Samurai Life BY kiana reed, Period 5

The Rise of a Military Society

How did Japan become a military society?

Since the Japanese emperor was very weak in power, many people fought among themselves to take over while the government was weak. Minamoto Yoritomo came to power, and in 1192, he was named the first Shogun, not emperor. Now with a military ruler, society and culture became more military based.


They were the most powerful of the daimyos, and were the ones who held the real power in Japan. The Emperor was just a figurehead, and had very little power.


These were the Japanese landholders with private armies of samurai warriors.


Samurai were the trained warriors that fought to protect their daimyo and his land.


Samurai warriors were very loyal to their daimyo. In fact, if they had to, they would abandon their families to carry out their loyalty to their daimyo. They also thought that dying and honorable death were much better than living for a long time.

Samurai Armor

Samurai wore their armor with a kimono underneath and baggy trousers. They also wore shinguards made of leather, ferocious iron masks to frighten opponents and protect their face, and many other things, as shown in the image below. Overall, their armor was very, very heavy. Their armor was made of rows of metal plates laced together with strong and flexible silk, and they would burn insence in their helmets because they wanted it to smell good if their head was cut off.

"Kimono: a long, loose robe with wide sleeves and tied with a sash, originally worn as a formal garment in Japan and now also used elsewhere as a robe" - google dictionary

Samurai Weapons

Samurai used bows and arrows, spears and swords. Their bows were up to eight feet long, and you needed incredible strength to be able to shoot one of them.

Samurai Fighting Style

Samurai were taught "The Way of the Horse and Bow," which was the first way samurai trained and fought. They learned how to breathe properly, archery, horse riding, swordsmanship, fencing, improv fighting, and martial arts. After training in all of these areas, they were very well prepared for battle.

Samurai Battles

Wars are always very important, but the Japanese had a very unique way of battle. There were many steps to the process.

First, messengers from both sides of the battle decide the time and place. Then, both sides shouted their names, ancestors, heroic deeds, and reason for fighting.

They then charged and fought hand to hand, trying to slith their opponents throats and cut their heads off. Once the samurai had the heads of their opponent, they would bring it to their daimyo to prove that they had been victorious. If so, they were rewarded with things such as horses, armor, swords, and land.

Samurai Training and Warrior Code

Samurai warriors are very hard workers. They did not just show up for battle one day and be victorious. Samurai warriors started their stages of training when they are 13-14 years old. They were taught how to survive, kill, only to use their right hand, and cooperate unselfishly. They had to go to school to learn mental dicipline, manners, respect, the correct hairstyle, correct armor, and so may other things.

Bushido was the unwritten samurai code. This included honor, loyalty and bravery. Samurai were expected to be generous to the poor, and to practice Zen Buddhism.

Seppuku was a very important ritual, which meant the samurai would kill themselves if their daimyo was killed in battle.

Writing and Literature

Samurai practiced calligraphy, which is the art of beautiful writing. They also practiced different types of poetry, most commonly haiku.

Tea Ceremony

Practicing for the tea ceremony was very important. This was a way to form alliances, and if it was not done right, they might risk loosing an alliance, and possibly creating an enemy.


Training for the tea ceremony took a long time because the ceremony had many different steps. The ceremony began when everyone entered through a very low door that you had to crawl through, into a very simple room. Everyone sipped tea out of the same bowl, one at a time, while talking about political issues.

Spiritual Training

Amida Buddhism

Amida Buddhism was one of the popular forms of Buddhism in Japan. It included the belief that. Anyone could reach paradise, or "Pure Land." It was thought that you could reach Pure Land by saying "Amida" about 70,000 times a day.

Zen Buddhism

Zen was all about effort and dicipline. It stressed self-reliance and enlightment through meditation. To get to enlightenment, the samurai's daimyo would ask hard questions, or "koans" to get their mind in a state in which they could reach enlightenment. To get themselves into the calm and peaceful state of meditation, people would create gardens with rocks, sand, water and plants. Everything was very natural.

Amida Buddhism

Zen Buddhism

Samurai Women

Samurai women were in the warrior class and well respected in earlier centuries, but as time went on, they became less powerful than their husbands.

12th Century

Samurai women in the 12th century helped to manage the household with their husbands, and could even inherit land from their husband if they died. Some even battled along with men.

17th Century

Women's power in the 17th century weakened, and men were the sole leader of the household. Women were required to obey their father when they were yound, their husband when they were grown, and their sons when they were old. Men were not superior to women, with one exception: peasant women had respect and independence because they worked alongside their husbands. Women in higher classes had arranged marriages for wealth and more power. They were sometimes expected to kill themselves after their the death of their husband.

Samurai, daimyos, shoguns, and samurai women were all very important people in Japanese culture - it included many deaths, dicipline, loyalty, and extreme training. Without all of these people, many people would be unprotected, but because these people existed with their way of life, Japan was able to protect itself, and thrive.

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