Rise Of a Military Society
Japan became a military society by using shoguns, the supreme commander of the army, daimyo, who were large landholders, and the samurai. The shoguns were the actual rulers of Japan, since the emperor was just a figurehead. Daimyo had their own armies of well trained samurai. The samurai followed a code called bushido. It was an unwritten code of the samurai that stated that a samurai must have honor, loyalty, and that dying honorably was better than living a long life.
Samurai Weapons, Armor, and Training
Samurai weapons included the katana, the kama, the tanto, and the wakizashi. A samurai went into battle under heavy armor. Samurai also learned martial arts and practiced Zen Buddhism.
The katana is a curved, slender, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands. It was the primary weapon of a samurai.
The kama is a traditional Filipino and Japanese farming implement similar to a sickle used for reaping crops and also employed as a weapon.
The tanto is a short single or double-edged blade designed for poking or piercing, but it can be used for slashing as well.
Similar to the katana but shorter, the wazikashi was used as a backup sword, and is the sword used to commit seppuku, whch is a ritual suicide.
Samurai wore heavy armor. Under the armor, the samurai would be wearing a kimono and baggy trousers. Shin guards made out of leather or cloth protected the samurai's legs. The armor was made of small metal plates slathered in lacquer, a liquid made with alcohol, to strengthen metal, wood, etc. The metal plates were laced with silk strings. Boxlike metal plates protected the samurai's chest. Metal panels hung over the hips for extra protection.
The samurai were tought martial arts just in case things in a fight went hand-to-hand. The enemy better be well prepared! But, the samurai were not only taught physical things, but also spiritual things to. For instance, the samurai were to practice Zen Buddhism. They thought that Buddhism would spiritually bless them in battle and give them strength.
In battle, the samurai had a unique style of fighting. They would first shout their names, ancestors, heroic deeds, and their reasons for fighting. Then when the talking was over, the two armies would run towards each other and start fighting. Each fighter fought someone of their same ranks. When one side wins, the winning side would cut of the heads of their dead enemies and present them to their leader. The soldiers who brought heads would earn rewards such as swords, horses, and armor.