Lookee here, Kingo.

See my funny face?

All right?

Upsy-daisy. Here goes, Kingo.

In Kanda

At the Myojin Shrine

There's a festival


Kingo was the center of our existence,

and the three of us lived happily

with the constant sound
of warm laughter

raising peaceful ripples around us.

It truly was
a time of greater happiness

than I'd ever known in the domain.


good things never last for long.

One day, Miho suddenly coughed up
profuse quantities of blood.

She had always been
of weak constitution,

and with the endless burden
of our piecework labor...

she'd driven her frail body
too hard for too long.

Motome panicked.

The poor fellow.

Date Clan construction site.

Fifty laborers at 40 mon.

Fifty laborers at 40 mon.

Just a minute, samurai, sir!

Are you trying to get me in trouble?

There isn't enough work
even for the townsmen.

If the authorities spotted
a two-sworded laborer,

I'd be in for a real dressing-down.

Hosokawa Clan construction site.

Twenty laborers, 45 mon.


Poor Motome.

He tried everything, but to no avail.

Miho was gradually wasting away,

and the worst was yet to come.

It's seared forever in my memory.

We'd just barely made it
through the end of the year,

and the plum blossoms
had begun to bloom

shortly after the beginning
of the new year.

What's wrong?

Is it Miho?

Is it Miho?

It's Kingo.

What? Kingo?

A fever.

Like he's on fire.

Why, Miho?

Why did you just sit by
until it came to this?

I thought it was an ordinary cold.

What did the doctor say?

You did have a doctor see him,
didn't you?

You haven't had a doctor see him?

Why haven't you had
a doctor look at him?

Kingo, fight it off.

Your grandpa,
like your mom and dad,

has already sold off
everything of value.

There's not a thing,

not a thing we can do for you.

There's nothing...

nothing we can do, Kingo.

But you're the son of a samurai.

You can't let a little illness
get the better of you.

Don't let it beat you.

Don't let it... Don't let it...


I have an idea.


I need to go out.

Please look after Kingo.

What do you have in mind?

A former retainer of the Kato Clan
now lives in Nihonbashi

and makes his living
as a moneylender.

His rates are so high
that I didn't dare go to him before,

but I can't worry about that anymore.

You're right. If you know such a man,
hurry and go!

I'm on my way.

I'll be back by evening at the latest.

As you can see, Miho is too weak,

so please take care of Kingo.

Of course.
I know what to do.

But, Motome,

you can see
he's barely hanging on.

You must be quick,
and you mustn't fail.

I'll return by evening without fail.

I'll be off, then.

We're depending on you, Motome!

No, no, I'll do that.

It won't be long now, Kingo.

What's taking him so long?

He's getting worse.

What could Motome be doing?

No, no. Your getting up won't do
Kingo's fever any good.

Where can Motome be?

He swore he'd be back by evening.

What could he be doing?

I waited.

Every moment felt like an eternity.

But Motome did not return.

We never saw him again.

"I'll be back by evening,
so please look after Kingo."

Those were his final words
as he went out the door,

and that was the last I saw
of Motome Chijiiwa.

But then...

around 9:00 that night,
he did return home.

Only not on his own.

He was borne home by a party
of retainers from the House of lyi.

Most courteously.

This was the request

with which Motome Chijiiwa
came to us.

But our forecourt is a busy place
and would have been most inconvenient,

so we offered him our courtyard and saw
to his needs with all due propriety,

thus allowing him to fulfill his wish
and perform harakiri.

We understand there have lately been
incidents all across Edo

in which ronin present themselves
at the gates of daimyo houses

and threaten to commit harakiri
unless given money.

This disgraceful practice has put
many houses at a loss as to what to do.

But now we have Motome Chijiiwa,
a samurai of true valor,

who carried out his resolve
to die honorably.

And we have
the members of the lyi Clan,

who responded appropriately
to facilitate his wishes.

In contrast to many disgraceful ronin,

and the spineless timidity
of other daimyo households,

both parties in this instance

acted in an exemplary manner
that will open eyes and clear the air.

It is truly an occasion
for mutual congratulations.

We bid you -
- Wait.

To avoid any misunderstanding,
we must show the blades.

Oh, yes.

For the record, we wish you to examine
the swords Chijiiwa was carrying.

You will note

that both blades are of bamboo.


As you can see,
both are made of bamboo.

No one must accuse us later
of having switched blades.

So take a good look.

Is it clear?

In that case,

Motome must have borrowed
a blade from your household?

No, he did not.

He died magnificently
using his own blade.

Motome killed himself

with that bamboo blade?


The entire household
witnessed the spectacle

of harakiri performed
with a bamboo blade.

As you may imagine,
it was an unsightly affair.

It would have been more fitting
for a samurai

to end his life with a true blade,
which is a warrior's soul.

Now then.

We bid you good night.

