Samurai and ashigaru

[ . BACK to Worldkigo TOP . ]
. Edo Bakufu 江戸幕府 The Edo Government .

Samurai warriour, warrior (tsuwamono)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity


The samurai of Japan !
Who would not have a certain image in his mind about him!

But what was the reality of these people during the long history of Japan?

warriour, tsuwamono, bushi 兵、武士、兵士
samurai, buke 侍、 武家
Lord of a Domain,Daimyo, daimyoo 大名
"light legs", ashigaru 足軽 common foot soldier
. yakko 奴 Yakko servants  servant, carrier at a Daimyo Estate

kokanja, kokaja 小冠者 young samurai who has just passed the ritual of genpuku 元服, coming of age for a samurai boy.

The culture of the samurai, buke bunka 武家文化 is very special to Japan and was at its best maybe during the Edo period. Apart from the daily practise of martial arts, they were also educated in the art of poetry, tea and flower arrangement, for example. A real samurai had to be strong and educated, bunbu ryoodoo 文武両道 Bunbu Ryodo.

. gakumonjo 学問所 Samurai Academies .
Domain schools of higher learning.

- quote -
In the early Heian period the word samurai meant servant and it had no military connotation and did not refer to a person of elite status. Actually, the more common term was rodo, which meant the same thing.
When provincial nobles started to form private armed forces, they did so by arming their dependents, some of whom were farmers and some of whom were servants, rodo. These rodo were housed and fed and equipped by their master and were of humble status, but they eventually evolved into the haughty samurai of later times.
- source : en.wikibooks.org -

. Heian Period (794 - 1185) 平安時代 Heian Jidai .

. Edo Period (1603 – 1868 江戸時代 Edo Jidai .

. Daimyoo yashiki 大名屋敷 Daimyo Residence .
There were three types in Edo
shimo yashiki 下屋敷 / naka yashiki 中屋敷 / kami yashiki 上屋敷

Kan'ei shoka keizuden 寛永諸家系図伝 Genealogies of All Daimyo Houses
Kanei period (1624 - 1644)


Some of my articles

Take a short tour to a samurai residence (buke yashiki 武家屋敷):
The Samurai Residence in Katsuyama / Gabi Greve

The Sword, the Soul of the Samurai

Sengaku-ji and the 47 Ronin (Chushingura)

Tokugawa Ieyasu is the founder of the Edo Shogunate.
Toshogu Shrines, Memorials for Tokugawa Ieyasu

. Buke shohatto 武家諸法度 Laws for the Samurai .

The Tea Ceremony and Ikebana were originally practised by the Samurai !

Tea Ceremony Saijiki

Ikebana / Flower Arrangement

. Books about Samurai .

a colored leaf
floating in the river -
samurai's life

Gabi Greve, December 2006


The best external LINK are maybe the
Samurai Archives

- Famous Samurai
- Samurai Culture
- Military Rulers of Japan
- Emperors and Empresses
- Famous Women
- Maps
- Battles

- Sengoku Bio Dictionary
- Famous Generals
- Daimyô House Codes
- Selected Translations
- Genealogies

and a lot more subjects are covered.


The Book of Five Rings
Miyamoto Musashi

(五輪書, Go Rin No Sho) is a text on kenjutsu and the martial arts in general, written by Miyamoto Musashi circa 1645. It is considered a classic treatise on military strategy, much like Sun Tzu's The Art of War. There have been various translations made over the years, and it enjoys an audience considerably broader than only that of martial artists: for instance, some business leaders find its discussion of conflict and taking the advantage to be relevant to their work. The modern-day Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū employs it as a manual of technique and philosophy.

Musashi establishes a "no-nonsense" theme throughout the text. For instance, he repeatedly remarks that technical flourishes are excessive, and contrasts worrying about such things with the principle that all technique is simply a method of cutting down one's opponent. He also continually makes the point that the understandings expressed in the book are important for combat on any scale, whether a one-on-one duel or a massive battle. Descriptions of principles are often followed by admonitions to "investigate this thoroughly" through practice, rather than try to learn by merely reading.

