There are many legends about samurai. Their most important feature is their enormous willpower, fortitude, and harsh upbringing. These were the strongest warriors who were not afraid of death.

Who could become a samurai

In feudal Japan, this high title was transmitted exclusively by inheritance. The son followed in the footsteps of his father and later became a professional warrior. From birth, the boy was surrounded by care and love, but no one canceled the harsh upbringing. The birth of a boy in the family was a great holiday. In the early days, all relatives came and brought many gifts to the newborn. Particular attention was paid to the first son, since he was the heir not only to the clan, but also to the entire property of the family.

A few years later, the son received from his father one or two toy swords made of wood, depending on the rank occupied. This is not just a toy, but a kind of amulet. In this way, little boys were taught to love their weapons and take care of them.

If the samurai did not have an heir, then he lost his place in the social structure, and the feudal lord had the right to confiscate his land allotment. There were many such cases in feudal Japan.


Samurai Education Code

The upbringing of future samurai took place within the framework of an unwritten code of honor - Bushido. The code indicates a number of rules and norms that are characteristic of a real samurai, and it is based on the principles of Buddhism and Confucianism.

A warrior who was brought up in the spirit of bushido was clearly aware of his moral duty, personal duties to his overlord. If the samurai violated the norms of the code, then he performed suicide through a ritual - hara-kiri. Samurai personally cut your stomach stomach with a dagger. In this way, the samurai washed away his dishonor.

These rules and norms were not set out in writing, but were transmitted in legends, stories, which are still relevant in our time.

Basic principles of samurai education

From early childhood, the best morals of warriors were imposed on future samurai. They were taught to love and respect their parents, teachers, not to argue with them even if they are wrong. The basis of education was the principle of not only respect for parents, but also for the emperor himself, who was the father of all warriors.

Parents and a mentor are the two main pillars on which the philosophy of samurai education was based. The authority of the teacher was very great: all his instructions had to be followed without strife.

Young samurai strove to grow up courageous, brave in the name of the ruler, whose life was above all.


Education methodology: interesting facts

The image of a strong samurai was formed due to both physical and moral training. Young men were read a lot of stories, stories that told about the military prowess of the famous samurai. Theatrical plays were often staged, in which they clearly demonstrated how strong and fearless a samurai warrior was.

The father often took his son to the cemetery or to a terrible place that was notorious. In addition, the boys were necessarily taken to public punishments, executions, and at night they arranged an inspection of the severed heads of criminals. And most importantly: the future samurai had to put his sign everywhere, as proof that he was there. This approach made it possible to overcome fear and not be afraid of death.

A few more interesting facts about the methods of educating future samurai:

constant hard work;

minimum night sleep;

walking without shoes in winter;

hunger strike.

And the boys also developed fortitude: they had to be able to overdo all their emotions. Fear, panic, tears - all this was not allowed. That is why, it is not surprising that the samurai did not lose their thoughts and common sense even in the most difficult situations.

Future samurai constantly trained: they never stopped on the achieved result. Boys were taught to easily endure any pain and the most difficult trials in life. If the boy suddenly cries, then instead of pitying him, the mother scolded her son for his weakness.

The older the boy got, the more severe the tests became for him. For example, he was left for a long walk in an unheated room or deprived of food. Future samurai had to overcome a long way to the place of training.

And the worst test for boys is the night in the cemetery or near the scaffold among the hanged, beheaded.


Military training of the samurai

The military training of the samurai was at the highest level. From an early age, they were taught the art of owning different types of weapons: a sword, a bow. Additionally, they knew the basics of jujutsu, knew how to sit well in the saddle, and understand the tactics of battle. Already at the age of 5, the boy was getting his first sword.

Training in military skills took place in a separate room. Practicing with weapons, samurai learned to develop instant reaction, flexibility and dexterity. The preparation took place in stages. First, the boy had to learn the basics of swimming, riding, jiu-jitsu (the art of self-defense without weapons). Then the student mastered archery, martial arts, fencing. The young man was constantly developing physically. He had to not only be able to swim, but to swim with various obstacles.

Spiritual development of the samurai

In addition to physical development, samurai also developed themselves spiritually. They studied literature, history, writing. However, it was precisely those subjects that were beneficial to military affairs that were studied, but fiction was not recognized.

How long did the training of the samurai last

As a rule, training began at the age of 8 and up to 16. At the age of 15, the training of the future samurai was coming to an end. It was believed that during this time the young man was able to master military skills, become strong mentally and physically. At the end of the training, the samurai was given real swords, with which he was not to be separated. The girls were given a short kaiken dagger. As a result, young samurai became adults. A candidate for samurai lost his former name and took on a new one. An obligatory ritual is the creation of a new image: a shaved head to the crown and a pigtail in the back. All adult samurai went with this hairstyle.

Today, such upbringing seems very harsh and unacceptable for children, but at that time it was the best method for raising boys. They were taught to control their body, feelings, protect and respect their parents.

