10- Female Samurai
While most of history dictates that women did not take part in battle, and were the ‘housekeepers’, in Japanese history this is different. Japanese history is such, that women were trained just like men, and fought alongside their ‘male counterparts’ in battle. One recent investigation has brought light to the Battle of Senbon Matsubara, in which one third of the participants were female.
Ancient Japanese armour was unlike any other in the world. It was sturdy, yet flexible, and allowed movement. The helmet, probably the most famous of the Japanese armour, was very efficient, in that it protected the soldier’s head from all angles, but the main face, meaning that arrows coming from all directions would be deflected.
Unlike most cultures, the Japanese culture had many same-sex relationships, mainly focusing on the samurai, and a youth that he was training. It was encouraged, and was done by most members of the samurai class.
7- Western Samurai-
Although it was very rare, western people could become Samurai, only under the permission of the Daimyo (the territorial leader) of the Shogun (Warlord). This included a new Japanese name and weapons. In history, there have only been 4 people who became Western Samurai’s.
6 The Numbers-
Although the modern culture generally assumes that the Samurai were small in number, they were actually made up of a whole social class. Although the term initially described those in direct or close contact with the nobility of the time- the Shogun- the term later evolved to describe those who were essentially soldiers in the lower, middle and upper class.
Although the samurai’s clothing may be perceived to be ‘dressed to impress’, that is false. The samurai dressed, unless on important and formal occasions, for their needs. Although their clothing seemed fashionable, it was only to help them do their job. However, their clothes heavily impacted the fashion of Japan.
4 The Weapons-
Although the samurai began using a slim and short version of the English Knight’s straight sword, the Samurai later evolved their weapons into a curved sword, which in turn, led to the Katana. As well as swords, they used long bows and spears. During the 16th century, at the invention of the gunpowder, the samurai abandoned their bows in order to have the advantage of gunfire.
The samurai endeavoured to learn in many ways, including those outside the battleground. They learnt the way of poetry, ink paintings, tea ceremonies and rock gardens and studied subjects such as literature and calligraphy.
2 Physical Characteristics-
Although the popular belief is that the Samurai were massive and imposing, that is in fact false. They were shorter and slimmer than Europeans of the same period. Japanese people were also harrier and had lighter skin.
1 Suicide Rituals-
The Samurai way dictated that they should commit suicide should they lose in battle and live to tell the story. As well as this, if they were captured by the enemy, or failed to follow their ‘Bushido’ or their way, then they should commit suicide.
The usual way of the samurai’s suicide was to stick the sword in their stomach, and go from left to right, essentially disembowelling themselves. After enduring this without exclamation, their ‘second’ or friend would decapitate them, killing them instantly.
The more formal way of suicide is a long ritual, which included a ceremonial bathing, and a last meal, which is essentially a ‘favourite meal’. The Samurai would then write a death poem, given that they were educated in literature and poetry. After completing this poem, then they would be clothed in white robes, and would complete the suicide shown in the usual suicide, and then, the ‘second’ would decapitate the person. They left a strip of flesh at the front of the head, so that their head would stay on after death, so that they would not be humiliated after death.