The Samurai were Japanese warriors employed by powerful landowners for protection. Samurai employed a range of weapons such as bows and arrows, spears and guns; but their most famous weapon and their iconic symbol was the Samurai sword. These warriors-for-hire led their lives according to the ethical code of Bushido (the way of the warrior). Strongly influence by Confucius, the Samurai code stressed loyalty, self-discipline and respect. The Samurai's influence expanded during the Era of Warring States (1467-1573). Japan consisted of dozens of independent states constantly at each other's throats. Consequently, the demand for Samurai was very high. Between wars, they worked peacefully on farms. The famous Samurai movies by Kurosawa take place during this era. After 1615, the wars were over and relative peace prevailed in Japan for about 250 years. As a result, the importance of martial skills declined, and most Samurai became bureaucrats, teachers or artists. In1868, Japan's feudal era came to an end, and the Samurai class was abolished.
This book traces the complex journey of the Samurai from their early origins in the Confucian culture code of Bushido through the rise of the warrior class during the violent conflicts of medieval Japan and the era of the shoguns, to the eventual laying down of arms and their modern-day legacy, forever preserved on the silver screen in the classic Samurai movies of Akira Kurosawa. Contents CULTURE AND BUSHIDO CODE: Samurai women, Ninja, Musha shugyo (travelling and duelling), Swordplay, Samurai kimono, Weapons and Armour. FAMOUS SAMURAI: Miyamoto Musashi, Sasaki Kojiro (died fighting Miyamoto Musashi), Date Masamune, Hattori Hanzo, Uesugi Kenshin,Minamoto no Yoshitsune. SAMURAI IN POPULAR CULTURE: The Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, The Hidden Fortress, The Last Samurai, Shogun by James Clavell. 8pp b/w photos