Samurai By:P.7.Kim.Hannah


How did Japan become a military society? In the year of 1185, Minamoto Yoritomo came to power in Japan. Eventually in 1192 Minamoto Yoritomo was the first person to claim the title of shogun, or the commander-in-chief and did not desire to take the title of the emperor of Japan. However he created a military government with the capital located in the city of Kamakura. Graciously, Minamoto Yoritomo still let the imperial court remain in Heian-kyo, the emperor started having less control and power of Japan. Eventually the emperor was just the figure head, a person who looked like they have power however does not. Instead the shogun started gaining more control and power of Japan and was recognized as the actual ruler of Japan.

Picture of Minamoto Yoritomo

Shogun, Daimyo, and Samurai Structure and loyalty

Shogun: The head of the government, leader, during the era of samurai. The military society or government that was created by Mianamoto Yoritomo was directed or led by the shogun, the supreme commander-in- chiefa.

Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate

Daimyo: The shogun now ruled with the aid of warrior-lords that were called daimyos. Daimyos is a local lord in Japan in the era of the samurai. The daimyos were now expected to be supported by a large number of samurai. Additionally, the daimyos thrived and expectedto be awarded by the shogun for their loyalty and obedience with money, landholdings, and the administrative office. Much of Japan's warrior society imitated the lord vassal system during that time of medival Europe. Over the course of time, the positions of the shoguns were getting weaker meanwhile the daimyo's position was getting stronger. The daimyos were treating their lands like separated dependent kingdoms. Additionally, even the samurai were to ally with their daimyo lord.

Daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Samurai Structure and Loyalties: The Samurai were Japan's warriors and were known for their courage and skill in battle. Their name even defined as"those who serve." As time passed, the samurai grew up around the elaborate culture and code of conduct specifically created for the samurai. They were expected to be loyal, brave, and honest to their lord. If the strict samurai code was broken, then the samurai often committed suicide with their own blade rather than to lose their personal honor. Samurai did not only focus on the art of war but also were educated immensly in writing, literature, and art. Many samurai became devout Buddhist. Samurai claimed that their religion will help them face death bravely and to aid them during their duties

Samurai Saigō Takamori

Samurai Armour

In a battle, a samurai is dressed with heavy armor. Under the armor they wear a colorful robe known as a kimono along with the baggy trousers.

Kimono along with baggy trousers

The samurai then put on shin guards to protect their legs during battle

Samurai shin guards

The samurai had a very unique made armor. Made from tiny rows of small metal plates coated with lacquer and laced with colorful silk cords, this armor made the samurai well protected from damage, however it was flexible enough for them to move freely. For additional protection, the boxlike armor panels that covered the samurai's chest and back. By choice, some samurai decide to wear thigh guards as well.

Samurai armor
Samurai thigh gurads

After dressing in his body armor, the samurai puts on a ferocious or strong looking iron mask that was meant to scare his opponents away and protect his face. Finally, he placed a helmet burned with incense on his head so his head would smell sweet even if it was cut off during battle.

Samurai mask and helmet.

Samurai Weapons

Samurais fought with bows that can be up to 8 feet long, arrows, spears, and swords. However the Samurais most prized possession was their sword. Back then, the Japanese craftsmen made the most finest swords in the world. They were flexible enough to not break, but hard enough to have the razor sharp quality. During wars, a Samurai carried two swords, a long sword with a curved blade to fight, and a shorter sword to chop of the heads of their enemies. The sword to the Samurai was the right and a privilege. The swords were ether passed down by generation, or received as prizes to loyal warriors. The samurai wore their swords proudly to prove their sign of rank.

Samurai bow and arrow
Samurai spear, yari

Samurai Military Training

The method that the Samurai trained in was known as "The Way of the Horse and Bow." However later on in history, archery was overridden by the art of swordsmanship. When the samurai were young, they were sent of to archery masters who taught them the metal and physical techniques of archery. The samurai practiced until they could aim and shoot accurately without even thinking. Additionally, they learned how to breathe properly while shooting a bow and arrow while riding in a back of a horse. However the art of fencing, or swordsmanship, required the same amount of training as archery did. Samurai were taught how to force an enemy to make the first move, how to stay out of range of an enemy's sword, and finally how to fight against many people and to fight with swords in small tight spaces.

Samurai fighting with swords
A samurai and a galloping horse with a bow and a arrow

Samurai Fighting Styles

When a Samurai does not have a sword to aid them during battle, they refer to other objects such as metal fans or wooden staffs. Additionally they learned to fight a certain fighting styles called martial arts. This type of usually involved using an opponent's strength against the opponent.

Samurai practice martial arts.
Japan Metal Fans
Samurai wooden staff

How did someone become a Samurai? What are the stages?

Usually someone becomes a Samurai by being hereditary. If their father was a Samurai, it would be destined for their child to become a samurai too. The system was similar to a caste. However,in extremely rare cases, it was possible for someone without a lineage of samurais to become a samurai. They they demonstate excellent swordsmanship or other qualities that fit a samurai. It is possible. The steps of Samurai is only to train. Starting at the young age of five to seven, the future samurai will be taught archery, military tactics, unarmed combat, riding, and to handle a spear. The training was provided by their fathers or male relatives. They also trained how to use self control, mental training, and meditation. The future samurai were to train on how to handle difficult conditions while keeping an eye open. Even though they were taught the art of war, samurai weretaught literature and writing. Their religion was additionally specifically Zen Buddhism, however rare, others worshipped other religons.


