In the movies, harakiri appeared very real.
Realistically, it’s not clear how often the practice of ritual suicide—or seppuku—was voluntarily carried out to clear a samurai’s honor.
The practice was more frequently used as a form of punishment, not as a completely voluntary act. What was involved is also often portrayed inaccurately:
After donning white clothes and ritually washing himself, the warrior wrapped his sword in paper, then cut his own abdomen, an act generally called hara-kiri (loosely translated to mean “belly” and “cut”; maybe from the Japanese verb kiru: “to cut”).
Following this, to end his excruciatingly painful suffering, the warrior’s most trusted friend would chop his head off from behind.
Seppuku would then be complete, and not a minute too soon.