A Dark Time for the Samurai and the Trouble with the Feudal Japanese Caste System

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Deriv; A lithograph plate showing Japanese Samurai warriors in a variety of different costumes

A Dark Time for the Samurai and the Trouble with the Feudal Japanese Caste System

In Japanese jidai-geki (period) films, especially those made under the military government, samurai warriors are presented as the ideal warriors who were motivated solely by honor and loyalty, preferring to fight to the death rather than admit defeat. The true samurai warriors were not only well-trained in the art of warfare, they were also highly learned in literature and poetry. The idea of the samurai became the embodiment of the philosophical ideal of Japan and attracted global admiration for their nobility.

However, the samurai experienced a dark period beginning in the sixteenth-century Japan which led to many changes to the samurai caste. It was also a time when it was painfully apparent that the samurais were not only the first people to jump into battle, they also had to suffer the most damage with major changes in the government due to their place in society. Ironically, the most difficult time in the life of a samurai was not in a field of battle, but at a time of peace in his own land.

Samurai of the Japanese Edo Period (1603-1868)

Samurai of the Japanese Edo Period (1603-1868)  (CC BY 2.0)


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