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See These Haunting and Disturbing Images of a WWII SEPPUKU Ritual

For the samurai, the soul rested in the belly. That’s why the ritual suicide known as seppuku 切腹 was thought to release the soul into the afterlife. During seppuku, the samurai performed harakiri 腹切り, or the actual cutting of the abdomen in a ritual pattern. Seppuku was an honor, despite being a gory and painful way to die, releasing the samurai from whatever dishonor (voluntary) or battle loss (obligatory) led them to the ritual.

Obligatory seppuku could be requested by the victor of a conflict as a term of surrender and subsequent peace. In such cases, the leader(s) of the losing side were compelled to commit seppuku, thus removing all further political and military opposition to the victor.

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The following photos are of a WWII Japanese officer performing seppuku. It’s hard to tell if this is obligatory, because of the rifle pointed at his head at the time of harakiri, or if it’s voluntary with a little motivation from a friend. Either way, these images are haunting, the last few moments of a desperate man’s life. He was never able to see Japan rebuild itself from utter devastation into one of the world’s most advanced societies.

Images via documentingreality.com

Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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