Samurai By: Rut Patel period 7

The Rise of a Military Society

In 1185 Minamoto Yoritomo came to power and later on in 1192 was titled the first shogun of Japan. He set up a military society in the capitol named Kamakura. This new government setup started a new era of trained professional Japanese warriors known as samurai. Soon after Yoritomo along with his successors rewarded and gave samurai land and in return samurai pledged to serve and protect the shogun. This system was is known as the lord vassal system.

Minamoto Yoritomo

Samurai Armor, Weapons, and Fighting

Armor: A samurai wore heavy armor when heading into battle. Under the armor they wore a colorful polychromatic traditional outfit called kimono along with baggy trousers. The samurai's armor was plated with small metal square coated with lacquer so the armor would act like carbon fiber. Light and flexible but furiously strong. Boxlike panels were used to protect the back and chest. Metal sleeves were used to protect his hands and arms. Shoulder guards that hung over hips provided extra support and protection. Some samurai wore thigh guards the protect their legs. Lastly samurai would burn scent into their helmets so if they would get assassinated their head would smell pleasant.

Weapons: A samurai's main weapons were a sword, arrow, bow, and spear. A bow and arrow acquired a lot of skill, stamina, strength, endurance. A bow was mainly made of bamboo and were nearly 7 feet long. A sword is a samurai's main weapon and was often rewarded to them by prize or a family ornament. Swordsmiths were so skillful that some swords were claimed to come with superpowers.

Katana a famous and traditional weapon of a samurai

Fighting: A samurai would have to tackle a lot of obstacles in order to strike their enemies down with a bow and arrow. Samurai would ride up to their enemy close enough to shoot the arrow right through their armor. While on ground fighting was much more easier it was more dangerous as well. Samurai were in risk of being shot by an arrow or spear any moment. Samurai used spears to knock off horsemen or to jab their enemy with thrust. A samurai's main weapon is the sword. The sword was mainly for cutting and slashing the victim or assassinating them.

Samurai Training and the Warrior Code

The samurai again are very skilled, precise, and brace. But becoming a samurai took place since your childhood. Samurai were trained to defend themselves as younglings. They had to be trained physically but also mentally as well.

Becoming of a Samurai:

1. Becoming a samurai began at birth. You had to be born or adopted from samurai parents.

2. As you grew you had to be right handed because in military training they taught to fight with the right hand.

3. At age 7 you started school and had to learn how to cooperate unselfishly.

4. At age 10 you had to be in school for 12 hours a day and leaned to fight just as well as your subjects.

5. You heard about old samurai stories and victories of the top samurai and learned about battle techniques.

6. They were also taught how to respect elders, how to be mentally disipline, and have good manners.

7. At age 13 to 15 they officially became adults after the genbuku ceremony.

8. When samurai were adults they were given new hairstyles and armor so they were ready for battle.

Physical: Samurai were taught to fight with a bow and arrow in their early stages. Young warriors were also trained to use a bow and arrow on top of a galloping horse while knowing how to breathe during them shooting arrows. Bow and arrow were really hard to fight with because they were 7-8 feet long! They trained until they could shoot arrows without thinking. While swordsmanship and fencing was equally difficult as well. Samurai needed to know how to force their opponent to make the first move, or to sty out of their enemy's sword range, samurai also were very crucially skilled in fighting in tight spot or against more than one opponent. Sometimes in battle samurai will eventually break their swords apart so samurai were trained to fight continuously without weapons using other objects or martial arts which is using your opponent strength against them.

Mental: Even though samurai were a great warriors they were also trained mentally. These warriors were trained to how self-control and always be prepared. Samurai trained themselves to endure pain and suffering. Samurai would starve themselves for days, walk in snow barefoot for miles, and would stay in uncomfortable postures for hours. Samurai did this to gain self controll. Samurai also needed to overcome the fear of death. They did this by thinking themselves as already dead. Samurai we're always ready and prepared and in their training they developed a six sense which could sense danger. Their master attacked them with the wooden sword whenever they least expected it.

Bushido: A code followed by all samurai in the 17th century took its final form as Bushido " The Way of the Warrior". Bushido governed many samurai's life it made them honest, fair, and fearless against the face of death. Samurai valued loyalty and personal honor more than their own lives.

Other Values, Customs, Ideals: A separate supreme duty was to be loyal and willing to die for his lord. And if for some reason the lord dies the samurai will be destined to avenge his lord's death. Samurai were also known to guard their honor even the smallest things could begin a deadly duel. If a samurai betrays his own lord or lets his old Lord die he'll have to commit seppuku a ritual suicide.

Seppeku: Is a ritual suicide preformed as a punishment if broken the code of the samurai also known as Bushido. There were many reasons why samurai would commit seppeku. Some reasons are to preserve their personal honor, preventing themselves from getting captured in battle, paying the penalty price for a crime or a shameful deed, or insulting someone who has a higher rank. Some samurai killed themselves if their lord died. After this became a elaborate ceremony guests were invited to come and watch the samurai kill himself the samurai would first take a bath then unbind his hair and wear white clothes in which the corpse was covered with then he would be fed his favorite foods. After this finishes The samurai will plunge a small sword into his abdomen spilling all of his guts and internal organs out. Quickly someone behind the him will cut his head off to end the samurai's agony.

Training in Writing, Literature, and Tea Ceremony

Writing & Literature: Samurai great warriors along with being great intelligent students of Japan. They were trained in writing and literature as well. They were very good at calligraphy. Their main tools were a brush, block of ink, paper or silk. They would wet the block, rub it against the rock until it was just the right consistency and they started to brush with their brush using ink. Samurai were also great writers as well. They wrote many poems including haikus. Haiku was made by a famous samurai named Matsuo Basho. It consists of 17 symbols in just three lines. The first line with 5 syllables second line with 7 syllables and third line with 5 syllables.

Tea Ceramony: Samurai were also incredibly trained in tea ceremonies. Tea ceremonies were used to help gain more political alliances along with revealing the spirit of harmony, reverence, and calmn. Guests would come from a small door and wait as the tea master would make the tea. Then they would all take only five sips then would give it back to the tea master to make more tea for e new guest.

Spiritual Training

A monk from the 12th century called Honen made a popular form of Amida Buddhism. The followers of Amida Buddhism believed that everybody could reach paradise. Amida was an Indian prince. When he became a Buddhist, he made a paradise called the "Pure Land". He said that people could enter this paradise by chanting Amida's name up to 70,000 times in one day. When a follower dies, bodhisattvas would escort the follower into the "Pure Land".

Zen Buddhism is about focusing within yourself and helped samurai with overcoming fear of death, they could focus within themselves and their minds. Some people had Zen gardens to meditate and relax. 

Women in Samurai History

Women were a big part in the Japanese society. Many of them were samurai in the 12th-century they enjoyed honor and respect and by the 17 century they were treated subordinate then their husbands.

12th Century: Samurai woman in the 12th-century loved honor and respect when their husband died they could own all their household property and take on the duties of their husband. Even though woman rarely went in war they were expected to be as brave and loyal as men.

17th Century: Women's respect was being declined over time. Women always had to listen to the man in charge meaning their dad, husband, or son. Women were not allowed to choose who they got to marry. Their family were the one to choose the groom. And when their husband dies they were sometimes expected to kill themeselves. In the day they had to do a lot of work and take care of the household and the family.

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