Once the samurai lost his master he becomes a rōnin. Could he become a samurai again by acquiring another master?

  • 2
    While circumstances were different from era to era, it was not uncommon to see samurais skipping from one warlord to another after major defeats or just disappearing for a while and joining some other warlord. Even famous ones like Miyamoto Musashi, who is debated if he was fighting on the Tokugawa or Toyotomi side of war in 1614-15.
    – Greg
    Oct 29, 2020 at 6:17

2 Answers 2


The samurai used to change their masters a lot, especially in the Sengoku era. A rōnin who came from a defeated clan where his master has been killed can attach himself to another clan and serve as a samurai.

In the movie Seven Samurai, several farmers hire rōnin to protect their farms from bandits. the movie describe them as noble heroes who stand up for oppressed farmers. the reality is quite different than that was portrayed in most films.

So we can see in the above example that a rōnin can still protect and fight.

In the battle of sekigahara in 1600 a lot of samurai became rōnin, most of them lost their masters, around 500,000 rōnin existed without income. At the era of tokugawa shoguns, those rōnin divided into two rebellions. The first, led by Yui Shosetsu, was aborted before the actual attack. And the second rebellion was unsuccessful. Tokugawa at the beginning and at the end of 17th century engaged in a campaign of suppression and advising the masters not allowing entering those rōnin to enter their fiefs.

So yes, a rōnin can have another masters, if the master needs or wants a rōnin.

  • 3
    Hmm. But did the ronin become samurai - regaining all the privileges and responsibilities of the samurai class; and remain as a permanent fixture or retainer in the lord's court after the military exigency passed? Or did the nature of the lord-retainer relationship change over each Era, becoming more mercenary? Sep 24, 2013 at 21:54
  • 3
    References please?
    – DVK
    Oct 1, 2013 at 13:48

A ronin is always a samurai. A samurai became masterless upon the death of his master due to circumstance (assassination/murder, war, natural causes) or after the loss of his master's favor or privilege due to an apparent misgiving. https://books.google.com/books?id=V14nI8RKPkwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=ronin+samurai&hl=en&sa=X&ei=JOptT6qAD-X10gHb3PWwBg&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=ronin%20samurai&f=false

During the Edo period of history (1600-1860's), with the shogunate's rigid class caste system and laws put into place, Ronin became more common. Before the Edo era Warfare among clans/fief's was Common, so replenishment of ranks was sustained by ronin looking to make living serving in the armies. Constant casualties made ronin indispensable as they had to take over for the dead. enter image description here

With the advent of the Edo era, Japan enjoyed relative peace and prosperity. There were only five considerable conflicts in the Edo era, most rebellions or proxy wars. Other than that; relative peace. With little employment or resources; or the need to conduct war. The samurai had a choice: give up their sword and become peasants, or move to the city of their feudal lord and become a paid retainer carrying out the executive policies of lords.......most chose the latter. And spent the next 250 years pacifying the country.

  • 2
    Sources would improve this answer and provide people the chance to learn further.
    – MCW
    Oct 29, 2020 at 12:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.