Samurai made their appearance in a period between the 10th and 12th centuries in Japan, during a regime of hereditary military dictatorship known as shogunate that would last 700 years. The Shogun was military sovereign of all Japan and ruled from Kyoto, while in the rest of the country a feudal system based on personal loyalty, family and shogun was imposed. Each of these families had a leader known as Daimyo who ruled in a specific area of Japan and owed allegiance to the shogun.
The samurai or bushi appeared in Japan during the Meiji era and the ruling class was transformed into class until its decline and total abolition in 1876. They worked as personal guards for the daimyo and fought for the daimyo in wars, they protected their land and power. Over time the samurai castes became hereditary and the samurai dynasties were formed.
These warriors mastered martial arts, bow, sword and horsemanship. They preferred close combat, considering the bow as a dishonorable and unworthy weapon. The fascination of the Japanese people towards the figure of the samurai it was mainly due to their way of life. The constant acceptance of deathlife was considered a mere formality), the rejection of material values and the importance of honor and morals made the samurai a figure of Japanese virtue.
Honor governed all aspects of the samurai's life to the point that a loss of honor meant initiating a ritual known as "seppuku”, A form of Japanese suicide. Multiple details of the samurai are reminiscent of the figure of the medieval European knight. The difference with respect to the western code of chivalry was the loyalty to its lord, since in Europe the contract of vassalage could be broken or revoked, instead the samurai was only freed from his bondage by death.
In fact, if a samurai considered an order from his lord unacceptable his only option was to take his own life, preferring death to doing something considered dishonorable.
Bushido literally means "the way of the warrior" and it was a kind of moral code of conduct for the warrior or samurai class. It was composed of a series of norms or commandments in the biblical style. This code was born from a mixture of influences from oriental philosophy, religion and martial arts, it was also a way to limit the power of the Japanese warrior class. The main values upheld by the samurai code are honesty, justice, courage, compassion, courtesy, honor, absolute sincerity, duty and loyalty.
According to experts, it seems that bushido was influenced by Buddhism (Zen), Confucianism and Shintoism. Today the teachings of this code are still alive in some martial arts, especially Karate.
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