45 Glorious Japanese Samurai Facts To Know About The Warriors

Sakshi Thakur
Mar 20, 2023 By Sakshi Thakur
Originally Published on Mar 20, 2023
Fact-checked by Shadiya Ahammad
There are many interesting Japan Samurai facts to be uncovered, read here.

Samurai were the hereditary military dictatorship and officer caste of medieval and early-modern Japan.

This was until late 12th century until their abolition in 1876. They were the well-paid retainers of the large feudal lords, the daimyo.

Samurai enjoyed great status and specific rights, such as the ability to wear two swords and the Kiri-sute gomen. They practiced the bushido norms of martial qualities, indifference to suffering, and unwavering allegiance, participating in several local skirmishes.

The group also grew to have its own distinct cultural beliefs regarding what it means to establish and live a good life.

They were known for their discipline, wisdom, and bravery. These aristocratic warriors had special samurai weapons. The weapon that is renowned even today is the samurai sword.

The people of the warrior class were known for their discipline, wisdom, and bravery. Many Japanese people practice martial arts today as well. It is now more of an exercise. But the Real Japanese Samurai had a different purpose in life.

Rise Of The Samurai

The samurai were a significant military caste in medieval Japan. They were an essential part of the Japanese government as they dominated the Japanese government and society until the Meiji Restoration of 1868 led to the abolition of the feudal system.

  • These medieval knights rose to prominence in the 12th century with the establishment of the country's first military dictatorship. It was known as the shogunate.
  • Until the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the samurai ruled Japanese government.
  • Given great military skills and profound pride in their stoicism, the samurai of the Kamakura era formed a disciplined culture separate from the older imperial court. 
  • The samurai culture generated several distinctly Japanese arts. These were the tea ceremony and flower arrangement, during the Muromachi period, under the expanding influence of Zen Buddhism.
  • The ideal samurai was a stoic warrior who adhered to an unwritten code of behavior, later formalized as Bushido. It prioritized courage, honor, and personal loyalty over life itself.
  • The ceremonial suicide by disembowelment (seppuku) was formalized as a respectable alternative to dishonor or defeat.
  • In a 1281 incident, a Yuan army of 140,000 soldiers was assembled, along with 5,000 ships, for another invasion of Japan. A Japanese army of 40,000 soldiers guarded Northern Kysh. When a hurricane slammed north Kysh island, the Mongol army was still aboard its ships waiting for the landing operation. The typhoon's losses and destruction, along with the Japanese defense at the Hakata Bay barrier, led to the Mongols' defeat once more.
  • The early Tokugawa period lasted from 1603 to 1867.
  • The samurai, who made up less than 10% of the population, formed a closed caste. This was done as an effort to preserve the social order and secure society.
  • They were allowed to wear the two swords that symbolized their social status. But most samurai were obliged to become civil officials or start doing some vocation during the Tokugawa shogunate's 250 years of peace.
  • Furthermore, the growth of towns and the establishment of a commercial economy in early 18th-century Japan. This resulted in the blooming of a dynamic urban culture, which finally supplanted the austere samurai way of life.
  • At the same time, the samurai's economic condition, which was based entirely on fixed stipends, was deteriorating. Despite their high social standing, an increasing number of samurai families were impoverished towards the end of the Tokugawa period.
  • Lower-ranking samurai took part in the campaign against the Tokugawa dynasty that ended in the Meiji Restoration of 1868.
  • When feudalism was formally abolished in 1871, the samurai class lost its privileged status.
  • Former samurai rose in rebellion numerous times throughout the 1870s, but these revolts were soon put down by the newly formed national army.

Samurai Class, Status, Weapons & Physical Appearance

The Samurai people were a class apart. They were warriors with principles. Continue reading to know more.

