Japan -The Samurai Were Its First Protectors

Japan is a country that is widely known for its technology. But the more popular interests of the people lie in the history of the first descendants and protectors of Japan.

The first protectors of the people were called Samurai. In order to understand the way of the Samurai, you have to first look at the aspects of their education, their lifestyles, and then the end of their era. The term "Samurai" is derived from a common term in pre-industrial Japan meaning "warrior". Most Japanese Samurai were brought up to respect the attributes of honor and loyalty and were expected to set an example to all those below them. If a Samurai were to be disgraced such as losing a battle, or shamed for something they had done, they believed that the only way to retrieve their honor was to commit suicide. More specifically they had to stab themselves in the stomach with their own weapon. It was also said that a friend or co-combatant had to be there to decapitate them after the initial stab.

Life for a Samurai was very demanding and strict but one of the recreational activities that they all enjoyed was called "Kabuki". Kabuki was a form of theater performed by other members or guests. The Japanese men would perform in front of the audience, singing songs, performing mime tricks, and dancing. Not all Samurai were allowed to go to the Kabuki, but hardly any obeyed this strict rule, and they often went in disguise.

The Samurai believed and stood by a rule that if a son was born into a Samurai family, his sure destiny was to be Samurai. The father would teach him "Bushido" which is the "way of the warrior" and the term is the code that is used by all the warrior classes.

Skill in battle was the primary qualification for becoming a Samurai and the higher ranked warriors would usually get to marry higher ranked women. Divorce was frowned upon, as it damaged a warrior's reputation. Only one reason for divorce was accepted among the people, and that was if the woman could not bear a child.

The coming end of the Samurai period first became apparent during the "Tokugawa" period. Their status was still high, but their incomes became more unstable, and the need for warriors started to decline. Many lower class Samurai would be seen in the streets on their knees begging for money as people walked by and they often had to do dirty deeds or manual labor for the merchants, without any compensation, as a way to pay back their debts. The lower ranked men also had to obey any order given to them by a higher rank without any complaint. This is when the Samurai started to lose all self-respect for themselves and times were so severe that if they somehow could not fulfil an order they would actually kill themselves with the honorable suicide in order to escape from the impossible situation.

Michael Russell
Your Independent guide to Japan

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