Sunday, July 02, 2006

A samurai's 360-year-old will is found

In Kyushu, the Yatsushiro Municipal Museum on June 27 announced it had found in its collection a will written in 1644 by the lord of Yatsushiro Castle, who had just sent a letter of protest to his feudal lord, for which he fully expected to be ordered to commit seppuku, or ritual suicide. (The guy had a lot of guts—rimshot!)

The castle lord, Matsui Yoriyuki, had written Hosokawa Mitsunao, lord of the Hosokawa Clan, to protest being denied the military rank held by his family for generations, including his father, who had just announced his retirement.

Historians aren't sure why Yoriyuki was denied the promotion, "but it must have been important enough to his family to risk dying for," said a museum representative.

Lord Hosokawa must have been impressed with this display of courage, because Yoriyuki not only survived but later went on to serve as karo, a top-ranking samurai official, in the shogunate.

A photo of the actual will is shown below. You can see a close-up of another piece of Yoriyuki's writing here.

—Mellow Monk

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