Miho wept.

She wept...

and wept.


Forgive me!


I had no idea.

You had even sold your blades.

For Miho's sake
you even sold your blades.

But I... but I...

I would never let this go.

It never entered my mind.

The stupid thing
was too dear to me...

and I clung to it.

To this stupid -

With his fever still raging
and in a coma,

Kingo died two days later.

Three days after that,

as if chasing after him,

Miho died as well.

Thus did Hanshiro Tsugumo

find himself utterly alone in the world,

having lost every last person
he had ever cared about.

Master Tsugumo,

does that conclude your story?

Yes, I suppose so.

There's just one more thing.

May all those here listen carefully
to what I'm about to say.

No matter how grinding
his poverty and hunger,

for a samurai to present himself
in someone else's entryway

and declare that he wishes
to commit harakiri there

is an unspeakable act
that can in no way be excused.


the manner in which
the House of lyi handled the matter...

surely left a great deal to be desired.

If a samurai risks shame and ridicule

to beg for a day or two's grace,
he must surely have good reason.

A simple inquiry

as to the reason for the request

would have told so much...

yet with this many
witnesses present...

not a single one among you
had the consideration to ask.

His wife lay gasping for breath,
on the very verge of death,

while his beloved son burned with fever,
in dire need of a doctor.

Motome no doubt wished
to explain the situation to me,

make whatever last effort
he could for his son

before turning all further care
over to me,

and then return here
to the House of lyi.

Hanshiro Tsugumo!

Enough of your self-serving excuses!


As to Motome Chijiiwa -

the circumstances that drove him here
were no doubt complex.

But it was he who declared
his wish to commit harakiri.

What followed upon that request
may not have been what he intended,

but he reaped
what he himself sowed.

He was in no position to complain,
or to blame or condemn anyone.

At that point,

his was but to cast all else aside
and die a magnificent death.

To face death without wavering -

that is truly the way of the samurai.

But what did this man do?

He cravenly asked
for a day or two's grace.

One might well accuse him
of having gone mad!

True enough.

Motome had indeed gone mad.

But I say good for him!

I praise him for it.

He may have been a samurai,

but he was also
a man of flesh and blood.

He could not live on air alone.

When he has reached
the point of no return,

even a man as strong as Motome
will go mad trying to protect his family,

and I would praise him for it.

They'll call him "the bamboo ronin."

Not only samurai, but townspeople, too,
will scoff at his wavering.

But let them laugh all they want.

Who can fathom the depths
of another man's heart?

Thanks to the shogunate's ruthless policy
of wiping out the provincial lords,

countless samurai lost their masters

and were cast out
to wander the depths of hell.

How can those who never wanted for food
or clothing understand their misery?

To those who find Motome
loathsome for his pleading, I ask:

What if you found yourself
in the same position?

Would you do any differently?

After all,
this thing we call samurai honor

is ultimately nothing but a facade.

Is that your grievance?


Is that what you're trying to tell us?

That samurai honor
is nothing but a facade?


"Even if I say I want
to commit harakiri,

they surely won't actually
make me do it."

Such wishful thinking
is where these ronin go wrong.

If a man says he wants
to commit harakiri, we will let him.

In fact, since he has proposed it himself,
we'll make sure he does.

That is the policy of the House of lyi.

For us, samurai honor
is no mere facade!

And so Hanshiro Tsugumo too

has come here
with no intention of committing harakiri,

but rather out of deep bitterness

over the manner in which the lyi Clan
treated his son-in-law Motome Chijiiwa,

and the desire to vent
his many grudges.

Is that what you think?

That's not for me to say.

You can only look into your own heart.

But all the same,

you have no intention
of letting me leave here alive?

That is my decision to make.

I need make no excuses to you.


there is a proverb, "The suspicious mind
conjures its own demons."

Do you know it?

When I say I will disembowel myself,
I truly mean it.

Yet, even after all I have said,
you still refuse to -

Suppose I were to go on living.

What could I possibly have
to look forward to?

The fact is, I can hardly wait

to join Motome and Miho and Kingo

in that world to which
they have gone ahead.

But I would never be able
to face them

were I to go empty-handed.

I think you can understand that.

I thought perhaps once I had explained,
then even members of the lyi Clan

would surely say,
"Oh, so that's how it was.

Perhaps we were overzealous that day
in rushing to that end.

Anyone can see that our handling
of the situation was less than ideal.

Perhaps there were ways
in which we carried things too far.

No doubt both parties could have
conducted themselves to better effect."

If I could take with me
even a single word in this vein,

it would be a comfort to Motome.

Was this not the most fitting gift
I could hope to take him?

Such were my thoughts,

but I see now it was nothing
but wishful thinking.

If you can see that,
then it makes the rest easy.

This world does not bend
to sentimental tales.

If you really think
that samurai honor

is ultimately nothing more
than a facade...

then you never had a chance
of swaying us.

