Samurai Project William Dam, Period 7

The Rise of a Military Society

How Japan became a military society

  • Minamoto Yoritomo made a military government of his own in the capital city, Kamakura
  • This government was led by a shogun, or commander-in chief.
  • After this the imperial court remained but the role of emperors became less and less important in governing Japan
  • Emperors became figureheads while the shogun had the real power

Shogun Structure & Loyalties

  • Supreme commander of the army
  • Ruled on the emperor’s behalf
  • Had taken control of over 700 years
  • Was in control of a samurai army
  • The samurai served and protected the shogun
  • Ruled with daimyos

Daimyo Structure & Loyalties

  • Large landholders
  • Traded land for loyalty
  • Were supported by lots of samurai
  • The daimyos expected to be rewarded for their obedience and loyalty
  • They were rewarded with land, money, or administrative office from the shogun

Samurai Structure & Loyalties

  • Men and women can become a samurai
  • Served and fought the daimyos
  • They expected the daimyos to reward them
  • Like how the shogun would reward the daimyo

Samurai Armor, Weapons, and Fighting

Samurai Armour

  • Wore heavy armor and loose pants
  • The also wore a colorful robe called kimono
  • Also wore shin guards
  • Made of leather or cloth
  • The armor was made of small metal plates that were coated with a protective coating
  • It was also laced with colorful silk that also held the metal plates together
  • This allowed the samurai to move freely
  • There were panels of armor that covered the chest and back
  • Had metal sleeves that covered the arms
  • Had broad shoulder guards and additional panels by their hips fro protection
  • They also put on menacing masks to scare the opponents
  • This mask also protects the face

Samurai Weapons

Bows and arrow

  • Bows were wooden
  • Could be up to eight feet long
  • Took a lot of force to use
  • Sharpshooters rode on horses


  • Used to knock people off their horses
  • Also to kill enemies with a powerful thrust


  • The samurai’s most prized weapon
  • Were the best swords in the world
  • They were flexible
  • But not enough to break
  • They Carried 2 types of swords
  • One sword was a long curved blade that was used to fight
  • The other was a shorter sword used for decapitation
  • Wearing a sword was both a privilege and a right
  • Swords were passed down from generation to generation
  • Still passed down after peace was established

Military Training & Fighting Style

  • “The Way of the Horse and Bow” was how the first samurai were trained and fought
  • Later using the sword was more important than the bow
  • The learning skills of the samurai required lots of training
  • Archery masters apprentices young samurai to teach them mental and physical techniques
  • They practiced shooting accurately without thinking
  • Practiced shooting on a horse’s back
  • They were also trained in the art of fencing
  • Learned how to make the enemy make the first move
  • How to stay out of the enemy’s sword range
  • How to fight in confined spaces
  • Learned how to fight without thinking about it
  • Also They learned how to keep battling when his or her sword breaks
  • They used martial arts
  • Martial arts uses the opponent's strength against them

Samurai had a unique style of batting

  • The first thing that happens is that the messengers from both sides decide a place to battle
  • Then they stand a hundred yards apart
  • The samurai shouted out their names, ancestors, heroic deeds, and reasons for fighting
  • A fter their standoff they started to fight
  • With the mounted archers shooting first
  • At the end the winning side will cut off the heads of everyone they killed
  • The heads were cleaned and mounted on boards
  • They did this so they can show the warlord to authenticate there winning
  • After it was approved there was a ceremony where the samurai were rewarded with samurai with swords, horses armor, or land

Warrior codes and Samurai Training

How to become a Samurai & Stages of the Samurai

  • The stages of learning how to fight is as followed
  • First they were apprenticed by master archers
  • Then they learned how to fence
  • Lastly how to battle
  • They practiced the warrior code of Bushido

