Side Note; I used these Poems in the Performance of My Baku Character.
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. Below are Haiku verse for aspects of life that may have applied to the many who found peace a time to reflect. Please….. Enjoy.
Foreigners come by sea
No devine wind will sink boats;
But that of change.
Trained for warfare;
the thought of battle
is never far from the warriors mind.
Change was also hard to counter.
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.
What role plays you snake
Kabuki treachery or enemy within;
Your presence felt always.
Your name and village
Death honors all who meet my courage;
We each serve one outcome.
Ten thousand fight as one
Banners speak of fate; read the omen;
Blood red sky over these lands
Tears of distant hills
Blunt broken stones to unknown destiny;
Go; flow to your sea.