Musashi describes and advocates a two-sword style: that is, wielding both katana and wakizashi, contrary to the more traditional method of wielding the katana two-handed. However, he only explicitly describes wielding two swords in a section on fighting against many adversaries. The stories of his many duels do not seem to reference Musashi himself wielding two swords, although as mostly oral traditions their details may be rather inaccurate. Some suggest that Musashi's meaning was not so much wielding two swords 'simultaneously', but rather acquiring the proficiency to (singly) wield either sword in either hand as the need arose.
 © Wikipedia


Hagakure, The Book of the Samurai
Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Translated by William Scott Wilson

(Kyūjitai: 葉隱; Shinjitai: 葉隠; meaning In the Shadow of Leaves), or Hagakure Kikigaki (葉隠聞書) is a practical and spiritual guide for a warrior, drawn from a collection of commentaries by the samurai, Yamamoto Tsunetomo, former retainer to Nabeshima Mitsushige, the third ruler of what is now the Saga prefecture in Japan. Tashiro Tsuramoto compiled these commentaries from his conversations with Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716; however, it was not published until many years afterwards. Hagakure is also known as the Analects of Nabeshima or the Hagakure Analects.

The book records Tsunetomo's views on bushido, the warrior code of the samurai. Hagakure asserts that bushido is really the "Way of Dying" or living as though one was already dead, and that a samurai retainer must be willing to die at any moment in order to be true to his lord. For example, it declares, "As everything in the world is but a sham, death is the only sincerity." The tales it relates are often filled with death, killing, and suicide, mixed with stoicism.

Hagakure was not widely known during the decades following Tsunetomo's death. However, it received wider circulation at the start of the 20th century, and by the 1930s had become one of the most famous representatives of bushido thought in Japan. Hagakure remains popular among many non-Japanese who are interested in samurai culture. It is also frequently referred to as The Book of the Samurai and was featured prominently in the 1999 Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.

After his master died, Tsunetomo himself was forbidden to perform seppuku, a retainer's ritual suicide, by an edict of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Hagakure may have been written partially in an effort to outline the role of the samurai in a more peacetime society. Several sections refer to the "old days", and imply a dangerous weakening of the samurai class since that time.
 © Wikipedia

Tr. Alexander Bennett

The Hagakure is one of the most influential of all Japanese texts—written nearly 300 years ago by Tsunetomo Yamamoto to summarize the very essence of the Japanese Samurai bushido ("warrior") spirit. Its influence has been felt throughout the world and yet its existence is scarcely known to many Westerners. This is the first translation to include the complete first two books of the Hagakure and the most reliable and authentic passages contained within the third book; all other English translations published previously have been extremely fragmentary and incomplete.

Alex Bennett's completely new and highly readable translation of this essential work includes extensive footnotes that serve to fill in many cultural and historical gaps in the previous translations. This unique combination of readability and scholarship gives Bennett's translation a distinct advantage over all previous English editions.
- source : www.amazon.com


Samurai: The Warrior Transformed

In the Western imagination, “samurai” often conjures up warriors, swords, and armor. Rarely do the words “diplomat” and “cultural ambassador” enter the conversation. However these roles are equally important in understanding the legacy of the samurai as a cultural symbol.

In a uniquely Washington look at the storied Japanese warriors, this exhibition presents the transformation of the samurai. They went from being a feudal military class dominating Japanese history from 1185–1867 to serving as a vehicle for building bridges with the West.

Consider the use of the warrior as a diplomatic tool as you examine swords presented to President Ulysses Grant and elaborate suits of armor given to Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. Illustrations and photographs further chart the role samurai played in relations between the United States and Japan from their first visit in 1860 through the 1930s.
source : events.nationalgeographic.com


Samurai Painters (Great Japanese art)
Stephen Addiss

The text covers the following subjects:
Origins of the Samurai, The Heian Samurai, The Emergence of Warrior Government, Samurai Arts and Zen, The World of the Muromachi Shogun, The Momoyama and Early Edo Periods,
Miyamoto Musashi: Swordsman and Artist.
It features 8 works by Miyamoto Musashi (Niten): Horse, Shrike, Dove on a Red Plum Tree, the screen of the Waterfowls, Hotei Watching a Cockfight, Cormorant, Daruma Crossing the River, and Daruma Meditating. There is just one work by Kaiho Yusho: a detail of the Pine and Peacock hanging scroll.
- source : www.amazon.com

