Samurai of Early Japan

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Most people today do not realize how important Samurai are to the history of Japan. Samurai protected the lands and fought the wars as soldiers. Samurai also made sure the laws were enforced and people were safe in their own homes.

?Samurai? is a word which literally means warrior and comes from the Japanese verb to serve. ?Samurai? was first used to refer to the personal servants of the rich and powerful landowners of the Eighth century of Japan. Since the creation of the Samurai hundreds of years ago, the meaning of the word has changed quite a bit. The Samurai now act as members of the ruling class of Japan, and most people from the Samurai class work as government officials, guards, policemen or local authorities. The Samurai serve one of two people, those people being either the Shogun or the Daimyo. The Shogun is the supreme military ruler and is responsible for all the Samurai of their country.

?Shogun? literally means ?Barbarian-subduing General.? The Daimyo were feudal landowners, and used their Samurai to protect their own lands and to expand their power and their rights to other lands.

Originally, wars over land gave rise to the Samurai. Ancient Yayoi warriors developed weapons, armor and a code which became the centerpiece for the Japanese Samurai. The original weapons of a Samurai consisted of bows, arrows, and swords. The earliest development for the armor of Samurai consisted of a helmet which covered the head and neck, a breastplate which protected the chest, arm and shoulder protectors, and a belly wrap. Later, after the armor developed, it also included protection for the legs and thighs. The armor changed with the types of battles and weapons used during battles. The code of the Samurai which was originally called ?The virtues of...