Death before dishonour
Hara kiri more correctly called Seppuka is a form of ritual suicide. The sword used was a tanto (dagger) or a wakizashi (short sword). To be captured was worse then death. With the vilest forms of torture being applied. It was better to die honourably by ones own hand. The samurai women used a very small dagger, which they used for cutting a vein in their neck. For the samurai it involved cutting your bowels open. At the exact moment you complete your cut your loyal retainer or fellow samurai is supposed to cut your head off minimising the period of agony. Seppuka could also be used as a form of atonement for breaking various parts of the bushshido code or letting your master down in a dishonourable way.
Believe it or not there where advantages to Seppuka if you where not allowed to commit Seppuka then your lands and property where forfeit leaving your family destitute. If your acts where considered to low then the punishment was beheading like a common criminal