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


natsu-kusa ya tsuwamono domo ga yume no ato

summer grass!
only a trace of dreams
of ancient warriors

Matsuo Basho

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Read more :
Discussiont this translation


samurai ya uguisu ni made tsukawaruru

even the nightingale
gives orders

Kobayashi Issa

Shinji Ogawa helped with this translation. He comments, "In Issa's day, the living of samurai, especially the samurai of low rank, was not so dignified. They lived with rigid rules and customs with small pay."
Here, even a nightingale seems to be bossing one of them around. Makoto Ueda speculates that a feudal lord is keeping a bush warbler (Japanese nightingale) in a cage. The samurai who serves him must "wait on the bird." A comic image: the fierce warrior feeding a bird or cleaning its cage;
Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2004) 96.

. . . . .

daimyoo no uguisu deishi ni mochi ni keri

the war lord's
is an apprentice

An older nightingale is training a younger "apprentice" (deishi) in the art of singing. Both are caged birds, belonging to the daimyo ("domain lord").
Shinji Ogawa notes, "It is true that a young caged nightingale is placed beside a experienced warbler to learn how to warble better. In modern days, tape recorders are used." He paraphrases the haiku:
"Someone has the lord's nightingale as an apprentice."

. . . . .

samurai ya iiwake iute kara gyokei

a samurai--
after an apology
a "Happy New Year!"

When I first read this haiku, I assumed that a person of inferior social station was meeting his superior, a samurai. Shinji Ogawa explains that in fact it is the samurai who is issuing the apology. In this way, Issa teases samurai society with their exaggerated formalism. Instead of just saying, "Happy New Year," the samurai adds an apologetic statement, perhaps for neglecting seasonal greetings or something of this sort. Shinji adds, "It is still very common to begin a greeting with this sort of apology."
Tr. and Comment : David Lanoue


Daimyo family crests with animals

. WKD : Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .

hatsu-shigure uma mo o-mon o kitari-keri

first winter rain --
even the horse wears
warrior crests

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from 10/25 (Dec. 4) in 1806, when Issa was in Fukawa, a bustling river town handling commercial traffic on the Tone River north of Edo. Several poets belonging to the Katsushika school, to which Issa then belonged, lived in Fukawa. Issa's diary says he stayed the night at a Soto Zen temple there and that a north wind was blowing earlier. It must have brought the first hard, cold rain of the winter. The hokku is in the reserved, objective style preferred by the Katsushika school.

Both warriors and commoners were allowed to wear crests, as were their horses, but this rider in the rain has identical crests on his clothes, his hat, and on the cloth placed under the saddle in the style a samurai on official business. Issa also uses an honorary prefix (o-) before "crest," strongly -- and ironically -- suggesting the man is a samurai working for a lord, whose crest he wears. Perhaps he's messenger, or perhaps he's some sort of official in the local domain hierarchy who is overseeing business at the riverside waterfront or in the warehouse district. It's unlikely he's the daimyo lord of the local domain, since if he were, Issa would surely have mentioned it, as he so often does. And when daimyo were on official business they normally rode in luxurious palanquins in the middle of a long procession with the doors shut so no one could see them.

Traditionally Japanese aristocrats rode in enclosed ox carts, and emperors rode in palanquins, so palanquins were considered more prestigious than horses. In Issa's time the warlord period had ended, and the country had been at peace for two hundred years, so most samurai were no longer primarily warriors. Former daimyo warlords were given semi-feudal domains that had much independence, but the peacetime daimyo had to pledge their fealty to the shogunate. To back up that pledge, the wives and heirs of the various daimyo had to live as de facto hostages in Edo, near the shogun, and the daimyo lord himself had to live in Edo every other year. In the local domain there were a significant number of middle- and low-ranking samurai retainers who served as the bureaucrats and officials who oversaw the everyday affairs of the domain castle and economic affairs in the domain, and these officials sometimes rode horses on their travels. In the hokku, it seems probable that one of these officials rides past Issa.

