The story of the 47 Ronin is well known throughout the world. They became a samurai symbol because of their awe-inspiring loyalty for the lord, whom they managed to avenge, and then dying with honor… But their story is not singular.
The story that impressed me the most was the one about a group of very young samurai, the Byakkotai “White Tiger Force". Aged only about 16-17 years, they fought in the Boshin War, defending their town, Aizu. According to the samurai code, after losing a battle, in order to preserve its honor and to avoid the humiliation of being taken prisoner, the samurai was to perform seppuku, the ritual suicide by disembowelment.
During the battle, 20 members of Byakkotai were cut off from the rest of the unit and, from a nearby hill, they saw the flames engulfing the town and thought that the castle has fallen, and the war was lost. In fact, the castle was still standing, and their army was still fighting, but they all decided to die with honor, committing seppuku immediately…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: