Legacy of the Samurai: The characteristics, philosophy, and history of the samurai.

2585 Words11 Pages

_The characteristics, philosophy,_

_and history of the samurai._

For seven centuries, the samurai ruled Japan as the powerful warrior class. As a class of warriors and knights, they led society in feudal Japan. The loyalty to his lord was much more important than his allegiance to his friends, family and even the emperor. Their philosophy was one liberated him from fear, and for these reasons, the samurai came to be the dominate force throughout medieval Japan.

War played a central part in the history of Japanese samurai. As regional clans gathered manpower, resources and struck alliances with each other, they formed a hierarchy centered around a toryo, or chief. This chief was typically a relative of the emperor
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In lower-class families, sons were sometimes sent to village schools for basic education, but they received most of their samurai training from their fathers, older brother, or uncles. Training in martial arts was considered very important, and often began at age five. Sons of wealthy families were sent to special academies, where they were tutored in literature, the arts, and military skills. (Daidoji, Ratti, and Cleary 6-10) Swordsmanship was taught in a similarly relentless manner.

The most recognized weapon of the samurai throughout history was the katana. The oldest swords were straight and had their early design in Korea and China. A katana was never worn without its companion sword, the wakizashi; it was a shorter sword with a broader blade. Together the two swords are referred to as daisho, meaning "large and small." The word dai (large) represents the katana and the word sho (small) represents the wakizashi. The smiths who created the katana for the samurai are widely regarded as the finest sword makers in history. (Daidoji, Ratti, and Cleary 42) The samurai's desire for tougher, sharper swords in battle gave rise to the curved blade. One of the biggest problems in making a sword is keeping it sharp. A weapon made with a hard metal will keep its edge, but will be brittle and prone to breaking. Japanese sword smiths solved this problem by making the core of the sword with a soft

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