Archive for research

My latest video

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Hello Universe!

The brochure above is the latest project that I am on as an digital Artist and its called “Rule 35” by CAN (Community Arts North West Manchester)

The promo video I produced is just below ¬†ūüôā

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypM74YFlNE0

And I just need a bit rest in whole my life and plan to do some thing for my website not just this blog and bunch of update. But at last I am posting in these busy days of my life having adventure as I call them “placeless memories” that is so relatable to my situation. (And I just made up an English word from relate and yes let’s say relatable ¬†ūüôā ¬†)

I am doing good in my Korean studying and I am proud universe, I am proud that I can speak, read and write in Korean, just got the intermediate level but my research and my passion for Far East of Asia is on. As it is the only thing that left in my life  :l

beside the second year of Japanese and reading and writing …. That’s … let’s change the subject “How are you ddoooin universe?” (with the Joe accent of series of friends)

YUP I’m on that too … After I sort most of my life out I am excited for a surprise interview that I will reveal later … It’s a SURPRISE ¬†ūüôā

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Asia Art Archive ūüôā

An other Stop Motion Animation

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Happy New Year Universe!

It’s been a great year 2014 beside all the problems that I don’t want to go on my year review AT ALL, I am alive and healthy!

What’s better than that¬† ūüôā¬† is actually my new stop motion animation for second year of DO I.T. course at CAN (Community Art Northwest) in Manchester that i finished last year and it’s online.

And greater news is that it will be shown in Motion North that is a cool event to show case motion design and animation works but in a professional level and mine there is an unexplainable feeling.

I know I am still learning as a trainee in animation and graphic design but it means a lot to me and I will work on better animations in the future soon.

and here you go with its video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lxz1XyaQQQ0

Let’s go to P.S of the life:

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Beside being sick in the holidays and missing Christmas lunch that became an other tragic story on the top of all the tragic stories of my life, I am out of my studying schedule that need a good planning and I am in a “Ookey, let’s begin” mode that you still didn’t fo the first step and a good planning.

because when ehat is left and stays for you to survive protect it and … I have no idea what I just wrote but that means I have to survive some how .. in life … yeah …

Wish everyone an amazing 2015 with lots of good GOOD news

Animation Project finish point …

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Konnichiwa Universe …!

So Finally the Amaterasu animation project about the lovely deity of the sun finished.

Had the meeting yesterday and it got the road for the future and hopefully movies.

Again thanks to amazing Yuko and my amazing work place CAN ūüôā

There is lots to do now to focus every thing, beside one of the animations that i animated a heart and it looks SO natural and I am so happy about.

My study schedule doesn’t look really good and it really needs time and working that I couldn’t do enough these days.

It’s not that bad but from my point of view am I satisfied? … NOPE. and that’s the thing.

I need work as much as I am satisfied and I need more planning.

but in the mean time it’s a pause and breathe that will help whole the thing.

ūüôā

I have to finish this post soon, need to get home early and I really like productive days.

So yes it’s done by me but the story of JPN mythology just began.

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Productive Japan Day

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Hello to the universe and all the creatures inside!

By the changes that comes up for “Goddess of the sun, Amaterasu” Next week is taking to completing in CAN and it’s all for good.

Finishing the second year of my Japanese course till the end of November and passing by 85 out of 100 for the one before the main exam is a ” You are AWESOME” to my forehead.

I finished a draft video for the graphic and animation works I want to do for Heart’s core and it made me being on track and I felt SO good on Friday.

The week a head gonna be super busy too but all good and productive and I am getting good skills in the tech course in contact theater that was again a better point to the projects I am working on.

And the website and focusing the works is again a priority.
IT NEEDS TO BE DONE!

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The meeting today with Yuko Howes the amazing Japanese lady from JSNW (Japanese Society of North West) was made me think of I forgot to add the photo of Japan Day!

So The Japan Day in Manchester was on 25th of August 2014 with lots different activities from showing martial arts to the costume contest mostly from animation and manga characters and information about the Japanese art (like craft and paintings and etc.) and culture.

And Yuko invited me being as the guest of fantastic tea ceremony of Japan and I absolutely LOVED it.

The adventure was cool and the venue “Midland Hotel” was great, and I think bigger venue was even better because LOTS of people came and yeah! … it was full with people who were interested in Japan and it made me super happy ¬†ūüôā

Here are some photos:

And finally me as a Japanese warrior … Kind a … ^_^

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Amaterasu …The Goddess of the Sun

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hi-wave

So basically today the post production is about to finish now of:

The Goddess of the Sun

Amaterasu

It just need to have the credits

And a great thing me and Katrina did was that we create our own logo

AGAIN I am going to keep the mystery till the video goes viral¬† ūüôā

So YES we are really getting there

Such a great journey and I am so happy that it is just the beginning of visualizing a part of my research from the Far East of Asia

It was a productive day with twitter and google plus in drop on session of the next years of       Do I.T.

So I feel GREAT but tired … looking forward to hang out this evening with friends

P.s the image at the bottom is a cool Abstract art of Shinjuku/Tokyo that I LOVED

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My First stop motion video, Introducing my Research :)

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My first stop motion video is on line now.

The video introducing artists in Do I.T. project by Community Arts North West and of course introducing me and my research and I am so excited about.

