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The Samurai

Samurais are warriors of feudal Japan who served their lord with unswerving loyalty
and unquestioning obedience. They prized honor above all and were expected to
commit hara-kiri(suicide) if they fell into dishonour. (book)
After the Taika reforms of 646 CE That included land redistribution and heavy new
taxes, many small farmers had to sell their land and work as tenant farmers.
Meanwhile, a few large landholders amassed power and wealth, creating a feudal
system similar to medieval Europe's.
As in Europe, the new feudal lords needed warriors to defend their riches. Thus, the
samurai warrior (or "bushi") was born.(
Samurais defend the territory and properties of their lords. They also go to war to
fight their masters enemies. But they are not confined to a purely military role.
Some samurais became scholars. They were civil and military administrators,
clergymen, artists, and esthetes. Others are only family members but all are
expected to be familiar with their martial role.(page 6 Samurai 1550-1600 Anthony
Effect of bushido to modern Japan
Today wherever you look in modern Japan you will find some of the values of
Bushido. Japanese have the highest value, respect and loyalty to their country and
families. The idea of dishonouring a family member would not even cross their
mind. If one look at the cutler or religions now a day in Japan, the two largest
religions are Buddhism and Shintoism, which are, both guided form Bushido.
Bushido also has a large impact on Japans very close together or that if someone
does badly it is considered shameful. All these things are associated with Bushido
values. So overall we think even though Bushido has no more military or political
power, the rules are still with the Japanese everyday. We think that the bushido
code has not only improved the quality of life in Japan but also the people
there. (
Wearing a long sword(katana) or (tachi) together with a smaller sword such as a
wakizashi or tant became the symbol of the samurai, this combination of swords is
referred to as a daish (literally "big and small"). During the Edo period only
samurai were allowed to wear a daisho.( Karl F. Friday (2004). Samurai, warfare and
the state in early medieval Japan. Psychology Press. pp. 7880. ISBN 978-0-41532963-7. Retrieved 5 November 2011.)
The yumi (longbow), reflected in the art of kyjutsu (lit. the skill of the bow) was a
major weapon of the Japanese military. The yumi, an asymmetric composite

bow made from bamboo, wood, rattan and leather, had an effective range of 50 or
100 meters (160 or 330 feet) if accuracy was not an issue. ( Kathleen Haywood;
Catherine Lewis (2006). Archery: steps to success. Human Kinetics.
pp. 10.ISBN 978-0-7360-5542-0. Retrieved9 April 2011.)
Pole weapons including the yari and naginata were commonly used by the
(Stephen Turnbull (11 April 2008).The Samurai Swordsman: Master of War. Tuttle
Publishing. pp. 65.ISBN 978-4-8053-0956-8. Retrieved9 April 2011.)
The first types of Japanese armors identified as samurai armor were known
as yoroi. These early samurai armors were made from small individual scales known
as kozane. The kozane were made from either iron or leather and were bound
together into small strips, the strips were coated with lacquer to protect the kozane
from water. A series of strips of kozane were then laced together with silk or leather
lace and formed into a complete chest armor (dou or d).[37]
In the 1500s a new type of armor started to become popular due to the advent of
firearms, new fighting tactics and the need for additional protection. The kozane
dou made from individual scales was replaced by plate armor. This new armor,
which used iron plated dou (d), was referred to as Tosei-gusoku, or modern armor.
(Clive Sinclaire (1 November 2004).Samurai: The Weapons and Spirit of the
Japanese Warrior. Globe Pequot. pp. 32. ISBN 978-1-59228-720-8. Retrieved 5
November 2011.)
Most samurai were bound by a code of honor and were expected to set an example
for those below them. A notable part of their code is seppuku (
seppuku?) or hara kiri, which allowed a disgraced samurai to regain his honor by
passing into death, where samurai were still beholden to social rules. The
ceremonial disembowelment, which is usually part of a more elaborate ritual and
performed in front of spectators, consists of plunging a short blade, traditionally
a tant, into the abdomen and drawing the blade from left to right, slicing open the
Samurai functioned as the warrior class in Japan; they constituted about 7-8% of the
population. The other classes were prohibited from possessing weapons. Carrying
two swords became the symbol of the samurai class.

During the feudal period, samurai were warriors that fought for a lord in
a feudalrelationship. The Edo period, however, was largely free from both external
threats and internal conflicts. Instead the samurai maintained their fighting skills
more as an art than to fight. Samurai were paid a stipend from their lord, limiting
their ties to the economic base. In addition, samurai were limited from owning land
which would have given them income independent from their duty. Samurai
generally lived around their daimyo's castle, creating a thriving town or city
environment around the political center of a domain.(

"Bushido" is a modern term rather than a historical one. The "way" itself originates
from the samurai moral values, most commonly stressing some combination
of frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death. Bushido was also
influenced by Shinto and Zen Buddhism, allowing the violent existence of the
samurai to be tempered bywisdom and serenity.( "The Zen of Japanese
Nationalism," by Robert H. Shart, inCurators of the Buddha, edited by Donald Lopez,
p. 111)
In Bushido (1899), Nitobe wrote:
...Bushid, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were
required or instructed to observe.... More frequently it is a code unuttered
and unwritten.... It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of
military career. In order to become a samurai this code has to be mastered.
He found in Bushido, the Way of the Warrior, the sources of the eight virtues
most admired by his people: rectitude, courage,
benevolence, politeness, sincerity, honor, loyalty and self-control.
Emperor Meiji abolished the samurai's right to be the only armed force in favor of a
more modern, western-style, conscripted army in 1873. Samurai
became Shizoku () who retained some of their salaries, but the right to wear a
katana in public was eventually abolished along with the right
to executecommoners who paid them disrespect. The samurai finally came to an
end after hundreds of years of enjoyment of their status, their powers, and their
ability to shape the government of Japan.