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28

The usual explanation is that Japanese culture believed the soul resides in the abdomen. Since the ritual of seppuku or harakiri is usually meant to provide an honourable death, cutting open the abdomen was an act that "bares the soul", so to speak. The Meiji educator Dr. Nitobe Inazō wrote in his famous Bushido: the Soul of Japan that: [T]he choice of ...


19

Short Answer Roughly speaking, in the early decades after 1867: ~7% became educators ~16% became public servants ~25% became corporate employees the rest became unemployed or farmers Overview Most of them actually did not do particularly well. After the Meiji Restoration, the samurai became the new shizoku class and initially received stipends from a ...


18

As it is, all three are interesting for being completely different methods of achieving a high quality of steel. Equally interesting is that they are each of high quality in different ways. As for Tamahagane, the iron that was available in Japan was actually very poor compared to that found in Europe. It had a characteristically low carbon content, and the ...


17

Toledo steel was a very good steel, comparable to mainstream contemporary ones. It is based mostly on the content of the material and way of hardening. Now the best European steel for blades is not Spanish, but Swedish V10. With Damascus there is a wide-spread fallacy. What is now called "true damascus" - blades based on the way of smithing of two or more ...


17

That crest is called a marunikatabami (丸に片喰 or 丸に酢漿草). The design is an encircled creeping woodsorrel flower. As such it is considered a variation of the more primary, and popular, katabami (片喰) crest, which is the same minus the circular border. The creeping woodsorrel grows extremely well as a wild weed; it is known for being difficult to uproot once it ...


15

There are no set ages for participating in combat. Generally speaking however, the first battle for a young samurai was in their early teens, roughly around 15 years old (opportunities permitting). Examples include Hōjō Ujiyasu at Ozawahara in 1530 (15), Takeda Nobukatsu at Temmokuzan in 1582 (15), and Date Masamune against the Sōma clan in 1581 (14). Cases ...


11

The Meiji Restoration that took place between 1868 - 1912 saw many of the traditional rights and privileges of the Samurai class drastically changed or removed entirely. In 1869 all Samurai were renamed as Shizoku and the Samurai class ceased to exist. In 1869 members of the samurai class and quasi-samurai were legally categorized as either shizoku or ...


10

In China, there were warriors similar to ronin - the xia. As a link, I found only those regarding their philosophy or literature about them. GURPS Martial Arts (it's no solid historical work and I didn't manage to find any better source) states they were more like Robin Hood than Lancelot - they were not upper class like samurai. Korean Hwarang are ...


10

This is the mitsuwari-ken-hanabishi (三つ割り剣花菱) crest, a rather obscure design used by the Aki Clan (安芸氏) of (surprise, surprise) Aki Dstrict in the Tosa Province of Shikoku. The Aki Clan is said to be descended from Soga no Umako, a powerful minister in Ancient Japan whose descendants were later exiled from the capital after a power dispute in the royal court....


9

That appears to be a maru-ni-mitsu-kashiwa (丸に三つ柏) crest, also known as a maru-ni-makino-kashiwa (丸に牧野柏). It is an encircled, three-leafed version of the kashiwa crest designs, one of the Big Ten styles of crests. These crests features an underlying design derived from the leaf of a Daimyo Oak tree. In Winter, dead leafs of a Quercus dentata tree do not ...


8

There is a Chinese saying (in pinyin), "Hao tie bu da ding, hao ren bu dang bing." (Good iron is not used to make nails. Good men do not become soldiers.) For most of Chinese history, soldiers were vilified, rather than honored. Hence, they would not generally be regarded as members of the upper class, which was occupied by landowners and philosophers. ...


7

(I think the question really has two parts: (a) effects of the samurai's ethics, and (b) the effects of something called "bushido". I will address them in order.) Legacies of the Samurai In the early years of the Meiji Renewal, the samurai were enrolled as the shizoku, and saw their privileges and stipends gradually abolished. The bulk of them were viewed ...


5

Perhaps most telling is that the phrase is bad Classical Chinese. If I were to put it in English as "Evil, namely slay," that is not perfectly correct but would give a sense of the mangled grammar. The Ruroni Kenshin catchphrase is an uneducated riff on Chinese philosophical statements like 心即理 which are quite subtle in meaning and misunderstood by many ...


4

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_swordsmithing A couple of the claims written in the answers above need to be discussed with counter points; The ancient Japanese samurai sword that we are talking about was specifically developed to address the brittle nature of steel that time, no it was not brittle by yesterday's standard or today's. Precisely ...


