The homie Allen Poe is back once again, and to commemorate his first release for 2016, he’s brought with him a visual for his last single, “Hara Kiri,” which some of you may or may not know is another word for the honorable code known as seppuku.
As a Japanese-American, I’d like to share an interesting story that ties back to this ritual. One that is not very well known in the story books. In 1942, nearly a year after the Japanese bombed Pear Harbor, a floatplane pilot named Nobuo Fujita disembarked from a Japanese I-25 submarine near Cape Blanco, off the coast of Oregon. His mission was to drop two 170 pound bombs over the state, in order to “to start a forest fire on the Pacific coast.”
Ultimately (and thankfully), the attack was fruitless, as “the U.S. Forest Service was able to react quickly and extinguish any blaze before it had a chance to rage out of control.”
Twenty years later, in 1962, Mr. Fujita, who was terribly guilt-ridden from his failed mission, decided to donate $1,000 in books about Japan to the town of Brookings which he attempted to carpet with fire and destruction. As a way to express their gratitude, the town’s governor invited Mr. Fujita for a visit, paid for by the town’s citizens.
Not knowing whether or not he’d receive a cold-hearted welcome, Nobuo decided it was wise to bring a 400-year old samurai sword, passed down for generations in his family, to the visit. He “had decided to carry the sword so that if necessary he could appease their fury by committing ritual suicide, disemboweling himself with the sword in the traditional Japanese method known as seppuku.”
Fortunately, Mr. Fujita received a rather warm welcome, and “was deeply moved by the way the people of Brookings treated him.” As a sign of gratitude and a show of respect, Fujita presented the centuries-old sword to the town – where it still sits in a display case in the Brookings library to this day.