Many Samurai performed a sacrifice of their life. Thanks to their ingrained loyalty to their Lord’s well-being, such that if anything should happen to him, the Samurai would be obliged to perform an honorable death. It had to be the best of quality of death too. Nothing half-hearted, or without commitment.
This might seem strange now, but the samurai didn’t fear death. He walked with it every day. Being the target of bad terrorist ninjas infiltrating establishments, and other Samurai from warring clans.
It’s through such tales of Saikaku that stories such as “Tales of Samurai Honor” from 1688 by novelist Ihara Saikaku from Osaka. He wrote about his experience during the constant civil warfare that happened to precede the Edo period, which was more peaceful.
In the story, a famous Samurai has entrusted the children of his Lord, and another couple of children. All but one of the children make it across a swollen and dangerous river after not heeding the Samurai’s advice. He is so distraught after the drowning that he throws himself instantly into the ocean on feelings of guilt.
You can read more about how the journalist Michael Hoffman is looking at the life and loyalty of Samurai, and how that has come to influence much of today’s attitude about loyalty and love here.