Have a big performance tomorrow beside my other works and videos with “Young Producers” that are on line too and will write more soon.

 

DO I.T. in Motion

 

CAN Young Producers Interviews

Seasonal Imagery in Japanese Art

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From ancient times to the present, the Japanese people have celebrated the beauty of the seasons and the poignancy of their inevitable evanescence through the many festivals and rituals that fill their year‚ÄĒfrom the welcoming of spring at the lunar New Year to picnics under the blossoming cherry trees to offerings made to the harvest moon. Poetry provided the earliest artistic outlet for the expression of these impulses. Painters and artisans in turn formed images of visual beauty in response to seasonal themes and poetic inspiration. In this way, artists in Japan created meditations on the fleeting seasons of life and, through them, expressed essential truths about the nature of human experience.

This sensitivity to seasonal change is an important part of¬†Shinto, Japan’s native belief system. Since ancient times, Shinto has focused on the cycles of the earth and the annual agrarian calendar. This awareness is manifested in seasonal festivals and activities. Similarly, seasonal references are found everywhere in the Japanese literary and visual arts. Nature appears as a source of inspiration in the tenth-century¬†Kokinshu(Collection of Ancient and Modern Poems), the earliest known official anthology of native poetry (rather than Chinese verse). These poems, produced by courtiers who embraced a highly refined aesthetic sensibility, not only celebrated the sensual appeal of elements of the natural world, but also imbued them with human emotions. Melancholy sentiments, invoked by a sense of time passing, loss, and disappointment, tended to be the most common emotional notes. This attitude can be seen in such visual arts as Buddhist and Shinto paintings of the¬†Heian period¬†that include lovely but short-lived blossoming cherry trees. Autumnal and winter scenes and related seasonal references, such as chrysanthemums and persimmons growing on trees that have already lost their foliage, are eloquent expressions of this same sentiment.

 

A distinctive Japanese convention is to depict a single environment transitioning from spring to summer to autumn to winter in one painting. For example, spring might be indicated by a few blossoming trees or plants and summer by a hazy and humid atmosphere and densely foliated trees, while a flock of geese typically suggests autumn and snow, and barren trees evoke winter. (Because this convention was so common, seasonal attributes could be quite subtle.) In this way, Japanese painters expressed not only their fondness for this natural cycle but also captured an awareness of the inevitability of change, a fundamental Buddhist concept.

 

The confluence of Shinto and Buddhism in the use of seasonal references demonstrates the central position of this practice in Japanese culture. As indicated above, cherry blossoms can be found in pictures illustrating Buddhist as well as Shinto concepts, with both expressing the beauty and brevity of nature. Similarly, folding screens decorated with ink monochrome paintings showing a transition from one season to the next initially were placed in the private quarters of Buddhist monks. Ritual implements and decorative items used in Buddhist temples and practice are often covered with flowers, birds, and other scenes from nature.

 

While the pictorial compositions that encompass all four seasons together present a broad view, more compact versions also appear. During the¬†Momoyama¬†and¬†Edo¬†periods, seasonal flowers and plants such as plum blossoms, irises, and morning glories became the entire focus of¬†painting compositions. Similarly, decorative works such aslacquerware¬†containers, kimonos, and ceramic vessels are frequently ornamented in this way. When natural elements are employed as decorative motifs, they are frequently stylized to heighten the ornamental effect. Once again, these visual scenes often have literary references, heightening the image’s mood and cultural meaning.


Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Resource: Here

“Ouija” not the board game, THE MOVIE

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So again an interesting news that I found during my research.

I had ideas of visualizing some board games but it’s not easy to bring the world of a board game to reality, movement and live world and at the same time keeping the mood, battles and stories.

The fascinating news I have is that in October this year a movie will be released that made based on a board game.

OK, The thing is that, that board game is “Ouija” … an ancient Chinese board game CPU_SeriousFace_Emoticon

 

I never played it and get to know it through the research.

The thing is I am LOOKING FORWARD to see how they made the movie because … just have a look at some reviews and criticism:

“Following its commercial introduction by businessman¬†Elijah Bond¬†on July 1, 1890,¬†the Ouija board was regarded as a harmless parlor game unrelated to the occult until American¬†Spiritualist¬†Pearl Curran popularized its use as a divining tool during¬†World War I.

Mainstream religions and some occultists have associated use of a Ouija board with the concept of demonic possession, and view the use of the board as a spiritual threat and have cautioned their followers not to use a Ouija board.

Despite being criticized by the scientific community and deemed demonic by Christians, Ouija remains popular among many”

Most religious criticism of the Ouija board has come from¬†Christians, primarily¬†evangelicals¬†in¬†the United States. In 2001, Ouija boards were burned in¬†Alamogordo, New Mexico¬†byfundamentalist¬†groups alongside¬†Harry Potter¬†books as “symbols of witchcraft.”[8][9][10]¬†Religious criticism has also expressed beliefs that the Ouija board reveals information which should only be on God’s hands, and thus it is a tool of Satan.[11]¬†A spokesperson for¬†Human Life International¬†described the boards as a portal to talk to spirits and called for Hasbro to be prohibited from marketing them.

Bishops in Micronesia called for the boards to be banned and warned congregations that they were talking to demons and devils when using the boards.

