“Bushido is realized in the presence of death. This means choosing death whenever there is a choice between life and death. There is no other reasoning.”
― Tsunetomo Yamamoto,
What do you decipher when you hear the word ‘Samurai’? Well, definitely an individual who is a warrior, and belong to the pre modern Japan era. There is much more to it.
So, here are some really interesting and fascinating facts about Samurai, which will evoke your thought process:
1. Suicide ritual – yes, you read that right! Seppuku is the suicide ritual performed by Samurai. It is the suicide a samurai needs to pursue when he follows Bushido or there is likelihood that he will be captured by an enemy. It can be an honorable punishment or a voluntary act.
2. Physical traits – you would think that Samurai were gigantic and really tall. But, the fact is different from this. In reality, they were tiny and very slim. Yet again, the Samurais are noticeably hairier with lighter skin tone.
3. Knowledgeable – Indeed, since the Samurai were associated with the noble class, the members were well educated. They were skilled in Mathematics and well learned. They were perfect in calligraphy, flower decoration and literature.
4. Armaments – in most of the pictures, portraits and movies you must have witnessed samurai to be utilizing a sword like structure. That sword was called as chokuto. This continued to change its form. And then, the samurai started using spears, katana, yumi and even a rifle. So, there were indeed a plethora of arms and armaments at their disposal.
5. Sense of style – since, they belonged to the noble class and were warriors, they dressed to suit their techniques, their attacks and avail the comfort level. They ensured that there was surplus movement of their body in the clothes that adorned them. Hence, a kimono, a hakama trouser and the topknot hairstyle, wooden sandals were witnessed.
6. Many – most of the people are with the perception that the samurai were a rare elite force or a small group of noblemen. However, in reality they were an entire social class. In fact, almost 10 in every 100 Japanese populations were Samurai at its peak time.
7. Western Samurai – There has been allowed special circumstances when someone from out of the Japan could fight along with the samurai and become one. This honor can, however, be only given to leaders such as daimyos or shogun. Taking the reference from the history, 4 western men have been granted this power, William Adam-an adventurer, Jan Jostens van Lowenstein- his colleague, Edward Schnell-arms dealer and Eugene Collache- a navy officer.
8. Homosexuality – it is now that people are opening about homosexuality and some are even accepting it. However, with the Samurai culture, it was never considered taboo. In fact, the sexual relationship between an experienced samurai and a youth he was training called wakashudo was common.
9. Armor – indeed, this is another of the amazing adornment of the Samurai. It was sturdy yet flexible to allow good movement. In fact the plates of leather or metal were nicely bound with laces of leather or silk.
10. Female Samurai – these women who received samurai like training in martial arts and techniques were called Onna Bugeisha. Since, there is not much reference in history, hence; they were definitely less in number.