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The Way Of The Samurai

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  • Category: Samurai

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Samurai warriors started in Japan in the beginning of the 12th century. The Japanese samurai warrior formation is due to Japan’s strategic location. Japan consist of separate islands, these are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu most of the islands are composed of mountain ranges. During the late 11th century two powerful clans are at war with each other, the Taira and Minamoto clans. These wars are battles for lands because of the total mountain ranges in Japan only 20 percent can be planted. Agriculture is difficult without these lands and so the 2 clans fiercely fought with each other at the cost of their lives. During the battle between these two clans, the Japanese Shogunate is formed. The Japanese Shogunate is known as the system of the military ruler or the shogun. The shogun is the highest ruler and he has the largest scope of power. Next to the Shogun is the Daimyos. The Daimyo is the local ruler for a particular place. A shogunate consists mainly of 5 to 10 daimyo and each daimyo have their military retainers known as the samurai.

There are three types of Samurai warriors the kenin, the mounted samurai and the foot soldiers. The kenin are called the housemen. They are the officers who make battle plans and all the works within the system. The mounted samurai are mostly high-ranking samurai warriors that are allowed to ride in horses. And lastly the foot soldiers, the normal samurai’s that are in front of the battle always. The foot soldiers have special weapon called naginata. The naginata is a special type of weapon against horsemen to eviscerate them.

The samurai warriors follow their lords with utmost loyalty. The training of the samurai warriors are all mainly from dignity and courage. These two are the most important that they must follow within the samurai code called the Bushido. Bushido is the way of the samurai warrior Bushido is known to be the most sacred rule for the Japanese Samurai warriors. The rules of the bushido are centered in the samurai warrior’s loyalty to their Daimyo and to the seppuku. The rule says that that all Samurai must oblige to the seppuku. Seppuku is a ritual where a samurai warrior commits a suicide. There are many forms of seppuku but the most popular is the Hara-kiri that means cutting of the stomach. A Japanese warrior does this after a battle if he is still alive to the public. This is only done if a samurai did some disgrace to himself or to the whole clan. The suicidal act is a formal ceremony where many people attend this ceremony. In the Hara-kiri the samurai warrior first sliced up his abdomen then, stretches his neck so that an honored person could cut his head with just one blow. Another type of Seppuku is the cutting of the throat. This is done by thrusting his sword to his neck and slicing downward his body.

A Samurai warrior only does seppuku if he changed his dignity with shame. Examples are losing in a battle; it can also be done to show grief to his lord’s death and most of all if he disobeyed the Bushido. The samurai warriors do this ritual because they acknowledge these acts as an honorable death. The samurai warriors believed that dying is better than living of shame and disrespect. Most high officials highly object these acts and until 1663 the Seppuku is totally forbidden.

There are samurai warriors who don’t have their lords. They are called ronins. Instead of killing themselves they lived to continue their goals and to continue their master’s plans. The most famous ronins are the 47 ronins when their daimyo committed a suicide.

In the Heian period of the Japanese history, Emperor Kammu ought to extend his rule in the northern part of Japan. But unfortunately, his thousand archers and soldiers lacked military training this caused his sent soldiers to lose in the battle. Because of these Emperor Kammu thought of creating a unified military system to train his men. So that time, Seitaishogun or simply shogunate is formed. These shogunate is formed by clans made up of skilled warriors mainly more in archers. These warriors became the emperor’s ultimate weapon to kill the rebels. But after Emperor’ Kammu removed the whole army, the will of power changed and poverty increased. Clans around the city were terrified and these caused them to recruit saburai’s or the armed retainers to protect them from rebels.

            The farmers in this town laid different innovations in creating Japanese armors and weapon but the most important is the Bushido. At that time Bushido is not a hundred percent code of ethics. It was only developed in the late 19th century. With this the samurai warriors where formed. The first samurai warriors are more of barbaric and illiterate. As time passed, these warriors were harnessed with mobility and dignity. Samurai warriors became more intelligent and dignified because of the teachings they acquired. These warriors were served the emperor and other higher officials.

They live as body guards and the protector of the town. But as slowly they became more powerful and gained enough respect to have their own dominated government. Because of these, they became respected in the politics of judgment. And their greatest part took place between the battle of Taira and Minamoto. The battle still continued between the two clans the Taira clan used most of the resources to destroy the Minamoto clan. These women have married to government officials to make contact with the emperor. The fierce battle between these two happened in the Kamakura period in 1180. This war is called the Gempei war which ended in 1185. Minamoto no Yoritomo won and established the samurai history. In 1190, he became the shogun establishing the Kamakura shogunate. His main contribution was the polishing of the ethics of the samurai. And that time samurai warriors were highly respected.

