If you are looking for a holiday mixing tradition and culture, but also leading in modern development and 21st Century technology, Japan is the country to visit. This unique country offers everything from vibrant fast-paced city loife such as the capital city of Tokyo, to hypnotic little villages where tradition still plays an important part in everyday life and the natural landscapes and striking local architecture really are worth viewing. Japan is a journey of discovery into a world filled with oriental charm and character unique to the exotic East.
For those of you interested in Japanese history, today’s #ChillOutSunday we are looking at the tradition of Japanese Samurai and the role this military class played in making Japan the country it is today. Although samurai no longer exists, the influence of these great warriors is still apparent in Japanese culture, and samurai heritage can be seen all over Japan, whether it be a great castle, a carefully planned garden, or beautifully preserved samurai residences. It is still deeply ingrained in the spirit and mindset of the Japanese people.
The basis of samurai conduct is bushido which means “the way of the warrior” valuing honour, bravery, selflessness and a duty to the warrior’s master with the purpose of giving up ones life and embracing death. The sword worn by the samurai was known as the katana and bushido dictated that this curved, slender blade was the soul of a warrior. The way of the warrior allowed no place for fear and their conduct of self discipline and ethical behaviour has influenced Japan throughout history.The samurai warrior was not only brave, but also highly skilled and literate. An ancient saying aspired by all warriors was “bun bu ryo do” meaning “the pen and sword in accord”. They studied just as hard as they fought. This mentality allowed for the union of samurai armies and eventually they dominated government taking control in 1160 and overpowering the emperor.
From the 13th Century, samurai conduct became heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism. Zen training taught a warrior to become one with their sword and gave them the mental edge over the enemy. Zen meditation calmed the mind and gave them profound strength to deal with their inevitable death. Buddhist teachings had such an immense effect that as they became more ingrained in samurai life; some samurai lost meaning in killing and gave up their sword to live as monks.
The decline of the samurai came in the late 19th Century as Japan opened its boarders to the US navy and the power returned to the imperial family in the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Samurai became known as shizoku, a term which represented their former samurai status, and they were no longer allowed to wear a katana in public. The samurai class was abolished and replaced by a western style national army, and as a result many samurai became highly motivated, disciplined Imperial Army Officers or used their high levels of literacy to become reporters, writers or to serve in government.
Japan is proud of its ancestory and “the way of the warrior” can be found throughout this beautiful country. Many of the castles located throughout Japan have seen a bloody battle in years gone by. Come and experience one of the Japanese festivals, with the origins in samurai culture, or visit some of the grounds where great samurai battles took place.
Samurai ideals have transcended throughout Japanese history, come and take a look for yourself.
Call Just Love Travel and one of our specialist travel advisors will be happy to plan your ideal itinerary.