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Akō (赤穂市, Akō-shi) is a city located in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan.

As of 2008, the city’s population was estimated at 51,642 in a total area of 126.85 square kilometres.

Ako city was officially founded on September 1, 1951. It is most famous for as the home of Chushingura, the 47 loyal samurai (see below) and as a salt producing centre.

Ako city is committed to retaining its heritage and preserving the nature of the area. At the same time the city is moving forward by making the most of its natural resources.

Like the City of Rockingham, Ako continues to grow and evolve. It is becoming a more comfortable place with a higher standard of living for its citizens. It is also a welcoming place for visitors.

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The Loyal Samurai

Ako is most known as the home of the 47 Loyal Samurai. The story of their vengeance for their lord has been told and printed as a national epic of Japan for 300 years. Even today they are retold in movies and TV dramas.

The Ako story started on March 14, 1701, in the Edo (Tokyo) Castle. The feudal lord of the Ako clan, Asano Naganori, injured Kira Yoshinaka, with a sword in a corridor of the Edo Castle. This was strictly forbidden, according to the law of the time. Both parties to arguments were considered to be at fault and usually punished. Lord Kira was declared not guilty and Lord Asano was sentenced to commit ritual suicide (seppuku) that day. Because of this his band of 269 warriors became masterless, or in Japanese ronin. One year later, on December 14, 47 of the ronin led by Oishi Kuranosuke stormed Kira's mansion and avenged their master.

This action was praised and admired by people as a paragon of the samurai spirit. However, they too were sentenced to commit suicide by seppuku by order of the shogunate. Their willingness to sacrifice their own lives out of loyalty to their lord impressed people. The Gishi Festival dedicated to the 47 Loyal Samurai, takes place on December 14 every year, and attracts around 100,000 tourists.

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