Yamaga Soko's Definition Of A Samurai

1346 Words6 Pages
The word “giri” (義理) is commonly associated with samurais to explain his or her loyalty to their lord or master. However, people frequently forget that the word “giri” is not something that explains a samurai, but what defines it. Therefore, a true samurai is a person who demonstrates the true meaning of “giri,” and two characters from Chushingura, Lord Wakasanosuke and Kakogawa Hanzo Yukikuni displays this meaning with gracefulness. However, there are cases where a samurai does not follow the way of the samurai, Bannai, and therefore does not display the true meaning of the word “giri.” The definition of “giri” varies from person to person, depending on one’s perspective on the word. However, according to Yamaga Soko and Yamamoto Tsunemoto,…show more content…
In this piece, Yamaga Soko, a significant ronin during the Tokugawa Period who contributed to re-envisioning the role of the samurai, writes about the understanding of a samurai’s place and function in society. At one point, Yamaga Soko indicates the functions or business of a samurai where says “T[t]he business of the samurai consists… discharging loyal service to his master if he has one..., [and] in devoting himself to duty above all.” (Soko, 390). As seen in this quote, the general meaning that we associate “giri” with - showing one’s loyalty to a person as an expression of gratitude - is very similar on how a samurai should live his or her…show more content…
Even though Hanzo disobeyed his lord’s order of not interfere with his plan of assassinating Lord Moronao, Hanzo has not completely thrown away his “giri” for his lord. If we consider only Yamamoto Tsunemoto’s definition of a samuri or “giri,” Hanzo is not a loyal samurai. On the other hand, if we take into consideration Yamaga Soko’s definition of a samurai, we can see that Hanzo is still a loyal samurai, for following his master’s orders is only one part of the functions of a samurai. The other function of a samurai is to protect the house that he belongs to and the life of his lord. This conduct of Hanzo protecting his house can be seen at the beginning of Act 3, where Hanzo gives offerings to Lord Moronao to change his nature to the likings of Lord Wakasanosuke. Hanzo knows his “stratagem has met with success,” for he observes “a complete turnabout in Moronao’s manner” (Chushingura, 51) and as the narrator states, “Wakasanosuke, having not the least suspicion that his money inspired his flattery… can [could] no longer draw his sword” (Chushingura 56). This, in turn saves not only the life of Lord Wakasanosuke, but also the reputation or continuation of Lord Wakasanosuke’s house. Therefore, the success of Hanzo’s plan displays his “giri” to his house and thus is a loyal samurai in the perspective of Yamaga Soko’s definition of a

    More about Yamaga Soko's Definition Of A Samurai

      Open Document