Japanese Samurai: Superstars…Or Something

If you have seen the Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai, you may think that being a samurai was all fun and games.  While there was an element of that, being one of these famous warriors was not completely glamorous.  In fact, there was a lot they had to deal with and many duties to perform, with little room for error.

Being a samurai in feudal Japan was no walk in the park.  Because samurai were held in such high regard, they were very much under the public eye.  Just like celebrities of today have their every move scrutinized, such was the case for these guys.  There was a great deal of pressure for them to set a stellar example and be a role model for all.  What this meant was that they were to exemplify the qualities of bravery, loyalty, justice, and kindness.  You can bet there was quite a raucous if they faltered in these things.  On the plus side, samurais had some cool entitlements over the rest of society, including the privilege to ride a horse, be carried on a palanquin, and the honor of possessing two swords which they could whip out at any time, according to their best judgment.

Japanese Warrior Armor:

Japanese Warrior Armor

To guide the samurai in the way they should go was the sacred moral code of Bushido, also known as the “way of the warrior”.  This code kept the samurai in check both on and off the battlefield and was to be strictly adhered to.  The Bushido code was anchored in the foundations of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shintoism, common religious practices of the day.  Within these beliefs was utmost respect for fathers and masters, readiness to give one’s life at any moment, and revenge.  In the event a samurai’s master was killed, it was the task of the samurai to find and seek vengeance on the killer.  Needless to say, a certain balance between peace and war had to be kept.

In addition to displaying the Bushido code and being fine upstanding citizens, another aspect of being a samurai was defense, be it for self or others.  And no time was wasted in bringing up a samurai in their duty.  For kids in today’s society, messing around with swords is merely child’s play, but for samurai boys, swords were serious stuff!  As a toddler at the age of 3, boys were learning to fence with wooden swords.  By the age of 7, they were using real swords and expected to hold their own against enemies and thieves.  Then they were sent to live with a samurai master, where they were educated in military tactics, pole arms, archery, and other lifelong practices.  The training was rigorous, but did much to imbed these lifelong ideals in their minds.

Samurai Dragon Helmet:  http://www.armorvenue.com/samurai-dragoon-helmet.html

Samurai Dragoon Helmet

One of the most defining pieces of the samurai was his sword.  This was regarded as precious and sacred and a symbol of the soul.  A samurai was nothing without his sword…or swords, as he carried two of them.  He had one long sword, one short sword, and sometimes a dagger.  These swords came from a lasting legacy, being passed down from generation to generation, father to son.  When war was not waging, the swords were carried on the left side with blades facing up.

As mediators, defenders, and honorable figures, the samurai provided a great showcase of moral standing and left a very big mark in many ways.  To see our collection of samurai weapons, armor, and swords, go to http://www.armorvenue.com/.

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