The Samurai: Warrior and Ruler of Ancient Japan Essay

The Samurai: Warrior and Ruler of Ancient Japan Essay

Length: 1275 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Samurai:
Warrior and Ruler of Ancient Japan

Few countries have a warrior tradition as long and exciting as Japan. It is a tradition found in the Samurai, the loyal and self-sacrificing knight of ancient Japan. The Samurai is a valiant warrior who can both appreciate the beauty of nature in that of a rose blossom but will also kill or die for his master in an instant. This well-rounded warrior was the ruling class of Japan for almost seven hundred years. He fought for control of his country and to keep Japan free from outside influences. (Turnbull 1)
This aristocratic warrior class arose during the 12th century wars between the Taira and Minamoto clans and was consolidated in the Tokugawa period. Samurai were privileged to wear two swords, and at one time had the right to cut down any commoner who offended them. They cultivated the martial virtues, indifference to pain or death, and unfailing loyalty to their overlords. Samurai were the dominant group in Japan. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, the samurai were removed from direct control of the villages, moved into the domain castle towns, and given government stipends. They were encouraged to take up bureaucratic posts.
The Hagakure, has been dubbed the book of the samurai. It was written after a century of peace around 1716. It came to be the guide of samurai ethics until the end of the feudal period. Its short passages reflect and outline the qualities that make a samurai. Yamamoto Tsunetomo expresses in the hagakure the framework and mindset of being a samurai. “Although it stands to reason that a samurai should be mindful of the Way of the samurai, it would seem that we are all negligent. Consequently, if someone were to ask, ‘what is the true meaning of the Way of the Samurai?’ the person who should be able to answer promptly is rare. This is because it has not been established in one’s mind beforehand. From this, one’s unmindfulness of the Way can be known. Negligence is an extreme thing.” (Wilson, 17)
“The Way of the Samurai is found in death. When it comes to either/or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance. To say that dying without reaching one’s aim is to die a dog’s death is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of life or death, it is not necessary to gain one’s aim. We all want to live. And in large p...


... middle of paper ...


...scious choice and so fostered individual initiative while yet reasserting the obligations of loyalty and filial piety. Obedience to authority was stressed, but duty came first even if it entailed violation of statue law. In such an instance, the true samurai would prove his sincerity and expiate his crime against the government by subsequently taking his own life.
By mid-19th century, Bushido standards had become the general ideal, and the legal abolition of the samurai class in 1871 made Bushido even more the property of the entire nation. In the public education system, with the emperor replacing the feudal lord as the object of loyalty and sacrifice, Bushido became the foundation of ethical training. As such, it contributed both to the arise of Japanese nationalism and to the strengthening of wartime civilian morale up to 1945.
The term “Samurai” means those who serve. These mystical knights served many functions in Japanese society. During time of war, they were the masters of the battlefield. In peace they were the administrators and the aristocrats. As statesmen, soldiers, and businessmen, former samurai took the lead in building modern Japan.
     

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Influence of the Samurai on Modern Japanese Society Essay

- Introduction Throughout History, there have been many different groups or events that are still widely known today. Groups of people such as the Indians or Vikings are popular groups which are referenced constantly in today’s society. However, none of these groups is more known or referenced than the Japanese Samurai. Originating in 646 AD, these Japanese warriors developed from a loose organization of farmers to the dominant social class in Feudal Japan. Along with their dominant military and political standing, the samurai brought with them a unique code or moral belief that became the core of Samurai culture....   [tags: Japanese Culture]

Strong Essays
1723 words (4.9 pages)

Japan History Essay examples

- Shinto Shinto is the aboriginal spirituality followed by the Japanese people. In the 8th century, Shinto practices were for the first time, archived in codified records of history of the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki. Shinto today is a term that is related to community shrines matched with various human ceremonies like historical memorials, marriage, harvest festivals and worship. People who practice Shinto express their varied values with a standard way of communication and activities, implementing similar ancient dress code and rituals....   [tags: Japanese Culture, Shinto]

Free Essays
798 words (2.3 pages)

