Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Samurai Work


What is a Samurai?

The samurai served many functions in Japan. However, the role in which they are best known is that of warrior. But what is it that makes a samurai different from other warriors in other parts of the world? Wearing armor and using a sword is not enough to make someone into a samurai.

Although the samurai and the role they played in Japan changed throughout the centuries, there are four factors that define the concept of the samurai:

  1. The samurai is a well-trained, highly skilled warrior.
  2. The samurai serves his daimyo, or master, with absolute loyalty, even to the death. In fact, the word samurai means, "those who serve."
  3. The samurai is a member of an elite class, considered superior to common citizens and ordinary foot soldiers.
  4. The samurai's life is ruled by Bushido, a strict warrior code emphasizing honor.

More to Explore