The hokku's detached tone cannot quite hide Issa's feeling that it's natural that the first hard winter rain has arrived just in time to fall on the pompous official and his many crests as he passes by commoners on the road without noticing them. Issa doesn't explicitly say, "Nice timing, rain," but he seems to feel the rain is quite appropriate and just. Issa may also be making a comment by placing the following hokku just before the above hokku in his diary:

kirikabu no kinoko katamaru shigure kana

mushrooms huddle
close on the stump --
hard winter rain

The tops of the plebian mushrooms resemble the wide hats worn by travelers, and the way the mushrooms seem to huddle together to keep warm is the opposite of the way the samurai official asks commoners to step aside while he rides by on his horse, leaving them only with -- I think it is implied -- muddy water flying through the air.

Later (in the 3rd month [April] of 1824) Issa wrote about a daimyo who rides on a horse in his private leisure time from his mansion in Edo, where he must stay every other year, to see the famous cherries in nearby Ueno:

daimyou o uma kara orosu sakura kana

cherry blossoms
make the daimyo lord
get off his horse

The powerful lord is virtually ordered by the beauty of the cherry blossoms to get down off his horse and take a closer look as if he were their servant. Issa also has some hokku about daimyo lords in general in cold winter rain.
For example, this one from 1823:

ooshigure koshigure daimyoo shoomyoo kana

hard winter rain
light winter rain, big daimyo
small daimyo

For powerful daimyo lords from large domains there are big winter rainstorms, but for daimyo from small domains there are only small winter rainstorms. There is a hierarchy even in heaven, ironically apportioning worse weather in proportion to the size and power of the lord. But they all get lots of cold rain, which is what Issa seems to hope for the samurai class as a whole. The simple juxtaposition of the weather and the lords also allows a reading according to which the large and small daimyo lords are themselves large and small bitterly cold rain rainstorms that afflict ordinary commoners like Issa, making life hard for them.

The following hokku from the 10th month (Nov.) of 1820 is probably based on Issa's experience, since processions of daimyo going to or returning from a year of forced residence in Edo often stopped to rest or stay the night in his hometown:

zubu-nure no daimyou o miru kotatsu kana

from my foot warmer
I see a daimyo
soaked to the skin

By daimyo Issa means the daimyo and his whole procession. They have been overtaken by a cold early winter downpour, and when the procession enters town the sound of the rain is no doubt louder than the cries of the guards at the front of the normally imposing procession. Hardly anyone is outside or even watching, giving the soaked guards little chance to order people around. The daimyo gets out of his palanquin in the street near Issa's house, and through a crack in a window or door Issa sees the great lord immediately get drenched along with the rest of his procession. For a moment Issa enjoys the thought that he and the other people in town are warmer and more comfortable than the helpless-looking daimyo and his company of disheveled guards and porters.

Issa uses backhanded satire even on the shogun in this hokku from the 9th month (October) in 1812:

kashimashi ya shougun-sama no kari ja tote

how noisy
just because the geese
are the shogun's

Only the shogun and special daimyo lords he favors are allowed to hunt with hawks. This restriction is an important symbol of shogunal dominance over the daimyo as a class. Issa cynically suggests that the reason the wild geese in Edo are so loud is because they belong to the shogun and therefore think they are elite birds who can do anything they want. There is no evidence that the geese in wooded areas of Edo were any louder than geese elsewhere, so Issa may actually, and even more cynically, be referring to the loud cries the geese make as they try to escape when the shogun comes to hunt them with trained hawks. The image seems completely ironic, and Issa is surely referring above all to the noisy, arrogant people who "own" and hunt the geese, causing lots of commotion and bothering the people of Edo.

Chris Drake

daimyoo o mikata ni motsu ya kiku no hana

it has the backing
of a powerful lord --
a chrysanthemum

Tr. Chris Drake

This hokku is from a group in Issa's diary about chrysanthemum contests (kiku-awase, kiku-kurabe), probably in Edo, in the 9th lunar month (October) in 1817. Issa was in Edo earlier in the year, but by the Ninth Month he'd returned to his hometown area, so this must be a hokku based on a rumor he'd just heard or perhaps based on a memory of general corruption at the contests. A daimyo is a domain lord and strikingly different from a medieval warlord. Warlords had ravaged and pillaged the country in the 16th c. and earlier, but in the 17th c. the Tokugawa shogunate gained the upper hand and enforced two and a half centuries of peace, establishing a nationwide system of domains (han), each overseen by a daimyo lord who had pledged his allegiance to the shogunate in Edo. One way a daimyo lord was prevented from rebelling, making war, or displaying even the slightest warlike gesture was his duty to leave his wife and heir as de facto hostages in his mansion in Edo, while he himself spent alternate years in Edo and his local domain.

