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Thread: japanese history

  1. #1 japanese history 
    Forum Freshman crabbattle72's Avatar
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    this is probably s stupid question, but is the idea of an ancient samurai an armor clad, sword wielding, warmaster? or was it simply a title? what im asking is, is a samurai as cliche as what animes make them out to be, or are they simply the kamikazee pilots and poeple said to be very honorable in japanese culture?


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  3. #2 Re: japanese history 
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    Quote Originally Posted by crabbattle72
    this is probably s stupid question, but is the idea of an ancient samurai an armor clad, sword wielding, warmaster? or was it simply a title? what im asking is, is a samurai as cliche as what animes make them out to be, or are they simply the kamikazee pilots and poeple said to be very honorable in japanese culture?
    A samurai was normally someone who was trained in a dojo for the arts of wielding a sword. Samurai were "masters" of the battlefield with varying degree's of skill (there were some samurai rumored to be able to take on a few dozen men with a bokken).

    Samurai is a "title" of skill and status, basically. Civilians were never allowed to carry a sword (only samurai were), and if one was caught they could be put to death.

    Sufficed to say, however, samurai in anime is similar to actual samurai, although vastly different in many aspects. For example, no swordsmen can jump 20 feet in the air :?.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samurai for better information.

    One last bit of information, is that samurai rarely used their sword on the battle field. It was a bow, spear, and if the spear broke, you used your sword. The sword was basically the soul of a samurai in ancient Japanese culture, as such a samurai without a sword would be considered one who "lost his soul."


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  4. #3  
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    'Kamikazees' were nothing to do with Samurai warriors, The Samurai did indeed exist and were fearsome warriors, look up 'the divine wind' on google for some history. The legendary sword is an engineering masterpiece by any standard, it is the mark of a 'tribe' who were very sophisticated, wealthy and fearsome. If they were merely 'myth' it is my humble opinion the trademark sword would not exist.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    'Kamikazees' were nothing to do with Samurai warriors, The Samurai did indeed exist and were fearsome warriors, look up 'the divine wind' on google for some history. The legendary sword is an engineering masterpiece by any standard, it is the mark of a 'tribe' who were very sophisticated, wealthy and fearsome. If they were merely 'myth' it is my humble opinion the trademark sword would not exist.
    I'd also like to add that most swords were made from copper and other materials found in japan. Iron was rare, and most of it was imported during trade.

    Also, the japanese mostly perfected sword smithing during numerous periods in history. Unfortunately, this has long since been lost. The closest you can get to those indestructible-could-probably-cut-through-tank swords are from places that keep records and such to help hone the skill once more (those swords range in the ten thousands dollar wise).

    However the Japanese weren't the masters of sword making. Damascus steel is the pinnacle of metal working as far as known-swords are concerned. The Japanese Katana runs a very close second though. It is also rumored that they could cut through European broad swords if used properly.
    And, as a side note, there IS a video floating around the internet where a katana was shown to cut through bullets. It also stood up to an AK-47 for five seconds.
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  6. #5  
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    Thanx - I had always thought the Samurai was at the top, guess I'll do a little reading up.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katana

    err... this article says the katana was the name of the sword used by the samurai...
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  7. #6  
    Forum Freshman crabbattle72's Avatar
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    thank you very much, i knew some of the cliche held water, but i wasnt sure to what extent
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Megabrain
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katana

    err... this article says the katana was the name of the sword used by the samurai...
    ...and? Where did I say it wasn't?
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremyhfht

    It is also rumored that they could cut through European broad swords if used properly.
    No way. There's a ridiculous amount of hype floating around these days about katanas. They were made from pretty good steel, but they weren't magic. Katansa actually weren't great at cutting through metal; the Japanese never got into the sort of heavy full-body plate mail armor that Europeans used, so they didn't have to be. There is certainly no chance that a katana could ever cut through a broad sword.

    Also, its worth remembering that modern steel alloys are far superior to anything that ever came out of a forge in ancient Japan, or anywhere else for that matter.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    No way. There's a ridiculous amount of hype floating around these days about katanas. They were made from pretty good steel, but they weren't magic.
    No shit sherlock? Hence rumor.

    Katansa actually weren't great at cutting through metal; the Japanese never got into the sort of heavy full-body plate mail armor that Europeans used, so they didn't have to be. There is certainly no chance that a katana could ever cut through a broad sword.
    Actually, Katana's weren't made simply for cutting through their simple armor. There were many Katana's made during era's where the art wasn't rushed, and the skills refined. These swords were, quite possibly, the strongest the world had seen during those periods. Japan went through numerous era's of decline and rise sword-smithing wise, at it's peak the Katana was stronger than a European blade (although few of these still exist).

    Also, its worth remembering that modern steel alloys are far superior to anything that ever came out of a forge in ancient Japan, or anywhere else for that matter.
    I know. Hence why I mentioned their lack of ability to use iron. Read my full post, not what you want to pick at.

    However, the sword used to cut through those bullets was made of traditional materials I believe. I could be wrong.
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  11. #10  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremyhfht
    No shit sherlock? Hence rumor.
    Is the Science Forum the place for rumour?
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  12. #11  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    I have read that the technique the Japanese used in making their sword steel so fine was the process of "laminating" (bending and pounding it upon itself) the red hot steel dozens and dozens of times, far more than was ever done in the West.

    Japan was a feudal kingdom only nominally run or ruled by the central ruler. This is why the revered dynasty is always referred to as "the EMPEROR."
    The samurai were the war-lords troops and each feudal state was a sort of police state run by his hoodlums. They constituted a sort of barrack state war-lord aristocracy.

    To this day, the Japanese consider themselves a "special people" as their Shinto mythology teaches them they were born separately out of the incest of gods. They still revere their samurai tradition and discriminate against Koreans. Just about the only signs you see anywhere in Japan are all in Japanese---never English or any other language. When the "emperor" died
    a decade or so ago, the Japanese newpapers dug up a special word for it . The common word for "died" was not used and the special word used translates as "he ascended into the kingdom of the gods." His heir went thru an ancient ceremony of ritual intercourse with the ancient mother god which, alone, announted or certified his power.

    I have found this ritual mating with the mother goddess also in Solo, Indonesia where the Muslim leader there actually keeps a hotel room which he uses once a year for this act and hence re-certification!


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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    I have read that the technique the Japanese used in making their sword steel so fine was the process of "laminating" (bending and pounding it upon itself) the red hot steel dozens and dozens of times, far more than was ever done in the West.
    Yes, this is called "folding" the steel and it is done to beat as much carbon out of the metal as possible.
    The hand of time rested on the half-hour mark, and all along that old front line of the English there came a whistling and a crying. The men of the first wave climbed up the parapets, in tumult, darkness, and the presence of death, and having done with all pleasant things, advanced across No Man's Land to begin the Battle of the Somme. - Poet John Masefield.

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  14. #13  
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    Samurai were the warrior class during the shogunates. Shoguns had many samurai as their private army, especially before the Tokugawa shogunate rose.
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  15. #14  
    Forum Freshman thirdeye's Avatar
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    Yes. Samurai's were a warrior class. (almost a "caste" because if one was the son of a Samurai, he was therefore a Samurai - people could not leave their classes). There were "four different classes" within Japanese society during the time of the Samurai (During the reign of Tokugawa):

    i) Warrior class (who consisted of Daimyo and Samurai) - the highest class
    ii) Farming class
    iii) Artisans
    iv) Merchants (were seen as the 'scum of the earth' because they did not actually 'create anything')
    Others were seen as neutral such as doctors or priests for instance.

    You are very right about the Samurai being noble and honourable. They followed the code of 'Bushido' which was the 'way of the warrior'. Each Samurai was loyal to a specific Daimyo. At the time of Tokugawa (and even prior to the Tokugawa family) Japan was divided into small domains. Each domain was governed by a Daimyo, who would collect taxes and have a VERY loyal army of Samurai. Daimyo's were Samurai masters.

    Each Samurai, according to Bushido had to remain loyal to his Daimyo, straight on to death. Bushido called on Samurai to never surrender. Sometimes the Samurai failed and were forced to rectify their failure, they would do this by committing Seppuku, which was "ritual suicide." This would consist of the Samurai kneeling on the ground, stabbing himself in the lower abdomen, striking accross the body and then up. Their bowels were meant to spill out. This proved that the Samurai both realized his mistake, and was loyal to his Daimyo.

    In reference to your question about Samurai being "armor clad" and " sword wielding", yes they were. However, these things cost money, so Samurai were usually more "well off" (they needed enough money to have leisure time to train, and to buy a horse!) Originally the Samurai began as archers, then moved to swords and then believe it or not, firearms! (The Portuguese actually brought guns on over to Japan which occured a few decades before Tokugawa. Bang bang.)

    Samurai wore light armour which was quite elaborate with designs and crests and what not. They were the only ones allowed to wear swords (which helped identify their class) out of battle. They generally had two swords: A shoto (short sword) and a katana (long sword).

    Hmm, and lastly, there were "high-level" Samurai and "low-level" Samurai. The low-level Samurai were generally VERY poor and oppressed, and were easily distinguished in everyday life because of their clothing. There was an overabundance of Samurai because of constant warfare, but as this dissolved by policies created by the great unifiers (one of which was Tokugawa), the Samurai were no longer really seen as warriors.

    I suppose there's a lot of glamour and nostalgia surrounding Samurai. And when we think of the Samurai we think of brave, heroic and loyal. All of this is true, one had to have been brave to survive famines on such skimpy stipends. :wink:
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  16. #15 very interesting post 
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    very interesting post 8)
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  17. #16  
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    Also, just to clarify about the "kamakazees" as they are known, They were just a ploy to inspire nationalism by the Emperor and his advisors. Following the Meiji Restoration, the Samurai were, for all intents and purposes, disbanded, and lost their position in society, as Japan "modernized". The term "Kamikaze" means "heavenly wind" in Japanese, and refers to the Typhoons that destroyed the fleet of the Mongols who tried to invade Japan. The term, while often identified with the samurai, has nothing to do with them. It was merely a propoganda ploy.

    (please forgive my outrageous use of commas)
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