Tsujigiri (辻斬)

Tsujigiri stands for the action of a samurai who indiscriminately kills a passers-by with his blade on the street and was observed most frequently during the Edo period.

Tsujigiri started in the Middle Ages, but it became quite frequent from the Sengoku period (period of Warring States) to the Edo period. In 1602, the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) prohibited tsujigiri and announced that those who committed tsujigiri would be punished severely.

Samurai committed tsujigiri to, for example, demonstrate the sharpness of their sword, vent their stress, get money or valuable objects, or to practice their skill with the martial arts. There was also a belief that killing 1,000 people (sennin giri (killing one thousand people with a sword)) would cure bad diseases.

According to the story titled "Hachijuo Mukashi Monogatari," the road between the residences of Chiyarikuro NAGASAKA and Kyuemon SUDA in Bancho (the name of a place in the west of Chiyoda ward, Tokyo) and the residences of Hanemon OGURI, Shichirobe MAMIYA, and Mataemon TSUZUKI in Ushigome (residential area in the east of Shinjuku, Toyko) was more than 100 ken (181 m) in distance. Because this road was in a grassy and unpopulated area, it is believed that there were tsujigiri occurring every night on this road.

The 1st volume of "Kasshi Yawa" said, 'It has been said that, while Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was at the Shinpu-jo Castle, young individuals such as bakufu hatamoto (direct retainers of the bakufu) in Edo frequently committed tsujigiri and citizens were mourning the situation. (snip) Although rumors of tsujigiri occurring were occasionally heard, there was no one to capture them and it appeared that there were less and less individuals who were skilled in martial arts. (snip) Those who were at a high official rank announced that everyone should keep in mind that they must capture those who committed tsujigiri so that tsujigiri would stop in the end.'

[Original Japanese]