The record here comes from a Dutch merchant, in 1611 AD Edo Japan, who was told this story by a missionary. Apparently, a samurai had wanted to convert and flee with the Europeans. The samurai had told the priest that he belonged to a secret cult, called the “Society of Life”, a secret organization that was founded, and ultimately reported to, Shogun Tokugawa Ieaysu himself. The mission of this group was to covertly find, combat, and dispatch what can only be described as zombies. Initiates were trained similar to ninja, with combat emphasis on evading holds and decapitating the enemy. The reported final test was to have the initiate locked in a room for an entire night with only the still-moaning heads of decapitate ghouls lining the walls for company. Apparently, the samurai in question was assassinated before he could reach the pier.
Although the official account has a number of mistranslations, misconceptions, and unsupported facts, if the Society of Life did in fact exist, it may explain why there have been no major zombie outbreaks in Japan until the twentieth century. This secret society was the precursor to the tatenokai, founded in the twenty-first century, during World War Z.
About Edo Japan: The Edo period or Tokugawa period, Tokugawa jidai. Is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country’s 300 regional daimyō. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, “no more wars”, and popular enjoyment of arts and culture. The shogunate was officially established in Edo on March 24, 1603, by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period came to an end with the Meiji Restoration on May 3, 1868, after the fall of Edo.