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Tsujigiri

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  • Japanese: 辻斬 (tsuji giri)

Tsujigiri was the practice of a samurai striking down unarmed passersby (almost always a peasant, merchant, or other members of a lower class) in order to test the sharpness of a sword, determine the effectiveness of a new fighting style, or simply to experience the thrill of killing someone.

Tsujigiri literally means 'crossroads cutting', referring to the fact that practitioners would often lie in wait for their victims at crossroads. Despite tsujigiri being declared a capital offence by the Tokugawa bakufu, these attacks became increasingly prevalent during the Edo period when armed combat was no longer an outlet for samurai to engage in. Kabukimono gangs were notorious for this type of attack, indulging in these assaults for little more than kicks. Fuwa Kazuemon of the 47 Ronin was known to carry out tsujigiri assaults. Tsujigiri and similar types of assaults were a key reason for the formation of yakuza gangs in an attempt by commoners to defend themselves.


References

  • Rankin, Andrew. Seppuku. Tokyo:Kodansha International Ltd., 2011.
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