About the Haiku and Life of the Japanese Samurai Warrior : Bamboo Poems.
Pride of appearance and style.
Common Battle Dress.
The Katana was the Samurai.
Changing times for a Samurai.
The Japanese Samurai were arguably the greatest warriors in modern history; living their entire life by the Code of Bushido; the samurai code of honor. About the Haiku and Life of the Japanese Samurai Warrior : Bamboo Poems; by Pearldiver gives a glimpse of another side of the state of being a Samurai. In feudal Japan, the country was effectively ruled by warlords (Diamyo) who independently served the Emperor, yet collectively served the emperor's choice of Shogun. The Shogun was the most powerful entity and was endorsed by the emperor as being the ultimate military leader; based on his ability to control, his background, courage, victories and strategic planning abilities.
Each Samurai was trained from birth to be a professional fighting unit; along with learning of culture, arts and social protocol. To be a Samurai, one could not be a landowner, unless they had reached the status of diamyo. Yet a Samurai held the power of life or death over landowners, villagers and subordinates. Being a Samurai was to be completely loyal to their leader (daimyo) and to pledge their life and lifetime to the achievement of the Daimyo's objectives.
Honor was paramount to a Samurai's life and as such; dishonor ultimately meant death; which was often self administered in a ceremony called Seppuku. The Samurai was required to 'open his belly' with his wakizashi; the shorter of the two swords that he carried. In this way, his death was as honorable as if he had died in battle.
If he was required to commit seppuku, the Samurai was able to have a friend decapitate him with his katana; the longer sword; if it was felt the pain was such that he cried out. To a Samurai, death in the service of his master was the ultimate act of honor. The Samurai's most prized possessions were his daisho (swords), his kabuto (battle helmet) and his personal body armor. Samurai's were known by their elaborate dress, strength of character and highly focused mastery of the martial arts.
When the Portuguese introduced the musket to warring factions in Japan; this single act brought about a complete change in the ethics of battle and heralded the end of those who refused to adapt to the new ways; which were though effective; regarded as being a less than honorable way of war.
Until muskets, Japanese development had been backed through the power of the sword and highly trained warriors. With the musket, even unskilled villagers could beat the best trained warriors in battle. War had become less personal and the old ways of the Samurai warriors were destined to take their place in history.
The Japanese love of the beauty of their surroundings was of equal importance to the men who devoted their lives to war. In peace times many samurai took up the arts, writing and teaching; to fill their time. This practice lead to the extensive use of attaching a battle banner to the back of their armor on with each individual warrior had written either a taunting challenge to, an introductory boast of his skills, or his Death Wish, in either 3 lines of Haiku or 5 lines of Tanka verse. Below are a selection of different Haiku verse for the important aspects of life that graced and applied to the many who found their peace a time to reflect. Please..... Enjoy.
Status was worn throughout.
State your name and village.
Thoughts of: Preparedness.
Bathed and top knot set
A head fragrant so not to offend;
The master of katana.
Shitabi, armor and daisho
May only seasons temper my wakizashi;
Death always within reach.
Thoughts of: Battle.
Your name and village
Death honors all who meet my courage;
We each serve one outcome.
A clash of different cultures.
Ten thousand fight as one
Banners speak of fate; read the omen;
Blood red sky over these lands
Thoughts of: New change.
Foreigners come by sea
No devine wind will sink boats;
But that of change.
Strange western ways
That to bath; is not in style;
Yet speak of culture.
Kubuki: An act of no words.
Thoughts of Kabuki.
What role plays you snake
Kabuki treachery or enemy within;
Your presence felt always.
Peace times were hard for the samurai warriors.
Thoughts of: Future battles.
Oh times of peace
We long for the tanquility of war;
Stone gardens too complex.
Swift cold winds of change
All seasons now seem blended into one;
Katana be swifter than musket.
Okita of the tea house: Utamaru
Thoughts of: Okita.
I remember your smell
Heat and taste of carressing touch;
Okita; this tea so intense.
The tranquility of home scenes.
Thoughts of: Tenryu River.
Tears of distant hills
Blunt broken stones to unknown destiny;
Go; flow to your sea.
Friendship of one's peers.
Thoughts of: Honored friends.
Faces of good friends lost
Saki cries out; finishing jokes made;
In battle we laugh again.
I remember you Tanaka
Your kabuto worn again by a son;
Quick of mind, like you.
Solitary skills equal survival.
Thoughts of: Growing old.
Snow showers scar tired wings
Blue clouds draw strength of will no more;
Rise wings; above all storms.
Take me to a battle;
This growing old is far too tame
Samurai don't wait to die.
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Words of the Master Samurai.
The greatest change in war.
The Portuguese in feudal Japan, came selling Christianity, Muskets and Trading Goods. Never again would the lives and deaths of the Samurai in warfare, be one of personally greeting their opponents in battle in an honorable face to face manner. The use of muskets meant that a traditional Samurai's opponent changed that long standing custom; with a musket ball fired from the distance, at an unknown and now disadvantaged warrior.
They said that a Samurai was as elegant as cherry blossom petals and in some ways, as fragile; in that it only took one a single storm to destroy the balance. That storm was the effect of change brought about by the power of the gun, over opponents who could not counter it's effectiveness, without giving up their honorable ways. Haiku was written extensively by the Japanese Samurai Warriors and it served as a release to men who were expected to maintain a stern order over others. The Samurai by social position alone; carried with him the power of life or death over his subordinates. The beauty of Japanese Haiku verse is emphasized within the writings of the old masters, many of whom lived and died as members of the Samurai Code. The Book of 5 Rings (available by clicking on the Amazon books link) is compulsory reading if you have a passion for this amazing warrior creed or are learning any form of Martial Art.
Thank you for reading this work and in that way allowing the spirit of the Samurai to live on.
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