On the night of December 14, 1703, the legendary 47 Ronin led by Oishi Kuranosuke made their attack on the mansion of Lord Kira, taking his head in revenge for the death of their lord two years prior.
The story goes that Lord Kira was to instruct Lord Asano of Ako in the ways of court at Edo (Tokyo) but expected a bribe in return. The proud Lord Asano refused to pay the bribe, and so he was publicly humiliated by Lord Kira, and drew his short sword within the confines of Edo Castle, a grave offense, and struck at Kira, wounding him.
The lord was dead, and the clan was abolished!
For his actions, Asano was ordered to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) and his clan abolished. His men, who had been cast out because of this, reformed on the night of December 14, attacked Kira’s mansion, killing the old lord. Taking Kira’s head to the Sengakuji Temple and the grave of their master, the brave samurai then turned themselves into the authorities. For having upheld samurai honor, and seeking revenge for the death of their lord, despite causing a public nuisance, they were ordered to commit seppuku in the grounds of the Sengakuji Temple the following February where their graves stand to this day.
The 47 RONIN STORY
Interestingly, despite the many Kabuki dramas, books, movies and TV shows surrounding the incident and popular belief, the instigator was not Lord Kira, who has unfairly been portrayed as the villain, but Lord Asano, who was known to be somewhat unstable and hot headed, even having slashed and killed his own retainers in times of anger. The vendetta is remembered every December 14, as the actual incident took place on the 14th day of the 12th month by the old Japanese calendar, or January 30 1703 by the modern calendar.
Lord Kira, it appears, was far from the villainous character we see in the movies. He was highly respected by the Shogun and governed his lands in Kira Cho, modern day Aichi Prefecture well. Well enough in fact, that to this day the locals still regard him as a victim of the ronin.