¬†Ouija boards have been criticized in the press since their inception; having been variously described as¬†“‘vestigial remains’ of primitive belief-systems” and a con to part fools from their money.¬†Some journalists have described reports of Ouija board findings as ‘half truths’ and have suggested that their inclusion in national newspapers lowers the national discourse overall.

And there is more.

So it’s not a surprise that I am excited to see the movie.

My ideas is completely different from some of the examples I found so I just keep the inspiration fresh that it will be unique and not any thing else.

ouija

 

Japanese Mythology

Japanese MythologyThis is a featured page

[I really like reading and studying the mythical creatures that had the great effect on every artistic field such as painting, movies, animation and etc. So I would like to share some of them in here that helped my research too:) ]
Japanese Mythology contains a wide variety of unique and bizarre monsters. Yet others are counterparts to creatures in the neighbouring mythologies of Korea and China. Many are seldom known in the Western world, even today.Below is a list of Japanese creatures collected:
¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†–¬†Akamataa

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AkamataaThis is a featured page

The Akamataa is a serpent spirit in the Japanese folklore. It is a mix of a woman and a snake.
Akamataa

Oni¬†(ť¨ľ?)¬†are a kind of¬†yŇćkai¬†from¬†Japanese folklore, variously translated as¬†demons,¬†devils,¬†ogres¬†or¬†trolls. They are popular characters in¬†Japanese¬†art,¬†literature¬†and¬†theatre.[1]

Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic ogre-like creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two longhorns growing from their heads.[2] They are humanoid for the most part, but occasionally, they are shown with unnatural features such as odd numbers of eyes or extra fingers and toes.[3] Their skin may be any number of colors, but red and blue are particularly common.[4][5]

They are often depicted wearing¬†tiger-skin¬†loincloths¬†and carrying iron clubs, called¬†kanabŇ欆(ťáĎś£í?). This image leads to the expression “oni with an iron club”¬†(ť¨ľ„ĀęťáĎś£í¬†oni-ni-kanabŇć?), that is, to be invincible or undefeatable. It can also be used in the sense of “strong beyond strong”, or having one’s natural quality enhanced or supplemented by the use of some tool.[6][7]

 

Akki - Mythical Creatures Guide Oni

GashadokuroThis is a featured page

A Gashadokuro according to Japanese folklore is a giant skeleton many times taller than a human. It is though to be made of the bones of people who have starved to death. After midnight the ghost roams the streets making a ringing noise that sounds in the ears. If people do not run away when the Gashadokuro approaches it will bite off their heads with its giant teeth.(Source –¬†A Little Lesson in Japanese Ghost Lore: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/691563/a_little_lesson_in_japanese_ghost_lore.html?cat=10)Gashadokuro_Appeared 

GhidorahThis is a featured page

Ghidorah (Ghidrah, Ghidora, King Ghidorah, the three-headed monster, Monster Zero) is a fictional three-headed dragon-like monster featured in severalGodzilla films. It is often depicted with two wings, two feet, three heads and a tail. It always appears as an antagonist to Godzilla and Earth at large. Originally it arrived by a magnetic meteorite before being repelled into space (proving it can survive in a vacuum). Aliens return with Ghidorah as their mind controlled slave. Its havoc is again stopped, even killing the creature in the 1968 movie.The monster returns in several resurrected forms thereafter.
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GojiraThis is a featured page

Gojira monsters are huge sea monsters that are longer than the blue whale. They are extremely muscled and lean. The muscles make up at least 80 percent of its body weight. Its skeleton weighs nearly nothing but is sturdy enough to hold all of the muscle. These monsters have small eyes and usually use smell and hearing for tracking down food and enemies. Their thick tails with fringed fins make it very very fast. Its claws are longer than a bus. If you see a Gojira, do not get anywhere near teeth, because they are sharper than glass shards. The tongue has a gooey liquid on it that makes prey stick on. Its slitted nostrils are admirable to Voldemort or gorillas. It is at least 90 times bigger than the blue whale and the blue whale is what it eats. Extremely dangerous. Do not come in contact with a king of Gojiras, or it will swallow you whole in a second. Try to kill it somehow. Its most sensitive part is the underbelly.
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KappaThis is a featured page

The Kappa (Kawataro, Kawako) is a dwarf-like water demon of Japan, sometimes listed as one of the Obake. They resemble shrivelled old-men, with webbed hands and feet, sporting a tortoise shell. Skin colour ranges from green to blue to yellow, and even red. Their face can contain a beaked nose or else look like a monkey. Crowning their head of page-boy style hair is a circular depression filled with water. A kappa covered in hair is known as a Hyosube. They are known to speak Japanese fluently.An origin for the demons could be they are the ghosts of drowned souls. Any pond or river may have one. They possess immense strength and can easily overpower a human. Although the source of this power comes from the stored water within the dish on their head. Emptying the dish reduces the kappa to frailty. This may be done by bowing to the kappa upon encounter. In a show of manners the creature will bow back and thus pour out the contents of its might.
Activities from this demon can range from mischievous to deadly. It enjoys passing gas and forever gives off a fishy odour. It may also try to look up women’s kimonos and swim down the plumbing to stroke a persons bottom as they defecate. Else they will overpower a person or animal to drown them. Once drowned they remove a person’s entrails through their backside, favouring the liver or something the Japanese call the¬†shirikodama.Besides fresh flesh, the kappa also partakes in vegetarian cuisine. It enjoys eggplants and cucumbers. It is said carving your name and age into a cucumber, then throwing it into the water for a hungry kappa, will ensure that kappa cannot harm you. Though it is also dangerous to swim soon after eating a cucumber.Kappa also loved contests. They would challenge passersby to such games as pull-my-finger and sumo wrestling. Should the demon win, they usually drowned and ate you. One tale tells of a samurai who accepted a kappa’s request for tug-of-war. Fortunately he outsmarted the kappa and used a horse to pull in his stead. The outmatched demon fell, spilling the contents of its head upon the ground. Now too weak to get away, the kappa promised to teach the samurai the trick of bone-setting if it could be released.

