Segments in this Video

Samurai: Lethal Swordsman (03:18)


The era of the samurai lasted more than a thousand years. They may be history's most terrifying warriors. They were neither restrained nor distracted by the fear of death.

Samurai Suicide: Demonstration of Bravery (02:47)

Seppuku (harakiri), ceremonial disembowelment, was committed when a samurai lost his pride or was captured in battle. For the samurai it was the only honorable way to die. This death could take hours or days to occur.

Samurai: In Service to the Emperor (03:08)

The samurai began as warriors in the service of the Emperor of Japan. The samurai realized that they could be the masters. By the 1300s, they were taking control of provinces and districts. Warlords fought warlords.

Personal Honor of the Samurai (04:44)

The samurai understood that one's name lived on forever, whereas life itself was only temporary. Before they fought each other, samurai needed to know the merits of one another in order to be equally matched.

Samurai: Battle Weapons (04:52)

To prepare for battle, the samurai carried a small arsenal of weapons. The sword was the paramount weapon of the samurai. Mastering the sword took years of training and unrelenting practice. Swords took on personalities.

Samurai Marriage (03:03)

In Japanese history, women were respected as ferocious and capable warriors, but these warriors were rare. The samurai designation passed down through a samurai's descendants. Samurai marriage was mostly a practical affair.

Samurai Love and Culture (03:42)

Samurai marriages were seldom romantic. The samurai found ideal love with each other. Samurai were cultured men who read, studied, wrote, painted, and did more than fight and kill.

Shadow World of the Ninja (01:35)

Within the samurai world of beauty and bravery existed a shadow world where all values were reversed. These men were the ninja. Even today, they remain a mystery.

Introduction of Guns into Japan (03:12)

In 1542, a Chinese ship arrived at a remote Japanese island. The crew included European sailors with weapons. Within 50 years, Japan made and used more guns than any country in Europe.

Japan's Era of Isolation: World Without War (02:02)

To protect Japan from outside interference, a policy of isolation was enacted by the Tokugawa shogunate through a number of edicts and policies from 1633-1639. The making of guns ceased.

Death of the Samurai Class (01:50)

In 1853, a small squadron of U.S. Navy ships sailed into Tokyo Bay with an ultimatum. The samurai were helpless against ships and guns. Determined to modernize Japan, the samurai declare the death of the samurai class.

Japan's Lethal Ambition (01:16)

The samurai class was forgotten. Japan had plunged into modern life. Japanese leaders were ambitious to conquer a vast overseas empire. In 1931, Japan invaded Manchuria. Army officers carried swords like the samurai once used.

Japanese Leaders: Perversion of Samurai Ideals (03:20)

Japan believed only America had the power to keep them from conquering all of Asia. The attack on Pearl Harbor was supposed to destroy America's ability to fight in the Pacific. By 1943, Japanese suicide had become a form of combat.

Resurgence of Samurai Code (01:15)

As Japan rebuilt itself after WWII, the heroic image of the samurai was restored. A resurgent film industry helped spread the ideal around the world.

New Samurai Ideal (01:10)

New Japanese samurai: Devotion to a single cause without expecting the rewards of dedication, without seeking fame or glory, and sacrificing for the betterment of all mankind.

Credits: In Search of History: Samurai Warrior (01:04)

Credits: In Search of History: Samurai Warrior

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In Search of History: Samurai Warrior

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This program, a study of the samurai code of honor, sheds light on the history of Japan while helping to explain how the samurai mentality left an enduring imprint on the psyche of future generations. Distributed by A&E Television Networks. (45 minutes)

Length: 44 minutes

Item#: BVL42735

Copyright date: ©1997

Closed Captioned

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