Tsujigiri (辻斬り or 辻斬, literally crossroads killing) is a Japanese term for a practice when a samurai, after receiving a new katana or developing a new fighting style or weapon, tests its effectiveness by attacking a human opponent, usually a random defenseless passer-by, in many cases during nighttime. The practitioners themselves are also referred to as tsujigiri.
In the medieval era, the term referred to traditional duels between bushi, but in the Sengoku period (1467–1600), widespread anarchy caused it to degrade into indiscriminate murder, permitted by the unchecked power of the bushi. Shortly after order was restored, the Edo government prohibited the practice in 1602. Offenders would receive capital punishment. The only known incident where a very large number of people were indiscriminately killed in the Edo period was the 1696 Yoshiwara spree killing (吉原百人斬り), where a wealthy lord had a psychotic fit and murdered dozens of prostitutes with a katana. He was treated by authorities as a spree killer and sentenced to death. Later, a kabuki play was made about the incident.
The practice of tsujigiri has been cited in the philosophical debate over moral relativism, notably by Mary Midgley in her 1989 work Can't We Make Moral Judgements? and in Heart and Mind: The Varieties of Moral Experience (1981).[further explanation needed]
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