View Full Version : Seppuku vs Harakiri

15th May 2002, 20:35
Hello mates.

I've read a few scripts about 'harakiri' and 'seppuku'. In one script, it is said that 'seppuku' isn't 'harakiri'. Well, anyone has an idea what the difference is?

Jack B
15th May 2002, 21:51
Hara-kiri means belly-cutting. It is a crude term that only refers to the act itself and says nothing about the context.

Seppuku is actually the same kanji in reversed order (SETSU+FUKU) and using ON readings instead of KUN. However, "seppuku" implies the ritual act and is more dignified. It doesn't quite overlap "harakiri". Honorable suicide by women was done by cutting the throat and I believe that was also referred to as "seppuku" implying the ritual.

Hope this helps!

Jack Bieler
Denton, Texas

16th May 2002, 06:41
Don't forget there are different kinds of Seppuku. I don't have the actual source in front of me at this moment, and I cannot remember the Japanese terms off hand, but I believe there were three general groups: out of respect, in defiance, and the good old-fashioned love suicide. I left the reference back in the land of the Maple Leaf, so if somebody else could chime in right about now for a bit of corroboration...


16th May 2002, 10:14
Just off the top of my head, there are:

funshi: suicide committed to express outrage over the behavior of a superior.

oibara: to follow one's superior in death

sokutsushi: seppuku in atonement for a crime or breach of etiquette

kanshi: seppuku committed to try to get one's superior to reconsider a decision

16th May 2002, 15:31
Junshi was a relatively short lived custom lasting only some 50 or 60 years. To commit Seppuku after the death of ones Lord was known as Oibaru. Sometimes a retainer died before his lord. Other forms such as departing beforehand were known as Maebaru or Sakibaru.

The practice of self immolation was banned in Nabeshima Fief in the sixth year of Kanbun (1661) preceding the government ban by two years.


Regards Hyakutake Colin

Jack B
17th May 2002, 21:56
A definitive guide to seppuku is the book "Hara-kiri" by the incredible Jack Seward.

18th May 2002, 09:18

Tanks for all answers.

A definitive guide to seppuku is the book "Hara-kiri" by the incredible Jack Seward.
Thx, but not more available here.

19th May 2002, 08:12

If your interested in hara Kiri or seppuku may I suggest this book its got the lot, rules regulations history and reason for with some accounts of the deed in it

Hara Kiri - japanese Ritual Suicide by - Jack Seward ISBN 0-8048-0231-9 reprinted in 1986 publisher is Charles tuttle

Cost me $8 when I bought it in New York in 1994

Jack B
21st May 2002, 15:04
Try <www.addall.com>. That is a crawler that searches about 20 on-line booksellers. They have a used book section as well as new and they give you price comparisions.

Jack Bieler
Newport News, VA (this week)

25th May 2002, 02:20
If anyone wants to read a fictional account of seppuku, trying to understand some of the thinking, or perhaps feelings, behind it, I'd recommend the short story "Patriotism" by Yukio Mishima (who, as most of you probably know, committed ritual suicide himself). The story takes place in the 1930s, and depicts how a young lieutenant and his wife prepare to take their lives. It is...I don't know how to describe it, but if it doesn't touch you in some way, I don't know what will.

You'll find it in the collection "Death in Midsummer and Other Stories", published by Penguin.

Jens Nasstrom

25th May 2002, 09:26

Thx to all once again.

Recently I've heard from a story about a 300 mill. $ - guy who committed suicide by doing 'harakiri'. He lived in Spain, Málaga. When anybody speaks German, try out this link here - http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/0,1518,197391,00.html