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Samurai in armor, 1860s. Hand-coloured photograph by Felice Beato.Samurai around the 1860sSaig? Takamori (seated, in Western uniform), surrounded by his officers, in samurai attire, during the 1877 Satsuma rebellion. News article in Le Monde Illustre, 1877.
Samurai (侍?), usually referred to in Japanese as bushi (武士?, [bu??.?i?]) or buke (武家?), were the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany persons in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau. In both countries the terms were nominalized to mean "those who serve in close attendance to the nobility," the pronunciation in Japanese changing to saburai. According to Wilson, an early reference to the word "samurai" appears in the Kokin Wakash? (905?914), the first imperial anthology of poems, completed in the first part of the 10th century.
By the end of the 12th century, samurai became almost entirely synonymous with bushi, and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class. The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as bushid?. While the samurai numbered less than 10% of Japan's population, their teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in modern Japanese martial arts.
1.1 Asuka and Nara periods
1.2 Heian period
1.3 Kamakura Bakufu and the rise of samurai
1.4 Ashikaga Shogunate
1.5 Sengoku period
1.6 Azuchi?Momoyama period
1.6.1 Oda, Toyotomi and Tokugawa
1.7 Tokugawa Shogunate
2.1 Religious influences
6 Western samurai
10 Myth and reality
11 Popular culture
12 Famous samurai
13 See also
16 External links
Asuka and Nara periods Iron helmet and armor with gilt bronze decoration, Kofun era, 5th century. Tokyo National Museum.
Following the Battle of Hakusukinoe against Tang China and Silla in 663 AD that led to a Japanese retreat from Korean affairs, Japan underwent widespread reform. One of the most important was that of the Taika Reform, issued by Prince Naka no ?e (Emperor Tenji) in 646 AD. This edict allowed the Japanese aristocracy to adopt the Tang Dynasty political structure, bureaucracy, culture, religion, and philosophy. As part of the Taih? Code, of 702 AD, and the later Y?r? Code, the population was required to report regularly for census, a precursor for national conscription. With an understanding of how the population was distributed, Emperor Mommu introduced a law whereby 1 in 3?4 adult males was drafted into the national military. These soldiers were required to supply their own weapons, and in return were exempted from duties and taxes. This was one of the first attempts by the Imperial government to form an organized army modeled after the Chinese system. It was called "Gundan-Sei" (軍団制) by later historians and is believed to have been short-lived.
The Taih? Code classified most of the Imperial bureaucrats into 12 ranks, each divided into two sub-ranks, 1st rank being the highest adviser to the Emperor. Those of 6th rank and below were referred to as "samurai" and dealt with day-to-day affairs. Although these "samurai" were civilian public servants, the name is believed[by whom?] to have derived from this term. Military men, however, would not be referred to as "samurai" for many more centuries. In the early Heian period, the late 8th and early 9th centuries, Emperor Kammu sought to consolidate and expand his rule in northern Honsh?, but the armies he sent to conquer the rebellious Emishi people lacked motivation and discipline, and failed in their task.
In the early Heian period, the late 8th and early 9th centuries, Emperor Kammu sought to consolidate and expand his rule in northern Honsh?, but the armies he sent to conquer the rebellious Emishi people lacked motivation and discipline, and failed in their task.