View Full Version : Some misconceptions about the Samurai

05-13-2007, 19:08
Some misconceptions about the Samurai
courtesy of the Samurai Archive Forums

"Samurai hated guns, calling them "cowards' weapons"

Hollywood, along with the general public, has come to view the samurai as sword-wielding heroes of an age long gone. Guns just don't fit into our picture of that; therefore, samurai must not have used guns.

In fact, the Japanese were using guns more effectively than their European counterparts by the sixteenth century, as well as producing more accurate, durable varieties. The battle of Nagashino, where guns tore through charging samurai cavalry, is one of the most famous and influential battles in the history of the samurai. The samurai were not stupid; in fact, they were renown for their adaptability. The Mongolian invasion, Chinese royal culture, and enterprising Western powers all influenced medieval Japan at one time or another. In fact, the kimono, one of the most famous symbols of Japan, came from China during the Heian period. It was no different when the Portuguese introduced a devastating new weapon called the arquebus (or teppo, in Japanese). No matter how much the samurai loved their bow, they weren't oblivious to the fact that the gun obviously outclassed their previous artillery choice. Several forms of guns were used, from the general old-fashioned musket-like gun we tend to think about, to large hand cannons, to even the rare full canon (which were generally taken off of crashed European ships). They were all used with devastating efficiency. One of the greatest daimyo (general/feudal lord) of the Warring States era, Oda Nobunaga, was well renowned for his brilliance with gunnery tactics. Others, such as Takeda Shingen, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Date Masamune were also well known for using snipers, entrenched artillery, and sometimes just mass amounts of gunners, with devastating results..

Some believe that because foot soldiers (ashigaru) were the primary users of guns the samurai must have detested them. Instead, the ashigaru were simply too disposable to teach them anything more complicated. This didn't mean that samurai were not also taught how to use guns; in fact, they were generally taught more in depth. It is also notable that, of the honors granted in battle, the one granted to a gun unit was surpassed only by taking a head in individual combat....

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05-22-2007, 10:52
Intranetusa you are right, as a matter of fact since 1542 on the battlefields of Japan more and more "guns" were used.
The first to use them in a successful battle were ... Shimazu ! Oda became master of the teppo ... se the fall of the Takeda clan.

Ashigaru did use the teppo in larger numbers because it became awailable in large number, in 1542 it was worth a fortune, but already in 1575 it was the weapon of the few became the weapon of the many.
As for the samurai, of lower rank for example would not by an armor until it was not tested as being bullet resistant ...

And it is not right to think the Samurai ar ueber Warriors, they are fearsome, dedicated warriors, but there were times when even samurai fled the field of battle.
As for the famous Katana, it was not even there primary choice. The Naginata ruled the field until in the XVI. the yari - spear - became largely available, the Date used the largest if i remember correctly.

As for Hollywood, - no offence here - they always present a perspective of reality of there point of wiew to the general public, altering facts, historical inaccuracies, and the list goes on and on and on and on ... :dizzy2: , and since movies from the US are not particulary intended for the Asian market, it is not a suprize they use legends and historically facts from that part - the common westerner does not know them after all - of the world to make "fancy" high budget movies, that present an illusion, something that never happened, or alter it to say :there story". There are to many recent examples of movies for this.

Still this is the world we live in ... if you want to know what happened :study:

05-23-2007, 00:03
Indeed. Hollywood would've probably cast Tom Cruise instead of Bruce Lee for Enter the Dragon back in the 70's if they had the chance.

05-23-2007, 08:12
LoL ... yes Tom is big star now ...
But seriously .. the samurai were really fearsome warriors, wery effective, after all it was there "profession". Some of them were utterly loyal, while others ...

Times changed warfare in Japan, the big impact in the Sengoku Jidai was the the "gun", which all major players used, exept Mori. To may knowledge they did not use the teppo - pls correct me here if i`m wrong -.

Oda was the "fan" of the gun as Oda`s army relied much on Ashigaru support. An easy to use weapon that could kill a samurai instantly, or at least wound him seriously. Even the to be Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu was hit bi bullets. Takeda Shingen died because of it ...

If you have the time search the net, i found a lot of sites, presenting the Sengoku Jidai, the Edo period, and so on.

05-24-2007, 01:57
indeed they were....