Samurai they were Japanese clans known the world over. They were honorable, disciplined and courageous people who inspired many films. However, what the super productions show is not very consistent with reality.
Although samurai are remembered as warriors, the term that names them refers not only to their work, but also to their class.
Some believe that the samurai were rare warriors, but in their period about 10% of the Japanese population was formed by them.
Even so, we are talking about historical icons in Japan that marked the period of the rising sun. They were warriors who wielded their swords, fighting for fortunes and territories for their lords.
Analyzing these brief features, we can say that the samurai were not very different from the medieval warriors of Europe. But despite the similarity, a lot differs them from Europeans.
And if you are also interested in the history of the samurai and want to know more about them, follow this article to the end.
Here, we'll talk about how they came about, their function and importance to Japanese culture, as well as showing 10 curious facts about these people that still inspire many stories today. Come on!
Who were the samurai?
Samurai were the most famous Japanese warriors in the world. They emerged during the Japanese feudal period due to the country's historical circumstances at that time.
Japan suffered from constant internal battles, due to its territorial limitation and its division into fiefs. With that, the need for the empire and the feudal lords to protect their territories arose.
They came before the period of carriages using the fifth wheel, widely used until today in modern cars. And when they emerged, they came from the need to protect territories against external lords.
Therefore, even though they are known as honorable warriors, the work was limited to defending the interests of the feudal lords and the aristocracy. Another function of these people was to collect taxes paid to the Japanese empire.
They are, even today, very important for Japanese culture, because they carried the marks of a very important period for Japan. They began to emerge in the 7th century and later became the military class in power of the highest social class, in the Edo period, from 1603 to 1867.
They used different types of weapons, such as bow and arrow, spears and, of course, the sword, which by the way is a symbol of their existence.
They conducted their lives according to the code of bushido, which translated means “warrior way”. This one emphasized ideals such as:
- Respectful behavior;
Therefore, many samurai adhered to the teachings of Zen Buddhism. And now that you know who they were, in the next topic, we'll show you their main curiosities. Follow the reading.
10 curious facts about samurai
Everything that exists in the world, like a machine weigher, has its history, but some characters have marked times, as in the case of the samurai.
Although many movies portray these warriors, many facts are not told. So, among those that most arouse curiosity, we have:
1. The samurai weren't just the elite
Many people believe that the samurai were a fighting force formed by the Japanese elite, but the truth is that the majority of the army was formed by infantry soldiers, known as ashigaru.
They are individuals who started at the bottom, coming out of work camps on rice plantations. However, the lords of the land, known as daimyo, noticed their abilities and trained them for the fight.
Japan had three types of warriors, the samurai, ashigaru and the ji-samurai. These were individuals who worked in the fields most of the time, serving as samurai at times.
It's as if they were army reservists working at the project firefighting, as happens today. However, they were called far more often than men today.
There was a hierarchy between them, so the warriors could be promoted, that is, a ji-samurai assumed the post of samurai full-time and joined the ashigaru, not being as respected as the real samurai.
In some parts of Japan, the two classes of warriors could barely be distinguished as they assumed similar responsibilities and duties.
2. Christian Samurai
When the Jesuits arrived in southern Japan, some gentlemen daimyo converted to Christianity. But most did this out of interest, since once converted, they had access to European military technology.
Arima Harunobu, a daimyo Christian, for example, used European guns in his battle at Okita-Nawate.
By becoming a Christian, another daimyo, known as Dom Justo Takayama, was prevented from acting like any other samurai warrior at the time of his reign.
And when Japan expelled the missionaries, it forced Japanese Christians to renounce Christianity. Takayama, then, preferred to flee with 300 faithful, rather than renounce the faith.
3. retreat into battles
Samurai fought to the death so as not to face dishonor. However, the daimyos considered taking the army out of battle in some situations. This was very common in Japan as well as many other places.
The clan Shimazu, from southern Japan, was known for being the first to use firearms and for his use of forces in making a false retreat, luring enemies into an ambush.
4. they named the swords
Some everyday items, such as safety valves, have names, according to their type. But in the case of the samurai, they believed that swords embodied warrior spirits and named them.
One of the most used was known as “chokuto”, thinner than the models used by Europeans. Later came the katana, which became the most famous samurai sword.
Warrior women used the naginata, a curved-blade sword, however, this was not the only weapon used by the samurai. Archery was also part of it, and later came firearms.
5. pirate samurai
Civilized life has brought us many facilities, such as the pigment powder, but near the 13th century, a Mongolian invasion drove the Korean army away from the coast.
Japan had a poor harvest, little food and scarce capital, which led to weak oversight, which made room for lawlessness.
The ronin they were soldiers who followed the daimyo, and due to the events of that century, an Asian piracy began with samurai leaders.
6. samurai women
Samurai also refers to a class, so girls born to them were considered samurai. They were trained and followed the code, and some opted for war.
They became known as onna-bugeisha, and despite being little portrayed in the history books, they played a very active role in the battles.
7. exhibited severed heads
In a civilized world that has resources like instrument calibration, we do not imagine that in the time of the samurai, the head of an enemy proved a duty fulfilled.
The heads of dead enemies were shown to the lords daimyo, and then displayed on wooden stands, with the name of the victim and the murderer.
8. went beyond the fight
In addition to learning to fight, the samurai were well educated and literate, even outperforming the Europeans.
This is because bushido required samurai to strive for improvement in many respects, learning mathematics, calligraphy, painting and poetry.
9. functional armor
Unlike European armor, samurai ones were designed to give more mobility, yet they were extremely tough.
Japan has always stood out when it comes to technology, whether in the armor of the samurai or, nowadays, with curved mats.
10. protective masks
The faces of the samurai were protected by a piece of armor that closed behind their heads. It was a way to protect the warriors from attacks from all sides, and ended up inspiring the mask of one of the best known characters in the world, Darth Vader.
Furthermore, masks were also a way to scare enemies.
Some honorable practices were part of the samurai culture, such as the path of the sword, which took place through the sacred forge of the main weapon of these warriors.
They were also always looking for an honorable death, as they were trained to defeat the enemy. When hit, they should fall facing the enemy, as if facing them to death.
Japan is a country with advanced technology and everything they do, like aluminum disc, involves a lot of promptness and dedication.
And this has always been the case, as we've seen throughout this article about the samurai. They marked an important period for the country and are still portrayed today. So, in this article, you could check out a little more about them.
This text was originally developed by the blog team Investment Guide, where you can find hundreds of informative content on different segments.