While they were living in Edo, the mostly very rich daimyo concentrated mainly on bureaucratic and ceremonial formalities and on their hobbies. Chrysanthemums were considered to be a noble flower in samurai culture, and some daimyo liked to raise and train large, elaborate chrysanthemums. Many commoners also loved raising and creating new strains of chrysanthemums, and in the late Edo period the craze for training and sculpting fancy chrysanthemums almost reached the proportions of the tulip craze in Europe. Issa's hokku was written during one of the high points in the craze, and he has a rather low opinion of chrysanthemum training and chrysanthemum contests for various reasons.

The chrysanthemum in this hokku has been placed in a show, at which various prizes have been given or will soon be given. It's unlikely a daimyo would submit a chrysanthemum under his own name and allow himself to be compared equally with commoners. Instead he would use a proxy, either a retainer or a rich commoner, who would be able and willing to mix with lowly commoners and to lose face for the lord in case the flower won no prize, as in Issa's hokku placed just before the hokku translated above in his diary:

makete kara daimyou no kiku to shirarekeri

after it lost
people learned it was
a lord's chrysanthemum

A daimyo lord, through his proxy, apparently offered no bribe or one that was too small, and the chrysanthemum lost. The truth about the real owner, however, comes out only later. Chrysanthemum contest judgments were heavily influenced by money and social position, and people could never be sure of who the real owner of a flower was until after the prizes had been awarded. The judgment on the chrysanthemum in the first hokku above seems to have been made already and the name of owner quickly revealed, since the flower has apparently won a prize. Issa says the chrysanthemum has the support or backing of a great lord, which seems to be an indirect way of saying that the lord has used his money and influence through a proxy to support this flower and assure that it got a prize.

Issa's first hokku translated above seems to ask why a powerful lord is spending his time not on making alliances with the shogunate and other lords to solve some of the many pressing problems faced by Japan but on allying himself with fancy chrysanthemums instead. The hokku seems to be a biting comment on the priorities of Japan's rulers. There is surely irony and satire in the fact that a great daimyo lord is revealed to be indulging in such materialistic competitions and by implication to be spending a lot on bribes, thus showing that only the scale of his corruption distinguishes him from commoners. Because of the great wealth and social influence daimyo and some rich merchants possessed, Issa clearly regards the world of fancy chrysanthemum contests to be a mirror that reveals much about the corrupt larger society in which it has developed.

To quote the first hokku in this series on fancy chrysanthemums in Issa's diary:

ningen ga nakuba magaraji kiku no hana

without humans
there would be no
crooked chrysanthemums

Here "crooked" suggests not only flowers warped and misshapen (by sculpting) but also unethical behavior by their owners.

Chris Drake

. WKD : Chrysanthemum (kiku 菊) .


in the winter sun -
a samurai's garden

a winter's tale -
the polished floor of
a samurai home

camellia blooming
in an old garden -
samurai's dreams

The Samurai Residence in Katsuyama
Gabi Greve


First Hakama Ceremony!
a little samurai passes
the Big Drum Bridge 

Formal trouser-skirt (hakama) and kamishimo 上下
Gabi Greve


wielding his sword
wielding his brush
wielding his life 

For Miyamoto Musashi
Gabi Greve

Related words

*****  First Court Rituals of the New Year, Japan

Samurai Cooking


"light legs", ashigaru 足軽 common foot soldier
lightly armed warrior-servants
They had to carry the spears, bows and arrows and other weapons.

ashigaru bentoo 足軽弁当 lunch for an ashigaru
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

The Japanese ashigaru (足軽) were conscripted foot-soldiers of medieval Japan. During the Muromachi period, ashigaru often carried naginata, pikes, and spears, and were lower in rank than samurai.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. naginata 薙刀 / 長刀 / 眉尖刀 Japanese halberd .

At first most ashigaru were runaway peasants who had joined an army in search of loot but by the end of the period in 1600 most ashigaru were trained professional soldiers.
© Dugdale-Pointon, T. (15 July 2001) !

