Warrior and Ruler of Ancient Japan
Few countries have a warrior tradition as long and exciting as Japan. It is a tradition found in the Samurai, the loyal and self-sacrificing knight of ancient Japan. The Samurai is a valiant warrior who can both appreciate the beauty of nature in that of a rose blossom but will also kill or die for his master in an instant. This well-rounded warrior was the ruling class of Japan for almost seven hundred years. He fought for control of his country and to keep Japan free from outside influences. (Turnbull 1) This aristocratic warrior class arose during the 12th century wars between the Taira and Minamoto clans and was consolidated in the Tokugawa period. Samurai were privileged to wear two swords, and at one time had the right to cut down any commoner who offended them. They cultivated the martial virtues, indifference to pain or death, and unfailing loyalty to their overlords. Samurai were the dominant group in Japan. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, the samurai were removed from direct control of the villages, moved into the domain castle towns, and given government stipends. They were encouraged to take up bureaucratic posts. The Hagakure, has been dubbed the book of the samurai. It was written after a century of peace around 1716. It came to be the guide of samurai ethics until the end of the feudal period. Its short passages reflect and outline the qualities that make a samurai. Yamamoto Tsunetomo expresses in the hagakure the framework and mindset of being a samurai. "Although it stands to reason that a samurai should be mindful of the Way of the samurai, it would seem that we are all negligent. Consequently, if someone were to ask, what is the true meaning of the Way of the Samurai?' the person who should be able to answer promptly is rare. This is because it has not been established in one's mind beforehand. From this, one's unmindfulness of the Way can be known. Negligence is an...
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