22: The Rise of the Warrior Class in Japan

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Chapter 22:

The Rise of the Warrior Class in Japan

Standards Used


7.5 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the civilizations of Medieval Japan.

7.5.3 Describe the values, social customs, and traditions prescribed by the lord-vassal system consisting of shogun, daimyo, and samurai and the lasting influence of the warrior code throughout the twentieth century.

7.5.4 Trace the development of distinctive forms of Japanese Buddhism.

7.5.6 Analyze the rise of a military society in the late twelfth century and the role of the samurai in that society.
CH 22 PREVIEW page 148
In this lesson you will learn about the training of Japanese soldiers known as samurai, including the skills, knowledge, and values these soldiers were taught. The samurai’s training was very different from the training of modern American soldiers.

You learn about the rise of a warrior class in Japan and the pivotal role the samurai played from the end of the 12th to the 19th centuries. After reading about the forces that led to the creation of a lord-vassal system in Japan, students learn about a samurai school and will see various aspects of samurai training.

Students will

  • analyze the rise of a military society in the late 12th century and the role of the samurai in that society.

  • describe the values, social customs, and traditions prescribed by the lord-vassal system consisting of shogun, daimyo, and samurai.

  • trace the development of distinctive forms of Japanese Buddhism.

  • describe the lasting influence of the warrior code throughout the 20th century.

  • compare Western Europe in the Middle Ages with the samurai society of Japan.

I. NOTES FOR CH 22.2 page 242
The Rise of the Samurai

  • The Shogun was the commander in chief (Minamoto Yoritomo)

  1. Samurai under the Shoguns

    1. The shogun rewarded the samurai with land or appointments to office

    2. The samurai promised to serve and protect the shogun

    3. Women as well as men could be a samurai

  2. Shifting Loyalties

  • The daimyo was a warrior-lord

  1. He gave the samurai land, money, + appointments to office

  2. The samurai promised to be obedient and loyal to the daimyo

  3. The daimyo started to replace the shogun as the lords had done so in Medieval Europe

  1. By the late 15th century Japan fell into chaos. In 1603 after almost 100 years of fighting, Tokugawa Ieyasu, became shogun and established a new capital in Edo ( present day Tokyo)

  2. For the next 250 years Japan was at peace

NOTES FOR CH 22.3 page 243

The Samurai’s Armor and Weapons

  • The samurai was first and foremost a warrior

  1. Heavy armor

  • Under his armor he wore a colorful robe called a kimono

    1. Samurai armor was unique — it had row of small metal plates coated with lacquer laced with silk -> strong yet flexible

      1. Boxlike panels covered the chest and back

      2. Metal sleeves covered arms

      3. Broad shoulder guards and panels for hips

      4. Thigh and shin guards

    2. Ferocious looking iron mask

    3. Iron helmet — before putting on the helmet he burned incense — to smell sweet if cut off in battle

  1. Weapons

    1. Most prized weapon is the sword. A samurai’s swords were the finest in the world, they were flexible enough not to break and hard enough to be razor sharp. He carried 2 swords: a long sword with a curved blade for battle and a shorter sword to cut off heads

    2. Bow and Arrows – wooden bow could be up to 8 feet long. In battle sharpshooters on horses pulled arrows from quivers on their backs and fired at each other

    3. Foot soldiers used spears to knock riders off their horses or kill an enemy with a powerful thrust.

NOTES FOR CH 22.4 page 244

Military Training and Fighting

  • The way of the horse and the Bow and latter the art of swordsmanship

  1. Military training

    1. 1st young samurai were apprenticed to archery masters

      1. Samurai learned shoot accurately while - horseback

    2. The art of fencing was just as demanding

      1. Force his opponent to make the 1st move

      2. Fight in tight spaces; against more than 1 opponent

    3. They continued to fight without a sword using other weapons
      or even their hands

      1. Metal fans or wooden staffs

      2. Using martial arts

  2. Battle

    1. There was a unique style of battle

      1. 1st messengers met to decide time and place of battle

      2. Then they faced each other few hundred yards apart

      3. They then would shout their names, their
        ancestor, heroic deeds, and reasons for fighting

      4. Only then would they charge each other

    2. There was savage hand-to-hand combat, one-on-one duels

      1. Each samurai found an opponent who matched in rank

      2. He would knock opponent off horse, wrestle him to ground, and slit his throat

    3. After the battle the winning side cut off the heads of opponents. Heads were cleaned and mounted on boards and presented to leader. The victorious lord rewarded his samurai with swords, horses, armor, or land.

