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End Of Japanese Samurai
By: David Watkins
Japanese Feudalism Facts
• For more than 200 years, from 1600 to 1868, the entire Japanese
social structure revolved around support of the samurai military
establishment. During that time period, though, there were no major
wars. Most samurai served as bureaucrats.
• The samurai class basically lived on a form of social security. They
were paid a set stipend, in rice, and did not get raises for cost-ofliving increases. As a result, some samurai families had to turn to
the manufacture of small goods like umbrellas or toothpicks to make
a living. They would secretly pass these items on to peddlers to sell.
Definition - a hereditary military dictator of
Japan; the shoguns ruled Japan until the
revolution of 1867-68
Definition - the Japanese Lord of the Land
(10th - 19th century Japan). It is literally
"Great Names", these were the heads of
powerful clans who controlled domains
and provinces in medieval Japan
Definition - a Japanese warrior who was a
member of the feudal military aristocracy
Code of Bushido
• Of ancient origin, it grew out of the old feudal bond that required
unwavering loyalty on the part of the vassal. It borrowed heavily
from Zen Buddhism and Confucianism. In its fullest expression the
code emphasized loyalty to one's superior, personal honor, and the
virtues of austerity, self-sacrifice, and indifference to pain. For the
warrior, commerce and the profit motive were to be scorned. The
code was first formulated in the Kamakura period (1185—
1333) and
put into writing in the 16th cent.; the term itself, however, did not
come into use until the 17th cent.
• Japan. In the mid-19th century Bushidō was made the basis of
ethical training for the whole society, with the emperor replacing the
feudal lord, or daimyo, as the object of loyalty and sacrifice. As such
it contributed to the rise of Japanese nationalism and to the
strengthening of wartime civilian morale up to 1945.
Samurai Weapons
The first samurai swords we're actually straight bladed, single edged
weapons imported from Korea and China known as chokuto, which were
later replaced with the curved blade variety at the end of the 8th Century.
The name of the curved blade swords which replaced them was Tachi. The
reason for this transformation was samurai found that a curved sword could
be drawn from the scabbard more swiftly and provided a far more effective
cutting angle.
The point of a samurai sword is called a Kissaki. This is the hardest part of
the sword to polish and forge and to hand create a quality one would require
an extremely skilful artisan. The value of a sword is determined largely by
the quality of the point.
Samurai would use wooden swords (Bokken) for practice for safety reasons
as well as for preserving their real swords from unnecessary damage
Samurai Women
• Nonetheless, for thousands of years, certain upper class Japanese
women have learned martial skills and participated in fighting.
• Between the 12th and 19th centuries, many women of the samurai
class learned how to handle the sword and the naginata (a blade on
a long staff) primarily to defend themselves and their homes. In the
event that their castle was overrun by enemy warriors, the women
were expected to fight to the end and die with honor, weapons in
• Some young women were such skilled fighters that they rode out to
war beside the men, rather than sitting at home and waiting for war
to come to them. Here are pictures of some of the most famous
among them.
Samurai Hair
• A top knot is the most common hair style
for Samurai’s. Hair is really important to
End Of Japanese Samurai
• The Samurai rose to prominence in the Heian Period of
Japanese history, which was between the periods of AD 794
to AD 1185. The powerful Daimyo began to hire these
Samurai warriors to protect their properties.
As the Japanese feudal lords grew in power, they continued
to fight within themselves for more land and more power. This
increased the importance of these Samurai Warriors.
In 1192, a new military government was established by
Minamoto Yoritomo, who was the ‘Shogun’ (the richest and
most powerful Daimyo in the land) and the highest military
officer. He also became the ruler of Japan.