Japanese Culture

SAMURAI

SAMURAI

Samurai Guide including samurai meaning, samurai history, samurai culture, samurai pictures, samurai swords and samurai in popular culture.

Samurai (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").

(Tom Cruise in "The last Samurai" has provided a modern introduction to the way of the Samurai - Discuss here.)

Samurai were expected to be cultured and literate, and over time, samurai during the Tokugawa era gradually lost their military function. By the end of the Tokugawa, samurai were essentially civilian bureaucrats for the daimyo with their swords serving only ceremonial purposes. With the Meiji reforms in the late 19th century, the samurai were abolished as a distinct class in favour of a western-style national army. The strict code that they followed, called bushido, still survives in present-day Japanese society, as do many other aspects of their way of life.

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.

During the era of the rule of the samurai, the earlier term yumitori (�bowman�) was also used as an honorary title of an accomplished warrior even when swordsmanship had become more important. Japanese archery (kyujutsu), is still strongly associated with the war god Hachiman.

Samurai Picture

Samurai
Samurai

Picture above of Japanese samurai in armour, 1860s. Photograph by Felice Beato.

(Article based on Wikipedia article and used under the GNU Free Documentation License)

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