Many kappas have proven to be quite knowledgeable on subjects of medicine and irrigation. In a case where one kappa lost its arm to a frightened horse, it petitioned the villagers for the limb’s return. The community forced the kappa to sign a contract with its webbed hand. From then on the kappa delivered to the village piles of fish, and warned of other kappa passing through the area.

Source: Myths and Magic Encyclopedia –¬†http://mythsandmagicencyclopedia.wikifoundry.com/page/Kappa
Hokusai_kappa

NingyoThis is a featured page

ningyo (head of a human body of fish) form

Ningyo is a Japanese water fairy who cries tears of pearls. Some say that Ningyo has the head of a human and the body of a fish. Other believe it is clad in sheer silk robes that move about it, like waves. Ningyos dwell in gorgeous palaces beneath the sea, and are very seductive.

refrence: http://www.mythicalcreaturesguide.com/page/Japanese+Mythology

47 Ronin Story

By watching “47 Ronin” movie a few days a go I decided to put the real story in my blog:

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Forty-seven Ronin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Graves of the Forty-seven Ronin at Sengaku-ji

 

The revenge of the¬†Forty-seven Ronin¬†(ŚõõŚćĀšłÉŚ£ę¬†Shi-jŇę-shichi-shi?, forty-seven samurai)¬†took place in Japan at the start of the 18th century. One noted Japanese scholar described the tale, the most famous example of the¬†samurai¬†code of honor,¬†bushidŇć,¬†as the country’s “national legend.”[1]

The story tells of a group of samurai who were left leaderless (becoming¬†ronin) after their¬†daimyo¬†(feudal lord)¬†Asano Naganori¬†was compelled to commit¬†seppuku¬†(ritual suicide) for assaulting a court official named¬†Kira Yoshinaka, whose title was¬†KŇćzuke¬†no suke. The¬†ronin¬†avenged their master’s honor by killing Kira, after waiting and planning for almost two years. In turn, the¬†ronin¬†were themselves obliged to commit¬†seppuku¬†for committing the crime of¬†murder. With much embellishment, this true story was popularized in Japanese culture as emblematic of the loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that people should preserve in their daily lives. The popularity of the tale grew during the¬†Meiji¬†era of Japanese history, in which Japan underwent rapid modernization, and the legend became subsumed within discourses of national heritage and identity.

Fictionalized accounts of the tale of the Forty-seven Ronin are known as¬†ChŇęshingura.¬†The story was popularized in numerous plays, including¬†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¬†ChŇęshingura¬†was written some 50 years after the event, and numerous historical records about the actual events that predate the¬†ChŇęshingura¬†survive.

The bakufus censorship laws had relaxed somewhat 75 years later in the late 18th century, when Japanologist Isaac Titsingh first recorded the story of the Forty-seven Ronin as one of the significant events of the Genroku era.[2] The story continues to be popular in Japan to this day. Each year on December 14, Sengakuji Temple holds a festival commemorating the event.

Name

The participants in the revenge are called the Shi-jŇę-shichi-shi¬†(ŚõõŚćĀšłÉŚ£ę?)¬†in Japanese, and are usually referred to as the “Forty-seven Ronin” or “Forty-seven lordless samurai” in English. The event is also known as the¬†AkŇć vendetta¬†or the¬†Genroku AkŇć incident¬†(ŚÖÉÁ¶ĄŤĶ§Á©āšļ蚼∂¬†Genroku akŇć jiken?). Literary accounts of the events are known as theChŇęshingura¬†(ŚŅ†Ťá£ŤĒĶ¬†The Treasury of Loyal Retainers?).

Story

In 1701 (by the Western calendar), two¬†daimyo,¬†Asano Takumi-no-Kami Naganori, the young daimyo of the¬†AkŇć Domain¬†(a small¬†fiefdom¬†in western¬†HonshŇę), and Lord Kamei of theTsuwano Domain, were ordered to arrange a fitting reception for the envoys of¬†the Emperor¬†in¬†Edo, during their¬†sankin kŇćtai¬†service to the¬†Shogun.[3]

These daimyo names are not fictional, nor is there any question that something actually happened in¬†Genroku¬†(year) 15, on the 14th day of the 12th month¬†(ŚÖÉÁ¶ĄŚćĀšļĒŚĻīŚćĀšļĆśúąŚćĀŚõõśó•?, Tuesday, January 30, 1703).[4]¬†What is commonly called¬†the AkŇć incident¬†was an actual event.[2]

For many years, the version of events retold by¬†A. B. Mitford¬†in¬†Tales of Old Japan¬†(1871) was 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 Ronin as historically accurate; and while his version of the tale has long been considered a standard work, some of its precise details are now questioned.[5]¬†Nevertheless, even with plausible defects, Mitford’s work remains a conventional starting point for further study.[5]

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 R√īnin, famous in Japanese history, heroes of Japanese drama,¬†the tale of whose deed I am about to transcribe.

