The Way of The Warrior in The Tale of The Heike Essay

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The Way of The Warrior in The Tale of The Heike

Heike Monogatari, with its multitude of battles and skirmishes, provides a wonderful chance to analyze the way of the warrior in ancient Japan. There aren't a great number of surviving works from this period that show in such great detail both the brute and the compassion of the Japanese warriors. They followed carefully a distinct set of principles which made up the well-rounded warrior. Loyalty to one's master, bravery and glory in any situation, strength, martial skills, compassion, and interest in the arts were all held with the highest esteem. Few warriors could become well known without possessing each of these skills. Religious beliefs shaped a warrior's behavior tremendously.
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Thus, the bow and arrow held special significance performing such rituals, and serving as serving the warrior as a powerful weapon. During one battle at Katsuura, the Genji warrior Yoichi Munetaka was chosen to hit a fan that was placed on bow of a Taira warship, beconing any archer to show his worth by shooting it down. Munetaka, unsure, says, "I am not sure I can hit it. It would be an eternal disgrace to our side if I missed it.(p.367)" Ordered by Yoshitsune to fire on the fan and affraid to refuse, Munetaka closed his eyes in silent prayer. "Hail, Great Bodhisattva Hachiman and ye gods of my province at Nikko, Utsu-no-miya and Nasu Yuzen! Vouchsafe that I may hit the center of that fan. If I miss, I will smash my bow and kill myself; I will never show my face to others again. If it is your will that I return home, keep my arrow from straying." When he opened his eyes, the wind seemed somewhat gentler, and the fan looked easier to hit. (p.368) Warriors often conducted such prayers to bring them good luck and safety on the battlefield.

Once the battle commenced, it was proper for skilled warriors to battle opposing warriors of the same rank one-on-one. He would step forward and make a proclamation such as this, "You must have heard of me long ago. See me now with your own eyes! Everyone at Miidera knows me! I am the worker-monk Jomyo Meishu
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