One of the most enduring stories of Japanese history is the legendary tale of the 47 Ronin. When these Samurai lost their leader to a ritual suicide, or Seppuku, they became leaderless Samurai, known as Ronin. They vowed to avenge his death, before committing ritual suicide themselves. This tale of treachery and honour, in which a mob of tough guys avenge the death of their boss, is presented in a wicked parody of The Godfather.

Original Air Date:  April 12, 2002

YouTube Transcript

The Ronin

Welcome to History Bites I’m Rick Green.
most Westerners don’t know much about
the history of ancient Japan beyond the
samurai well you can’t blame folks for
stopping there samurai are really
the samurai era lasted almost a thousand
years and the most famous legend from
that era was a true life story of bloody
revenge forget your Seven Samurai
this story’s got 47 samurai freelance
samurai known as Ronin they avenged the
death of their leader a sort of feudal
Baron known as a daimyo in the year 1703
these 47 Samurai did something so
audacious playwrights and storytellers
snapped the story up and crowds never
tired of hearing of it again and again
well who is the master of telling the
same story again and again Hollywood so
let’s look at ancient Japan on our
Sony’s katashi’s and Panasonic’s
I believe in the Shogun
the Shogun has always done all right by
me he commands our lives and you know
we’ve got obey so he sent me to deliver
this humble request at your feet in two
weeks the Shogun is entertaining these
what you call envoy’s who bare New
Year’s greetings he asks you to received
his end voice on his behalf
you know I was a sort of the favorite
where does he come to me with this
request you know you’re respected daimyo
and the Shogun wishes you to show your
loyalty Don Asano this I understand let
us be frank here every other year he
requires me Don the sign of the stay
here on his estate for twelve four
months leave for my own estate at the
end of the year yes should I leave my
wife or my my family behind his hostages
this I do willingly to demonstrate my
loyalty to the Shogun you come to me and
you say entertain these on voice I’m a
master of samurai another expert in
etiquette I understand Don Asano so I’ve
been instructed to offer you the
services of Lord Kira Lord Kira’s the
master of ceremonies at the Shogun’s
Court and can you know that defies you
on matters of etiquette
I will perform the service for the
Shogun it’s a gift and the day of my
daughter’s foot-binding great have
special occasions he switches to a black
diaper number seven sprinkle salt on all
four sides of the bed
number six eats his sushi right from the
fishing net number five awkward moment
when you run into his ex-girlfriend
lodged in his belly button
remember pork can’t tell if he’s hugging
you or pushing you out of the ring
number three takes you to Mount Fuji for
a picnic and you can’t see the mountain
and number two keeps asking what’s
happening down there and the number one
side your date maybe a sumo wrestler
enough love handles for ten women in
other news a spectacular fire at a
fireworks works in Kyoto has left six
fireworks workers dead and thousands of
local people entertained by witnesses
described the scene as oh we can Samurai
Hiroshi what is the main characteristic
of Mount Fuji
hi Toru what level of rank does the
daimyo have in samurai culture hi Kenzo
what kind of treason is punishable by
hi Hiroshi what greeting is denoted by
the word konichiwa
hi correct I can go visit this Lord Kira
to get his advice on court etiquette but
word on the street is this Kira fellow
is a pretty rude character what do we do
if he insults you don Asano I will do
what any Daniel would do if insulted I
will give him a vendetta you can’t
look this is my prize fighting fish
Gundam Gundam is tough but my Gundam can
beat up your fish Lord Kira I represent
Don Asano yeah whatever
Don Asano wishes to be instructed on the
finer points of court etiquette the
Shogun wishes to appoint the ho yeah
come on kid cut to the chase where is
the bribe right yeah you know bribe as a
mullah De Niro come on let’s see it I’m
the host that wants the most we weren’t
aware that a bribe was necessary you
weren’t aware hey your boss Asano is no
daimyo he’s a dummy oh you know my prize
fighting fish your boss isn’t fit to
lick its blowhole
please excuse me I must report this to
my daimyo
tandem sushi
Palmisano was this lovely smack from you
yeah banks like a cushion
you’ve had your snack now let me cut you
some dessert Wow sorry Laura
nothing good can come of this
now they re here Darcy that spectacular
mix of mime music melodrama
Kabuki theater and as you know women
were banned from acting in Kabuki
theater because of all the scandals and
gossip and murders that went on and so
for many years now the parts of women
have been played by nubile sweet young
boy a number of scandals has gotten
worse so under the new imperial decree
grown men will be playing all of the
roles in kabuki they all fill out all
the women’s parts the Shogun feels that
you should not have done what you’ve
