Samurai Isaac Choi P7

The Rise of a Military Society

How did Japan become a military society?

During 1185 Minamoto Yoritomo came into power, and in 1192, became shogun or commander-in-chief. Instead of becoming an emporer, Yoritomo set a military government with the city Kamakura as it's capital. Since the establishment of the Kamakura government, the samurai warriors started to become a ruling class in Japanese society.

The loyalty structure of the shogun, daimyo, and samurai.

The real power shifted to shoguns, and empowers soon just became figureheads. The shogun, the true ruler of Japan, are backed by the large land-owners called daimyo, who are protected by the samurai. The loyalty structure resembled closely to the lord-vassal system. The daimyo support the shogun in exchange for land, money and/or administrative office. The samurai protected the daimyo for money or pieces of land as well.

Samurai Armour, Weapons, and Fighting

Samurai Armour and Weapons

Samurai Armour
Samurai Swords

Samurai wore heavy armor. Under that armor was a piece of cloth clothing called a kimono. They also used shin guards, which can be either made out of leather or cloth, to protect their legs. Samurai armor was made out of small metal plates, laced together. They wore box-like panels to cover back, and sides, as well as a mask, and a scented helmet. For weapons, Samurai used bows, spears, and swords. Samurai bows would be about 8 feet long. Samurai used their spears to take out enemy's horses during battle. The sword, a Samurai's most prized weapon, was used for hand to hand combat. They used two types of sword, a long curved blade to fight, and a short one to cut the heads off their enemies.

Samurai practicing swordsmanship

Samurai fighting styles

The first samurai were taught "The way of the horse and bow", however later on skills in swordsmanship became much more important. They were appointed as apprentices of archery masters, and trained until they could shoot accurately without even thinking. They extensively trained in fencing, or swordsmanship, and also trained until they could do it without thinking. They also practiced hand to hand combat. They trained in martial arts where they have to force their enemy's power against them.

Samurai Training and the Warrior Code (Bushido and other values)

Samurai training

The stages of becoming a samurai

A samurai is usually born into a samurai clan or family, so a boy's father and grandfather are usually samurai, so they have to follow in their footsteps. They begin training in swordsmanship, horseback, archery, and martial arts. They train until they fully master their skills. They also train their mentality, and meditate often as they train. When a samurai has completed Their final they of training they are given their first samurai sword, and now follow the code of bushido, and loyally serve their lords.

What were they trained to do physically and mentally?

Physically, a samurai must be a master in battle. So they train intensively in swordsmanship, archery, horseback, and the martial arts, until it becomes second nature. Mentally, a samurai has to be able to overcome emotions that may interfere with their performance in battle. To learn how to endure these emotions, young samurai spent days without food, and marched barefoot in the snow.

What is bushido?

Bushido is the personal unwritten code of the samurai. The code developed over centuries, but in the 1700's it evolved into bushido. Bushido governs the samurai's life. It states that the samurai must value personal honor, and loyalty before their own lives. The samurai code was so loyal that samurai would die for their lords. If a samurai fails to live up to the code, they commit ritual suicide or seppuku.

What other ideals/values/customs do Samurai live by?

The samurai trained in swordsmanship, archery, and martial arts. They meditate often, to improve their mentalility. They are also devout buddhists, especially in the Buddhist sect of Zen. Samurai also became scholars during the peaceful reign of Japan. They practiced in calligraphy, painting, poetry.

A samurai comitting ritual suicide

Discuss Seppuku

The punishment for not living to the code of Bushido was seppuku, or ritual suicide. When a samurai commits seppuku it could either be for personal honor, or to avoid being held in captivity by the enemy. Seppuku became a sort of ceremony, guests were invited, and there was a specific process. Samurai would wash, unbend his hair, wear white clothes, which were used to dress corpse, eat his favorite food, and push a sword through his stomach. He did this try to make a complete circle, and a swordsman quickly chopped his head to end his agony.

Training in Writing, Literature, and Tea Ceremony

During the peaceful 17th century, samurai also became scholars as well as fierce warriors. Samurai consistently practiced calligraphy, and their main tool was a brush and ink. The samurai also wrote poetry. A famous samurai poet was Matsuo Basho, and he was the one who invented haiku. Haiku was a form of short poem in Japan, where there are only 5 syllables in on line 7 on the other, and 5 on the last. Samurai also trained in tea ceremony. It was a way to provide peace, and calmness. It was also a way to perform political alliance ceremonies. The tea ceremony took place in a small room where they had to crawl to get in. The tea master makes tea, while others had sophisticated conversations. They pass around a tea cup and take 3 sips each.

Spiritual Training

Zen Buddha
Amida Buddha

Discuss Amida Buddhism and Zen Buddhism

Founded in the 12th century by a monk named Honen, amida buddhism, where they believe that anyone can go to paradise. Anyone can go to paradise as long as they say Amida Buddha's name. Honen's disciple Shinran made it even more popular saying that anyone can go into the pure Buddhist land. Zen, another form of Buddhism appealed to many samurai. It appealed to many samurai because of it's emphasis on hard work, effort, and discipline. Zen stressed achieving enlightenment through meditation and self-reliance. Zen also fit very well into the training samurai's lifestyle, because Zen helps samurai focus, learn discipline, and overcome he fear of dying.

Women in Samurai Society

A Femal Samurai

How did he role of Women in Samurai society change?

The position of women in Samurai society decline over a period of time. Within the 12th century women of warrior class enjoyed honor and respect, however by the 17th century Samarai women were considered inferior to their husbands.

Femal Samurai in the 12th century

What was life like in the 12th century?

Samurai women had considerable status. A samurai' wife helped manage the household, and promote family interests. When a husband dies, she inherits the household, and performs the duty of vassal for her late samurai husband. Though they rarely fought in war, they were expected to be as brace and as disciplined as men warriors. Tomoe Gozen, and Koman were one of the few women who actually did fight alongside men in war.

Japanese Woman in the 17th Century

What was life like in the 27th century?

He power, and position of women slowly weakened, as the warrior culture developed. By the 17th century the Samurai husbands were the rulers of the household. Families arranged marriage with their daughters, and sons, so a women didn't have a choice in her marriage. However not all women were treated like this. Some peasant families had women work with husbands, so they had more choice over their life, while in Samurai households, the man was always in control.

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