足軽の かたまつて行く さむさ哉
ashigaru no katamatte iku samusa kana

the common foot soldiers
walking in a close group -
such a coldness

Inoue Shiro 井上士朗 (1742 - 1812)

sangatsu ni seki no ashigaru oki-kaete

in March
the foot soldiers of the border station
are exchanged

Mokudo (Mokudoo) 木導
(disciple of Matsuo Basho)
source : itoyo/basho

Shirakawa no Seki 白河の関
the Border Station of Shirakawa
Oku no Hosomichi, Basho


kokaja dete hana miru hito o togame-keri

a young samurai came along
and reprimanded
the cherry-blossom viewers

(or maybe in the first person, reprimanding Buson himself.)

. WKD : Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .


. Edo Bakufu 江戸幕府 The Edo Government .

. tsujigiri 辻斬り "to cut someone down at a crossroad" .

. Servants in the Edo Period

- #samurai #daimyo #ashigaru #kanei -


Gabi Greve said...


a colored leaf
floating in the river -
samurai's life

wonderful haiku. Is it yours Gabi?
Thank you for every effort you make for us.
I'm on my way to read about the samurai, just count the hours..


Yes, of course, it is my haiku!

Anonymous said...

Dear Gabi, you are a GREAT poet.
I have read only a few of your haikus and each one is a :
" mirror of beauty".
I'm honoured to know you, read you, and be led to writing good haiku by you.
I have the sun and the moon, you and Robert Wilson, by my side, guiding me.
thank you.

a sharp sword
in the hand of Bosatsu-
the ancient warrior

the sleepless eyes
of Bosatsu, watch the way-
of Samurai



Anonymous said...

a samurai,
the ant, fighting

robert wilson


Anonymous said...

horses on the plain ...
which one was a samurai
in its former life?

Anonymous said...

I like Japanese Bushido very much too.
I study Kendo once a week by Master Fujimaki

Than, I thought that Bushido (samurai sprit) is almost same as
Haiku sprit.

I study Kamae of Kendo( how to take the posture of Katana for
Correct posture and law of etiquette are a substructure of Bushido.

I found pictures site of Japan Kendo league.


You will see Japanese students of Kendo.


Gabi Greve said...

Difference of Bushi (武士) and Samurai(侍)

Read my friend AOI about this subject.


Anonymous said...

konbanwa Gabi san.
I'm Aoi.
thank you for adding my blog.
I added your website my Okiniiri.
nice webpage.
youe web is the encyclopedia of Japanese culture!!
I can study many things from this site.
thank you.

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

soohei, sōhei 僧兵 monk-warrior, monk-soldier

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

goyoogeikoo 御用稽古 "official training" of the samurai of Edo castle
swimming was especially taught to the elite of the group
okachigumi 御徒組 / 御徒方 shogun's foot guards 

suiei jooran 水泳上覧 day when the Shogun inspected the swimmers from his boat

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Lust, Commerce, and Corruption:
An Account of What I Have Seen and Heard, by an Edo Samurai
by Buyo Inshi 武陽隠士


Gabi Greve - Issa said...

Kobayashi Issa

daimyoo no uguisu deishi ni mochi ni keri

a master teaches
the lord's warbler
how to sing

This hokku is from the second month (March) in 1824, when Issa was living with various students near his hometown. In Issa's time the goal of the samurai class was no longer to wage war but to maintain relative peace under the system of social control created by the shogunate in Edo. The great lords (daimyo) presided independently over local semi-feudal domains around the country, but they were essentially bureaucrats who could be removed from their position if they made any moves to oppose the shogunate. Their families lived as de facto hostages in the lord's mansion in Edo, and the lord himself was required to spend every other year in Edo, where he had to visit the shogun's castle from time to time to display his fealty to the shogunate in various symbolic ways. Lords were basically figureheads, and gradually became urbanized. Many of them spent more time on pastimes pursued by commoners in Edo than they did on domain or military affairs. Issa often evokes the hobbies of these rich lords who were deeply influenced by various commoner fashions, such as raising fancy chrysanthemums or keeping expensive songbirds with beautiful voices for the sake of winning prizes in contests. In Issa's time the songbirds most commonly kept in cages by the samurai elite and by wealthy commoners were bush warbler (uguisu) and the Japanese white-eye (mejiro, Zosterops japonicus). Singing contests between caged warblers had been held for centuries by Kyoto aristocrats, but in Edo the competition reached fever pitch.

