Kira Archer Biography & Facts
The revenge of the forty-seven rōnin (四十七士, Shijūshichishi), also known as the Akō incident (赤穂事件, Akō jiken) or Akō vendetta, is a historical 18th-century event in Japan in which a band of rōnin (leaderless samurai) avenged the death of their master. The incident has since become legendary. It is one of the three major adauchi vendetta incidents in Japan, alongside the Revenge of the Soga Brothers and the Igagoe vendetta.The story tells of a group of samurai who were left leaderless after their daimyō (feudal lord) Asano Naganori was compelled to perform seppuku (ritual suicide) for assaulting a powerful court official named Kira Yoshinaka. After waiting and planning for a year, the rōnin avenged their master's honor by killing Kira. They were then obliged to commit seppuku for the crime of murder. This true story was popularized in Japanese culture as emblematic of the loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that people should display in their daily lives. The popularity of the tale grew during the Meiji era, during which Japan underwent rapid modernization, and the legend became entrenched within discourses of national heritage and identity.
Fictionalized accounts of the tale of the forty-seven rōnin are known as Chūshingura. The story was popularized in numerous plays, including in the genres of bunraku and kabuki. Because of the censorship laws of the shogunate in the Genroku era, which forbade portrayal of current events, the names were changed. While the version given by the playwrights may have come to be accepted as historical fact by some, the first Chūshingura was written some 50 years after the event, and numerous historical records about the actual events that predate the Chūshingura survive.
The bakufu's censorship laws had relaxed somewhat 75 years after the events in question in the late 18th century when Japanologist Isaac Titsingh first recorded the story of the forty-seven rōnin as one of the significant events of the Genroku era. To this day, the story remains popular in Japan, and each year on 14 December, Sengakuji Temple, where Asano Naganori and the rōnin are buried, holds a festival commemorating the event.
The event is known in Japan as the Akō incident (赤穂事件, Akō jiken), sometimes also referred to as the Akō vendetta. The participants in the revenge are called the Akō-rōshi (赤穂浪士) or Shi-jū-shichi-shi (四十七士) in Japanese, and are usually referred to as the "forty-seven rōnin" or "forty-seven leaderless samurai" in English. Literary accounts of the events are known as the Chūshingura (忠臣蔵, The Treasury of Loyal Retainers).
For many years, the version of events retold by A. B. Mitford in Tales of Old Japan (1871) was generally considered authoritative. The sequence of events and the characters in this narrative were presented to a wide popular readership in the West. Mitford invited his readers to construe his story of the forty-seven rōnin as historically accurate; and while his version of the tale has long been considered a standard work, some of its details are now questioned. Nevertheless, even with plausible defects, Mitford's work remains a conventional starting point for further study.Whether as a mere literary device or as a claim for ethnographic veracity, Mitford explains:
In the midst of a nest of venerable trees in Takanawa, a suburb of Yedo, is hidden Sengakuji, or the Spring-hill Temple, renowned throughout the length and breadth of the land for its cemetery, which contains the graves of the forty-seven rônin, famous in Japanese history, heroes of Japanese drama, the tale of whose deed I am about to transcribe.
Mitford appended what he explained were translations of Sengaku-ji documents the author had examined personally. These were proffered as "proofs" authenticating the factual basis of his story. These documents were:
...the receipt given by the retainers of Kira Kōtsukē no Sukē's son in return for the head of their lord's father, which the priests restored to the family.
...a document explanatory of their conduct, a copy of which was found on the person of each of the forty-seven men, dated in the 15th year of Genroku, 12th month.
...a paper which the Forty-seven Rōnin laid upon the tomb of their master, together with the head of Kira Kôtsuké no Suké.(See Tales of Old Japan for the widely known, yet significantly fictional narrative.)
Genesis of a tragedy
In 1701, two daimyō, Asano Takumi-no-Kami Naganori, the young daimyō of the Akō Domain (a small fiefdom in western Honshū), and Lord Kamei Korechika of the Tsuwano Domain, were ordered to arrange a fitting reception for the envoys of Emperor Higashiyama at Edo Castle, during their sankin-kōtai service to the shōgun.Asano and Kamei were to be given instruction in the necessary court etiquette by Kira Kozuke-no-Suke Yoshinaka, a powerful official in the hierarchy of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi's shogunate. He allegedly became upset at them, either because of the insufficient presents they offered him (in the time-honored compensation for such an instructor), or because they would not offer bribes as he wanted. Other sources say that he was naturally rude and arrogant or that he was corrupt, which offended Asano, a devoutly moral Confucian. By some accounts, it also appears that Asano may have been unfamiliar with the intricacies of the shogunate court and failed to show the proper amount of deference to Kira. Whether Kira treated them poorly, insulted them, or failed to prepare them for fulfilling specific bakufu duties, offence was taken.Initially, Asano bore all this stoically, while Kamei became enraged and prepared to kill Kira to avenge the insults. However, Kamei's quick-thinking counselors averted disaster for their lord and clan (for all would have been punished if Kamei had killed Kira) by quietly giving Kira a large bribe; Kira thereupon began to treat Kamei nicely, which calmed Kamei.However, Kira allegedly continued to treat Asano harshly because he was upset that the latter had not emulated his companion. Finally, Kira insulted Asano, calling him a country boor with no manners, and Asano could restrain himself no longer. At the Matsu no Ōrōka, the main grand corridor that interconnects the Shiro-shoin (白書院) and the Ōhiroma of the Honmaru Goten (本丸御殿) residence, Asano lost his temper and attacked Kira with a dagger, wounding him in the face with his first strike; his second missed and hit a pillar. Guards then quickly separated them.Kira's wound was hardly serious, but the attack on a shogunate official within the boundaries of the shōgun's residence was considered a grave offence. Any kind of violence, even the drawing of a katana, was completely forbidden in Edo Castle. The daimyō of Akō had removed his dagger from its scabbard within Edo Castle, and for that offence, he was ordered to kill himself by seppuku. Asano's goods and lands were to b.... Discover the Kira Archer popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Kira Archer books.