So in the end,

these have been nothing but the
useless grumblings of a cranky old man.

But it does no good
to lament that now.

Well, then,

forgive me
for my long-winded recitation.

I will now proceed with the ritual.


Before that,

I must return some items
that belong to this house.

For easier identification,
I have placed name tags on each.

Please examine them carefully.

Master Hayato Yazaki,

and Master Umenosuke Kawabe -

I understand they're both among
the best swordsmen of the lyi Clan,

held in high esteem
for their bravery and honor.

But, Counselor,

let me set your minds at ease.

I took only their topknots,

not their lives.

In the case of Hayato Yazaki...

it was six days ago.

Hold it!

In the case of Umenosuke Kawabe,

it was five days ago, on May 8th.


when it came to that master swordsman
of the Shindo-Munen-lchi school,

Master Hikokuro Omodaka,
I had a little more difficulty.

Perhaps aware of what had happened
to Yazaki and Kawabe,

I could not catch him off guard.

In fact, to be honest,
I found myself at quite a loss

as to how to deal
with Master Omodaka.

May I enter?

If you reach for your sword,

I'll slice you in one motion
from shoulder to waist.

But I fear...

the lintel will catch
the tip of my blade.

If you lunge to the side,

then this pillar will get in the way.

It took a few days to locate your home.
My apologies for the delay.

I ask you to make ready.

This is obviously no place
for a sword duel.

It's a bit far, but I must ask you
to accompany me to Gojiin-gawara.

As miserable a hovel as this is,

your landlord will be inconvenienced
if you do not return.

And without someone to retrieve your
remains, your soul will wander aimlessly.

I suggest you leave a note.

It should indicate you're going
to Gojiin-gawara

for a duel with Hikokuro Omodaka
of the lyi Clan.

Taking advantage of the wind
was brilliant,

but a blade can do more than cut.

It can also stab,
or even snap another blade in two.

Swordsmanship untested in battle

is like the art of swimming
mastered on dry land.

On the other hand,

I had not seen battle either

since the siege of Osaka Castle
16 years ago.

Taking his head
would have been difficult enough,

but taking only his topknot
proved more difficult still.

Whatever the differences in skill,

for a samurai to have
his topknot taken

is the same
as having his head stricken off.

It is an ineptitude, a disgrace,

that can scarcely be atoned for
even by death.

Yet these men claim illness
and shirk their duties

while waiting for their topknots
to grow back. Counselor!

This house boasts of its red armor
and martial valor,

but it seems that even
in the great House of lyi,

samurai honor is nothing more
than a facade.


Cut him down!

Fall back!

Hanshiro Tsugumo
has been killed, Counselor.

And our casualties?

What were the casualties
among our men?

Masakatsu Sugita, Sobei Uemura,

Ichiro Shinmen, Uemon Yoshioka -

four dead.

Eight more seriously wounded.

The ronin from Hiroshima...

Hanshiro Tsugumo,
committed harakiri.

All our own men died of illness.

The House of lyi has no retainers

who could be felled or wounded
by some half-starved ronin.

Former retainer of the Fukushima Clan,
Hanshiro Tsugumo,

committed harakiri honorably,
according to his wish.

All our men died of illness.

Their deaths have nothing to do
with Tsugumo's.

Furthermore, we cannot allow
any more to die of illness.

See that the wounded
are treated immediately.

I have just returned, Counselor.

Hikokuro Omodaka,

last night at his home -

Kawabe and Yazaki both claim illness,

but in fact -
- Fool!

Why did you not order them
to commit harakiri on the spot?

Go back immediately
and order them to do so.

And take some skilled swordsmen
with you.

If they fail to willingly disembowel
themselves, make them do it by force.

Of course, these two men, and Omodaka
too, did not officially commit harakiri.

They died of illness.

- Sire?
- Imbecile!

You weren't born yesterday.
You know the ways of the world.

How can you not realize
the implications? Idiot!

I am on my way, sire.

The former retainer of the Fukushima Clan,
Hanshiro Tsugumo,

died by harakiri
at 6:00 in the evening.

His speech and behavior
had been somewhat erratic.

Many of those present felt
he showed signs of derangement.

Furthermore, it has become clear

that when another former retainer
of the Fukushima Clan,

one Motome Chijiiwa, asked to commit
harakiri in January of this year,

we did not err in our chosen response.

Word of the martial rigor of this house
echoed throughout Edo.

In the present case too,
word of our resolute handling

spread across the city
before two days were out.

As a result, on the third day,
n a formal session at Edo Castle,

Lord Doi took the occasion
to confer words of praise

upon our young master Bennosuke
as follows:

"At peace, yet ever vigilant.

Let the House of Iyi
continue to embrace this principle,

and your fortunes are sure to prosper
for ages to come."

The 16th day of May,