done the Lord Kira cut up his fish the
fish we can live with but is it not so
that you also cut up Lord Kira a small
cut to teach him some manners a Shogun
feels that this violence and this
drawing of weapons under his own roof
and to his own chosen representatives
smacks of a certain disrespect so he has
sent you this package by way of making
it’s a Shogun Ian’s message means that
it’s time for you
to sleep with the cherry blossom to
Danielle I came as fast as I could
she you oh it’s my favorite samurai I
just got word that the Shogun is
commanding you to commit seppuku cherry
blossom special then we die together
hooah Moishe there’s something you have
to do for me I try to get up but they
keep pulling me back here
what Kyra started this with his insults
with a shrew gun isn’t punishing you
will have to kill Kira for me you for
Samurai and the other 43 Samurai in the
excuse me I yeah there’s certain duties
I have to perform them
do you want me to know oh good good
nothing good can come from this
all through history loads of people have
gained fame for the way they killed
other people but the samurai were
renowned for the way they killed
themselves the popular name for their
suicide technique was Harry Caray which
means belly cutting that was a little
too explicit for the Japanese they
preferred the term seppuku
which means abdomen slicing it’s just
it’s so much more civilized isn’t it
seppuku was used by a samurai to save
himself from dishonor talk about proven
you had guts hi there and welcome to
seppuku with soo the phone in show where
you learn everything you wanted to know
about seppuku but we’re afraid to ask
we’ve got a caller on the line Saito
from Osaka yeah hi Sue hi I just wanted
to ask what’s my first time doing
seppuku well that’s okay honey when it
comes to seppuku it’s always the first
time you know unless you really mess up
what I was wondering was does it hurt oh
well okay I’ll be honest with you Saito
what you’re doing is sticking something
long and sharp inside you so yeah it’s
probably gonna hurt a little oh but
listen sorry so it can also be very
magical experience okay you know it’s
gonna hurt a little going in but but
you’re also gonna feel so good knowing
that you’re about to join your ancestors
and what you’ll experience is sort of
like a little explosion of Honor and it
feels really good to hear it now that
was the Shinto sisters performing the
tea ceremony very stirring so we gonna
do something I’m gonna miss this Kira
guy up yeah yeah losing that soy sauce
okay look where do we stay we have to
worry about any other daimyo moving in
on our territory or what we don’t have
any territory oh I see yeah here’s a
deal the old man’s dead and the Shogun’s
confiscated all his property you can’t
do that
why couldn’t you just let Don Asano son
take over Don asado son what’s a streak
sake on the job in every the Shogun
wanted to make an example of Don asana
so that leaves us with no daimyo to
serve or no halt needham it stays like
this I wish I wasn’t a samurai you
should have a master to be a samurai we
ain’t got no damn yo now that makes us
Ronin you give me all of us even the 43
samurai at the kids table the other 43
Ronin at the kids table all right what
about the churches what’s their position
the Shinto is to stern up Shinto and the
Confucian scholars they’re just
confusion the issue is usual and the Zen
Buddhists what are they doing they
weren’t enlightened me give them the
sound of one hand clapping so now you’re
thinking well what are they the
forty-seven samurai or the forty-seven
Ronin well the thing is you could only
be a samurai as long as you had a master
when these guys lost their daimyo they
became Ronin the samurai without a
master so they decided to just wait the
head Ronin pretended to be a drunk the
other Ronin just wandered around killing
nothing but time
but it was all just a Ronin ruse because
as far as they were concerned they were
still serving Lord Asano until they
avenged his death
now that’s employee loyalty here’s what
we do we wait how long long as it takes
Lord cares waiting for us to make a move
so we’re not gonna do a thing I’m gonna
be spending all my time in sushi taverns
acting like a hopeless drunk what about
the rest of us the rest of you guys can
pretend to be a bunch of time-wasting
idiots I think you can do that
yeah that we can do I think I could do
we’ve been waiting a long time and we
still haven’t killed Lord Kira shames
too great to go on living
hoo-wah boise we’ve got some news I try
to get out but they keep pulling me back
here hey Kira wants to meet with you
your plan worked
he thinks you’re a sake holic where’s
the meeting taking place a restaurant on
the west side
our people can plan a weapon for you in
the washroom while you’re taking care of
that Kira that son of a Geisha the three
of us will go to his estate and put his
associates on ice you three and the
other 43 rolling in the hall letters to
Bank a truly dishonorable 5000 Ren but
now it’s time to find out whose mental
saw needs sharpening whose code of honor
is greater than his code of intelligence