            During the Kamakura shogunates different important events happened in Japan. First, the Buddhism spread, throughout Japan; this made the samurai warriors overcome their fears and Buddhism throughout was formed. During this shogunate, the Mongols started to invade Japan. Samurai Suenga, Moko Shurai Ekotoba faced the Monggols. The Monggol Empire sent 40,00Kamakure men and 900 ships to Japan in1274. The kamakura shogunate replied with 10,000 samurai warriors the Mongol were bombarded continuously damaged and was damaged badly. The Mongol army retreated and Japan thought of a second invasion.

That’s why in 1276, the Japanese created a 20 km huge boulder walls around the Hakata bay. The Mongol tried to sent peace missionaries to Japan but all them were killed. The second mission of the Mongols where in the North Kyushu. The Mongols were really determined that they sent 140,000 warriors to Japan. During that time only 40,000 samurai warrior were sent to defend. Fortunately, a huge storm came and destroyed lots of fleets of the Mongols. These storms or winds were named by the Japanese as Kami no Kaze which means wind if the gods. Because of these, Japanese thought their place is divine. After the battles, Japan’s most famous sword has been created, the katana. It was created by Masamune, a blacksmith. Because of these, different types of swords were revealed. Also the arquebus, a type of gun came to Japan in 1543 and the Japanese created lots of these with the help of the mercenaries. And at the end of the feudal period, hundred thousands of weapons were used in battle.

In the end of Ashikagashogunate, Toyotomi Hideyoshi sent 160,000 samurai warriors to invade Korea; during this battle two samurai warriors became famous they are Kato Kiyomasas and Shimazu Yoshiro. After the invasion of Korea, Japan decided to invade China.

The end of Ashikaga shogunate came when the shoguns regime collapsed and more samurai organizations arise.

The next shogun came from Nagoya his name is Oda Nobunaga. He laid greater formations in creating a new Bakufu or shogunate.

His priorities are increasing the technology in arquebuses development of industry and organization of war tactics. Unfortunately in 1582 he was killed by one of his generals, Akechi Mitsuhide.

Two loyal followers of Nobunaga arise, they are Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. These two formed the Tokugawa shogunate. Hideyoshi killed Mitsuhide and became the successor of Nobunaga.

The works of Toyotomi Hideyoshi is the creation of a unified Japan. He uplifted the laws regarding samurai warriors; that samurai caste is permanent and hereditary. Also those who are not a samurai cannot carry swords or any type of weapons.

During the Tokugawa era, samurai warriors became more of politicians rather than warriors. They became more of politicians rather than warriors. They become aristocrats and their katana the long sword and the wakizashi the short sword became more of a power rather than used as a weapon. The samurai warriors at this time of were given the rights to kill anyone below their rank who disrespected them. More laws wee created in favor of the samurai warrior warriors and to decrease the cases of samurai warrior rebellion the samurai warriors were obliged to live in the city and leave their family in Edo. Once a month, a samurai warrior is allowed to visit their family. Also they are given weekly allowance, from rice to daily allowances.

As soon as the last shogun ended all of the samurai warriors were abandoned. Most of them lived to be teachers in martial arts and others lived poorly.

Until now, the Japanese still have the chance of doing Hara-kiri. Reports show that some students who fail in exams are prone to commit suicide.

The difference between the original samurai warrior between the evolved samurai warriors can be seen in their different ethics. The samurai warriors at the beginning were all illiterate and barbaric because they lack education and they just believe in fighting to survive. For them survival is the most important type to consider in this world. As time passes, the kind of samurai warriors started to evolved. The next samurai were better; they are more neat and noble. It is in this type of samurai warriors the code of ethics or the bushido is improved. They are given more respect than before because they are given more dignity and respect. Also there is a great difference between the samurai’s armor and weapons. The weapons from a normal sword to katana are more improved in thrusting and are easy to handle. Also the armor type of the of the samurai warriors is slowly changing to lighter type. The first armor is all made up of metals. The armors of the foot soldiers are given full armored armor to increase their defense. Different improvements are also seen when the samurai warriors are given ore military trainings. Overall in the Ashikaga shogunate, the samurai warriors are more of the protector of the town. They are highly classified as respected persons and well dignified. The Seppuku is sacred and Hara-kiri is well known to be followed.

