Seppuku, also known as harakiri, is the ritual suicide of the samurai code of bushido. Traditionally, this ritual was only allowed to samurai. It has been banned in Japan since 1873. But why did the samurai approach this act?
The seppuku ritual has evolved over the centuries and originally consisted only of cutting the abdomen and then cutting the throat or piercing the heart with the samurai himself. This technique was said to be very painful. During the Edo period, ie after 1600, the seppuku ritual was perfected. The samurai washed himself, dressed in a white robe, and received his favorite food. The place for the ceremony was also prepared in a certain way. Before the act itself, the samurai could compose a short poem. Near him stood an intimate aide who was ready to cut off the samurai's head so as not to prolong his pain. In later times, the cutting of the abdomen was sometimes abandoned, and the samurai aide cut off the samurai's head even so that the samurai symbolically took a fan in his hand.
There were a number of incentives to perform seppuku. It was most often carried out by warriors after a lost battle to escape captivity, torture and regain their honor. Seppuku could also be ordered by the samurai's master. If a samurai did something wrong, which would led to his execution, he was often given the opportunity to escape execution by committing seppuku. Sometimes the samurai also performed seppuku as a protest against his own master's actions.