Samurai Facts

Samurai Facts
The Samurai were Japan's early warriors who eventually evolved to become the ruling military and high ranking nobility from 1603 to 1867 after peace had been restored. The Samurai were known as 'bushi' in Japan, and followed a code called 'bushido'. Bushido required that Samurai practiced self-discipline, self-sacrifice, obedience, skill, and honor and bravery. Samurai had a sword, and wore specially designed armor and a helmet called a kabuto helmet. While most Samurai were Japanese, in some rare cases an individual from outside of Japan could become a Samurai as well, if granted by the shogun or a daimyos. There were female versions of the Samurai called Onna-Bugeisha.
Interesting Samurai Facts:
Bushido means 'the way of the warrior'. The Samurai followed the bushido, which was their code.
At the peak of the Samurai's power in Japan it is estimated that as much as 10 percent of the population were of the social class of Samurai.
In Samurai society the daimyos were territorial lords and shoguns were warlords.
The Samurai clothing was designed to allow them to move more freely. Their regular clothing included hakama trousers, a hitatare or silk kimono, and a vest, which allowed for ease of movement if a surprise attack were to occur. Footwear was often wooden sandals or clogs.
The Samurai wore a topknot hairdo, and it evolved to include a shaved forehead, which made wearing a helmet more comfortable.
Throughout history only four men from the west were given the special honor of becoming a Samurai. These men were William Adams (an adventurer), Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn (Adams' colleague), Eugene Collahe (Navy officer), and Edward Schnell (arms dealer).
Samurai originally carried a slim, small straight sword called a 'chokuto'.
As the art of sword-making advanced, curved swords became the norm, and the katana (most iconic Samurai sword) was created.
The Samurai also carried a smaller sword called a wakizashi.
The katana and wakizashi together were called a daisho, which means a 'big and small set'.
Samurai swords were often tested out on live prisoners.
Samurai name their swords. They believed that their warrior spirit was contained within the katana sword.
Samurai also used other weapons, including a longbow called a yumi, spears, and eventually firearms and cannons. They used a flintlock rifle called a tanegashima.
Samurai were well educated and were highly literate. Samurai studied math, and calligraphy, as well as flower arrangement. They were artistic and created ink paintings, rock gardens, and wrote poetry.
Despite their appearance of looking large and imposing in their armor, most Samurai were no taller than 5 feet five inches, while the knights in Europe during this time were as tall as 6 feet 5 inches.
If a Samurai was likely to be captured by an enemy or didn't follow bushido he was supposed to kill himself in a ritual called seppuku that involved using a sword or blade to pierce the stomach, followed by beheading. It could be performed quickly if needed or as a long ritual.
Darth Vader, the evil character in the Star Wars movies, wore a helmet that had been designed from inspiration from the kabuto helmet worn by Samurai.
There have been several movies made about the Samurai including the 2003 movie The Last Samurai, which starred Tom Cruise, the 1991 movie Samurai Cop, and 47 Samurai (1962).


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