Peace — what a waste. A nation’s fighting spirit seethes in vain. “The loyalty and courage of its fine soldiers remain hidden,” laments the narrator as the curtain rises on the “Chushingura” (Treasury of Loyal Retainers), Japan’s great revenge drama. First performed as a puppet play in 1748, it stirs audiences to this day. You’d think time had stood still, for all the play’s spread to media (film, TV, the internet) then undreamed of.

Now as then audiences thrill with the ardor, courage, heroism and above all — samurai virtue of virtues — fierce, unyielding, unquestioning, unthinking, unblinking, absolute, unconditional loyalty, obedience and self-sacrifice to one’s lord that are the play’s theme.

How to explain its indestructible appeal through changing times that make virtual nonsense of all it stands for?