‚ÄĒ Mitford, A. B.[6]¬†[emphasis added]

Mitford appended what he explained were translations of Sengakuji documents the author had examined personally. These were proffered as “proofs” authenticating the factual basis of his story.[7]¬†These documents were:

  1. …the receipt given by the retainers of Kira K√ītsuk√© no Suk√©’s son in return for the head of their lord’s father, which the priests restored to the family.[8]
  2. …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.[9]
  3. …a paper which the Forty-seven R«ínin laid upon the tomb of their master, together with the head of Kira K√ītsuk√© no Suk√©.[10]

(See Tales of Old Japan for the widely known, yet significantly fictional narrative.)

Genesis of a tragedy

Ukiyo-e¬†depicting Asano Naganori’s assault on Kira Yoshinaka in the¬†Matsu no ŇĆrŇćka¬†of Edo Castle

Memorial stone marking the site of theMatsu no ŇĆrŇćka¬†(Great Corridor of Pines) inEdo Castle, where Asano attacked Kira

Asano and Kamei were to be given instruction in the necessary court etiquette by Kira Kozuke-no-Suke Yoshinaka, a powerful Edo official in the hierarchy of¬†Tokugawa Tsunayoshi‘s shogunate. He became upset at them, allegedly 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. Whether Kira treated them poorly, insulted them, or failed to prepare them for fulfilling specific¬†bakufu¬†duties,[11]¬†offense was taken.[2]

While Asano bore all this stoically, Kamei became enraged and prepared to kill Kira to avenge the insults. However, the quick thinking counsellors of Kamei 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.[12]

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 ŇĆrŇćka, the main grand corridor that interconnects different parts of the shogun’s 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.[13]

Kira’s wound was hardly serious, but the attack on a shogunate official within the boundaries of the shogun’s residence was considered a grave offense. Any kind of violence, even drawing a¬†katana, was completely forbidden in¬†Edo Castle.[14]¬†The¬†daimyo¬†of AkŇć had removed his dagger from its scabbard within Edo Castle, and for that offense, he was ordered to kill himself by committingseppuku.[2]¬†Asano’s goods and lands were to be confiscated after his death, his family was to be ruined, and his retainers were to be made¬†ronin¬†(leaderless).

This news was carried to¬†ŇĆishi Kuranosuke Yoshio, Asano’s principal counsellor, who took command and moved the Asano family away, before complying with¬†bakufu¬†orders to surrender the castle to the agents of the government.

The ronin plot revenge

Two of the Forty-Seven Ronin: Horibe Yahei and his adopted son, Horibe Yasubei. Yasubei is holding an¬†Ňćtsuchi.

Of Asano’s over three hundred men, forty-seven (some sources say there were originally more than fifty)‚ÄĒand especially their leader ŇĆishi‚ÄĒrefused to allow their lord to go unavenged, even though revenge had been prohibited in the case. They banded together, swearing a secret oath to avenge their master by killing Kira, even though they knew they would be severely punished for doing so.

Kira was well guarded, however, and his residence had been fortified to prevent just such an event. The ronin saw that they would have to put him off his guard before they could succeed. To quell the suspicions of Kira and other shogunate authorities, they dispersed and became tradesmen and monks.

ŇĆishi took up residence in Kyoto and began to frequently visit brothels and taverns, as if nothing were further from his mind than revenge. Kira still feared a trap, and sent spies to watch the former retainers of Asano.

One day, as ŇĆishi returned home drunk, he fell down in the street and went to sleep, and all the passers-by laughed at him. ASatsuma¬†man, passing by, was infuriated by this behaviour on the part of a samurai‚ÄĒby his lack of courage to avenge his master as well as his current debauched behaviour. The Satsuma man abused and insulted ŇĆishi, kicked him in the face (to even touch the face of a samurai was a great insult, let alone strike it), and spat on him.

Not too long after, ŇĆishi went to his loyal wife of twenty years and divorced her so that no harm would come to her when the ronin took revenge. He sent her away with their two younger children to live with her parents; he gave the eldest boy, Chikara, a choice to stay and fight or to leave. Chikara remained with his father.

ŇĆishi began to act oddly and very unlike the composed samurai. He frequented geisha houses (particularly¬†Ichiriki Chaya), drank nightly, and acted obscenely in public. ŇĆishi’s men bought a geisha, hoping she would calm him. This was all a ruse to rid ŇĆishi of his spies.

Kira’s agents reported all this to Kira, who became convinced that he was safe from the retainers of Asano, that they must all be bad samurai indeed, without the courage to avenge their master after a year and a half. Thinking them harmless and lacking funds from his “retirement”, he then reluctantly let down his guard.

