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 with the times.  It's deeply related to the ancient two major clans, the Genji 源氏 and the Heishi 平氏.


  Speaking of those clans, it generally refers to the two big warrior groups 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 the 9th Century                 <Read more> 

"Grow of Bushi clans"


<<Japanese warriors - around 9C>>


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 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.

  As Emperor and nobles began using Bushi to protect them or fight for them, those Bushi were called Samurai-leveled Bushi.  Their status was regarded as lower than that of the Bushi-aristocracy.


Shogun 将軍: Shogun had already existed, but it was not the chief general of the Bushi-worriors nor the governmental leader.

  It was a kind of project manager assigned by the Emperor to defeat the outlaws in the distant land from time to time.

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


 10C - 11C                                   <Read> 

"Genji and Heishi"


 12C                                            <Read> 

"Heike's golden age"


 End of 12C - Early 14C                <Read> 

"Kamakura Period / New Samurai"


 After the Kamakura period 


<<Bushi & Samurai - after 17C>>

 As the era changed to the Edo period (17-19C), high-class Bushi on the horseback came to be called Samurai.

  Acturlly, we now mention Samurai and Bushi for the ancient warriors in the same way.  Most Japanese use those words without much consciousness of the difference.


Related page: "Historical persons " -Glossary-

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