As samurai (in Japan the word Bushi is used) are members of the warrior class, which played a crucial role in Japan during the Middle Ages and whose code of honor and sacrifice until the end of World War II was used.


Originally referred to as samurau or saburai, the "serving" or "waiting" were found very early at the court of the nobility in Kyoto or the warrior houses (buke) of Heian and Kamakura time (about 8th-12th and 12th-14th centuries) Century).
The tasks of the samurai were accordingly varied. They included rituals, administration, police officers, soldiers, gatekeepers and night watchmen ... right down to the warrior.


Finally, in 1180, the meaning expands to a level that comes very close to what we know. The office samurai dokoro is responsible for the affairs of the vassals in Kamakura. In the 13th century, this extended to police violence, violence over the military governors (shugo!) and Vögte (jitô).


Throughout this period and beyond, the term bushi was still preferred as a term for the warrior and a differentiation of the samurai to the pure class of fighters was illustrated by a variety of terms.


Their function as "landowners" and thus as feudal lords acquire the samurai piece by piece. Around the 10th century, they moved into administrative positions in the provinces and gradually developed their own estates, first temporary, then hereditary.
With this increase in their power they also played an increasing role in Kyôto. There they were regarded by the long-established nobles as uncultured butchers.


In the upcoming battles of the 12th century, the emperors and the nobles are forced to resort to the military assets of the samurai and thus to further increase their importance.
At the end of the fighting between the emperor Go-Shirakawa and the high-caliber Kiyomori (from the Taira clan), the samurai had effectively seized power in Japan from the hands of the brawlers, while the nobles had lost a good deal of their privileges.
After all, it was Yoritomo, commander of the camp of the Minamoto clan, who negotiated with the emperor for supremacy of his person in the north, and secured the military command. This can be seen as the beginning of Kamakura Shôgunat.


From now on, the Samurai made a significant contribution to Nippon's destiny and increasingly enriched the country's culture through its traditions, philosophy and pure presence.


But her star had to go down one day, too. Although the end of the samurai can be clearly established, when that end began is much more complex.
In the 18th century, the princes began to become impoverished by economic changes and the system of "changing residence". At first, they probably shunted this out by increasing the burden on their vassals, but as a result, this resulted in higher taxes on the population and lower samurai.
After that, they were forced to pay big bonds, but they plunged them into dependency and lack of property.
Since their feudal lords were impoverished, the samurai could no longer afford the idleness or waste that had accumulated since the emergence of "cities without nights" (so-called entertainment districts). Natural disasters, currency devaluation, urbanization (ordered or as a result of the unification) and diminution of their salaries did the rest, and so many of their status soon had no prospects.
They were Japan, the Emperor / Shogun / Daymio only on the bag. Although there were various attempts at reform, but all saved the situation in the long run.
So it came, as it had to come. In the course of the Meji Restoration in 1868, the samurai were rationalized and finally formally dissolved in 1871. The Daymio had to give up their provincial posts.
The vast majority of samurai were in the ordinary people, a few were distributed to other classes.
But the social unrest that resulted was inevitable.
From 1874 to 1877 there were a number of smaller and larger uprisings, but all were depressed, such as the Satsuma rebellion.




The training for a samurai often began at the age of 3 years. The children had to learn to master their bodies perfectly, to suppress their pain and to go through a lot of drill. Later they were taught to read and write in monasteries and at 5 to 7 years began training in weapons and defense. These included archery, sword and fencing, and weaponless self-defense.

It was also common that an older and experienced Samurai took an apprentice with him and passed on his knowledge. At the age of 15, the training ended with a celebratory ceremony of the gempuku. At this the apprentice discarded his child's name and accepted a new one. He also received his long and short sword and his own armor.




A striking sign of the samurai was the wearing of two swords, the Daishō. The wearing of this pair of swords was exclusively withheld from Samurai. This was composed of the long katana and the short kotetsu. In contrast to the European swords, these were slightly bent and not intended for piercing or beating but for cutting.



Sword (Daishō)


Katana sword




Another weapon was the bow, especially the longbow Dai-kyū, which was very feared for its long range and penetration.

Other weapons a Samurai had with him were the fighting knife Tanto and two lances.



The Samurai armor, or Yoroi called, were similar to the European counterparts. They consisted of a breastplate (due to the high income of the samurai most of hardened sheet metal and steel in contrast to ordinary soldiers), a helmet (also in the samurai mostly made of metal), arm and leg splints and hand protection. The face mask was usually an elaborate mask that showed a grimacing face.


Parts of the samurais armament

Parts of the samurais armament

1 = breastplate
2 = Schurz arrange
3 = thigh protection
4 = tateage
5 = Greaves
6 = Foot back protection
7 = Shoulderplates
8 = Gauntlet
9 = Contact shield
10 = helmet
11 = neck jacket
12 = antiglare
13 = temple plate
14 = neck protection
15 = helmet jewelry
16 = helmet jewelry
17 = face mask
18 = coat of arms
19 = Joint from the collar



Samurai armament


Samurai mask




The remainder of the armor was mainly cotton, but less shielded areas had metal flakes incorporated.

Since the armor was sometimes very colorful and family signs would be difficult to see, were attached to the samurai armor below the helmet, a metal ring in which you could put a flagpole. So the soldiers could distinguish in the battles between friend and foe.






