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The Samurai Class

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Essay title: The Samurai Class

The Samurai Class

The history of Japan is vivid and filled with tradition. One tradition of their history that has lasted through the time is the Samurai. The Samurai class is essentially a class of warriors who held an incredibly high social status compared to the other warrior classes or armies of Eastern Asia. They lived by Bushido, their code, and with honor. Like most elite classes their demise was only a matter of time. During the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration the samurai class became a class with little purpose or political power.

The Samurai class did not exist for all of Japanese civilization. "Before the Heian period, the army in Japan was modeled after the Chinese army and under the direct command of the emperor" (Wikipediea: Origin of Samurai). Later in the Heian period imperialism leads to the use of regional clans. These powerful clans were "skilled in mounted combat and archery" (Origin of Samurai) and became the emperor's main weapon to crush rebellions.

Later in the Heian period "the emperor's army was disbanded" (Origin of Samurai). The local clans raised armies to protect themselves from one another. These armies are to become what we know as the Samurai. They eventually become the army of the Shogun and a permanent fixture to Japanese society. The samurai also became the police force of Kyoto.

The samurai class held a high social status throughout the majority of their existence. Japanese society showed its respect in a Confucian manner. At the top there is the emperor, f44owed by the bakufu and daimyo. The next class is the samurai class followed by the peasants and the artisans. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the samurai gained "large territories" which they controlled in a feudal manner (Beasley, 3). The samurai's land was worked by peasants. The samurai were paid by the emperor in bushels of rice called koku.

During the period of the Tokugawa Shogunate the samurai were not needed for war. A long period of peace changed the tendencies of the caste. "[They] increasingly became courtiers, bureaucrats, and administrators rather than warriors" (Wikipedia: Tokugawa Shogunate). The samurai's military function was slowly lost. With this the two swords that only the samurai were allowed to carry became symbolic of their power "rather than a weapon used in daily life" (Tokugawa Shogunate). The "samurai lived up to the ancient saying "Bun Bu Ryo Do" or "The pen and the sword in accord" "

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