The next type of change of the samurai warriors was in the Tokugawa shogunate where the samurai warriors are more of politicians rather than warriors. They are classified more to be lawmakers not law keepers. Also the samurai warriors are given more allowances and they are more treated well. But as the decline of the power of the shogun started the samurai warriors stated to lose their power. Some samurai warriors lived poorly among the population.

The film by Hiroshi Inagaki the Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto also known as Miyamoto Musashi is the first film in the trilogy of samurai’s. During the year 1962 there is a novel called Eiji. That novel became the basis of the directed film by Inagaki. The novel is about the life of a samurai warrior known as Miyamoto Musashi. The most important is the first so it will be more concentrated. A battle happened called the Battle of Sekigahara, Takezo and his friend Matahachi are about to lose they went way and find themselves in a journey. The two seek a shelter into a widow with a daughter but both women tried to seduce Takezo they are both rejected. The woman then tells Matahachi the true story and tried to convince him to escort them to Kyoto. Even though Matachi loves Otsu a woman in his village he accepted the offer.

Meanwhile, Takezo wandered around the forest and after he arrived in their village, he immediately went to Matchi’s family. He told the family that their son is still alive. The family didn’t believe in him so he was put into prison. But Takezo escaped and the whole village searches him but still they could not find him.

After years of escaping, a Buddhist priest saw Takezo and immediately captured him without hesitation. Meanwhile Otsu is finding also Takezo until he found him in the threshold of the Takusan Soho the Buddhist priest. After his release Takezo granted to be a samurai named Musashi Miyamoto. Soon, he trained and journeyed finding Otsu.

The whole story is about a man turning to a samurai warrior full of training. The whole story started in a village where 40 bandits threat the village and so the village put up a meeting and soon they concluded that they will find a samurai but as they searched there is no samurai in the village that they can recruit.

The story is about how a samurai is created. Most of the samurai warriors are born and created to be a samurai warrior. The story line of samurai warriors is that they are mainly from a family of peasants. From that they are trained to full integrity and loyalty to their Daimyo. It tells us that a samurai is from the start created and perfected. The story also wants to show that samurai warriors are different and depends on how they are grown. The story shows different samurai warriors some warriors are hungry of money and wealth but still the true samurai warriors came out. They are able to help the village from the bandits and so the whole story shows society problems even in the past.

The next story is the seven samurai; it was about a siege on a village. The villagers hired their warriors and slowly they learned to work with each other increasing their trust to each other. The samurai warriors were persuaded from the start and to help them from not too much demands the villagers pretended that they are so poor. But slowly the samurai reveals the secret of the villagers. In the past, their fellow samurai warriors were killed and robbed by the villagers. But the most intelligent farmer raised his feet and told them their true story. The farmer said that the samurai warriors that came to their land in the past were all greedy and bad. The samurai warriors could not still trust the villagers and so the villagers showed them how they treated their warriors. The samurai warriors were given enough food everyday and slowly the samurai warriors learned the true meaning why the villagers needed them.

Then in the middle of the story, the bandits came and threatened the village. Soon the samurai warriors led the village and helped them fight the bandits. But the bandits have their three muskets and so all the plan was revealed and four samurai warriors were killed of gunfire.

In the story there is the youngest samurai warrior who is in love with a villager he is Katsushiro. In the middle of the story Katsushiro’s affair is revealed.

The samurai warriors all planned to make the gambits enter the fort first one by one in which they will killed by stubbing spears. Until only 13 bandits were left and kyuzo a skilled samurai was killed by the gunfire of the bandit’s chief. Soon the battle stopped and in the end of the story three samurai warriors, Kambei, Katsushiro and Shiroji lived with the village. The samurai warriors are Kambei Shimada he is the leader of the samurai warriors, next is Katsushiro Okamoto, the young samurai and is Kambei’s principle. There is also Gorobei Katayama who is a skilled samurai, which is Kambei’s deputy. Shichiroji is an old comrade of Kambei. Kyuzo the serious stone faced samurai and a skilled samurai warrior. Heihachi Hayashda maintains the charm in his comrades. Next is Kikuchiyo, a soon to be samurai he is the one who bridged the samurai warriors and the villager. Gisaku, the village patriarch who told the villagers to hire samurai warriors. Yohei a rubbish old villager. Manzo is a man who fears for his daughter’s safety with all those samurai warriors around. Shino is Manzo’s daughter who falls in love with Katsushiro. Rikichi is a hotheaded and has a secret concerning his wife. Lastly, there is Mosuke, his house became the setting in the last part that needs to be abandoned to save the other 20 person.