it’s time to vote on who you think is
the weakest samurai Hiroshi is the
strongest samurai he got all his
questions correct and banked the most
for the team statistically Kenzo was the
weakest link
he lost 10,000 ran for the team when he
said that the name of the Emperor of
Japan is height all right team let’s see
uh votes I am the weakest samurai I do
not deserve continue this question
kisaeng shame and dishonor upon my
dishonored my fellow warriors yeah this
is a little unusual it’s that’s the
count all three of you all the weakest
okay Tanaka
listen seppuku is a really big step okay
I know that’s what I told them okay well
no one can pressure you into it you know
disemboweling yourself is a very special
moment okay now it has to be right for
you no one can make you do it okay
okay but what about well my time you
said it’s better if you use a really
large sword okay well you know what to
knock if that’s just a myth okay in
Japan where clothing means class upper
classes were fabulous clothing lower
classes were stuff from Kyoto Mart but
try telling that to people who are
wearing clothing beyond their class the
nouveau riche merchants who spend their
wealth on silk satin and brocade are in
trouble with the law
dressing up and gets you a dressing down
as I found out when I spoke to mr. Ito
the fashion industry is just shaking up
my business it’s a protest against the
repressive society that expects people
to dress like slob
but you’re radicals today they’re making
a statement shaking up the social order
by wearing very expensive and tasteful
cathode the government keeps making new
laws but you can’t stop people from
addressing the shopping so we’re seeing
a lot of bright colors bold fabrics
ostentatious design exactly my sheep
Mauricio yo come on over hey want some
second I hear you really like the Sachi
come on over and sack’ to me baby my
name’s oshi Yoshi oh yeah yeah gotta
make sure you’re not packing steel okay
kid you’re clean
why did you request a CB Lord care up
hey you’re a good kid but those pals of
yours they’re a bunch of her own income
poops I wouldn’t put it past them to try
to get back at me for what I did to
their dimwit thymio maybe you could talk
to them for me I probably could I have
to go to the bathroom is that okay yeah
that’s a key goes right through you
doesn’t it Kwan
occupied occupied right now range of
going Assessors again
hey who do you think you are rone in the
Barbarian coming up the Ronin father
part 3
after the Ronin had avenged their dead
daimyo zhannar
by cutting off Lord Kira’s head they
carried his head to their dead daimyo
grave I guess they figured every grave
needs a headstone but now the leader of
Japan’s military the Shogun was forced
to deal with what these 47 freelancers
had done and it was a real dilemma I
mean they’d committed murder so they had
to be punished but they’d also done
their duty to their daimyo so they
should be honored in the end a win-win
compromise was reached the Ronin were
given death and honor
well is she oh she oh I appear before
you what you call invested with the
authority of the Shogun you may speak to
me as you would speak to him you and
your fellow Ronin you’ve been you know
charged with carrying out a vendetta
against Lord Kira for this you are
sentenced to commit seppuku you and
these three Ronin and the other 43 Ronin
in the hall right I see Yoshio do you
swear that your Vendetta
has been an honorable one I do father
do you swear that you have upheld the
Bushido the way of the samurai in all
things I do swear you swear that you
have done your duty to your die me are
you sure do you swear that your sword is
your most precious and holy possession
and that it is not swords that kill
people but people with swords that kill
people I do so swear Shogun father I see
your show do you renounce it having a
life of your own
I do
I try to get out this time they can’t
pull me back in so much first sequel
the 47 Ronin became heroes for the way
they adhered strictly to the samurai
code of honor right to the bitter end
their bitter end but the event was also
a turning point for Japanese society
the Shogun started to discourage such a
strict and violent code of honor samurai
were encouraged to find satisfaction in
public service rather than public mayhem
instead of the reward of seppuku they
were offered the reward of promotion
after all honorable vendetta’s were all
well and good back in the nation’s
bloody past but now Japan was becoming
peaceful and prosperous
it didn’t seem wise to have samurai
still running around killing people to
protect their honor
gradually the swordplay and suicide
faded into Japanese history and history
bites it really is true that size
doesn’t matter okay okay it’s all about
the technique and speed okay thanks –
okay and Tanaka okay be careful yeah
when you put that sword through you it
has to come out the other side and you
can hurt someone else with it okay so
use protection put that may be a large
plank of wood or our big stone behind
you okay I’ll do that okay they always
practice safe seppuku remember the only
body you want to penetrate is your own