Samurai (侍, /ˈsæmʊraɪ/) were the hereditary military nobility and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan from the 12th century to their abolition in the 1870s. They were the well-paid retainers of the daimyo (the great feudal landholders).
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- Like Kurosawa, I make mad films. Okay, I don't make films. But if I did, they'd have a samurai.
- For 700 years, from the late 12th to the mid-19th centuries, Japan’s highest ideals were embodied in the samurai. Unflinching courage, unshakeable loyalty, murderous proficiency with the sword, a serenity in the face of death that to a modern eye can seem macabre, with its culminating ideal of agonizing self-disembowelment — such are the distinctive features of what came to be known as Bushido, the “way of the warrior.”
- According to Japanese historian Masaaki Takahashi... the samurai were not all about heroics, bravery and loyalty. Like all people, the samurai were humans with their own needs and desires and they tried to meet their needs, not always sacrificing themselves for the cause. Some misused their skills and military training to make personal gains. Some played hitman-like roles by killing their masters' enemies. Unlike popular portrayals of the samurai as being faithful only to their masters, the samurai during the medieval days of Japan were like "nomads" wandering from one master to another searching for better working conditions... Unlike the popular image of samurai committing suicide when they were captured by their enemies, the author says surrender didn't translate into shame. According to him, the fate of samurai prisoners of war depended on whether they were captured or surrendered. Their fates differ as some were victimized at the cruel hands of the victors... (the book) went on to say the samurai did their masters' dirty laundry, such as assassinations or revenge killings and their violence often led to gang fights.
- There are two types of samurai. One was fully dependent on their masters … while the other were contract-based warriors who were free to leave their masters once their contracts of service were over... During the medieval days of Japan, those who were captured were treated relatively generously. People didn't blame them for being captured because it was not their fault… Some of the captors even became part of the victors' armies
Few people raise questions about the use samurai associations when describing Japanese sports. For instance, men's national football team is called "Samurai Blue," a baseball team named "Samurai Japan" …although warriors and sportsmen are very different. The critical difference between sports and war is that safety is guaranteed in a stadium, whereas battlefields entail killing... Considering the very different nature of two things, I wonder if using the term samurai for sports teams is appropriate. They've gone too far.
- Masaaki Takahashi, in "The History of The Samurai" (2018)
- Encyclopedic article on Samurai at Wikipedia