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Seppuku & Harakiri? 2006/4/7 05:11
What's the difference between these two?

Any japanese people who can answer me..?
by ggrgrgr  

ritual self-disembowelment 2006/4/7 10:55
Seppuku: A proper Japanese word still commonly used in Japan.

Harakiri: A word commonly used in English, but hardly used in modern Japanese.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Words vs action 2006/4/8 04:54
The difference between the two words is described above. Both words refer (or should refer) to the same action, which (also as decribed above) is a ritual with specific steps and participants.

However, I suspect that if someone chose to commit suicide by belly-cutting, without writing a haiku or having a second to slash off his head (or whatever all the proper ritual steps are), that might loosely be referred to as harakiri. But never seppuku.
by watagei rate this post as useful

interesting 2006/4/8 14:36
If Watagei-san's definition applies to the English langauage, that's very interesting.

Another thing is that I can't really imagine anyone trying to kill himself "out of ritual" by cutting his/her belly. It is extremely difficult to cut a belly of a living person due to the tention of the belly muscles, moreover it is difficult to cut it enough to die, due to the less amount of blood or fatal organs that the belly contains.

In fact, I learned recently (and this was widely reported on TV) that even in the days of the samurai, hardly anyone actually cut his belly upon the seppuku ritual. The proper ritual was that the moment the suicidee touches the knife, the other guy was supposed to slashes the head off.

Historians say that a Shinsengumi member Keisuke Sannan (or Yamanami) was one of the rarely brave people who let them wait until he actually cut a large part of his belly by himself.

In Japan today, any act of cutting the belly (such as accidents, murder or surgery) can be expressed as "hara o kiru". However "seppuku" only refers to the suicidal ritual. The word "harakiri" is hardly used in Japan today, but mainly is referred to "the way foreigners would express seppuku".

So if a guy tries to kill himself by trying to cut his belly without any planning in advance, he is likely to end up stabbing various parts of his body in hope to die, or run to his gun instead, and would simply be reported in Japan as "nankasho mo sashite juu de jisatsu shita (stabbed many places and killed himself with a gun)."
by Uco rate this post as useful

Yes 2006/4/13 00:06
You are correct, as always, Uco...I meant and should have explicitly said "In English,..."
by watagei rate this post as useful

I thought... 2007/11/4 12:13
I always thought there was a definite difference in the action. I've never been a samurai, let alone one who had good reason to take his own life, but I had the impression that hara-kiri was a stab, and seppuku was evisceration. Is there anything to this?
by St. Jimmy rate this post as useful

There IS a difference 2009/5/14 15:56
It is correct that both deal with suicide.

The principal difference between the two is that seppuku is the exalted term for ritual disembowelment. It carries with it all the ethics set forth in bushido and is performed to redeem oneself in times of failure or hardship.

Harakiri is the crude vulgar term for suicide.

The relationship to the two can be best described as the relationship between homicide and murder. One is formal and the other blunt.
by El Colombo (guest) rate this post as useful

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