Legal rights of the Samurai?

Discussion in 'Japanese Culture and History' started by CNida, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. Kan Ryu

    Kan Ryu Yellow Belt

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    Also, I recommended the book to refer to the culture of the Samurai and the question about their right to be judge and jury. This is a topic it describes quite well, from a point of view, obviously.
    Yamamoto has his opinions but, the stories, in themselves, are objective for anybody to read.
    I did not recommend the book for any political reasons or to discus any political issues anybody should have with it.
     
  2. Kan Ryu

    Kan Ryu Yellow Belt

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    Also, I recommended the book to refer to Samurai culture and ethics and to the question regarding their right to be judge and jury. These are topic's it describes quite well, from a point of view, obviously. Yamamoto has his opinions but, the stories are objective in their own right, for anybody to read.
    I did not recommend the book for any political reasons or to discus any political issues anybody should have with it.
     
  3. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi Asher.

    Okay… whose?

    Well… you are and you aren't.

    Yamamoto was rather conservative in his views… he ascribed to a particular idealised view of the "glory" of samurai and battle… however, due to the time he was born in, he never experienced anything of the kind himself. That's what I meant… I never said he was "removed from reality", I said he was removed from the realities of the stories he was talking about (combat, violence, war etc), as he was (also) removed from the events themselves. I'll deal with the stories themselves in a bit.

    Harakiri is spoken by what was the lower classes… and is considered (at best) a colloquialism. It's important to note that it's not exactly just an alternate reading… the kanji are actually reversed (腹切りfor "harakiri", 切腹 for "seppuku"). And, speaking as someone who trains in an art that deals with such topics, the distinction can be important to note.

    Yeah… and, as I said, it's dangerous to take it as anything other than one person's take on things. The same way it's dangerous to take any single position as being authoritative or universally correct… you mentioned in your first post on this thread that "Yes, it was a samurai's responsibility to uphold the law…" which is not really correct either. While what equated to a police force was often lead by samurai, it was far from every samurai's role or responsibility, among a number of other issues with the idea (such as changing roles and definitions based on time period, location, local governance, and more).

    No, actually, they're not. They are told by Yamamoto, chosen by him, with his particular emphasis, for his reasons and to express his beliefs and opinions… a number of which go against some more popular ideas (which only show that they are far from objective).

    And I get that… but a wider appreciation should also not be a bad thing.
     
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  4. Kan Ryu

    Kan Ryu Yellow Belt

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    I joined MT to be informative on Japanese martial arts, Bushido, meditation, to name a few topic's - and also to spread the word of Jinenkan London's existence.

    I never really wanted to get deep into discussions about politics, objectivity vs. subjectivity, correct use of the Japanese language, a.s.o., so, I'm gonna keep it short and end my comment here for the time being.

    Firstly, I am glad we agree that it is fine to say harakiri in this day and age, on such a forum as MT.

    Secondly, I still recommend the book as a source to assist in understanding the culture of the Samurai.
    I never said it was the Bible of this topic.
    I believe objectivity is there to find in the stories, no matter the authors reason to choose them or his comments to them.
    I am sorry we don't agree there.

    Sometimes you need to seek danger to find truth, and sometimes just to get the daily shopping.
    I am sure people can differentiate fact from opinion - if not, then I cannot protect them by not suggesting a book, whose author can be somewhat extreme in some of his opinions.
    Danger is everywhere.

    Lastly, if Yamamoto is removed from the reality regarding this discussion, then what are you and I?

    I hope somebody reads the book and learns some of things, I found useful to learn therein.

    Simon, I would gladly read any literature you may be able to recommend on a similar ground as Hagakure.

    Peace,

    Asher.
     
  5. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Right…

    To deal with the second thing first… we're not here for you to advertise. If you want to do that, contact the administrators about the rules and fees associated.

    To deal with the first… you came here to be informative? Really? Asher… not to put too fine a point on it, but… you've been training in the Jinenkan since 2009… that's 6 years at best… frankly, you're still very young and inexperienced in this arena. I mean… you want to be informative on Bushido and Japanese martial arts? Really? Based on exactly what?

    So… you want to be here to be informative, but getting into deep discussions of aspects of the areas you feel you can be informative about is not what you're interested in?

    We don't. I said at best it is considered a spoken colloquialism. That is a far stretch from saying I agree it can be/should be written. Here or elsewhere.

    For crying out loud… Asher, you brought up Hagakure, all I said was that it should be entreated with a modicum of understanding about it's context, source, and origins. Not that it had no worth in the discussion, but that it was not a be-all end-all vision of samurai culture… it was one particular individuals' romanticised views. Too often it's seen as an accurate overview of the way samurai thought and acted… which it isn't. It was that (common) pitfall that I was cautioning against.

    What on earth are you going on about here?

    You can suggest the book… but a wider understanding of what's being offered is just as valuable. That's the point.

    And again… huh?

