Feudal Japan

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12/10/2011
What purpose did Samurai serve during Feudal Japan
Research topic influenced by one of the two Main sources: The last Samurai Directed by Edward Zwick and Rurouni Kenshin Anime series written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki.
My research is based on Samurais and their way of living. I want to bring out the history behind feudal Japan where Samurai warriors were a big part of. The movie Last Samurai, directed by Edward Zwick, main actor Tom Cruise, and Rurouni Kenshin's Anime series which was written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki which is one of the two things that inspired me to research and write about Samurais. Last Samurai is based on the Japanese history during the end of the 18th century and the start of the 19th century. The movie shows how desperate the Samurais became to preserve Japanese culture during the era of globalization in Japan and the struggle between thousand year old traditions of a Samurai soldier using a sword as his weapon, with the establishment of modern day weapons in Japan. During this time period the Japanese started to exchange modernized products and education with various other cultures such as the European’s and the American’s. This change became a threat to the old Japanese culture which the Samurai warriors devoted their life to. Rurouni Kenshin is a name of a Samurai who fought the great Boshin war during the Meiji Restoration and at the end of Tokugawa era. After the war he was labeled as the legendary man slayer. Soon he realized how many innocent life he has taken and devoted his life to a reversed blade sword where the blade is at the opposite side of the sword and became a wonderer who traveled the through the country sides of Japan, protecting the life of innocent from harm’s way. Samurai warrior’s draw precision and perfection, from their razor sharp swords which bring them great honor on the battlefield, and fulfill their duty as a Samurai warrior which they devote their life to. Feudal Japanese culture was dominated by the Samurai warriors and high ranking Samurai classes. Even though they made up only about 15% of the warrior populations, Samurais and their daimyo, who are lords and higher ranking than Samurais, wielded enormous power. ( Source of Japan History pg223). Shogun, who was the army general in command, held the absolute power over all the ranked classes in feudal Japan, even the Japanese emperor who is referred to as a “puppet for show” and above the shogun but did not wield enough power to over throw the shogun. (Sources of Japanese History pg229) When a Samurai or a high ranking personal passed by in the local streets of Japan citizens of the lower classes were mandatory to bow and show respect (The Last Samurai, 80:39). If a farmer or artisan or local shop merchant refused to bow and show respect the Samurai was legally entitled to chop off the person's head as they will. Samurai warriors answered only to the daimyo. Daimyos population was very few if they are compared to the Samurais but higher ranks then Samurais. Daimyos was also called powerful territorial lords who in turn, answered only to the shogun. (Sources of Japanese History pg168-169) There were about 260 daimyo by the end of the Japanese feudal era. (Japans Memory of Secret Empire. web) Each daimyo controlled a broad area of land, and had an army of Samurai who were loyal to their lords. Just below the Samurai and Ronin “who were Samurais without a Daimyo or lord” (SECRETS of the SAMURAI The Martial Arts of Feudal Japan, pg73) were the farmers or peasants in the Japanese feudal social pyramid. According to Confucian ideals, farmers were superior to artisans and merchants...
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