  • Although many people assume that samurai were a small, elite fighting force like today's Navy SEALS, they were really a separate social class. In their heyday, samurai accounted for around 6-8% of Japan's population.
  • Samurai were fashion influencers and had a significant influence on Japanese period fashion. Although their gear was exquisite, it was all tailored to their demands as warriors.
  • Their uniform comprised broad hakama pants and a long-sleeved vest known as a hitatare. These robes allowed for a lot of mobility. 
  • The typical suits of samurai armor included kabuto, the helmet and dou, the primary torso armor. Then there was the kusazari leg armor. While the kote and kogake for the arms. The most important was the katana sword.
  • Throughout Japan's decades of civil war and turmoil, samurai from various clans would adapt and replace their armor.
  • Certain elements, such as the menpo, were added as part of the armor, as a chin strap.
  • Despite the exquisite design of samurai armor, which may make the ensemble appear more like an extravagant stage gown than effective armor, each component served a specific role.
  • Unlike European knight armor, samurai armor was built for mobility.
  • The chonmage hairdo, which we now call the topknot, was perhaps the most distinguishing part of samurai attire.
  • Although the style is attractive, the original goal of the individuals who wore it was undoubtedly practical.
  • The high knot of hair tied at the rear of the head assisted in keeping a samurai's helmet on while active in combat.
  • Samurai would very often partially shave their heads in addition to the topknot in order to make it more convenient to don a helmet.
  • The samurai were more than happy to give up their hair to become ready for the battle.
  • The kabuto helmet was the most intricate portion of a samurai's armor. Its bowl was composed of riveted steel plates.
  • The face and brow were covered by kabuto helmet that looped around behind the head. While the neck guard defended the user from arrows and swords. It was very important to safeguard the neck from the arrows of the enemies.
  • Many samurai helmets included embellishments and attachable components, like masks with demonic faces that helped to shield the face while also frightening the opponent.
  • As blade-making processes improved, samurai swords got more curved, eventually turning into the popular katana sword, probably the most recognized weapon in the world.
  • Long swords or katana swords were generally used by samurai. Although small swords called the wakizashi swords and knives called tanto were used by almost everyone.
  • The katana sword is famed worldwide for its unique combination of lethal effectiveness and elegance.
  • Samurai used to carry chokuto swords, which were thinner and smaller versions of straight swords. These were used mostly by medieval European knights.
  • Katanas were typically used in conjunction with a smaller blade, known as a wakizashi.
  • If a katana and a wakizashi were worn together, it was a symbol that the person was a samurai.
  • The pair of blades together was known as a daisho, which translates as big-little.
  • Samurai fought with katanas, but swords were not the only weapons available to them.
  • Spears became increasingly frequent when heroic solo fighting gave way to cunning group tactics.
  • Samurai quickly adopted the yumi, an enormous form of longbow that could frequently stand higher than its user. These bows were primarily made of laminated bamboo and were asymmetrical in form.
  • Theories vary as to why they were fashioned this way, but one of the most persuasive explanations is that the extra springiness allowed a skilled archer to shoot while hunched or kneeling.
  • When gunpowder was produced, samurai abandoned bows in favor of guns and cannons. The tanegashima was a matchlock rifle favored by late-16th century samurai and on as their long-distance weapon of choice.

Women Samurai

Many people may not have known that there were women Samurai as well. They had a different name. They were less in number but played a significant role.

  • The name samurai is purely masculine, but there were Japanese female fighters in the ruling class who had been samurai's equals.
  • These women samurai were known as onna-bugeisha, and they fought alongside their male counterparts.
  • Empress Jingu was one of the earliest onna-bugeisha, according to legend. Jingu did not sit at home in mourning after her husband perished in battle. Instead, in 200 AD, she spearheaded an invasion of Korea.
  • According to legend, Diana and her army vanquished the Koreans, barely spilling a single bit of blood. Jingu came to represent the onna-bugeisha values.
  • The naginata was a spear with a curved sword-like blade mounted on a pole. It was very adaptable but still relatively light and was the weapon of choice for a female samurai.
  • DNA examinations indicated that 35 of the 105 remains recovered during the Battle of Senbon Matsubaru in 1580 belonged to women. Other historical battlegrounds generated comparable percentages.

End Of The Samurai

The Samurai culture came to an end in 1867. There were various reasons for this.

