Samurai are one of the most iconic images of Japanese culture and have long been a symbol of honor, courage and discipline. These martial warriors cultivated the bushido code of eight virtues: justice, courage, mercy, piety, honesty and sincerity, honor, loyalty and self-control.
They are also known for their unique swords and weaponry, and they were the hereditary military nobility of Japan from the late 12th century until their abolition during the Meiji Restoration in 1870. They were the privileged retainers of daimyo, the great feudal landowners.
In addition to the martial virtues of bushido, samurai were also influenced by Zen meditation and by Confucianism. The Buddhist concept of reincarnation and the belief that torture and needless killing were fruitless led many samurai to abandon violence altogether and became Buddhist monks or repressed into a religious life.
These philosophies shaped their lifestyles, especially their relationships with lords and retainers. Practicing these values helped samurai become better able to defend their lord and their clan.
Writing was a key part of the Writing Samurai lifestyle and they often wrote about their lives through the yatate, a portable writing technology that had been invented for use on the battle field (Marshall, 2009). The yatate was initially used to report details of battles, taxes paid and land transactions to their lords and generals. This was a very effective form of writing and it became the standard method for samurai to report their activities.
The yatate became increasingly popular as the population of Japan increased and the country’s cultural center moved to Edo, which is now Tokyo. Yatsute was used in the production of literary works and in art, as well (Jewel, 1998; Kato, 1997).
Yatate writing was an important factor in fostering literacy in Japan during this period. This was because it allowed samurai to write with their own ink, and the yatsute could be carried easily in a koban or pocket. This made yatsute writing more accessible and convenient, which may have contributed to the growth of literacy throughout Japan.
During the Edo period, samurai became more interested in art and literature and began writing novels, poetry and prose. These works were often accompanied by sketches by travelling artists. This was a significant factor in the development of Japan’s literary culture, and yatsute was used by some of the most influential writers during this time.
Writing was a vital component of the samurai’s daily lives and it is believed that they were responsible for promoting and spreading literacy during this period. This is because samurai were very active in the production of literary works, and they encouraged their children to learn how to read.
In the modern era, samurai are still an important part of Japanese history and popular culture. This is evidenced by the popularity of anime, manga and the animated series Afro Samurai.
Afro Samurai is a manga/anime that is based on a series of real-life samurai battles, and it has become a popular series in America because it incorporates elements of rap music and hack-and-slash combat.