Newsletter for October 6-10
Musui's Story is a samurai's autobiography that portrays the Tokugawa society as it was lived during Katsu Kokichi's life (1802 - 1850). Katsu Kokichi (or Musui) was a man born into a family with hereditary privilege of audience with the shogun, yet he lived a life unworthy of a samurai's way, running protection racket, cheating, stealing, and lying. Before we discuss how Musui's lifestyle was against the codes that regulated the behavior of the samurai, it is essential that the role of the samurai in Japanese society be understood. The Japanese society was divided into four classes: samurai, peasants, artisans, and merchants. The samurai was a class of warriors, emerged from Japan during the constant civil ware period. As quoted from the learning channel (1994):
The samurai's life was like the cherry blossom's, beautiful and brief. For him, as for the flower, death followed naturally, gloriously.
Ancient Warriors - The Samurai
They were to remain loyal to their commanders who were themselves loyal to the Shogun. Failing their master in any way was unacceptable, and to regain commitment and secure an afterlife after such incident usually meant going through seppuku, a cruel suicide ritual that could only occur upon avenging those who had wronged their master. Samurai lived by the code of Bushido ("Way of the warrior"), which was developed in the mid 1600. It emphasized duty of every samurai to respect and honor those above them on the social class. Their way was supposed to not be intellectual nor materialistic, but spiritual. The bushido code worked well during the time Japan was constantly at war. Nevertheless, when Tokugawa leyasu became shogun (1603), he brought peace and unified Japan for two hundred and more years thereafter. Thus, the samurai role dramatically changed, since they were warriors and were used to fighting. There were no more war, and they essentially became warriors without a war. The long period of peace...
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