Subject: samurai warrior
Setting: Edo period, Japan 17th-19thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
* Ralston 1990 p144-145
"Social stability was seen as a guarantee of order and the maintenance of internal peace. To promote that stability, the caste structure as it existed at the end of the sixteenth century was made permanent and given legal sanction. Movement between the castes was meant to be terminated. The warriors, or samurai, constituted the leading caste, followed by the peasants, the artisans, and finally the merchants. If in the domestic upheavals of the relatively recent past, the bearing of arms had been by no means the exclusive prerogative of the samurai, it became so under the Tokugawa shogunate, as peasants were deprived of the right even to own weapons.
"In the age of peace which had opened with the ascendency [sic] of the Tokugawa house, the samurai lost their primary purpose as fighting men. These now-superfluous men at arms might have become a socially disruptive element, had not a new function for them developed. It was from the ranks of the samurai that administrative personnel were recruited for both the shogunate and the individual domains. One noteworthy by-product of the process of turning the warriors into a caste of bureaucrats was their increasing literacy. Where in the early years of the Tokugawa shogunate a samurai who know how to read and write had been a rarity, two centuries later most of them had acquired these skills, and 'few would confess to the inability to turn a Confucian phrase.' Indeed, in a political system dedicated to the preservation of the status quo, Confucian learning and modes of administration, first introduced from China centuries before, had become most appropriate, and the official schools of the various domains sought to instill them in the new bureaucratic personnel. By the nineteenth century the process of transformation had so well succeeded that a large percentage of the samurai, while still taking interest in military matters and retaining some outward attributes of a warrior caste, namely the wearing of their traditional two swords, had become quiet civilianized."
* Art of the samurai 2009 p26-27 (Ogawa Morihiro, "The spirit of the samurai" p3-35)
"Since Kamakura times, various unwritten virtuous principles such as Kyūha no Michi ('Way of the Bow and the Horse'), Buke no Narai ('Customs of the Samurai Houses'), and Tsuwamono no Michi ('Way of the Warrior') had developed among the samurai. Advocating such virtues as allegiance and obedience to one's lord, valor, discipline, and a keen awareness of duty and shame for failure, these codes formed the basis of the later warrior codes of Bushido. The first clause in the Buke-shohatto [Laws for the Military Houses] edict issued by Ieyasu in the first year of the Gen'na era (1615) instructs that 'One should become thoroughly acquainted with both the scholarly and martial arts of riding and archery'; in another part, issued by the fifth Tokugawa shogun, Tsunayoshi (1646-1709), it was noted that 'One should practice the scholarly and martial arts, piety to the lord and one's parents, and correct etiquette.' From the beginning, the samurai code had placed great importance on the acceptance of class distinctions, and that idea had been reinforced by ethical concepts of Neo-Confucianism, brought to Japan from China by Zen monks in Ashikaga times. Neo-Confucianism also taught the morality of a hierarchical distinction between lord and vassal and between father and son, and that precept proved to be a convenient tool for controlling the han, both by the daimyo and by the Tokugawa bakufu."
* Turnbull 2004 p145
"The final evolution of samurai armor occurred during the peaceful days of the Edo period when wars ceased. Suits of armor became prestige gifts, rarely worn during the long sankin kotai processions to and from Edo. Old styles were revived and modified producing some spectacular suits of armor that would have been most impractical for fighting in. These trends produced despair among contemporary commentators who still believed that Japan had to be ready for war, and that her armor offered the best protection for a brave samurai."
* Art of the samurai 2009 p41 (Ikeda Hiroshi, "Japanese armor: An overview" p37-115)
"In the Edo period (1603-1867), armor became a symbol of family lineage that was employed by successive generations of shoguns and feudal lords -- including the Tokugawa shogun and the daimyo of Ii, Kuroda, Date, and Honda, among others. These families commissioned armors made in the style of the gusoku originally worn by their ancestors. Many of the tōsei gusoku made at this time reflect the highest levels of craftsmanship, including splendid helmets that range from the true suji-bachi to unusual kawari-kabuto, some with strikingly naturalistic representations."
* Bull 1991 p166 caption (describing a Japanese samurai armour, eighteenth century)
" On the head is worn a kabuto or helmet: this has a small peak or maizashi and a wide neck-guard or shikora. In the middle of the brow is the maidate, the equivalent of a European crest. The face is covered by a grotesque mask or menpo, to which is attached a laminated neck-guard or yodare-kake.
"On the shoulders are large, square guards known as sode, and the body is enclosed by a corselet or do made of plates of strips laced together. On the lower part of the do hang kusazuri or rectangular thigh guards. The hands are protected by gauntlets and the feet by boots."
* Fryer 1969 p92
"Teppo Japanese firearms. Both pistols and guns were made, the majority with matchlock ignition. The barrels were frequently signed and often finely inlaid with silver."
