Samurai were considered as “nobles” of the Japanese army. It was in the Medieval Ages that Samurai first appeared in Japan but it was not until 12th century that they reached their supreme power. As indispensably important and useful tools of shogunates, the samurai was highly appreciated in the society and in the army as well as enjoyed numerous privileges.
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However, they had to follow strict rules and disciplines. Their characteristics were a combination of brutality, courage, loyalty and high sense of disciplines.
Especially, morality was what they paid much attention to in order to guarantee Bushido (similar meanings to the concept of Chivalry in Europe)
All the photos showed in this post were taken in the last days of the age of Samurai before people started to think of them as the past of Japanese cultures. And the warriors in these shots were the last Samurai who disappeared from the current culture of Japan – the Land of the Rising Sun.
At the same time when Japan experienced several major economic and political changes in Meiji era (1968), all Japanese, except for the specialized armed forces then were not allowed to bring swords with them when going out. Therefore, Samurai were no longer the upmost crucial members of the army and they had no choice but to dissolve.
Nevertheless, they left a priceless value in the traditional culture of the country – the Virtues of Bushido. The inevitable process of becoming increasingly less concerned of samurai could not stop people to get special feelings as well as the inspiration for many artistic east-west art works.
Samurai’s spirit of Bushido which has been on its way of going through Japanese generations has become their moral standard all the time.
Below are some shots of the last Samurai taken in the period from 1863 to 1900: