Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gishi-sai festival

Every year on Dec. 14 there's a memorial event honoring the Vendetta of the 47 Ronin, masterless Samurai who on this day some 300 years ago performed ritual suicide after avenging the betrayal of their lord (who upon being betrayed committed seppuku, leaving them masterless). First there's the Gishi-Gyoretsu, a procession of volunteer Ronin-reps (bearing some very long swords) through the streets of Tokyo, along Showa dori and Sotobori dori and Hibiya dori, with a stop at Zojo-ji and then on to the Sengaku temple in Takanawa, Minato ward, burial site for the real ones.

Terry and I caught up with the group in Tsukiji, near the Chuo ward office, just as they were starting out around midday, and we followed them for a bit until Terry had to go back to the office. Some pics:

 dude in the cool helmet, leader of the pack, waiting to cross the street, spots me with my camera...

and poses!

I read online somewhere that "The Forty-Seven Loyal Retainers in Akoh" is one of the best loved tales in Japan, told and retold in movies and TV dramas and in Kabuki theater; the plays and novels that recount the legend usually go by the titles Chushingura ("The Loyal Retainers") and Akoh Roshi ("Akoh's Masterless Samurai").

Not for nothin', but Robert DeNiro learns all about the 47 Ronin from a French guy who paints miniature samurai figures (and gives him a safe place to recover from a bullet wound) in the 1997 John Frankenheimer film Ronin, which we just watched for the 5th or 6th time the other night (we were taking a break from Season 2 of The Walking Dead). If you've never seen it, rent it, there are some terrific car chases.

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