The History of Ako

The History of Ako

Ako, a small Japanese town is perfect for a short stay for tourists. For those who are looking for a remote destination away from the crowds, maybe Ako can be a recommendation.

I’m located far from tourist areas like Kyoto or Horshima. Even so, Ako is not very well known by foreign tourists. But for lovers of Japanese history and culture, you must visit Ako.

Ako is not only a great place to admire traditional architecture but also a place to learn about the old methods of making salt. You’ll also find home to one of the most famous samurai groups from ancient times in Japanese history, the 47 Ronin.

History of the 47 Ronin of Ako

47 Ronin or Masterless Samurai is already known by most Japanese people by the name Chushingura. Ronin is based on the true events of the Ako incident that occurred in the 18th century.

This incident inspired many famous dramas, novels and even films to this day. It was even adapted by Hollywood in the 2013 film “47 Ronin,” which starred Keanu Reeves alongside internationally renowned Japanese actors, such as Sanada Hiroyuki and Kikuchi Rinko.

In 1675, Asano Naganori became the ruler of Ako when he was just 9 years old just after his father died. As usual he would certainly be appointed to a small temporary office before finally being made the original leader.

In 1701, he began to be appointed to serve as acting under Kira Yoshinaka to host envoys from the Edo era empire. Yoshinaka is in charge of teaching proper court manners for this occasion, but he views himself as lowly and quite rude.

The tension between the two men grew bigger by the day. When Yoshinaka harshly insulted Naganori during their assignment to edo castle, he couldn’t take it anymore and contacted his sword against Yoshinaka.

However he was only able to injure Yoshinaka’s back and forehead before the guards separated them. Drawing one’s sword in the Shogun’s castle and attacking a superior was a grave offense.

As punishment, Naganori had to commit seppuku or ritual suicide, and his palace and land were confiscated. This is what makes all his followers become Ronin no masters.

The 47 Ronin of Naganori are very loyal and under the leadership of Oishi Kuranosuke they have sworn revenge. Even so they must know that by revenge killing Kira Yoshinaka will make them violate the law.

But Yoshinaka’s residence at that time was well guarded and he even hoped that Oshi’s men would attack him. So at that very moment 47 Ronin became Monks and merchants to pretend to live life like ordinary people to make them believed not to be a threat to Yoshinaka.

It is said that Oishi even moved to Kyoto, where he frequented the city’s red-light districts and got drunk most nights. He sacrificed his entire reputation and honor just to clear himself of the slightest suspicion. This is so that he is not suspected of taking revenge on his master.

After nearly two years, Yoshinaka finally caught his guard. On the night of December 14, 1702, Oishi and his men attacked Yoshinaka’s house in Edo. They found Yoshinaka, killed him, and laid his head in front of their master’s grave to report the success of their revenge.

The shogunate officials were confused because the hearts of the people belonged to the 47 Ronin and they had fulfilled the samurai’s ideals with each other to their lord to death. But they broke the law which meant they also had to be punished.

The result was that they were all ordered to commit Seppuku, because Japan at that time was more honorable to commit suicide than to Execution. On February 4, 1703, all the Ronin committed Seppuku except for 1 person who fled when they started the attack.

Traces of the 47 Ronin in Ako

The story of the 47 Ronin has actually been known for a very long time. So I really had the opportunity to visit several places related to them.

Even though the inland sea of ​​seto is known as a sunny day all year round, somehow I can visit on a rainy day. But this doesn’t make us lose any joy.

Ako Castle is a castle built by order of Asano Naganoi, the grandfather of Naganori. It took 13 years to complete this Construction. Although the 17th century was a time of relative peace under the strict Tokugawa government.

The castle was designed with defense in mind by two knowledgeable military Strategists. The entrance to the castle is not straight. But you will find an image of the walls arranged concentrically and through the gates facing in different directions.

The purpose of the path is to make it difficult for attackers to enter. This also gives defenders more time to attack them with guns and arrows through gaps in the wall.

The castle’s location is near the Chikusagawa River in the east and the Seto Inland Sea in the south, making it an easy castle to defend. The castle was demolished after samurai rule ended in the 19th century, but has been largely restored.

The rest were designated as national historic sites in 1971. Most have been converted into parks for scenic views.

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