Samurai Guide including samurai meaning, samurai history, samurai culture, samurai pictures, samurai swords and samurai in popular culture.
(侍 or sometimes 士) is a common term for a warrior in pre-industrial
Japan. A more appropriate term is bushi (武士) (lit. "war-man") which
came into use during the Edo period. However, the term samurai now
usually refers to warrior nobility, not, for example, ashigaru or foot
soldiers. The samurai with no attachment to a clan or daimyo was
called a ronin (lit. "wave-man").
Etymology of samurai
The word samurai has its origins in the pre-Heian period Japan
when it was pronounced saburai, meaning servant or attendant. It was
not until the early modern period, namely the Azuchi-Momoyama period
and early Edo period of the late 16th and early 17th centuries that
the word saburai became substituted with samurai. However, by then,
the meaning had already long before changed.
Picture above of Japanese samurai in armour, 1860s. Photograph by Felice Beato.
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