“Why is suicide such an important and recurring theme in Japanese culture?”
One of the answers is quite interesting. This answerer describes “the Japanese attitude toward death” very well.
“I think from a more metaphysical perspective, Japanese culture glorifies death. They enjoy watching cherry blossom not only when it’s blooming, but also when they wither and fall like snow. They make suicide into a glorious ritual, something almost required to do in certain situation (failed to do so would be considered dishonour). It is also considered a method to regain honour via death.
Chinese culture certainly have similar concept that connect death with honor, but not nearly as glorified, as so important an aspect of culture as Japanese had.
Reading Japanese novels and poems (and large amount of Japanese manga), I’m under the impression that death, especially planned suicide, is a beautiful thing for a lot of Japanese people. For some people, it might be the ONLY beautiful thing in their otherwise sad and depressing lives. It is not something you should be ashamed of or feel sad about. Japanese writers like Osamu Dazai, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Yasunari Kawabata and Yukio Mishima, had all committed suicide, and some of them had glorified suicide in their works (Dazai, I’m looking at you…).
I remember reading about Osamu Dazai, he once write about something like “I’m thinking about killing myself, but then I received this really well made Kimono (for summer), I thought I’d look good in it, I should wait until summer and wear it.” It is quite surprising to me that they talk about suicide with such a casual attitude, you can kill yourself and be done with it, or simple little pleasure of life can persuade you not to.
Of course, Dazai is an exceptional case. He probably suffered multiple mental problems. But this does speak something about Japanese culture and their fascination with a ‘glorified death’.”