Strong character, iron will, the ability to obey strict discipline, not to blame fate - these are the basic principles of samurai training. It was these character traits that helped them to be brave warriors on the battlefield.

See also

  • Ueda Castle


    Ueda Castle in Nagano Prefecture once stood prominently on a cliff overlooking the Saigawa River. Also known as Amagafuchi-Jo, Isesaki-Jo, Matsuo-Jo, and Sanada-Jo, it was built around 1583 by its first master, Sanada Masayuki. This sturdy yet small fortress cleverly utilized the surrounding natural defenses, including the river, steep rocky cliffs, the layout of the town below, and the strategically designed waterways to hinder attackers. Ueda Castle was fortified with seven defensive yagura (watchtowers) atop robust stone walls and had two large gates with watchtowers above them.

    Read more …

  • Tsuyama Castle


    Tsuyama Castle, located in Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture, is celebrated as one of Japan's top three major hilltop (Hirayama) castles, alongside Himeji and Matsuyama Castles. Originally, Tsuyama Castle comprised 77 structures, including the main keep, various yagura (watchtowers), gates, palaces, and living quarters. For comparison, Hiroshima Castle had 76 structures, and Himeji had 61. The first castle on this site was built in 1441 but was soon abandoned. The large-scale construction that we recognize today began in 1603 under the orders of Mori Tadamasa. The castle served as the administrative base for the Tsuyama Han daimyo, the Mori clan from 1603 to 1697, and the Matsudaira clan from 1698 to 1871.

    Read more …

  • Tsu Castle


    Tsu Castle, located in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture, was originally built by Hosono Fujiatsu in 1558 and was known as Anotsu Castle, named after the old region. The site was strategically chosen at the confluence of the Ano and Iwata Rivers, which naturally formed a moat around the castle, while the nearby port served as a vital trade route.

    Read more …

  • Sasayama Castle


    Tamba Sasayama Castle, also known as Sasayama or Kirigajo (Mist Castle), is a flatland castle (hira-jiro) situated on a gentle rise in the Tamba region of Hyogo Prefecture. It was constructed in 1608 as part of Tokugawa Ieyasu's strategy to prepare for an attack on Osaka, aiming to bring an end to the Toyotomi clan. Ieyasu ordered the castle's construction using the Tenka Bushin system, engaging 20 former enemy daimyo and their forces to complete the complex within six months. This system kept the former enemies close and preoccupied, financially straining them and limiting their capacity for further conflict. The stones used in Sasayama Castle feature engravings called kokumon, indicating who made each part of the walls and preventing theft by other lords' men.

    Read more …

  • Sadowara Castle


    Sadowara Castle in Miyazaki Prefecture was a mountaintop yamajiro castle, initially built by the Tajima clan during the Nanboku-Cho period (1334-1394). As was typical of castles from that era, Mt. Kakusho, the chosen mountain, was terraced to create various baileys, or kuruwa. While defensive structures were constructed at the top and around the mountain, the lord's main living quarters and administrative offices were situated at the mountain's base.

    Read more …

  • Osaka Castle


    Osaka Castle is a prominent symbol of Osaka City, originally constructed in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi on the site of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji temple-fortress, which had been the scene of a violent uprising by warrior monks and peasants in the late 16th century. Modeled on Oda Nobunaga’s Azuchi Castle, the original Osaka Castle tenshu (tower keep) featured five visible floors, six interior floors, and two underground basements. The exterior was lacquered black and adorned with gold decorations, including large peony flowers, tigers, birds, and various crests.

    Read more …

  • Okazaki Castle


    The Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was born in Okazaki Castle in 1542 during a period of significant civil unrest. At that time, the Tokugawa, then known as the Matsudaira, controlled the rice-rich Mikawa plains of what is now eastern Aichi Prefecture. This fertile region was highly coveted by surrounding warlords. Ieyasu, a shrewd leader and brilliant tactician, managed to maintain and expand his territories. Following in the footsteps of other national unifiers, Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ieyasu emerged victorious at the decisive Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. In 1603, he was invested as Shogun, a title he made hereditary, enabling the Tokugawa family to rule Japan for the next 250 years.

    Read more …

  • Ogaki Castle


    Ogaki Castle, located in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture, was originally built around 1500 by Miyakawa Yasusada and named Ushiya Castle due to the Ushiya River serving as a natural moat. The castle was also known as Bi Castle and Kyoroku Castle. The Ogaki region held strategic importance as a transit point between Mino and Omi Provinces, a fact recognized by Saito Dosan, the Viper of Mino. When Oda Nobunaga captured Gifu Castle in 1567, Ogaki Castle came under Oda rule. Both Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi understood the strategic significance of the castle. In 1595, Hideyoshi ordered Ito Sukemori to expand the castle and construct the Tenshu keep.

    Read more …