    You've seriously missed the point, Asher. In most of this…

    Sure… and people get things out of the Gorin no Sho as well… but realistically, they get the "wrong" things… because they don't actually get the context. I was hoping to illuminate that (to a degree) with my comments on your suggestion. Of course, I note that you've pretty much ignored my questions as to which translation you've read…

    Who's Simon?
     
  6. Kan Ryu

    Kan Ryu Yellow Belt

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    Oh, sorry, I meant Chris - not Simon.

    Now, really, you cannot judge my ability to be informative upon the duration of my membership within an organization. Nor do you have the right.
    Nor am I willing to defend that ability here on this thread.
    Time will have to tell.

    Please, let's stop this here Chris.

    I recommended a book. I have that right - it is my opinion. I liked the book. I did not want to analyze it on-line. I have done that as I read it. It is my personal business. That is my choice.
    If you made a thread on the book, I might consider to comment, but I don't like being forced out in a discussion about it, as you have done.

    I felt you came down on my right to opinion as an authoritative force on right and wrong in your first comment to my post.
    It didn't seem like you laid your thoughts down as an opinion, but as the absolute truth.
    That's why I reacted against your comment.
    Had it been laid down as an opinion, I probably wouldn't have continued the discussion.
    I gave the title of the book to the author of this post for his own discretion and interest.
    You could have given him your opinion on it.
    Instead you chose to try to teach me and him what we should think of it.

    I am sorry if we misunderstand each other.

    Let's keep it cool ;o)
     
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  7. Kan Ryu

    Kan Ryu Yellow Belt

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    Regarding this question:

    So… you want to be here to be informative, but getting into deep discussions of aspects of the areas you feel you can be informative about is not what you're interested in?


    No, it's not like that. I recommended the book for the accounts of Samurai actions upon other humans and the following judgments on these actions - in accordance with the question of the thread.
    From my first post:

    "Hagakure" by Yamamoto Tsunetomo, a Samurai, has many good stories and examples of the complexity of Samurai ethics. Of execution, of punishment for wrong execution and many examples of, according to Yamamoto, just and unjust harakiri.
    It's a great book, definitely worth a read.


    We have discussed the question of objectivity and disagree, which is fine.

    Everything else is off topic and is what I was referring to not wanting to go into deep discussion about. I never recommended the book as a source to understand f.ex. the soul of Bushido or the way of the Sword.

    I would have recommended entirely different books on those accounts.

    Just for the record. I want to be careful about which discussions I get into as this is a public forum, that is why I do not wish to be dragged off topic.
     
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  8. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Okay, let's stay on topic!

    I would also recommend the Hagakure as a reading reference as well. I would also agree that it should be just one of several. In order to get a broad picture of Japanese culture and in specific the Samurai, etc. one will have to do some serious research.

    Let's stay on topic and keep things polite!
     
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  9. Jameswhelan

    Jameswhelan Yellow Belt

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    What's really interesting about Yamamoto Tsunetomo is that he was a samurai of Saga domain. Saga domain was co-tasked with the security of Nagasaki port, the only open port in Japan in the Edo period. It could be a dangerous hotbed of intrigue, faction fighting, sectarian rioting, contraband smuggling and so on, so the Saga-han samurai were among the most acquainted with violence and its management in the Edo period.
     
  10. Breaking Allen

    Breaking Allen White Belt

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    Just like what's "right" and what's "wrong" is culturally defined, so is honor. Just like other people have said, I figure I'd elaborate...
    A prime example is murdering a cheating spouse in China. There was a trial in the U.S. (Google) of a Chinese tourist killing his wife after he found her cheating on him. Did he go to jail? NO, because the laws in China (at least at the time) didn't view this kind of act as wrong. Instead, it was justified. Americans typically would be against this. The average Chinese citizen probably wouldn't be against this, given the law. Such is the same with being 'honor-bound." You may view Tsujigiri as being not honorable, but a typical samurai might find it very practical. Also, be sure not to generalize. I'm sure some Samurai over the course of many years disagreed. Everything regarding a group of people is subjective.

    Besides, the Samurai didn't have incredibly high legal rights in Japan throughout those many years, as opposed to people with higher positions throughout different Japanese territories. It was very dependent on the years though, obviously. As other people have pointed out, even servants were often samurai. They weren't viewed as a sort of "white knight" at all. Just people who served.
     
  11. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Er…

    Nope. No such law exists. There are cultural aspects to take into consideration, but no, no such law exists. The closest found in a slightly vague defence law in Hong Kong which states that the jury may find the accused not guilty if it can be demonstrated that the victim provoked, either through words or actions, the act, to the degree that the perpetrator was beyond control.

