Individualism in Samurai Culture and History

916 Words4 Pages
The principle of individualism was essential to the shaping of the samurai history and culture. The beliefs of self reliance and personal dependence were evident throughout samurai life. “The process of Japanese state formation and self identity in Japan have been intimately connected” (Ikegami 43). Not only did this sense of individualism affect samurai identity but Japan as a whole. The samurai class as a whole sought to be part of their own warrior class, or even a part of the upper class; anything but the commoner class. The samurai had individualistic attitudes in every aspect of their lives and it was an obvious characteristic of these warriors. Samurai battled an individual fight for honor, seeking power and status, affecting their culture socially and militarily, occasionally leading to corrupt methods of power gain. The sense of necessary honor was very unique to the samurai society. It enabled samurai to develop a culture derived from their individualistic ways. Socially, the samurai initiated many new aspects of popular Japanese culture. In their drive to fulfill their independent fight for honor and status samurai began to take part in high status activities. Being a part of a warrior class gave samurai warriors a distinct character of ruthless killers, but during the Muromachi period in Japan, culture among the samurai flourished. It became common to see samurai enjoying no theatre, developing gardens, and taking part in the flourishing tea ceremony (Keene). This became important to the samurai because they were desperate to have a sense of honor and power. These activities were enjoyed by the samurai who had enough time and money to spare. This showed status and power to the individual samurai. Also, within soc... ... middle of paper ... ...murai desire for honor led to a culture with a society and military that craved individualism. They strongly shaped their history by adding the stipulation to be revered as a member of the honorable warrior class. “The sentiments of honor incorporates a dimension of self worth” (Ikegami 42). As the samurai culture altered over time the need to become honored through respectable ways faded yet individualism continued to shine through with battles of corruption and underhanded methods recognizing their perpetrators as accomplishers of admirable achievements. The fight for honor and power, through individualistic methods, both corrupt and loyal, affected the culture of the samurai and the history of Japan socially and militarily. Works Cited Yoshimasa and the Silver Pavilion by Donald Keene Musui's Story by Katsu Kokichi The Taming of the Samurai by Eiko Ikegami

More about Individualism in Samurai Culture and History

Open Document