87 minutes | Jun 28th 2018

EPISODE 36 The 47 Ronin (Part 1)

The tale of the 47 Ronin is one of the most renowned revenge tales to ever come out of Japan. It is the subject of countless books, plays, and movies. It is also a story that has ignited never-ending debates. Some people argue that the 47 Ronin were paragons of virtue—perfect embodiments of the loyalty and honor that should be expected from the samurai. They offered the answer to the riddle that was plaguing the samurai at the beginning of the 1700s: what does being a member of a warrior class at a time of enduring peace? Other people instead look at the same story and walk away feeling like the 47 Ronin were violent thugs animated by questionable motives. In this two-part series of History on Fire, we dive deep into legend & history to find answers. In this episode: -A crash course in Japanese history -The transformation of the status of the samurai -The curious institution of seppuku -Ritual disembowelment as a way to say ‘sorry’ -Death poems -The ‘Kaishakunin’—a pal who would cut your head off to spare you the prolonged agonies of ritual disembowelment -The “Dog Shogun” -Asano Naganori: “Given to pleasure in preference of the sober business of government.” -The consequences of pulling a blade inside the Shogun’s palace -Bonus revenge story: two angry sisters against a samurai
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