Japanese Samurai Culture


Word samurai usually refers to warrior nobility nowadays. But in the preindustrial age samurai meant a Japan warrior. During Tokugawa era, samurais lost military functions and became bureaucrats, as they had to be literate. They followed a strict codes and rules, which were called bushido. Samurai culture ranged from a spartan Zen Buddhism influence to Kano-style culture.

Samurai were aristocrats for long centruies and they developed their own codes and culture, which had big influence on whole Japanese culture. Most known is their monochrome ink painting, japanese scissors, rock gardens and tea ceremonies, which have been used before for Buddhist monks to stay awake during meditation. Samurai had high literacy rate in Kanji and skills in math, similair to other arictocrats and priests. Toward the end of Kamakura period, general skill and literacy rate improved further.

Names of samurai were combined from one kanji of his father and new one. Their full names were long, so they often used only small part of their name. Names were composed of clan name, title, father’s name and first name, which samurai were able to choose. Many samurai later changed their names when they were adopted into other clans. When the clan leader dies without a son, but had a daughter, common thing was to adpot other clan’s samurai trough marriage with the daughter. Although samurai had a lot of children, times were harsh with wars and dieaseses which could lead to destruction of entire clan. To avoid this adpotion of samurai were practiced.

Samurai were expected to have marriage arranged by someone who had same or higher society rank than those marrying. Most of the samurai married women form other samurai families, but for lower ranks samurais it was not uncommon to marry a commoner. Samurai could have a mistress, but had to be checked by someone of higher rank. If mistress was a commoner, note with money to her parents was sent. Most of parents accepted it, because if the child could become a samurai, thus a higher rank than commoners. Samurai could also have divorce with an approval from a superior, although it was very rare. If samurai’s wife would be cast off, she was allowed to commit suicide.

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Source by Janes Pool