The rest of the faithful ronin now gathered in Edo, and in their roles as workmen and merchants gained access to Kira’s house, becoming familiar with the layout of the house and the character of all within. One of the retainers (Kinemon Kanehide Okano) went so far as to marry the daughter of the builder of the house, to obtain the house’s design plans. All of this was reported to ŇĆishi. Others gathered arms and secretly transported them to Edo, another offense.

The attack

Modern day reenactment of a samurai armed for the attack.

The ronin attack the principal gate of Kira’s mansion

After two years, when ŇĆishi was convinced that Kira was thoroughly off his guard,[15]¬†and everything was ready, he fled from Kyoto, avoiding the spies who were watching him, and the entire band gathered at a secret meeting place in Edo to renew their oaths.

In¬†Genroku¬†15, on the 14th day of the 12th month¬†(ŚÖÉÁ¶ĄŚćĀšļĒŚĻīŚćĀšļĆśúąŚćĀŚõõśó•?, Tuesday, January 30, 1703),[4]¬†early in the morning in a driving wind during a heavy fall of snow, ŇĆishi and the ronin attacked Kira Yoshinaka’s mansion in Edo. According to a carefully laid-out plan, they split up into two groups and attacked, armed with swords and bows. One group, led by ŇĆishi, was to attack the front gate; the other, led by his son, ŇĆishi Chikara, was to attack the house via the back gate. A drum would sound the simultaneous attack, and a whistle would signal that Kira was dead.[16]

Once Kira was dead, they planned to cut off his head and lay it as an offering on their master’s tomb. They would then turn themselves in and wait for their expected sentence of death.[17]¬†All this had been confirmed at a final dinner, at which ŇĆishi had asked them to be careful and spare women, children, and other helpless people.[18]¬†(The code of¬†bushido¬†does not require mercy to noncombatants, nor forbids it.)

ŇĆishi had four men scale the fence and enter the porter’s lodge, capturing and tying up the guard there.[19]¬†He then sent messengers to all the neighboring houses, to explain that they were not robbers, but retainers out to avenge the death of their master, and that no harm would come to anyone else: the neighbors were all safe. One of the ronin climbed to the roof and loudly announced to the neighbors that the matter was a revenge act (katakiuchi, śēĶŤ®é„Ā°). The neighbors, who all hated Kira, were relieved and did nothing to hinder the raiders.[20]

After posting archers (some on the roof) to prevent those in the house (who had not yet awakened) from sending for help, ŇĆishi sounded the drum to start the attack. Ten of Kira’s retainers held off the party attacking the house from the front, but ŇĆishi Chikara’s party broke into the back of the house.[21]

Kira, in terror, took refuge in a closet in the veranda, along with his wife and female servants. The rest of his retainers, who slept in barracks outside, attempted to come into the house to his rescue. After overcoming the defenders at the front of the house, the two parties led by father and son joined up and fought the retainers who came in. The latter, perceiving that they were losing, tried to send for help, but their messengers were killed by the archers posted to prevent that eventuality.[22]

Eventually, after a fierce struggle, the last of Kira’s retainers was subdued; in the process the ronin killed sixteen of Kira’s men and wounded twenty-two, including his grandson. Of Kira, however, there was no sign. They searched the house, but all they found were crying women and children. They began to despair, but ŇĆishi checked Kira’s bed, and it was still warm, so he knew he could not be far away.[23]

The death of Kira

A renewed search disclosed an entrance to a secret courtyard hidden behind a large scroll; the courtyard held a small building for storing charcoal and firewood, where two more hidden armed retainers were overcome and killed. A search of the building disclosed a man hiding; he attacked the searcher with a dagger, but the man was easily disarmed.[24]

He refused to say who he was, but the searchers felt sure it was Kira, and sounded the whistle. The ronin gathered, and ŇĆishi, with a lantern, saw that it was indeed Kira‚ÄĒas a final proof, his head bore the scar from Asano’s attack.[25]

At that, ŇĆishi went on his knees, and in consideration of Kira’s high rank, respectfully addressed him, telling him they were retainers of Asano, come to avenge him as true samurai should, and inviting Kira to die as a true samurai should, by killing himself. ŇĆishi indicated he personally would act as a¬†kaishakunin¬†(“second”, the one who beheads a person committing harakiri to spare them the indignity of a lingering death) and offered him the same dagger that Asano had used to kill himself.[26]

However, no matter how much they entreated him, Kira crouched, speechless, and trembling. At last, seeing it was useless to ask, ŇĆishi ordered the other ronin to pin him down, and killed him by cutting off his head with the dagger. Kira was killed on the night of the 14th day of the 12th month of the 15th year of¬†Genroku¬†(1703-01-30¬†Gregorian[27]).

They then extinguished all the lamps and fires in the house (lest any cause the house to catch fire and start a general fire that would harm the neighbors) and left, taking Kira’s head.[28]

One of the ronin, the¬†ashigaru¬†Terasaka Kichiemon, was ordered to travel to AkŇć and report that their revenge had been completed. (Though Kichiemon’s role as a messenger is the most widely accepted version of the story, other accounts have him running away before or after the battle, or being ordered to leave before the ronin turned themselves in.)[29]

The aftermath

The ronin, on their way back to Sengaku-ji, are halted in the street, to invite them in for rest and refreshment.

Women have their own ritual suicide, in which they slit their own throats. Here, the wife of Onodera Junai, one of the Forty-seven Ronin, prepares for her suicide; note the legs tied together, a female feature of seppuku to ensure a “decent” posture in death

As day was now breaking, they quickly carried Kira’s head from his residence to their lord’s grave in¬†Sengaku-ji¬†temple, marching about ten kilometers across the city, causing a great stir on the way. The story of the revenge spread quickly, and everyone on their path praised them and offered them refreshment.[30]

On arriving at the temple, the remaining forty-six ronin (all except Terasaka Kichiemon) washed and cleaned Kira’s head in a well, and laid it, and the fateful dagger, before Asano’s tomb. They then offered prayers at the temple, and gave the abbot of the temple all the money they had left, asking him to bury them decently, and offer prayers for them. They then turned themselves in; the group was broken into four parts and put under guard of four different daimyo.[31]

During this time, two friends of Kira came to collect his head for burial; the temple still has the original receipt for the head, which the friends and the priests who dealt with them all signed.[8]

The shogunate officials in Edo were in a quandary. The samurai had followed the precepts of¬†bushido¬†by avenging the death of their lord; but they had also defied the shogunate authority by exacting revenge, which had been prohibited. In addition, the Shogun received a number of petitions from the admiring populace on behalf of the¬†ronin. As expected, the¬†ronin¬†were sentenced to death for the murder of Kira; but the Shogun had finally resolved the quandary by ordering them to honorably commit¬†seppuku¬†instead of having them executed as criminals.[32]¬†It is known that each of the assailants ended his life in a ritualistic fashion.[2]¬†ŇĆishi Chikara, the youngest, was only 15 years old on the day the raid took place, and only 16 the day he had to commit¬†seppuku.

Each of the forty-six ronin killed himself in¬†Genroku¬†16, on the 4th day of the 2nd month¬†(ŚÖÉÁ¶ĄŚćĀŚÖ≠ŚĻīšļĆśúąŚõõśó•?, Tuesday, March 20, 1703).[4]¬†This has caused a considerable amount of confusion ever since, with some people referring to the “forty-six ronin”; this refers to the group put to death by the Shogun, while the actual attack party numbered forty-seven. The forty-seventh ronin, identified as Terasaka Kichiemon, eventually returned from his mission and was pardoned by the Shogun (some say on account of his youth). He lived until the age of 87, dying around 1747, and was then buried with his comrades. The assailants who died by¬†seppuku¬†were subsequently interred on the grounds of Sengaku-ji,[2]¬†in front of the tomb of their master.[32]

The clothes and arms they wore are still preserved in the temple to this day, along with the drum and whistle; the armor was all home-made, as they had not wanted to arouse suspicion by purchasing any.

The tombs became a place of great veneration, and people flocked there to pray. The graves at the temple have been visited by a great many people throughout the years since the¬†Genroku¬†era.[2]¬†One of those who visited the tombs was the Satsuma man who had mocked and spat on ŇĆishi as he lay drunk in the street. Addressing the grave, he begged for forgiveness for his actions and for thinking that ŇĆishi was not a true samurai. He then committed suicide and was buried next to the graves of the ronin.[32]

Re-establishment of the Asano clan’s lordship

Though the revenge is often viewed as an act of loyalty, there had been a second goal, to re-establish the Asanos’ lordship and finding a place for fellow samurai to serve. Hundreds of samurai who had served under Asano had been left jobless, and many were unable to find employment, as they had served under a disgraced family. Many lived as farmers or did simple handicrafts to make ends meet. The revenge of the Forty-seven Ronin cleared their names, and many of the unemployed samurai found jobs soon after the¬†ronin¬†had been sentenced to their honorable end.

Asano Daigaku Nagahiro, Naganori’s younger brother and heir, was allowed by the Tokugawa Shogunate to re-establish his name, though his territory was reduced to a tenth of the original.

Criticism

The ronin spent more than a year waiting for the “right time” for their revenge. It was¬†Yamamoto Tsunetomo, author of the¬†Hagakure, who asked this famous question: “What if, nine months after Asano’s death, Kira had died of an illness?” His answer was that the Forty-seven Ronin would have lost their only chance at avenging their master. Even if they had claimed, then, that their dissipated behavior was just an act, that in just a little more time they would have been ready for revenge, who would have believed them? They would have been forever remembered as cowards and drunkards‚ÄĒbringing eternal shame to the name of the Asano clan. The right thing for the ronin to do, wrote Yamamoto, according to proper¬†bushido, was to attack Kira and his men immediately after Asano’s death. The ronin would probably have suffered defeat, as Kira was ready for an attack at that time‚ÄĒbut this was unimportant.[33]

ŇĆishi, from the perspective of¬†bushido, was too obsessed with success, according to Yamamoto. He conceived his convoluted plan to ensure they would succeed at killing Kira, which is not a proper concern in a samurai: the important thing was not the death of Kira, but for the former samurai of Asano to show outstanding courage and determination in an all-out attack against the Kira house, thus winning everlasting honor for their dead master. Even if they had failed to kill Kira, even if they had all perished, it would not have mattered, as victory and defeat have no importance in¬†bushido. By waiting a year, they improved their chances of success but risked dishonoring the name of their clan, the worst sin a samurai can commit. This is why Yamamoto and others claim that the tale of the Forty-seven Ronin is a good story of revenge, but by no means a story of¬†bushido.[33]

In the arts

Main article:¬†ChŇęshingura

The tragedy of the Forty-seven Ronin has been one of the most popular themes in Japanese art, and has lately even begun to make its way into Western art.

