Essay on History of Samurai

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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.

Looking back in time, the first Japanese battles recorded are in the first few centuries AD. At this time Japanese warriors went across the sea to Korea to help one kingdom battling two rival kingdoms. Four
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The Minamotos won, and the emperor made Minamoto Yoritomo shogun, the head of the military. Yoritomo however wanted more and took all power away from the emperor and made himself dictator. At this time the samurai gained power, through land given to them by the new shogun. Their rise in status was beginning.

The battles that were fought during The Gempei War were very important in the history of the samurai. They set a new and honorable standard for all samurai to live by. These standards would last throughout the existence of the samurai warrior. The Gempei War provided a role model for Japanese samurai’s courageous and noble behavior (Turnbull 14). Almost all the important characteristics attributed the samurai culture came out of the Gempei war; “Archery, hand-to-hand fighting, undying loyalty to one’s lord and the tremendous tradition of ritual suicide all have key passages and proof texts in the tales of the Gempi War”(Turnbull 15).

The samurai had an unwritten code of honor called the bushido. Bushido means “way of the warrior” (History of the Samurai 3). This provided them with a code to help show them how to live and conduct themselves at home and in battle. One of the most important duties of the samurai was their loyalty to their lord. The samurai would defend their lord until the death. Revenge was also central in the samurai’s…

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