NOTES FOR CH 22.5 pages 245
Mental Training

  • A samurai had to learn self-control so they could overcome emotions that might interfere with fighting

  1. Training in Self-control

    1. On a daily basis a samurai should:

      1. think about how to overcome his fear of death

      2. To overcome the fear of death they were told to think of themselves as already dead.

  2. Training in Preparedness

    1. Samurai had to develop a sixth sense about danger

      1. Samurai were trained to be prepares at all times

      2. One samurai was hit with a wooden sword throughout the day until he learned to always stay alert.

NOTES FOR CH 22.6 page 246
Training in Writing and Literature

  1. By the more peaceful 17th century, samurai were expected to be students of culture as well as fierce warriors.

  2. Samurai practiced calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing by carefully drawing each character with his brush

  3. Samurai also wrote poetry. One famous samurai poet was Matsuo Basho who invented a new form of short poetry called the Haiku

    1. Haiku is poetry that consists of three lines of five, seven, and five
      -syllables making 17 syllables in all.

NOTES FOR CH 22.7 page 246+247
Training for the Tea Ceremony

  1. The Tea ceremony fostered a spirit of harmony, reverence, and clam which served as way to form political alliances

  2. There was a certain procedure to the ceremony

    1. Enter room thru a low door

    2. Room was very simple

    3. The only decorations found were: a scroll painting or an artistic flower arrangement

    4. Guests sat silently, watching the master make + serve tea

    5. Engaged in sophisticated discussions, about utensils

  3. The master had a procedure in the making of the tea:

    1. Heated water in an iron urn over charcoal fire

    2. Scooped powdered green tea from a container called a tea caddy into a small bowl.

    3. Ladled hot water into the bowl w/ a wooden dipper

    4. Whipped the water and tea with a bamboo whisk

    5. Each guest in turn took the bowl, bowed to the others, took three sips and cleaned the rim with a tissue

    6. Then passed the bowl back to master for next guest

Drawings might include a tea caddy, a small bowl, a wooden dipper, a whisk, a scroll painting, a flower arrangement, or an urn.

NOTES FOR CH 22.8 page 247
Training in Spiritual Strength

  • Most samurai were Buddhists, especially Zen

  1. Amida Buddhism

    1. In 12th century, a monk named Honen founded Amida Buddhism: all people could reach paradise by relying on the mercy of Amida Buddha.

    2. Amida had been an Indian prince who became a Buddha

    3. He set up a western paradise called the Pure Land

    4. believers could enter the Pure Land by pray fully repeating Amida’s name up to 70,000 times a day

  2. Zen Buddhism

    1. This was another form of Buddhism with an emphasis on effort and discipline

    2. Zen stressed self-reliance and achieving enlightenment through meditation

    3. To reach enlightenment you had to meditate for hours sitting erect and cross-legged without moving \

    4. Becoming enlightened required giving up everyday logical thinking

    5. To jolt the mind into enlightenment; masters posed puzzling questions called koans
      •“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

    6. Masters created gardens to aid in meditation

      • Artfully arranged gardens were often simple and stark

      • They symbolized nature instead of imitating it

      • Rocks in sand, for example, might represent islands in the sea

  3. Zen Buddhism was a good match for the samurai way of life. It helped samurai learn discipline, focus their minds and overcome their fear of death.

NOTES FOR CH 22.9 page 248
The Code of Bushido and Samurai Values

  • Bushido is “The Way of the Warrior” calling on the samurai to be honest, fair, and fearless in the face of death. Samurai were expected to value loyalty and personal honor even more than their lives.

