Did any era's Samurai know Outdoors Survival Knowledge? If so, which eras, which country (or however Japan separated its land at that time), and how much did they know?

  • Which Samurai? When and where? I suspect that their training varied depending on the time period and their geographic location. – Steve Bird Apr 16 '15 at 22:34
  • Not all samurai were the same. In early periods however many samurai hunted for meat, so they would have had the skills for that at least. – Semaphore Apr 17 '15 at 4:23

As a rule, no. Samurai, by definition, were servants of their lord. The word samurai means to attend or to serve. If you are "surviving", meaning living off by yourself in the woods somewhere, you are not attending your lord are you? Feeding and supporting samurai was a huge expense for lords and it was expected by the samurai that they would be fed and equipped by their lord. Samurai were not taught subsistence survival skills, nor did they cultivate such skills because that would mean being apart from their Lord and other samurai--a dishonorable thing.

Even apart from samurai, Japan is a group culture and people, samurai or commoners alike, are expected to be a part of the group and act communally, not go off and support themselves alone in the wilderness.

Even when a samurai was cast out and became a ronin (a very bad thing), he still acted in communal manner. For example, I saw one account of a ronin who after he was cast out he made a living by making bird cages from reeds and selling them.

Another factor to keep in mind is that "hunting" in Japan is not regarded the same way as it is in the United States. In Japan every square inch of land belongs to someone and you cannot just go around killing animals or fishing in random places like you can in America. To do so without the permission of the lord or priest or whomever that owns the place would be illegal.

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    Re: needing permission for hunting - The parents of a teacher at the Japanese middle school I teach at own some part of the mountains around here (horizon is several hundred feet up and a mile away in a 360 spin). The police caught some mushroom poachers one day, and brought them in to pay a fine. (The teacher's family owns a vegetable shop, so the property likely provides some produce). – Clockwork-Muse Apr 17 '15 at 11:49
  • all or most of this would be true if applied to european knights, yet often knights spent a great deal of their younger years hunting. I'm not convinced. – mart Jun 1 '15 at 13:25
  • @mart What does this have to do with samurai? The question is not about knights. – Tyler Durden Jun 1 '15 at 13:38
  • you could make most of those claims about knights, the conclusion that they knew little about outdoors survival would be wrong. whatever. – mart Jun 1 '15 at 13:49
  • Knights knew extremely little about outdoors survival. A hunt was not one of them in green skulking after a deer: that's a poacher. A medieval hunt involved dozens to hundreds of men, more dogs, & the brightly clad knights on belled horses riding along until the stag/boar turns at bay. Then they ride in and skewer it with spears to the applause of their friends. That's not even a grand hunt. – Zither13 Jun 4 '15 at 10:39

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