Forty-seven rōnin 四 十七 士

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Kabuki theater scene 1881

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The 47 Ronin, Act 5: The Yamazaki Highway, 1857

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Chikashig kabuki theater scene

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47 Ronin, Act 5: The Yamazaki Highway

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Okajima Yasoemon Tsunetatsu

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The Ronin Otaka Gengo Tadao

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Forty-seven rōnin  四 十七 士


Forty-seven rōnin (Chūshingura)


The story of Chūshingura (literally the "Loyal League"), better known in the West as the "47 Ronin" (a ronin - literally "man of waves") is a samurai without master or master, a wave in the sea.

It is perhaps the most well-known story of the Japanese tradition, both inside and outside of Japan, defined by a well-known scholar of Japan, as the national legend. In reflecting also the deep Japanese character, during the feudal period to the present day.

One might think that the 47 Ronin, is the Japanese equivalent, of some of the Shakespearean dramas.

The story concerns a group of samurai who were left without a teacher in 1701, for the execution of their teacher, for assaulting a court official, who thought he had insulted him.

After more than a year of waiting and conspiracy, they managed to avenge their teacher, killing the court official.

In spite of having committed a murder, it was considered that they had done it by the most noble of the Japanese reasons, in obedience to its duty.

As a result, they were allowed an honorable death.

With a little bit of legend, the true story became popular in Japanese culture as an emblem of loyalty, sacrifice, dedication and honor, which all good people, but especially the samurai, must persevere in their daily lives.

It quickly became a series of works by Kabuki.

The most popular is the Kanedehon Chūshingura, it was originally written in 1748 for bunraku (puppet) theater, and was quickly adapted for Kabuki, in twelve acts. The names, as well as the action, were slightly changed from the actual ones (due to a prohibition of works on recent history), and the version of the stage was established in the fourteenth century.

It quickly became (and still is) one of the basic elements of Kabuki's repertoire, and remains one of the two most popular Kabuki plays and is still played.