On February 28, 1936, on the third day after the military putsch, organized by a group of young nationalist officers, who were dissatisfied with a too liberal government, Guards Lieutenant Shinji Takeyama, unable to reconcile himself with the order of the emperor who condemned the uninvited defenders and ordered the suppression of the mutiny, made hara-kiri own saber. His wife Reiko followed the example of her husband and also lost her life. The lieutenant turned thirty-one, his wife – twenty-three. Since the day of their wedding, half a year has not passed.
Everyone who attended the wedding or at least saw the wedding photo admired the beauty of the young couple. On the day of the wedding, the lieutenant knelt a naked saber to his knees and told Reiko that the officer’s wife should be ready to let her husband die, and even very soon. In response, Reiko took out the most precious thing, given to her by her mother before the wedding, a dagger-and silently put the exposed blade on her lap. Thus, a silent contract was concluded between the spouses.
The young people lived in peace and harmony. Reiko never contradicted her husband. On the altar in the living room of their house stood a photograph of the imperial family, and each morning the spouses bowed low to the portrait. On the morning of February 26, hearing an alarm, the lieutenant jumped from his bed, quickly dressed, grabbed a saber and left the house. About what happened, Reiko learned from the
Reiko was touched by her husband’s trust. She knew how important it was for her husband to make the ritual of his death perfect. The hara-kiri must certainly have a witness, and the fact that he chose her for this role spoke of great respect. A sign of confidence was that the lieutenant wanted to die first, because he could not verify whether she would fulfill her promise. Many suspicious husbands first killed their wives, and then themselves. The young couple was filled with joy, their faces lit up with a smile. Reiko seemed to be waiting for them one more wedding night. The lieutenant took a bath, shaved and looked in the face of his wife. Not seeing in him the slightest sign of sadness, he admired her self-control and again thought that he was not mistaken in the choice. While Reiko was taking a bath, the lieutenant got up into the bedroom and began to think about what he was waiting for – death or sensual pleasure.
One expectation was layered on the other, and it seemed that death was the object of his lust. The consciousness that this night of love is the last in their life gave their pleasure a special refinement and purity. Looking at the beautiful wife, the lieutenant was glad that he would die first and not see the death of this beauty. Getting up from bed, the couple began to prepare for death. They wrote farewell letters. Lieutenant wrote: “Long live the Imperial Army!” Reiko left a letter to her parents, where she asked for forgiveness for leaving her life before they were. Having written letters, the couple approached the altar and bowed in prayer. The lieutenant sat down on the floor with his back to the wall and put his sword on his knees. He warned his wife that the sight of his death would be difficult, and asked her not to lose courage. Expecting his death is no less honorable than death on the battlefield. For a moment, he even thought, that he would die in two dimensions at once: in battle, and in the eyes of his beloved wife. This thought filled him with bliss. At that moment his wife became for him the personification of all the saint himself: the Emperor, the Motherland, the Battle-Banner.
Reiko, watching her husband prepare for death, also thought that there was hardly a more beautiful sight in the world. The lieutenant bared the blade and wrapped it with a white cloth. To check if the sharp saber is enough, he first slashed his leg. Then he thrust the point into the lower left abdomen. He felt a sharp pain. Reiko was sitting next to her and struggled to keep herself from rushing to her husband’s help. The blade was stuck in the entrails, and it was difficult for the lieutenant to lead him to the right. When the blade reached the middle of the abdomen, the lieutenant experienced a surge of courage. Bringing the blade to the right side of the abdomen, the lieutenant growled in pain. With a final effort of will, he sent the blade to his throat, but could not get into it. His strength was running out. Reiko crawled to her husband and opened the gates of his tunic wider. Finally, the edge of the blade pierced his throat and came out under the back of his head.
Reiko went downstairs. She put on her make-up face, then went to the front door and unlocked it: she did not want their bodies to be found only when they were already beginning to decompose. Again rising, she kissed the dead man’s lips. Sitting next to him, she took a dagger from behind her belt and touched it lightly with her tongue. The metal was sweet. The young woman thought that she would soon connect with her beloved. In her heart was only joy. It seemed to her that she felt the sweet bitterness of the Great Sense, to which her husband believed. Reiko put the dagger to her throat and pressed it, but the wound was very shallow. She gathered all her strength and thrust the dagger into her throat to the very hilt.