Kiri-sute gomen

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Kiri-sute gomen[1] (斬捨御免 or 切捨御免?, literally, "authorization to cut and leave" - the body of the victim) is an old Japanese expression dating back to the feudal era right to strike (right of samurai to kill commoners for perceived affronts). Samurai had the right to strike with sword at anyone of a lower class who compromised their honour.

Conditions[edit]

Because the right was defined as a part of self defence, the strike had to follow immediately after the offence, meaning that the striker could not attack someone for a past grievance. Also, due to the right being self-defence, it was not permissible to deliver a further coup de grâce.

Right of defence[edit]

Because of the somewhat arbitrary nature of this right, anyone who was at the receiving end had the right to defend themselves by wakizashi (short sword). This situation was most common in the case of a higher samurai exercising the right against a lower ranked samurai as samurai would always carry wakizashi.

The expression is still sometimes used in modern-day as "I apologize in advance for this one" for the subtle humour in offering what amounts to an unsympathetic apology.

An instance of Kiri sute gomen is described in the story of the Hōgyū Jizō statue. A boy, whose father was killed by Kiri sute gomen, made 100 stone statues in later life, in Kumamoto.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kenkyusha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, ISBN 4-7674-2015-6