read more
by Chris Drake

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

sankin kootai 参勤交代 Sankin Kotai Daimyo attendance in Edo
daimyoo gyooretsu, daimyō gyōretsu 大名行列 Daimyo procession

. . . a daimyo's alternate-year residence in Edo - was a policy of the Tokugawa shogunate during most of the Edo period of Japanese history. The purpose was to strengthen central control over the daimyo, or major feudal lords.

Gabi Greve said...

Samurai and the Culture of Japan's Great Peace

The samurai is a global archetype today: the perfect warrior-gentleman, calmly indifferent in the face of death but deeply moved by the beauty of art and nature. This is precisely how many samurai liked to see themselves. A few perhaps even lived up to this ideal.

Samurai and the Culture of Japan’s Great Peace brings to life the many-layered history of the samurai and those they ruled—a history full of drama and paradox. In the 1500s, samurai nearly destroyed the Japanese state in their incessant wars. But after 1615, they presided over 250 years of peace, the longest that any large society has ever known. In the exhibition, you’ll encounter shimmering swords and intimidating armor, and discover that most were actually made at a time when war had passed from memory into myth. The primary function of the blades and armor was not to protect an owner or to fell foes, but to justify the inherited privileges of warriors who had not fought a battle in generations.

Featuring more than 150 spectacular artifacts from four Yale collections

Yale, Peabody Museum

Gabi Greve said...

The Courage of a Samurai
Lori Tsugawara Whaley

Who were the samurai and how could a people dedicated to war and violence have such an impact on a culture known for its politeness, manners and aesthetic beauty? The samurai warrior of ancient Japan lived by a moral and ethical code known as bushido; ‘the way of the warrior.’ This code of chivalry sculpted a culture and influenced all aspects of their lives and society. After the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, the world witnessed the characteristics of bushido:

Honor; and

This book presents these principles as a guide for navigating the challenges we all face with examples of individuals who exemplify their meaning in today’s world.

Gabi Greve said...

The Samurai Sourcebook
Stephen Turnbull

Brave, invincible warriors, fighting sword in hand against overwhelming odds. Those were the Samurai. In this comprehensive, enthralling, illustration-filled look at their history, personalities, strategies, costume, and campaign you'll find every detail of their armor and weaponry, as well as information on the Samurai army's development, its organization, and the fighters' feudal obligation.
Follow the evolution of the sword and polearms, plus, the technology and deployment of explosives. Take a peek into castle life and the rituals of battle. Case studies, often based on contemporary chronicles, diaries and official records, focus in on the most important invasions and combat situations from 940 to 1638, and religious traditions.
A full range of maps chart wartime changes. 320 pages, 175 b/w illus., 7 3/4 x 10.


Gabi Greve said...

ashigaru legend from Miyagi
Hakoishi Jinja 箱石神社
in Miyagi 石巻市 Ishinomaki city

. ryuu, ryū 龍 竜 伝説 Ryu - dragon legends .
A ujigami 氏神 clan deity of the ashigaru 足軽 soldiers of the Sendai domain, who lived in 成田町 the Narita town, along 北上川 the river Kitakamigawa.
When 坂上大宿禰高道 Sakanoue Sukune passed here in 863 to fight the Emishi, he found his death here.
His soul turned into a dragon and caused great flooding. To appease his soul, the shrine was erected.

Gabi Greve said...

Chiyo no kotobuki 千代寿 - 士 shi (samurai)

Buke shohatto 武家諸法度 Laws for the Samurai

Gabi Greve said...

Horo. A kind of protector for Japanese samurai on horseback
騎馬武者が用いた防具 - 母衣(ほろ)horo
One unusual addition to Japanese armor was the horo, worn by mounted bushi as early as the Kamakura period of 1185–1333. It was a silk cloak-type garment, usually attached to the back of the helmet and the waist; it caught the wind as the horse ran, and would fill with air like a balloon to form a buffer between the cloth and the soldier’s back.-