Samurai

Samurai worrior with armor Is Samurai a fighter?
Samurai is one of popular Japanese images for foreigners, like Ninja. Though Samurai is thought as warrior, it is not always true. To have wrong idea may jeopardize you when you are doing business in other countries. Here is a brief description of them to help your Japan market entry.

Begining of Samurai
Before 17th century when the Edo era began, they could be called as fighters. They who fought for aristocrats had gained the regime after the end of Heian era, ages of aristocrats, at the end of 12th century. After many years since then, the leader of them, the Shogun, who was assigned by the emperor formally, gradually lost his control over others. They started invading each other for the Shogun position in the middle of 15th century until 17th century, when the Tokugawa took the position.

Samurai after war
In the Edo era, the Shoguns had controlled other Samurai leaders so cleverly and peacefully with implied military strength. The main role of them had changed from fighting to local governing. Paying tax properly to the central government was matter of high concern otherwise their local sovereignty would be taken away. If so, they would lose income as well as servants and followers.

To pay tax, they started treating farmers properly, cultivating new land to gain more crops and doing flood preventing works. They studied Confucianism for learning both reading and writing and how to rule well. It must have been a bureaucrat in stead of a warrior. They do Japanese fencing just for spiritual training rather than for fighting practice. Thus the sword became a symbol not a weapon.

Many had developed local special products such as crops other than rice, processed foods, textiles, pottery and lacquered ware to get more money since the central government only place a tax defined by standardized rice production ratio and rice field size. Efficient rice production also made extra savings for local governments. the Shimazu, one of the wealthiest Samurai, did oversea trading business through Okinawa, the most southern prefecture now and they had different dynasty at the time, with China although Japan had taken closed door policy. They were the one of leaders who defeated the Tokugawa later.

Merchants gained power
The tax was payed with rice but, of course, it was money economy. All the rice was send to Osaka city and dealt. They received money from merchants. The merchants did not trade real crops but bills instead. They have risk hedge concept with forward transaction. Many historians believe that Osaka was the world first commodity market which had most of current transfer options. By the end of Edo era, they became richest social class over Samurais, farmers and craftsmen.

Samurai in companies
Not a few people in Japan still think a company as a unit of a clan, especially elder men and smaller companies. The president is Tono, the Samurai king in this case. Workers sometimes pay self-sacrifice role to protect the company, the clan. Members of the Diet are also treated as Tono, too.

The Samurai was not barbarian worrier but sophisticated and well-educated public servant and still loved by people because they believed they have brave hearts.


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