What Are Some of the Samurai Traditions?

samurai-traditions Credit: Markus Keuter/CC-BY 2.0

The samurai had a traditional code called bushido, which included honor, discipline and morality; they lived on a fixed stipend from landowners to support their protective services. The samurai formed the basis of the military traditions and the code of social conduct in Japan.

Samurai means "those who serve" in English. The samurai were strong believers in Zen Buddhism as it had a simple ritualistic regimen and a belief in salvation from within, both of which matched the samurai's existing traditional code.

The samurai were traditional Japanese warriors who helped to protect the country of Japan from threats. Today, the traditional samurai code can be seen in the study of jujitsu and kendo, where honor and discipline are important tenants in the philosophy.

In the 12th century, the samurai rose to power as provincial warriors in the military caste in feudal Japan. The country was under a military dictatorship called the shogunate, and the samurai were there to support the authority of the shogun and empower him against the emperor. Until 1868 and the Meiji Restoration, the samurai dominated the Japanese political landscape. The Meiji Restoration saw the abolition of the feudal system in Japan and the loss of traditional privileges among the samurai. Despite this, many of the samurai transitioned into elite industry and political positions.