Immediately following the event, there were mixed feelings among the intelligentsia about whether such vengeance had been appropriate. Many agreed that, given their master’s last wishes, the ronin had done the right thing, but were undecided about whether such a vengeful wish was proper. Over time, however, the story became a symbol, not of bushido, as the ronin can be seen as seriously lacking it, but of loyalty to one’s master and later, of loyalty to the emperor. Once this happened, the story flourished as a subject of drama, storytelling, and visual art.

Plays

The incident immediately inspired a succession of kabuki and bunraku plays; the first, The Night Attack at Dawn by the Soga appeared only two weeks after the ronin died. It was shut down by the authorities, but many others soon followed, initially in Osaka and Kyoto, farther away from the capital. Some even took the story as far as Manila, to spread the story to the rest of Asia.

The most successful of the adaptations was a¬†bunraku¬†puppet¬†play called¬†Kanadehon ChŇęshingura¬†(now simply called¬†ChŇęshingura, or “Treasury of Loyal Retainers”), written in 1748 by¬†Takeda Izumo¬†and two associates; it was later adapted into a¬†kabuki¬†play, which is still one of Japan’s most popular.

In the play, to avoid the attention of the censors, the events are transferred into the distant past, to the 14th century reign of shogun¬†Ashikaga Takauji. Asano became Enya Hangan Takasada, Kira became Ko no Moronao and ŇĆishi became ŇĆboshi Yuranosuke Yoshio; the names of the rest of the ronin were disguised to varying degrees. The play contains a number of plot twists that do not reflect the real story: Moronao tries to seduce Enya’s wife, and one of the ronin dies before the attack because of a conflict between family and warrior loyalty (another possible cause of the confusion between forty-six and forty-seven).

Opera

The story was turned into an opera,¬†ChŇęshingura, by¬†Shigeaki Saegusa¬†in 1997.

Cinema and television

The play has been made into a movie at least six times in Japan,[34]¬†the earliest starring¬†Onoe Matsunosuke. The film’s release date is questioned, but placed between 1910 and 1917. It has been aired on the Jidaigeki Senmon Channel (Japan) with accompanying¬†benshi¬†narration. In 1941, the Japanese military commissioned director¬†Kenji Mizoguchi, who would later direct¬†Ugetsu, to make¬†Genroku ChŇęshingura. They wanted a ferocious morale booster based upon the familiar¬†rekishi geki¬†(“historical drama”) of¬†The Loyal 47 Ronin. Instead, Mizoguchi chose for his source¬†Mayama ChŇęshingura, a cerebral play dealing with the story. The film was a commercial failure, having been released in Japan one week before the¬†attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese military and most audiences found the first part to be too serious, but the studio and Mizoguchi both regarded it as so important that Part Two was put into production, despite Part One’s lukewarm reception. Renowned by postwar scholars lucky to have seen it in Japan, the film wasn’t shown in America until the 1970s.[35]

The 1962 film version directed by Hiroshi Inagaki,¬†ChŇęshingura, is most familiar to Western audiences.[34]¬†In it,¬†Toshiro Mifune¬†appears in a supporting role as spearman Tawaraboshi Genba. Mifune was to revisit the story several times in his career. In 1971 he appeared in the 52-part television series¬†DaichŇęshingura¬†as ŇĆishi, while in 1978 he appeared as Lord Tsuchiya in the epic¬†Swords of Vengeance¬†(Ako-Jo danzetsu).

Many Japanese television shows, including single programs, short series, single seasons, and even year-long series such as¬†DaichŇęshingura¬†and the more recent NHK¬†Taiga drama¬†Genroku RyŇćran, recount the events of the Forty-seven Ronin. Among both films and television programs, some are quite faithful to the¬†ChŇęshingura,¬†while others incorporate unrelated material or alter details. In addition,¬†gaiden¬†dramatize events and characters not in the¬†ChŇęshingura.¬†Kon Ichikawa¬†directed¬†another version¬†in 1994. In 2004, Saito Mitsumasa directed a 9-episode mini-series starring¬†Matsudaira Ken, who also starred in a 1999 49-episode TV series of the¬†ChŇęshingura¬†entitled¬†Genroku Ryoran. In¬†Hirokazu Koreeda‘s 2006 film¬†Hana yori mo naho, the events of the Forty-seven Ronin story was used as a backdrop, one of the ronin being a neighbour of the protagonists.

Woodblock prints

The Forty-seven Ronin are one of the most popular themes in woodblock prints, or ukiyo-e and many well-known artists have made prints portraying either the original events, scenes from the play, or the actors. One book on subjects depicted in woodblock prints devotes no fewer than seven chapters to the history of the appearance of this theme in woodblocks. Among the artists who produced prints on this subject are Utamaro, Toyokuni, Hokusai, Kunisada, Hiroshige, and Yoshitoshi.[36] However, probably the most famous woodblocks in the genre are those of Kuniyoshi, who produced at least eleven separate complete series on this subject, along with more than twenty triptychs.

In the West