Shizai (Edo Period) (死罪 (江戸時代))

Shizai is one of the 6 types of capital punishment imposed on commoner criminals in the Edo Period, in which the criminal was beheaded and the corpse was used to test the sharpness of swords. Additionally, the property of the criminal was seized, and neither burial nor funeral was allowed for the executed criminal. If the offense was grave, additional punishment could be imposed by dragging the criminal on the streets.

This form of capital punishment was imposed for robbery (forcible burglary), brigandage, and fraud, etc. Kujigata-osadamegaki (the code of law under the Edo shogunate) provided that shizai is imposed on theft, even when not involving violence against victims, so long as the amount stolen is 10 ryo (Currency unit of the Edo Period). Even when the amount stolen is below 10 ryo, if the thief has two convictions for larceny, shizai is automatically imposed regardless of the amount stolen.

The platform on which the beheaded corpse was placed for testing the sharpness of swords was called dotanba.

[Original Japanese]