Mental & Physical Training

  • Many samurai were Buddhists
  • This helped them prepare for duties and face death with bravery
  • How to endure pain and suffering
  • Self control
  • Trained by walking barefoot on ice or snow for long periods of time
  • To overcome death they were thought to think of themselves dead already
  • Could never relax
  • Always expected to be attacked
  • Lead them to develop a kind of sixth sense that allowed them to sense danger
  • Came from lots of training
  • We're told to always be alert


  • The samurai code of honor
  • Bushido means “The Way of the Warrior
  • This governed the samurai’s life
  • This made the samurai to be as followed
  • Hoesty
  • Fairness
  • Fearlessness in the face of death
  • Made the samurai value loyalty and personal honor a lot more in their lives
  • Other values, ideals, customs that samurai lived by
  • Samurai lived by personal honor and loyalty
  • The samurai’s supreme duty was to be loyal to his lord
  • They were so loyal that they would die for him
  • If the lord died they would probably perform seppuku
  • They guarded their personal honor with their life
  • If someone disrespected them it would lead to a sword fight to the death


  • This is the punishment that you get if you don’t live up to Bushido
  • This wasn’t the only reason samurai performed seppuku
  • They also did this to preserve personal honor and avoiding capture in battle
  • Also they did it if they committed a crime, shameful crime, etc.
  • They also did it if their lord died
  • This became a ceremony
  • The samurai prepared for the ceremony by taking a bath, unbinding his long hair, and putting on a white cloth for his corpse
  • He was served his favorite food
  • After this it was time for the execution
  • The samurai started the ritual by stabbing his stomach then he tried to make a complete circle
  • There was another swordsman behind him so he can cut the samurai’s head off to end his pain

Training in Writing, Literature and Tea Ceremony

Samurai were trained and educated in art, writing, and literature

  • In the 12th century, samurai were expected to be educated and fierce warriors
  • Writing and literature were two important aspects of culture
  • Practiced calligraphy
  • Calligraphy is beautiful writing
  • Wrote with a block of ink, and they wrote on paper or silk
  • They used the block of ink by wetting the brush and putting the brush on the block to get ink on the brush
  • Samurai wrote haikus

Tea Ceremony Training

  • Tea ceremony brought a harmony, reverence and calm
  • It also was a way to form alliances between samurai
  • To make tea the master tea boiled water over a charcoal fire, then the master put powdered green tea into a bowl then he put water into the bowl

Here is the step of the tea ceremony

  • The tea master invites guests into a small room
  • The room was very simple, the only decorations were as followed a painting, a scroll, or a flower arrangement
  • Guests then watched the master pour tea in front of them
  • After the tea was poured they started a conversation about the utensils of the utensils, and the way they combined them

Spiritual Training

Amida Buddhism

  • Founded in the 12th century by a monk named Honen
  • Believed that all people could reach paradise by relying on the mercy of Amida Buddha
  • They believed if you repeated Amida’s name over and over again in a prayerful manner 70,000 times a day you will reach the Pure Land when the follower died

Zen Buddhism

  • Samurai practiced this because of the emphasis on effort and discipline
  • Zen stressed achieving enlightenment through meditation
  • Followers had to meditate for hours sitting straight up and crossed legged without moving
  • Created gardens to help aid meditation
  • These gardens symbolized nature not imitating it
  • Helped samurai learn discipline, focus, and overcome the fear of death

Women in the Samurai Society

They learned how to handle weapons

  • Women learned how to use weapons to protect the home base when the men were out fighting
  • They also needed to protect the family when the man was away fighting
  • Can become a samurai

Samurai Women in the 12th century

  • Women helped manage the household and promote the family's interests
  • The women would inherit the men’s land, property, etc.
  • They were expected to have the loyalty and bravery as the men
  • Learned how to fight like samurai

Samurai Women in the seventeenth Century

  • During this time a warrior culture developed
  • Did not choose their husbands
  • Her family choose him for her
  • Expected to kill themselves if their husbands died
  • This only applied to some but not all
  • Not all of the women were treated the same
  • Peasant women worked alongside their husbands
  • This gave them some respect and independence
  • In samurai families women were completely controlled by men

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