Les 47 Rônin
To celebrate friendship treaty between Osaka Castle and the Château des ducs de Bretagne
The exhibition Les 47 Rônin presents an historical episode related to the history of the samurai that quickly reached mythical status and, to this day, remains alive and well in Japan.
In 1701, Asano Naganori, the lord of Akô, was forced by the Shogun to commit seppuku – the ritual act of suicide – after quarrelling with the master of ceremonies, Kira Yoshinaka. Refusing this dishonour, Asano’s former vassals all became ronin – in other words, samurais without a master. They decided to avenge the death of their lord and killed Kira. This forbidden revenge resulted in the 47 ronin being forced to also commit seppuku.
This simple historical anecdote had a massive impact on the population, who celebrated it as the ultimate expression of the samurai’s honour code. Despite shogunal censorship, the story was often staged in Kabuki and Bunraku (marionette) theatres. The first play, written in 1748, Kanadehon Chúshingura, became an instant success. Ukiyo-e (woodblock printing) has also largely explored the subject.
This exhibition presents an important set of Japanese engravings from a private collection. This selection is completed with objects taken from the world of samurais.