Samurai warriors are shown here to be helpful and give utmost respect also to the villagers. They are the most respected samurai warriors in the town. They are different in the samurai warriors who are in the first film because they are more harnessed with good ethics and they are willing to lose their life just to save the village meanwhile the samurai warriors in the first part is about growing up ad becoming a samurai warrior. This film is about the work of a samurai warrior. Their works and jobs to help everyone even risking their lives. The samurai warriors in the scene are all skilled and already know how to save their village. Unfortunately those who died were given the respect. They prefer to help other in return of their lives instead of hiding and giving them disrespect. This is the most concern of the villagers in the end the three samurai warriors were given honorary ceremonials and the story ended happily because the village once again continued to live normally even though most of the samurai warriors died in saving them.

The last film is the Chusingura and it is the most-filmed stories of all time. In history, the story of Chusingura is both the truth and myth. It s about a young daimyo who wants to stop the corruption that takes place in the country, it is a total conflict between two different duties. Asano is the young Daimyo who want to end the corruption that is happening in the shogunate. He was given a land to govern and he successfully ruled this land but a old grandmaster went to him his name is Chamberlain Kira and told him to bribe him but Lord Asano refused. Soon Chamberlain Kira humiliated Lord Asano, which disgraced Asano so he pulled his sword in the central palace and it is a sin to draw your sword in sacred places and it is punishable by death. And so the Kira subjected Asano to trials that will subject him to Hara-kiri suicide.

The lands of Lord Asano were given to a new Daimyo and his ronins do not have any to serve with. It is also a sin to act in a pain of death. And so chamberlain Oishi told the other to stay calm because there will be a time when theire revenge will come. Months and years they waited to wait for the words of Chamberlain Oishi. The Ronin all patientl waited even in poverty, humiliation and self-sacrifice, the 47 ronins were all given the symbol of samurai spirit after then.

The story is about how a young Daimyo was able to learn from everything and wants to change anything and so as he does it he became weak. Until the end he is persistent to change the bad ruling of the shogun and so the ronins continued. They waited until that day that they can revenge.

The story is all about camaraderie, the master is not sent alone. His followers paved him respect by continuing his goals and revenging him to Chamberlain kira. It is a well-directed film about samurai warriors. It is different from the two because it talks more about how samurai warriors and a daimyo are related to one another. It is an inspiring story where the Sappuke rule is all followed. The samurai warrior patiently sacrificed a lot their humility and dignity just to grant there masters revenge. For them humility is nothing without the camaraderie between the samurai warriors. And so, this really garnered a lot of awards from movie critics.

Overall, the three films were about samurai warriors, they largely differ on how a samurai is opting to be in a town. They differ in what is the life of the samurai and how samurai warriors are made. The first film about samurai I by Hiroshi Inagaki show a different view of a samurai. It tells more of how a samurai is created and how he moves on in his learning the second one is about how a samurai lives with the people. It shows how samurai warriors communicate with the language of the village and the relation of the samurai warrior to its people. To protect them at the cost of their life is mainly shown here as the first rule of the Samurai warrior. The last film is the saddest film out of the three; it is the most inspiring samurai story. It is about camaraderie of each samurai warrior to each other and to their master. It tells us that samurai warriors are not vain and cold. They believe within each other to survive. Moreover, samurai warriors are created to protect the people just like how they protect their dignity.


Harvey, del. 2002. Chusingura (1962). Filmmonthly.com.    http://www.filmmonthly.com/video/articles/chusingura.html

Sestir, Valerie. 1995. History of the Samurai. Warrior class of Japan. http://www.americankangdukwon.com/samurai.html

Crowther, Bosley. 1996. Chusingura; the loyal 47 ronin. Japan-historical Epic. http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html

Makela, Lee. 1998. Literaray Insights into Traditional Japan. http://www. Csuohio.edu/history/courses/his371/eas01.html

Nathan, John. 2005. The Columbia encyclopedia, sixth edition. http://www.bartleby.com/65/mi/mishimaY.html

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