Saturday, February 19, 2011


Kira's son Uesugi Tsunanori(上杉 綱憲) was the 4th lord of the Yonezawa Domain.
(Uesugi Kagekatsu who was Uesugi Kenshin's son was the first load of the domain. Shinshu Kawanakajima Gassen and Honcho Nijushi Kou)

Kira's adopted son Yoshimasa(義周) was one of Tsunanori's sons. Tsunanori urged Kira to move to Yonezawa and it is said the farewell tea ceremony was held on the 14th day.
On hearing about the the raid by the Ako warriors, Tsunanori tried to deliver reinforcements. However his relative held him back.

Eighteen-year-old Yoshimasa waged a brave war against the warriors, but he was seriously injured.
Later the shogunate extinguished Kira's family line and drove him into exile. He was born weak and died of disease at the age of 21 in the place of exile.

Two of his retainers who moved from the Yonezawa Domain to Kira's house with him battled fiercely. One of them was killed in battle and the other was badly injured. Later the surviving retainer accompanied Yoshimasa to the place of exile.

The warriors put out fires caused by the raid and put Kira's headless body to bed after Kira's death. Then, one of them went away. It's not known exactly why.
Forty-six warriors went to Sengaku-ji Temple and placed Kira's head in front of Asano's grave. Later the head was carried back to Kira's retainer by the monks of the temple.

They were entrusted to the cares of four feudal lords.
The shogunate was at a loss over how to cope with the raid.
Raids were punishable by death. Meanwhile, their loyalty to their lord won widespread praise.

On the 4th day of the 2nd month(March 20th), the shogunate ordered them to commit harakiri. They did it the same day and were buried in the graves on the grounds of Sengaku-ji.

Their sons aged 15 and over except monks were driven into exile, but they were pardoned by the next shogun. Asano's brother regained his position as a direct retainer of the shogun. One of Oishi's sons was employed by Asano's head family.
Meanwhile, Yoshimasa death put an end to the Kira Family.

The sons of the 46 warriors received an offer from many domains. However, most of the Ako warriors who didn't take part in the raid could not serve another feudal lord.

Kira gained an infamous reputation for the raid, but was he such a bad person?
Injuring someone by stabbing in Edo Castle was an capital felony. Kira was a victim. Asano should have been punished severely whatever the reason.
The worst of it is that the shogun and his henchmen didn't find out why Asano made a cut at Kira.
The shogunate left warriors although it knew their plot, and no one tried to prevent them from raiding Kira's house when they were heading for it.

Kanadehon in the title "Kanadehon Chushingura (仮名手本忠臣蔵)" means an old Japanese alphabet copybook. This alphabet is also a poem which consists of 47 different letters.
Kanadehon is a pun for the 47 warriors.

いろはにほへと   ちりぬるを

わかよたれそ     つねならむ

うゐのおくやま    けふこえて

あさきゆめみし   ゑひもせす

i-ro-ha-ni-ho-he-to    chi-ri-nu-ru-wo

wa-ka-yo-ta-re-so    tsu-ne-na-ra-mu

u-wi-no-o-ku-ya-ma   ke-fu-ko-e-te

a-sa-ki-yu-me-mi-shi  we-hi-mo-se-su

This poem have several possible meanings. One of them is as follows.

The petals fall after blooming.
Everything changes in this world.
I got over a steep mountain in my life today.
I don't want to dream an empty dream when being sober.

East Gardens (the ruins of  the palace)

The present Imperial Palace was built on the site of Edo Castle.

People are not allowed to enter the palace, but the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace is open to people.

There isn't a trace of the corridor where the incident occurred, but the sign in the garden says that it used to be there.

East Gardens (the terraced walls of the castle)

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