4

Well, there is something on the internet. I found an article which deals with the classification of samurai suicides by their motivations (along the lines of the discussion I had with Anixx in the comments). The authors have also compiled some statistics from a survey of Japanese literary sources (chronicles etc., I presume). They rightly call this ...


4

I do not have numbers but I am quite sure that in most cases the samurais killed themselves either when ordered to do so by the superiors or expected the superiors to order so. In fact the samurais in Japan enjoyed one privilege that the lower classes did not: they had the right to "honorably" commit suicide instead of being dishonorably executed. So ...


4

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 ...


4

Apparently, Yoshioka Matashichiro was the 12 year old son of Seijūrō: This second defeat was a complete loss of face for the Yoshioka family and their school. Looking for revenge, the school challenged Musashi again. This time, 12 year old Yoshioka Matashichiro, the oldest son of Seijuro was chosen as the leader of the challenge. However, because of his ...


3

From what I've read, Clavell's portrayal of the Samurai culture in Japan is not too far from the reality. For example, this guidance from Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578): Fate is in Heaven, the armour is on the breast, success is with the legs. Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory, and you will come home with no wounds whatever. Engage in ...


3

These devices are calls Mons in Japanese languages and they are essential elements of Japanese heraldry. Mons are Japanese arms used to decorate and identify an individual or family. Since a Mon is hereditary, it is equal with a arms in concept but not in principles. Personally, I think Japanese heraldry has some similarities to Polish heraldry, because of a ...


3

missing connection/link between these two era of japanese history I think you are exaggerating the ideological transformation brought by Meiji Restoration. The main emphasis was economic modernization, not social equity. How did modernization of Japan in the Early twentieth century affect the Samurai and why was there such a strong influence of the ...


2

Before China was unified there was a warrior class(mostly noblemen), until the warlords realized that they could hire peasants with a cheap price and give them cheap weapons to expand their army. After that, most noblemen became scholars or military commanders, because of the change in the tactics of warfare(the ceasing of chariot warfare and agreed warfare,...


2

Korea had a Yangban class which might be compared with samurai status but was closer to the Chinese scholarly ruling class. Most historians hold that the scholar class achieved power in China (or Chinese dynasties of whatever race, except perhaps the Mongol Yuan one) while the warrior class gained power in Japan. During the late 17th, 18th and early 19th ...


2

[Note: this became an answer because it was far too long to post as comments. It doesn't really answer the question, but will hopefully put OP or someone else on the right track.] Some google image searching suggests it might be the heraldic symbol of one or more Daimyo clans: http://hakko-daiodo.com/kamon-c/cate0/hoshi/hoshi6.html [JP] http://www.shop-...


1

Sakura (cherry blossom): Some information: The traditional Japanese values of purity and simplicity are thought to be reflected by the cherry blossoms. In the aesthetic sense cherry blossoms are a symbol of transience and ephemeral beauty; they last briefly from about a week to ten days and then scatter. Also see: Dower, John W., Elements Of Japanese ...


1

There is no minimum age for a kid to be officially enlisted in a military unit without performing any duties and with the parent drawing his salary as a form of graft. No doubt babies have been officially enlisted. Judging by several examples from significantly different times and places, it is possible for a child as young as five to be a soldier in some ...


1

In addition to the soul is in the bowels explanation, I read recently that the reason they chose a painful easy to die is to punish themselves. So a samurai who had committed a capital offense was going to die, but by choosing a painful method of dying he is giving himself additional punishment to earn forgiveness. This may not apply to all seppuku cases, ...


1

The reason is that it mimics the way you would kill someone else most efficiently. The other answer saying disembowlment is "drawn out process" is true, but you don't disembowel them. Seppuku is not disembowlment. To explain... First of all, the fastest way to kill someone easily with a sword is by slicing through the solar plexus. A large artery, called ...


1

The heritage of the Samurai, the Bushido code, played a major role in how Japan conducted operations in WW2. The first effect was the 'no surrender' policy. The Japanese soldier fought to the death, almost to a man. In the end, the result was a senseless slaughter with no measurable goal. Roughly three million Japanese died during the war, as opposed to the ...


1

A portion of one of the ancient Damascus steel blades was removed and examined, the molecular structure was made up of a series of carbon nanotubes around iron nanowires. It's unknown as to how this was achieved, and hasn't been replicated by modern humans. It's sometimes referred to as Wootz steel. Ref Modern attempts at replicating Damascus steel involves ...


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