Browse Categories

Japanese Swords

Shop By Forge

5 Little Known Facts About Samurai


1. The Samurai Social Class


Many believe the Samurai were an exclusive elite force, much like Secret Service or Navy SEALS. In actuality, they were an entire society. It is estimated that at their highest point of history, Samurai made up nearly 10 percent of the population of Japan. Due to their large numbers and heavy influence in Japan’s history, every living Japanese person today supposedly has some Samurai blood in them. Originally, the term Samurai meant “those who serve in close attendance to nobility.” Eventually, the term was associated with the middle and upper tier warriors of the Bushi class.


2. The Female Samurai  


Samurai is a masculine term, though the Japanese Bushi class did allow women to receive the same military training. These women, known as Onna-Bugeisha, while not technically Samurai warriors, commonly fought alongside the male Bushi warriors. Many once assumed women warriors were a small minority, since few accounts of female Samurai are found in historical texts. Recent research has shown, however, that women participated much more often in battle. 


3. Samurai Fashion Sense


Some have called Samurai the rock stars of ancient times. Their fashion sense reflected this fact and had great influence on the rest of Japanese culture. Even so, except on rare occasions, Samurai did not dress with intent to impress. Every detail of their elaborate clothing served a purpose for their warring lifestyle. Samurai dressed to move quickly and allow freedom of movement. The standard outfit was comprised of wide trousers, called a hakama, and a two-piece vest with drastically pointed shoulders, known as a kimono or hitatare. The outer vest could be quickly removed in the event of a surprise attack and kept the arms free for general battle. The kimono, on the other hand, was a thin vest made of silk for coolness, feel, and appearance.


The biggest distinction of Samurai fashion was the topknot hairstyle. Consequently, the hairstyle was also the most widespread. People of all Japanese social classes wore the topknot for hundreds of years, except Buddhist monks, who shaved their heads. The common combination of the topknot with the shaved forehead may have arisen out of necessity, as the shaved forehead made it easier to wear a helmet.


4. The Height Of A Samurai 


Many assume Samurai were imposingly tall and broad, but their armor and weaponry merely makes them seem that way. Actually, most Samurai were tiny people, usually slimly built and ranging from 5’3” to 5’5” in height. In comparison, European warriors of the same era were on average 6’ to 6’5” tall.


5. The Weapons Of The Samurai  


The Samurai used many different weapons in battle. Originally, they used a straight sword called a chokuto. Later, they switched to using the more efficient curved blade sword. Perhaps the most famous weapon of all time is the katana and certainly the most iconic of Samurai swords. The katana was considered the most important and valuable of a Samurai’s weapons, but it was certainly not the only weapon in their armory. Samurai commonly used longbows, spears, and eventually even guns in warfare. You can find a great selection of authentic Samurai weapons at Swords Of The East.