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Oishi Kuranosuke Statue | by Rekishi no Tabi
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Oishi Kuranosuke Statue

This is a new and improved picture of the statue of Oishi Kuranosuke, leader of the famous 47 ronin of Ako. I went to take a picture of the Takanawa Okido, and walked up to Sengaku-ji to see what photo opportunities awaited.

 

This is where the 47 Ronin of Akō, along with their lord, Asano, are interred. Sengaku-ji is located in Tokyo, near Shinagawa Station.

 

Oishi Kuranosuke was the chief retainer of the Asano clan during the turmoil associated with the 47 Ronin incident, in which the feudal lord, Asano Naganori, attacked and wounded Kira Yoshinaka within Edo Castle. As drawing a weapon within the shogun's castle was a capital offence, Asano was sentenced to commit seppuku the same day.

 

As a result of Asano's impulsive behavior, the Shogunate disbanded the Asano clan and seized their lands. Oishi and 46 other former Asano retainers waited and unleashed their misguided revenge on Kira, attacking his home in the dead of night in December 1703, killing his body guards as well as taking his head and placing it in front of Asano's tomb in Sengaku-ji Temple in Takanawa, Tokyo.

 

All the Akō ronin were sentenced to death by seppuku (harakiri). The loyalty that these guys showed to their foolish lord by committing what can only be described as what me and some of my friends refer to as a feudal "drive-by"- Japanese style, has been lauded by the Japanese public ever since. The facts behind the actual events have been buried in the countless puppet and kabuki plays as well as movies that have been made about this.

 

I'm not a terribly big fan of Asano Naganori, nor do I think the Akō ronin were particularly "brave" by carrying out a night attack after a party and fighting a small group of drunk bodyguards and taking the head of a feeble old man. But, this perspective is from modern, western eyes. In reality, night attacks of this nature have always been a staple of samurai warfare, being documented since the Heian period. As much as I don't partake in the 47 Ronin Kool Aid drinking parties, I do admit to enjoying watching a good fictional film or kabuki play about these guys.

 

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Taken on April 11, 2009