You can find the right literature here:


The First Samurai: The Life and Legend of the Warrior Rebel, Taira Masakado

The First Samurai: The Life and Legend of the Warrior Rebel, Taira Masakado Hardcover – November 1, 2007

Was samurai warrior Taira Masakado a quixotic megalomaniac or a hero swept up by events beyond his control? Did he really declare himself to be the ""New Emperor""? Did he suffer divine retribution for his ego and ambition? Filled with insurrections, tribal uprisings, pirate disturbances, and natural disasters, this action-packed account of Masakado's insurrection offers a captivating introduction to the samurai, their role in 10th-century society, and the world outside the capital-a must-read for those interested in early Japan, samurai warfare, or the mystique of ancient warriors.

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Bushido: The Samurai Code of Honour - The truth about Japanese Samurai wisdom

Bushido: The Samurai Code of Honour - The truth about Japanese Samurai wisdom Paperback – March 12, 2018

The Samurai of legends continues to captivate us. We wonder if the stories we see depicted in pop culture creations, books, and museums are full of the truth or enhanced to make a point.

You are going to experience the fantastic world of the Samurai, learn the code or Bushido that these men followed, living up to honor and loyalty for their masters as a way of protecting Japan. The Samurai were highly-skilled warriors, fighting for various reasons, even establishing the feudal era known as Edo, with a social caste system that put them on the top. The Samurai ruled Japan for several years, fought wars for 700, and eventually became obsolete.

But, their traditions and codes are not gone from history. They live on today. Everyone can learn a little something from the Samurai, including how to live a better life. Honoring people, staying loyal, and defending others when it is right are all virtues of the Samurai that can be continued today. You are going to learn of the eight virtues, the history of the Samurai, some of the most famous warriors, and then you will discover how you can apply their lifestyle to the modern world. Wouldn’t it be nice if people returned to a more chivalrous nature, where lying and devious acts are not acceptable? Where being honest, sincere, and courageous are looked upon with reverence?

The Code of the Samurai or Bushido as written by Inazo Nitobe can teach us a lot about living a decent and kind life. Discover how you can uphold the traditions of highly-skilled warriors, even if you are just a regular person.

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Samurai: An Illustrated History

Samurai: An Illustrated History Hardcover – May 15, 2002

This Japanese history book traces the story of a unique historical phenomenon: a period of 700 years—equivalent to the entire stretch of Western history between the reigns of the Crusader king Richard the Lionhearted and of Queen Victoria at the height of the British Empire—during which an enclosed civilization was dominated by a single warrior caste.

The historical narrative of samurai history is supported by explanations of samurai armor, weapons, fortifications, tactics, and customs, and illustrated with nearly 800 fascinating color photographs, maps, and sketches, including ancient scroll paintings and surviving suits of armor preserved for centuries in Japanese shrines.

From the 12th to the 19th centuries the history of Japan was mainly the history of the samurai—the class of professional fighting men. At first, they were no more than lowly soldiery employed by the court aristocracy of Kyoto, but the growing power of the provincial warrior clans soon enabled them to brush aside the executive power of the imperial court and to form a parallel military government. Though individual dynasties came and went in cycles of vigor and decadence, the dominance of the samurai as a class proved uniquely resilient.

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Samurai Arms, Armour & the Tactics of Warfare: The Collected Scrolls of Natori-Ryu

Samurai Arms, Armour & the Tactics of Warfare: The Collected Scrolls of Natori-Ryu (Book of Samurai) Hardcover – October 23, 2018

Part of the acclaimed Book of Samurai series, which presents for the first time the translated scrolls of the historical Natori-Ryū samurai school of war, this volume offers an exceptional insight into the weaponry and armour of the samurai era, as well as tactical advice for use on and off the battlefield.

Two secret scrolls by the samurai tactician Natori Sanjūrō Masazumi are presented here: Heieki Yōhō, which offers advice for every possible martial situation, from moving troops to besieging a castle to fighting on the open battlefield; and Heigu Yōhō, which explores samurai arms and armour in unparalleled detail. Illustrated with 130 line drawings of arms and armour, strategic diagrams and beautiful samples  of Japanese calligraphy, this is essential reading for students of martial arts, warrior culture and the samurai path.

This book was written by the seventeenth-century samurai tactician Natori Sanjūrō Masazumi, also known as Issui-sensei, who was to become the most influential grandmaster of the Natori-Ryū school of war. It gives us an unprecedented insight into what the samurai knew about their own specialization – armour and warfare. By listening to a genuine samurai, we can discover a huge amount about the thoughts, ideals, codes and even the feelings of this much admired, but often misunderstood, warrior class.

Heieki Yōhō, the first scroll translated in this book, gives leadership advice for use on and off the battlefield. From turning thieves or cowards to good service, to practising ‘external listening’ in order to obtain information from as many sources as possible, to penetrating the deeper motives of those who slander or praise others, the ideas discussed are thought provoking and paint a vivid picture of samuraiJapan at war. Heigu Yōhō, the second scroll, gives a rare and precious glimpse into samurai arms and armour, including details of their construction, regulations associated with the wearer’s status, and the fascinating ceremonies, mythology and Buddhist doctrine that underlay their use. With 130 line drawings that clarify the text, this is the ultimate resource for all those interested in the wisdom and practice of the historical samurai.

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