    The case you're citing is most likely the one of Dong Lu Chen in New York, who bludgeoned his wife to death after she admitted her adultery. During his trial, a cultural expert, Burton Pasternak (professor of anthropology at Hunter College at the time) gave testimony that in China, women are sometimes "severely punished" for adultery… however he could cite no examples of adulterers being murdered (beaten, yes, but not killed). He noted that the act of adultery would be viewed as "an enormous stain" on the cuckolded man, his ancestors, and his progeny… and that oftentimes the community would intervene to prevent a violent encounter. His testimony was still considered weighty enough to provide some form of "special circumstances" in the case, and the jury elected to name Dong Lu Chen guilty of second degree manslaughter, rather than murder, giving him a 5 year probational sentence. See here: The Cultural Defense

    Er… no. There was little "practical" about it… it was a practice given the sheen of practical reasons, but really, had little to offer there.

    Okay… not sure exactly what you think they were disagreeing over, but… okay.

    Er… huh? The samurai were the higher ranking people for much of Japans history… of course, there were many ranks within the samurai themselves… but the point might be to not state such things unless you are aware of what you're talking about. Pretty much all of this is wrong in a number of ways.
     
  12. Breaking Allen

    Breaking Allen White Belt

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    My point was that he said he thought they were honor-bound, and my point was that what somebody in the west views as honor-bound is completely different than what it means in a different part of the world. It is ethnocentric to believe your culture's view of honorable is the definition of honor-bound around the world. This is something I learned in a college course, at least. Just a simple correction, because I feel that culturally, they were very honorable. Mainly pointing out it is still honorable, just in a different perspective. Sorry if I was incorrect about a trial, my teacher had used it as an example of ethnocentrism before because Americans might view an act like that as wrong, while another culture might now. However, if it's untrue, it's still a pretty good "what if" scenario on understanding the difference of perspectives based on your culture. For example, take a look at this article: Crime of passion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    In brazil, the act of murdering an adulterous spouse is very leniently treated in most cases.

    Regarding Uruguay:
    "In Uruguay, crimes of passion continue to be legally tolerated; in certain circumstances, the law exonerates a perpetrator when a killing or a battery was committed due to "passion provoked by adultery".[23] Article 36 of the Criminal Code provides for this:

    Artículo 36. (La pasión provocada por el adulterio)[24]"


    So, excuse me for coming off as though I was starting an argument, I was simply trying to insert my input on our views of Samurai's authority at that certain point of time. And I recently read this article: Japanese Feudal Military Hierarchy
    As it states that they were just above the Nobility Court in regards to the feudal ranking system. I had seen the ranking before, and took it as a "common warrior" perspective, but I now understand it was a bit higher, but not quite warlord status. Sorry for any errors in my prior post. Hope you can see my points, if you can. I appreciate your response :)
    Also, about the crossroad killing mention, I was trying to say that it wasn't frowned upon like a modern day person might view it. It was a common practice, if my reading is correct. And doesn't make them any less honor-bound, because their culture didn't define it as wrong as our culture would obviously do.
     
  13. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Oh, don't worry, I got the argument you were making… and it's largely correct. The problem was with your methods of supporting your argument.

    Well, that's the thing… your views are not an accurate reflection of history, or reality.

    Yeah… look, to be frank, that article, such as it is, is not something to rely on for accurate information. The lower level writing alone indicates a lack of academic credibility, but more to the point, the lack of supporting links or citations, combined with some rather poor understanding of the actual historical structure, and honestly, you can ignore it from now on. These errors include separating "samurai" from "Daimyo", "Shogun" and others… all of whom were samurai themselves.

    The following list was put together by a samurai historian named Chris Glenn, who lives in Japan, and is a member of a number of groups dedicated to preserving the actual history of the warrior class. He frequently holds lectures (and is often invited to present them), hosts Facebook pages, has written books, and is a radio personality in Japan. This list is taken from one of his Facebook pages, albeit abridged from the presentation given there:

    As you can see above, ranks such as Daimyo and Shogun were samurai themselves… with the highest ranking being part of the nobility. Of course, it's also important to note that even the idea of who could be a samurai changed depending on the period… prior to Hideyoshi, it was pretty much open to anyone who could join an army and distinguish themselves. After Hideyoshi, it was restricted (in the main) to those descended from previously identified samurai family lines.

    No problem. As I said, I can see what you were trying to get across… but your choice of examples were inaccurate, which simply undermined your points in the first place. One thing to remember is that, honestly, you're very young (18)… and a number of members here have been studying this for longer than you've been alive… in cases, two to three times that length… in addition, there are some very well read individuals here, so it can behoove you to be sure of what you say before you say it.

    I like that you're enthusiastic… I love that you're interested. But it's not a race… and your martial background isn't in this area… that's okay. Take time to ask questions, learn, grow to understand what is good and bad information. Presently, you're so new to this you haven't developed a way to differentiate. Again, that's normal… so stick to what you know (definitely), and asking questions. We're always more than happy to confirm or deny anything you come across.

    Yeah… your reading is not correct. As I said earlier in the thread, it was illegal, and a capitol offence… so yeah, it was frowned upon. Again, take a bit of time, read a bit more, and we can start to build your understanding.
     
  14. Drew Ahn-Kim

    Drew Ahn-Kim Yellow Belt

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    Varies greatly depending on the era, prefecture and emperor of the time.
     

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