Musashi Miyamoto    
Japanese Samurai
Japanese Samurai

Historically, Japanese samurai were warriors that followed a strict code and were diligent in their martial art training and their devotion to the art of the samurai sword. The samurai were the highest of four main classes in Japan, with the others being farmers, artisans, and merchants. In feudal Japan, a samurai was employed by a lord and alotted a wage, measured in rice, depending on the merit of the samurai. The origins of samurai are thought to go back to the Heian period (794-1192).

The samurai are often known for their moral code, called bushido, that stressed the importance of loyalty to the samurai's lord, even to the point of offering up one's life to do the right thing. One of the more well known accounts of bushido are contained in the book Hagakure.

Samurai trained with many weapons, but the sword held a special place in their practicing, fighting, and way of life. Training with wooden swords, an art known as kendo that is still practiced today, samurai honed their skills as well as learned the principles of strategy. Samurai were the onle ones who could carry swords, and they usally carried two, a long one, known as a katana, and a short companion sword, called a tanto.

In addition to just being warriors, samurai were known for their appreciation for writing and the fine arts. The ability with the brush was admired along with the skills with the sword. It was common to write poems, especially for certain occasions. The writings and paintings of Musashi Miyamoto are considered to be among the most famous works of that period.