What were Samurai trained to do physically and mentally

Physically, the Samurai were taught the art of archery, swordsmanship, spears, and martial arts. However, mentally, the Samurai had to learn the topic of self control, so their emotions would not override them during battle, and to train in preparedness. The samurai had to develop a sixth sense about danger. This ability was learned through long gruesome training.

Samurai father and son gruesome training.

What is Bushido?

Bushido was known as "way of warrior", this was a code of ethics for Samurai, a blend of the Shinto religion, Buddhists ides on self self control, and confrpucian moral teachings. The seven virtues of bipuddhism were known as integrity, respect, heroic courage, honor, compassion, honesty and sincerity, and finally the duty and loyalty.

Description of the seven virtues of Bushido.

What other ideas, values, and customs did the Samurai live by?

Samurais always valued honor more than living a long life. If their pride was damaged, they would end their lives by their own blade rather than suffer the humilitation.

Samurai on the left prepared to stab himself.

What is Seppuku?

Seppuku is when a samurai commutes ritual suicide. There are many reasons for this. A samurai may do this for failing the Bushido code, to preserve their honor to not get captured fdruing battle, or a Samurai may perform this act because they committed a crime, a shameful deed, or an insult to a higher class. Some samurais by choice kill themselfpves after the daimyo dies, as a form of injustice. Seppuku was a long ceremony. First the samurai takes a bath, unwinding his hair, and then putting on a white dress used for corpse. Then the Samurai ate his favorite foods. Once he was done, the was a sword on a tray that he used to pick it up and slice it across his stomach. A samurai behind him was there to quickly end his agony by chopping off his head. During the ceremony, the guests were invited.

the seppuku

Training in Writing, Literature, and Tea Ceremony

By the 17th century, the samurai were expected to know the art of writing and literature. The samurai practiced calligraphy, which means the art of beautiful writing. In calligraphy, a person used a brush. A block of ink, and paper or silk. The calligrapher grabbed the ink block and rubbed it on an ink stone until it was the right consistency. Then drew it with a brush


The samurai also had to know the art of poetry. One samurai poet by the name of Matsumoto Basho invented a type of short poem later called a haiku. A haiku contain 17 syllable in total, the first line is 5 syllables, the second is 7 syllables, and the thrips is 5 syllables. The goal of haiku for the poet is to use imagery to create a mood or an idea.

Picture of Matsumoto Basho

Finally, another aspect of the culture in Japan that were studies by the samurai was the tea ceremony. The tea ceremony fostered a spirit of harmony, reverence, and calm. It all was important because it formed political alliances between samurai. The steps are that the master invites guests to a small room, the door was so small in length that they had to crawl. The tearoom contained a flower artistic arrangement and a painting on a school. Then they discussed a sophisticated conversation. To make the tea, the mater heated water over the iron ur and scooped a powder green tea called tea caddy. Each guest in turned to take the bowl, bow to other guests and the master, take the 3 sips, and cleaned the rim with a tissue and passed the bowl back to the master.

Green Tea in Bowl

Amida Buddhism and Zen Buddhism

Amida Buddhism was based on a monk by the name of Honen who founded the popular form of Amida Buddhism. Buddhists of this religion believed that all people could reach paradise by relying on a Indian prince's mercy named Amida Buddha. They believed that when one of the believers died, Amida Buddha and a group of bodhisattvas would be waiting to escort the dead believer to paradise, or the Pure Land.

The Prince Amida Buddha

The second religion is Zen Buddhism, which is another form of Buddhism. This religion appealed to many samurai because it is based on effort and discipline. Zen stressed self reliance and to achieve enlightenment through meditation. To reach to a point called enlightenment, they would sit rigid p. With legs criss crossed without budging. To becom enlighten in Zen Buddhism, it required to give up everyday logical thinking. Even masters asked koans, puzzling questions, to jolt the mind into enlightenment. The Zen maters even created gardens to aid in meditations. Basically, the Zen budhism is a great way for a samurai to lead disipline,focusing on the mind. And covecome the fear of death

A samurai trying to reach the stage of enlightenment.

How did the role of women in Samurai Society change? Discuss the 12th century and the 17 century.

In the early twelfth century, women had a higher status in Japan. They even helped the samurai men to manage the household and promote the family interest They even had the ability to learn and training with weapons to protect their wpfamiyl, some even were able to become samurai and fight in battles. Even though the woman rarely had an opportunity to fight alongside men,they were still expected to be loyal and brace like the men Samurai.

A woman Samurai in battle

In the seventeenth century however, the status of women had weakened. The samurai men were undoubtedly the true lords of their households. When the women were young, expect to obey the father, when grown, expect to obey husband, and when old, expect to obey the son. They even did not choose their desired husbands. The marriage was arranged by the parents and the woman was expected to look after husband and bear children. Once the husband was dead, it was expected to the woman to kill herself. Not all of the Japans women were treated like that. Only the Samurai families were treated this way, other families like the peasents, the women had some respect and independence because they worked alongside of their husband.

Thank you for watching the Samurai Project....... the following resources for the project were the History Alive Textbook, the Training of Samurai Search Online, the World History Textbook, and a borrowed worksheet packet from Mrs. Parker.


Created with images by Jim Epler - "Odawara Castle" • madmrmox - "Samurai (4)" • madmrmox - "edo_samurai_17" • Tekniska museet - "Samuraj"

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