  • During the Satsuma Rebellion in 1867, the Combat of Shiroyama was possibly the penultimate samurai battle.
  • The insurrection against the Tokugawa shogunate had fueled the rise, and the Meiji Restoration that resulted from these rebellions would effectively destroy the samurai class.
  • Owing to good education, many samurai put down their swords and took up pens following the Restoration. They transitioned from warriors to journalists and writers. Some even started their own newspaper enterprises. Even back then, they realized that the truth might cut deeper than a sword.
  • After realizing that their assassinations were futile, some samurai left up warfare entirely and became Buddhist monks.

Other Miscellaneous Facts

Here are a few more facts related to the Samurai culture you may like to know.

  • The armor made samurai look very tall, but they were people of short height. Mostly around five ft tall.
  • Hattori Hanzo is one of the most renowned samurai of all time, well remembered for protecting the life of the great lord Tokugawa Ieyasu. He brought him across enemy territory, aided by local ninjas, according to legend. When Tokugawa rose to power as shogun, the samurai was rewarded and turned into a close confidante.
  • The bushido code required samurai to be well-versed in the arts, in addition to reading and math, and they participated in a variety of creative undertakings, including poetry, rock gardens, ink drawings, flower arrangement, and tea ceremonies. 
  • If a samurai failed or was taken by the enemy, he was supposed to execute ceremonial suicide known as seppuku, which entailed self-disembowelment with his hand and beheading by an assistant. This was seen as an incredibly respectable way to die, a ritual suicide.


What is one fact about the samurai class?
Samurai Class is a class of Japanese warriors.

What is a samurai in Japan?
The word samurai was initially intended to refer to aristocratic warriors. Later it was used to refer to all members of the warrior class that rose to prominence in the 12th century and ruled Japan until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Are samurai good or evil?
Samurai were brave soldiers who stood up to evil.

Was the first samurai black?
No, the first Samurai was not black.

Were there any female samurai?
Yes there were many female Samurai. They were called onna-bugeisha.

Did the samurai use guns?
Yes Samurai used guns when gunpowder was invented. They used it for a long-distance assault on the enemies.

What is a samurai sword called?

The special curved Samurai sword is called the Katana sword.

How many swords did the samurai carry?
Samurai carried two swords. Katana and a Wakizashi were worn together. The pair of blades together was known as a daisho.

Does samurai still exist today?
No Samurai do not exist in today's world. But they are an inspiration in the Japanese culture.

Why did Japan get rid of the samurai?
During the roughly 250-year Edo Period, there was relative tranquility. As a result, fighting abilities became less important, and several samurai became bureaucrats, teachers, or artists.

Who was the real last samurai?
Saigo Takamori is considered the last Samurai of Japan. He lived from 1828 to 1877 and is revered to this day as the embodiment of bushido, the samurai code. Contemporary academics have unearthed hints to this famous warrior and diplomat's actual personality.

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Written by Sakshi Thakur

Bachelor of Science

Sakshi Thakur picture

Sakshi ThakurBachelor of Science

Sakshi is a skilled content writer with extensive experience in the education industry. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for helping others, she has developed a reputation for excellence in academic content writing. She has worked with esteemed professionals such as Mr. Kapil Raj, a professor of History of Science at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, further enhancing her knowledge and expertise. Sakshi is well-versed in the latest developments in e-learning and has a deep understanding of how to engage students and make learning fun and accessible. In her spare time, she indulges in her creative passions, including painting, embroidery, and listening to soft music. She also enjoys exploring new cultures and traveling, which helps her broaden her perspectives and inspire her writing. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from Panjab University.

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Fact-checked by Shadiya Ahammad

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature, Master of Arts specializing in India and World Literature

Shadiya Ahammad picture

Shadiya AhammadBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature, Master of Arts specializing in India and World Literature

A skilled writer and content creator with a postgraduate degree in English literature from the University of Calicut, Shadiya has also completed a Master of Arts in World Literature from Widya Dharma University and studied English Language and Literature at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. With her educational background and four years of experience in content writing, Shadiya has developed excellent research, communication, and writing skills, which she brings to her work every day. Her passion for language extends beyond her professional work, as she enjoys studying Arabic and Spanish in her free time.

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