The imperial court stayed in the same area so military leaders received more strength and power. That lead to the emperor's role declining.
The military in Kamakura had skilled and powerful warriors called samurai. The era of the samurai lasted for 700 years.
Shogun, daimyo, and samurai structure and the loyalties involved.
- Shogun: commander in chief. Real ruler of Japan.
- Daimyo: powerful landholders who ruled with the shoguns.
- Samurai: professional warriors.
The samurai served and protected the shogun and in return they would receive land. Daimyos received supports from other samurai for ruling alongside the shogun.
Over time, daimyos had more control instead of the shogun. A daimyo's land was like it's own kingdom and samurais fought for their own daimyo.
Samurai Armor, Weapons, and Fighting:
Armor and weapons.
Samurai wore a kimono with loose fitting pants and shin guards underneath their heavy armor.
The armor was made out of an array of metal pieces sewn together with thick string.
Plates of armor were on the samurai's chest and back with metal sleeves and guards for their shoulders, legs, and hips.
The samurai also wore a mask with a scary face in it to frighten people and a helmet with incense.
Samurai used bow and arrow, sword, and spear as weapons. The bows were up to 8 feet long. The swords were the best in the world and unbreakable. And the spears were used for knocking people off of horses.
Military training and fighting styles.
Training for a samurai was very long and strenuous. They practiced horse back riding, swordsmanship, archery, martial arts, and hand to hand combat.
Samurai battles were very different from other battles initiated by different warriors. First, people from both sides of the fight came up with a time and place for combat. The battle started with both sides screaming their names, ancestors, and reasons for fighting. The samurais fought viciously and brutally with other people that matched their ranks. Once the fight was done, they decapitated their dead opponents. The heads were put on boards and shown to their masters for approval and rewards.
Samurai Training and the Warrior Code:
How did someone become a samurai? What are the stages?
The most common way to become a samurai was to be born into a samurai clan. Samurai would start training from a very young age and fought in battle afterwards.
What were they trained to do physically and mentally?
Physically they were taught horse back riding, swordsmanship, archery, martial arts, and hand to hand combat.
Mentally the samurai were taught self control, attentiveness, and had to change their views on life. For example, the warriors were told to not eat, hold positions, and walk barefoot in the snow for long periods of time. They were never allowed to relax and they had to think that they were already dead.
What is Bushido?
Bushido is the code of conduct for samurai. It promotes honor, fairness, loyalty, honesty, and bravery.
What other values, ideals, and customs do samurai live by?
Samurai believed in Zen Buddhism for inner spirituality and peace.
If a samurai were to fail Bushido or commit a terrible act, they would have to complete a ritual suicide.
Guests were invited to the Seppuku Ceremony. The samurai took a bath, wore white, undid their hair, and was served their favorite foods. After that, the sword was presented to the samurai to put through his stomach. There was a swordsman there to decapitate him to end the pain.
Training in Writing, Literature, and Tea Ceremony:
Writing and literature consisted of poetry, calligraphy, and haiku.
The tea ceremony represented harmony, calm, and respect. The tea master invited people into a small room with simple decorations. They quietly watched the master make and serve tea. Then the guests had fancy conversations and admired the tea and utensils. Each guest took three sips and wiped the rim of the cup to hand back to the master for the next guest.
Amida Buddhism and Zen Buddhism
A monk named Honen found Amida. They believed that they could enter paradise by saying Amira's name 7,000 times a day.
Zen focused on two main things: meditation and discipline. To reach enlightenment you would have to meditate for several hours. Zen required logical thinking for koans which were puzzling questions. There were even zen gardens which represented certain aspects of nature.
Women in Samurai Society:
How did the role of women in samurai society change?
The role of women in samurai society declined over time.
What was life like in the 12th century?
Women were able to manage the household. If they became a widow they could inherit property and perform the duties of the husband. Samurai women did not fight as much but they were just as brave as the men samurai.
What was life like in the 17th century?
The woman's position weakened and they were required to obey the men in the family. These women were not able to choose their own husbands and they were told to commit suicide when the husband passes away. They were under a harsh rules and took care of the house during the day. They were only allowed to eat simple foods and wear simple clothes. Entertainment was not allowed. Peasant women had less strict rules to follow, although the women in samurai families were completely under their husband's control.