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Harakiri by Hiromi Ito

Cherry blossoms are falling

I once met a harakiri fanatic named Mr. O

And asked him “Who would you like to see commit harakiri

Among all the famous actors in Japan?”

And Mr. O said,

“Well, I’ve never thought about it . . .”

Then he folded his arms across his chest,

Looked up and groaned.

“Ummmm . . .” he said,

“I guess it would have to be Masaya Oki.

He jumped off the Keio Plaza Hotel.

I liked the expression on his face before he died,

So I can easily imagine him committing harakiri.

“How would you make him do it?” I asked, picturing him

Disemboweling himself in the clean white robes of Asano Takumi no Kami.

“He’d have to be naked. He’d have to do it

Standing up,” said Mr. O.

“Where would you make him do it?”

“Ummmm . . .,” he said,

“It must be in a graveyard.

The graveyard where the

Cherry blossoms are falling.”

Cherry blossoms are falling

“Do you mean he is

Totally naked under his robe?”

“No, he should wear a loincloth

Tight around his penis,

Covering every erogenous zone

From the penis to the perineum to the asshole.”

Cherry blossoms are falling

Random stupas line the graveyards

ha ha

“It’s a little kinky,

But it will do.”

“Will Masaya Oki die in great pain, or . . .?” I asked.

“Yes, he should suffer. He should be in agony for a long time.

Then he will die and become my double,” said Mr. O

Who wore a tight white loincloth,

Stood up and disemboweled himself.

Harakiri should be beautiful, he thinks.

After all, it is the male aesthetic.

He thinks it should be cherry blossoms

He thinks it should be cherry blossoms

In full bloom

He thinks cherry blossoms in full bloom

Should fall

He wants to die while he is

Still beautiful

He will be sixty in a few years

He thinks harakiri is Asano Takumi no Kami

He thinks Yukio Mishima beat him to it.

He thinks graveyards should have stupas

He thinks harakiri should be committed

Under the cherry blossoms

ha ha

“I know, it’s kind of sick,” he said.

He thinks bushido should have cherry blossoms

He thinks samurai are always

Looking for a place to die.

I failed to hear

If his ancestors were samurai.

He thinks pain will become pleasure

If he trains himself

“That’s why I’m training myself now,” he says,


I’m sure it’s extremely exciting

To commit harakiri facing a woman

Mr. O says,




ha ha


cherry blossoms




It’s really kind of kinky.

From Other Side River: Free Verse, © 1995 by Hiromi Ito. Translation by Leza Lowitz and Miyuki Aoyama. By permission of Stone Bridge Press.

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©2000 Hiromi Ito and Nerve Publishing