  1. Loyalty and Personal Honor

    1. A samurai’s supreme duty was to be so Loyal to his lord that he would gladly die for him. If his lord was murdered, a samurai might avenge his death.

    2. Samurai were expected to guard their personal honor, the least insult could lead to a duel

  2. Ritual Suicide

    1. The price for failing to live up to the code of Bushido was seppuku ritual suicide

    2. a samurai might commit seppuku

      1. to preserve personal honor,

      2. to avoid capture in battle,

      3. to atone for crime, shameful deed, or insult to another,

      4. as a form of protest against an injustice,

      5. as punishment for a crime, or

      6. Because of the death of a lord. I am always loyal to my lord and willing to die for him.

    3. Seppuku became an elaborate ceremony

      1. Guests were invited

      2. The samurai would take a bath & Unbind his long hair

      3. Putting on the white clothes used for dressing a corpse

      4. Served his favorite food

      5. Then a sward was placed in from of him

        1. He took the sword and plunged it into & across his stomach, trying to make a complete circle.

        2. A swordsman standing behind him quickly cut of his head to end his agony

NOTES FOR CH 22.10 page 249
Women in Samurai Society

  • The position of women in samurai society declined over time. In the 12th cent, women of the warrior class enjoyed honor and respect. By the 17th cent. samurai women were treated as inferior to their husbands

  1. Samurai Women in the 12th Century

    1. In the 12th cent women enjoyed considerable status

    2. A samurai’s wife helped manage the household and
      promote the family’s interest

    3. She could inherit a husbands property and perform the duties of a vassal

    4. Some women took part in battles

  2. Samurai Women in the 17th Century

    1. As the warrior culture developed, women’s position weakened

    2. By the 17th century, samurai men were the unquestioned lords of their households.

    3. When young, women should obey their fathers; when grown, their husbands; and when old, their sons.

    4. Girls did not even choose their own husbands

    5. They were expected to bear sons and look after their husbands

    6. Sometimes they were even expected to kill themselves when their husbands died.

  3. Not all Japanese women were treated the same way. Peasant women had some respect and independence because they worked alongside their husbands. But in samurai families, women were completely under men’s control.

NOTES FOR CH 22.11 page 250

Comparing Japan and Europe in the Middle Ages

  • The Japan of the samurai was both like and unlike Europe during the Middle Ages.

    1. In both societies, ties of loyalty and obligation bound lords and vassals.

    2. Both had rulers who rose to power as military chiefs

    3. But in Europe, a military leader like William the conqueror ruled as king, In Japan the shogun ruled in the name of the emperor

    4. The daimyos of Japan were like the landholding lords of Europe

    5. Both types of lords built castles and held estates that were worked by peasants.

    6. Both the samurai of Japan and the knights of Europe were warriors who wore armor, rode horses and owned land.

    7. Just as the European knights had a code of chivalry, the samurai had the code of Bushido

    8. The samurai code ,however was much more strict, since it demanded that a samurai kill himself to maintain his honor

NOTES FOR CH 22.12 page 250
The influence of Samurai Values & Traditions In Modern Times

  • Modern Japan still feels the influence of the long era of the samurai.

  1. Japan’s warrior society lasted until 1868

  2. During WWII (1940s) Japanese soldiers stayed true to the warrior code.

    1. Many soldiers killed themselves rather than surrender

    2. Suicide pilots crashed planes loaded with explosives into US warships called Kamikazes (“divine winds”) after the storms that helped destroy an invading fleet in 13th cent.

  3. samurai martial arts are studied around world

  4. sports like judo + fighting w/bamboo swords reflect samurai discipline and skill

  5. Other elements of samurai culture persist today.

    1. Haikus are still written & calligraphy practiced

    2. Zen gardens & the tea ceremony remain popular

    3. Samurai ideals of loyalty to family and respect for rank are still alive in modern Japan.

| Page 2/22/2016

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