The loving wife – A story from Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

From the book: Hagakure – The Book of the Samurai

Written by Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659-1719), translated by William Scott Wilson
Shambhala Publishing Inc 1979, 2002

Hagakure was a great read. A time machine back to an era of Japan where honour and dignity meant life and death, and cutting heads and committing suicide was somewhat of a norm. Below is one of my favourite stories from the book. Reminds me of my lovely wife, Lan Lê — I love her so.

A man by the name of Takagi got into an argument with three farmers in the neighbourhood, was soundly beaten out in the fields, and returned home. His wife said to him, “Haven’t you forgotten about the matter of death?” “Definitely not!” he replied.

His wife then retorted, “At any rate, a man dies only once. Of the various ways of dying — dying of disease, being cut down in battle, seppuku, or being beheaded — to die ignominiously would be a shame, ” and went outside. She soon returned, carefully put the two children to bed, prepared some torches, dressed herself for battle after nightfall, and then said, “When I went out to survey the scene a bit earlier, it seemed that the three men went into one place for a discussion. Now is the right time. Let’s go quickly!”

So saying, they went out with the husband in the lead, burning torching and wearing short swords. They broke into their opponents’ place and dispersed them, both husband and wife slashing about and killing two of the men and wounding the other. The husband was later ordered to commit seppuku.

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