Glossary (Phrase list) >> Samurai & Bushi

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サムライ 武士, Japanese old warriors

- Definition of Samurai, Bushi, Shogun refering to Genji and Heike -


  Meaning of Samurai and Bushi 武士 as Japanese warriors had gradually changed by the times.  It's deeply related to the ancient big families, that means, Genji 源氏 & Heike 平家.


  When we say Genji and Heike, it generally means the two major warrior families who were rivals in the ancient times.

  That is true, but they were not enemies from the beginning.  On the contrary, they had the same route.  Both of them came from the Imperial family.


  Around 9th Century  


  Not a few princes began to leave Imperial family being given the familiy name of Minamoto or Taira .  Minamoto families were called Genji and Taira families were Heishi 平氏.

  Each family in Genji ahd Heishi had some different routes according to "Which Emperor it came from".  Genji from Emperor Seiwa 清和 and Heishi from Emperor Kanmu 桓武 are well known.


  Many of them became the landlords and formed Bushi-groups at the provinces.


<< Japanese worriors in this period >>


Bushi: It's the status as the military-aristocracy.


Samurai: Originally it meant the people who worked beside Emperor or high class nobles.  It's like as the current government officials, but home helpers in the houses of such noble people were also called Samurai.


  Therefore, Samurai and Bushi were not the same in this period.  Meanwhile, Emperor and nobles came to use Bushi to protect them or fight for them.  Those Bushi was called Samurai-leveled Bushi as the lower position than the Bushi-aristocracy.


Shogun 将軍: Shogun had already existed, but it was not the long-term leader of Bushi nor the governmental leader.

  It was a kind of project manager assigned by Emperor to defeat the outlaws in the far areas such as current Tohoku 東北 region from time to time.

  Since the place was so far from Capital Kyoto, Shogun was given the right to govern the far places which he settled.


Read about all times


  10 - 11C  



"Heike's golden age"


  End of 12C - early 14C  

"Kamakura Period"








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