* Chase 2003 p195
"[C]ontrary to popular belief, the Japanese never did 'give up the gun.' This misconception is based on a grievous misreading of Japanese history that is not accepted by any historians in Japan. The Japanese continued to possess and produce firearms throughout the Tokugawa period. Just as there were different schools of fencing and sword-making there were also different schools of gunnery and gun-making, nearly 200 of them by number of soldiers with a certain number of guns from his domain -- ranging from 235 men with 20 guns (8.5 percent) for a small domain rated at 1,000 koku to 2,155 men with 350 guns (16.2 percent) for a large one rated 10,000 koku-- in the event of a war. Prohibitions on ownership of weapons by commoners dating back to Hideyoshi's order in 1588 were enforced as well as they could be, which is to say only sporadically, but the prohibitions applied to all weapons, not just firearms. Firearms were not singled out. In fact, exceptions to the general prohibitions were made for firearms used for hunting and for guarding fields from wild animals. Large numbers of firearms remained in both official and private hands, just as they did in the Ottoman empire or in China."
* Lorge 2008 p62
"One of the enduring myths in the West about the sixteenth-century unification of Japan and the establishment of the Tokugawa Shogunate that lasted until the mid-nineteenth century was that the Japanese 'gave up the gun.' Noel Perrin, a professor of English who did not read Japanese, first proposed this idea in a 1965 article in The New Yorker and later in his 1979 book Giving up the Gun, and it has remained for many a touchstone of gun control and disarmament. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Kenneth Chase pointed out, albeit in a footnote, that Japanese historians were shocked when Perrin's book was finally translated into Japanese in 1984. Perrin's view was simply wrong; the Japanese did not give up guns. Conrad Totman was correct to comment that 'Guns went out of style because war ended. Had it continued, the use of guns would have continued.'"
* Turnbull 2004 p145-146
"[A]rmor was usually seen only on display in a castle, and samurai would wear the hakama and kimono.... For more formal occasions such as guard duty in a castle, the samurai would augment the hakama with a jacket called the kataginu, thus making a combination costume called a kamishimo (upper and lower). The kataginu was a curious form of jacket with no sleeves, in which the shoulder and back were quilted and stiffened so that they stood out like wings. The kataginu would be of the same color as the hakama, thus making a distinctive uniform that contrasted with the hues of the kimono beneath. A decorative, yet very important feature of the kamishimo was the use of mon (badges) stenciled on to the front straps of the kataginu, the middle of the back of the kataginu, the sleeves of the kimono, and the top rear of the hakama. Alternatively, a looser jacket called a haori could be worn instead of the kataginu. The haori would hang over the sword scabbard, giving the samurai a characteristic appearance as he walked along. Contemporary illustrations also show the short kobakama being worn by men on foot on the sankin kodai, the regular trips to Edo which the daimyo were required to make to pay their respects to the shogun.
"On very formal occasions such as an actual presentation to the shogun, a daimyo would be expected to wear the nagabakama. These were extremely long trousers that trailed the floor behind the wearer. It was considered a mark of good breeding simply to be able to move in them, a feat which required supreme coordination. It also ensured that a samurai wearing nagabakama would find it impossible to perform an assassination, or at the very least to run away afterward."
* Shogun Age Exhibition 1983 p4
"Arms and armor were of central importance to the shogun and daimyo. Among the daimyo's possessions, swords occupied pride of place, and constituted the most important official gifts exchanged between members of the ruling stratum. The basically military character of the shogun and daimyo necessitated the maintenance of large amounts of weaponry, even during times of peace. Of the different types of sword blades, the tachi, a long curved blade mounted to be worn slung from the sash with cutting edge facing downward, occupied first rank, while the katana, a long curved blade worn thrust through the sash with cutting edge facing upward, ranked second, followed by the wakizashi, which resembled a short katana."
* Calizzano 1989 p153
"L'épée (le terme exact devrait être <<sabre>>, mais l'expression <<épée japonaise>> est désormais d'un usage courant) de combat est le Katana, une longue épée qui se portait à gauche, glissée dans la ceinture, le fil dirigé vers le haut. Au moment de l'extraire, la main gauche saisissait le fourreau en le tournant abliquement vers l'extérieur, et ce gest était considéré comme extrêmement agressif.
"Le Katana s'accompagnait généralement d'une épée courte, le Wakisashi, portée comme précédemment mais dans une position plus proche du corps. Ensemble, les deux épées constituaient le daisho."
* Art of the samurai 2009 p27-28 (Ogawa Morihiro, "The spirit of the samurai" p3-35)
"The most important objective of the Tokugawa shoguns was to maintain the status quo politically and socially. They preserved most of the feudal forms of earlier times, putting a brake on social mobility and reinforcing class lines, and they instituted the Confucian division of the population into four classes: samurai (meaning the entire warrior class), peasant farmers, artisans, and merchants. The samurai were also the government administrators. They were allowed to have a family name and had the right to carry a daishō pair of swords, comprising the long katana and the short wakizashi, and they were not allowed to intermarry with members of the lower classes."
* Calizzano 1989 p155
"Le Tanto C'était un couteau, ou une dague, souvent richement orné et muni d'une très grandetsuba(garde). Hami-dashi était un Tanto possédant une tsuba qui dépassait à paine l'anneau couvre-lame (fuchi); ai-guchi était un Tanto dépourvu de garde, employé surtout par les femmes qui s'en servaient également pour se suicider en se tranchant la gorge. On le confond fréquemment avec le Kwai-ken qui présente les mêmes caractéristiques."
* Arms and armor 2002 p61
"Sai hai were carried as signs of rank and used by military commanders to give the signal for an attack."