The hidden soul of Japan – the 47 Ronin

I’ve known the story of the 47 Ronin since my teens.  It’s one of the most profound Japanese “factual myths”, and has shaped and formed the nation.  However, many Westerners don’t understand why that is, or why it should be.

Video blogger and former astronaut Chris Hadfield has a very interesting YouTube channel, Rare Earth.  In a series about Japan, he began by examining the legend of the 47 Ronin and trying to explain it to a Western audience.  I think he did a pretty good job.  Here it is.

I think that’s one of the best explanations I’ve ever seen or heard of the myth that grew up around the 47 Ronin.  The rest of the series about Japan is worth watching, too, and I return to Mr. Hadfield’s YouTube channel regularly to see what new videos he’s produced.  Good stuff.



  1. I watched a fair amount of the movie, but it was really slow and I had trouble following it (tended to fast-forward a lot).

  2. Interesting that this guy is running around this shrine to the foundational mythos of Japan in a funky t-shirt.

  3. Edo was the capital of the Shogun, who the daimyo danced attendance on in three rostered seasons.

    The Emperor, a largely ceremonial figure in this period, lived at Kyoto. Tokyo (as Edo was renamed) did not become the imperial capital until after 1868 and the Meiji Restoration.

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