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The Sacred Rituals Of The Samurai Warrior

Updated on March 6, 2012

Armor Of A Samurai Warrior

Armor of a SAMURAI warrior by MJTR
Armor of a SAMURAI warrior by MJTR

The Sacred Rituals Of The Samurai Warrior

During their long history in feudal Japan, Samurai lived lives steeped in tradition, built around a code of honor, discipline, and morality. As well as incorporating philosophies of Shinto and Buddhism. The Samurai were the warrior class, sworn to serve their lords (or Shoguns) without question. They were also educated men and elite members of the societies in which they lived.

In fact, the wives of Samurai were also highly respected. In western society, they would be looked upon as ladies of great breeding even if such breeding were not evident in their heritage.

Samurai Arrow Ritual

Samurai Warrior Of Art

Samurai, while fierce and dedicated warriors, were also skilled in the far less deadly arts. These men were truly talented and capable of accomplishing many things. It becomes apparent in the rituals they regularly practiced during the time of their dominance, in the period that began way back in the 12th century, one that lasted at least 500 years until the 17th century.

There were many rituals, some of which were practiced daily and others which could only take place one time in the Samurai’s life. Here is a listing of some of the more common of these rituals …

Stone Samurai Warrior

by mollydot
by mollydot

Samurai Warrior Suit Of Armor

Suit of armor Edo period (1615-1868) Japan lacquered iron plates leather textile and silk cord by mharrsch
Suit of armor Edo period (1615-1868) Japan lacquered iron plates leather textile and silk cord by mharrsch

Samurai Karma Rituals

There were three Karma rituals that were meant to be observed daily. The Samurai had the choice to choose any one of these rituals and could change from day-to-day.

The first of these Karma rituals was the Haiku. This ritual, which normally took about fifteen minutes, from start to completion, involved the practice of composing poetry and/or engaging in the fine art of calligraphy. As I mentioned earlier, Samurai were men of many talents, not all of which were military in nature. A capable Samurai could easily perform this ritual which required that he compose a short, unrhymed poem of three lines. The poem had to include a reference to the season in which it was being written so that when read again, at some distant time in the future, the reader would know when the poem was composed.

A second Karma ritual was called, simply, painting. As its name implies, the Samurai who chose to do this ritual was required to create an ink painting depicting some occurrence in nature. He would, of course, need paper and ink to complete the task which usually consumed about thirty minutes of his time.

The third and final Karma ritual was called gardening. The Samurai who opted to practice this ritual would require a pebble garden. Once in the garden, he would use a special fork-like tool to draw geometric shapes around previously placed stones or other objects. That was all he needed to do and this effort usually lasted about thirty minutes.

Obviously, the Karma rituals prove that the Samurai were more than just warriors. They were also men of enlightenment, capable of practicing – and engaging in – the fine arts of the time. This is an aspect of the Bushido or warrior code that is not well known.

Japanese Tea Cerimony

Samurai Warrior Rituals

There were other rituals practiced by the Samurai. One of these was called The Archery Ritual (Momote Shiki), which was a coming of age ritual that required a young man to shoot arrows at a stationary target on the event of his 20th birthday. The ritual had a lot to do with the male’s passage from adolescence to full blown manhood.

The Bushi-Nin Sake Ritual was a simple step taken before a warrior or Samurai went into battle. Practiced by the kamikaze pilots of World War II, it required that the Samurai sip sake from a cup before engaging his enemy.

There was also a Tea Ceremony. Less a ritual than an actual reward, it took place when a Shogun recognized an outstanding achievement by one of his Samurai (it could have been bravery in battle) by giving him a container of tea. This “reward” from the Shogun was considered one of the highest honors that could be bestowed upon a Samurai.

The Final Ritual

The most important of all of the rituals that were a part of the Samurai’s life was Seppuku. It could be practiced only one time because it involved ritual suicide, the taking of one’s own life. In more modern times, it has been called hara-kiri and defeated Japanese officers committed this act upon themselves after suffering defeat in World War II battles.

In feudal times, Seppuku could occur one of two ways: the Samurai could be ordered to kill himself by his Shogun and he would then do so without question. Or … the Samurai, if about to be defeated by his enemy on the battlefield, would choose this honorable way to admit defeat. Death was neither swift nor pleasant. The Samurai who chose to end his life through Seppuku would stab, or slash, himself in the abdomen causing the rupture of vital organs and excessive bleeding. It was painful, perhaps barbaric, but it was also an integral part of the Bushido (or warrior) code, a way for the Samurai to demonstrate honor, courage and loyalty.

Today, many of the old ways have passed into history. Life in modern Japan is fast-paced, leaving little time for rituals, although some of the old ways still exist. The most important one, however, Seppuku, no longer has a prominent – or any – role in Japanese society. That’s because the Japanese, as a society, oppose the concept of suicide.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago


    • XimphOnni profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Originally from the garden

      ivy1, totoranian, and ssfair they current author of this article is me. Ximph Onni

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      where did you get this information?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Who wrote this. I need the Author for my biography! :) :) :

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      who wrote this article?? interesting stuff... I'm using it for a school assignment and i need the author for ma bibiography. :)



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