Harakiri (1962)

KOBAYASHI Masaki, Director

 

Setting:

Edo 1630, Ii Clan's Official Residence.

The Ii Clan were close allies, retainers of the Tokugawa clan having become pledged vassals back in the 1500s. So they are very close to the center of power in the Tokugawa hierarchy. A Fudai Daimyo house, they were the most trusted type of Daimyo and often received high-appointments in the bureaucracy. An Ii clan clember, Ii Naosuke,had such an appointment and was perceived to be a bit too tyrannical in 1860 and was asassinated as he was entering the Edo palace. It was a shocking event and, in some ways, it marked the beginning of the end of Tokugawa Rule.

So movie-goers would have that association with the name of this clan in 1962, especially as Japan was gearing up to celebrate the centennial of the Meiji Restoration in 1968, the event that marked the end of the Tokugawa system of government, of feudal rule, of the era of the samurai.

 

Main Characters:

 

TSUGUMO Hanshiro (NAKADAI Tatsuya), a Ronin whose master was forced to commit seppuku in 1619.

 

 

 

CHIJIWA Motome, his son-in-law, also a ronin

Miho, Tsugumo's daughter, Chijiwa's wife

Kingo, their infant son

 

 

SAITO Kageyu, (MIKUNI Rentaro) the "KARO" (Elder) or Houseman/Direct Retainer of the Ii clan; TSUGUMO regularly calls him "GO-Karo," or Honrable Elder

 

OMODAKA Hirokuro, samurai and top swordsman, Ii clan

 

Two other top swordsmen: Kawabe and Yazaki

 

Principal Symbols:

1. The Suit of Armor, Symbol of the Clan Lord/Daimyo

2. The Log or Record Book of the Official Daimyo Residence of Ii House

3. Samurai Sword

4. Top knots

5. Rhetoric of the samurai code ("a samurai's sword is his soul")

 

Key Themes/Issues:

Rigidity of Tokugawa order/Samurai code

Destructiveness/Inhumanity of bushido, the warrior's code

The issue of warriors in peacetime (tenka no taihei)

Erosion/Destruction of warrior class--ronin means loss of social function and livelihood

False/distorted codes of honor and the Hypocrisy of the powerful clans

Deceptiveness of History--the written record is not complete; it suppresses what it does not want to acknowledge

Variation on the old giri v. ninjo conflict