Japan's Post War Economic Journey Essay

- On August 6th, 1945, America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later on August 9th, a second was dropped on Nagasaki. This effectively was the definitive end to World War II. The catastrophic damage caused by this vulgar display of power killed over 100,000 people in Hiroshima alone and left both cities as practically nothing more than radioactive ash. The unimaginable destruction caused by these attacks had obvious economic repercussions. Japan was a closed country that upheld a strict policy of isolationism....   [tags: Japanese History ]

Strong Essays
1864 words (5.3 pages)

Samurai: The Feudal Warriors of Japan Essay

- The samurai were the feudal warriors of ancient Japan. For thousands of years they upheld the code of bushido, the way of the warrior. Samurai were around for thousands of years, but when did they disappear. Does the code of bushido still exist to this day. Exploring the history of the samurai will give an explanation to what has happened to these formidable warriors. The samurai, or bushi (warrior), are well-trained cavalrymen that serve a particular lord. The first recorded history of the samurai was about the 9th century A.D....   [tags: Japan Warrior Essays]

Strong Essays
1848 words (5.3 pages)

History of Tea in Japan and the Japanese Tea Ceremony Essay examples

- According to Brown, tea is classified among the most significant non-alcoholic beverage across the globe. It has gained fame as a result of its benefits. Tea is an inclusive aspect of the daily life of the Japanese individual attributable to its ceremonial and ritual characteristics. It has been treated as a cultural beverage and consumed in a refined atmosphere. Tea drinking in Japan has undergone refinement under the support of the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. He was the regarded as the first ruler-patron of the tea ceremony....   [tags: Zen Buddhists, Tranquility]

Strong Essays
3466 words (9.9 pages)

Similarities and Difference of Japan and Western Europe Essay

- Similarities and Difference of Japan and Western Europe Both Japan and Europe were politically similar for many reasons: Each strove to maintain a centralized government. For Japan the leader was to be called an emperor or empress who could only be a part of the royal family if they were related to the Shinto sun goddess. As for Europe, the leader was to be called a king or a queen. Like Japan, not just anybody could become royalty. Kings and queens came from a long descent of an Imperial family....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
1882 words (5.4 pages)

Japanese History and Culture Essay

- Japan has always been an ever changing country. From the time when the emperor ruled and governed the country to the time when the emperor lost decision making power and became a symbol of national unity. Japans history is written throughout the world because of wars and trade especially with the United States. Japan is very isolated and lacking in essential resources, because of its relatively bad geography it is one of the biggest importers the world has ever known. Japan has very strong and unique cultural customs that have not changed over time (Japan)....   [tags: Japan, geography, ]

Strong Essays
1026 words (2.9 pages)

The Last Samurai By Edward Zwick Essay

- The last Samurai, directed by Edward Zwick, was released in December of 2003. It tells the story of an American Army officer who is hired by the Emperor of Japan to train the imperial army and put down a pending samurai rebellion. The story is fictional which is to say it is very loosely connected to real events. However, according to Mr. Zwick it was his intention to give the audience a feel for the tug-of-war between controlling interests in japan during this time period. It’s also important to mention that the Mr....   [tags: Samurai, The Last Samurai, Japan, Edward Zwick]

Strong Essays
2088 words (6 pages)

Samurai and Japanese Weaponry Essay

- Japanese History Major Task The Samurai and Japanese Weaponry The samurai were the warriors for the shogun in the feudal times of Japan. The samurai were one of the highest ranked class. The samurai’s from Japan used a variety of weapons. Some were quite different in design and size and some were very similar. The variety of weapons had a variety of purposes. Most people know of the samurai sword and the shuriken or more commonly known as the ninja or throwing star. What most people don’t know is that there were a lot more then just those weapons....   [tags: Japan, Weapons, Warrior]

Strong Essays
1064 words (3 pages)

History of Samurai Essay

- History of Samurai The Japanese warrior, known as the samurai, has played a significant role in Japan's history and culture throughout the centuries. Their ancestors can be traced back to as far as can be remembered. Some stories have become mysterious legends handed down over the centuries. In this report you will learn who the samurai were, their origins as we know them, how they lived and fought and their evolution to today. It will be clear why the samurai stand out as one of the most famous group of warriors of all times....   [tags: Samurai Japanese Warriors Essays]

Strong Essays
2853 words (8.2 pages)