The samurai were a Japanese warrior class, just as the knights were once the special warrior class of Europe. About a thousand years ago, there was a special code of conduct for the samurai warriors. Like knights, the samurai served one of the great Japanese lords.
A member of the samurai had to be well-trained in the use of weapons. His special weapon was a long, curved sword that was finely engraved. The samurai were very skillful in the use of this sword and were also good shots with a bow and arrow.
A samurai was required to be courteous and had to be obedient to his lord. He had to devote his life to his country. A samurai was well taken care of by his lord, but was not interested in making money. Above all, he had to have courage and honor. He would have to accept any challenge in order to demonstrate his bravery. In the event that his honor was blemished or stained, even though there might be a justifiable reason for it, he had to take his own life.
Honor was something that a samurai would always maintain, and would be ready to meet any challenge in order to demonstrate his courage as well as his allegiance to the particular lord whose honor and integrity are equally important. The method by which he took his own life was by “harakiri,” which is the name of a way of committing suicide. When a samurai or a famous Japanese man felt that he had been disgraced, or that he had failed to do his duty, he would make up for his failure by committing “harakiri” or stabbing himself in the stomach with a dagger. Years ago, there were special, jeweled daggers for committing “harakiri.” The custom has been abandoned in recent years. During World War II, the word, samurai, was often used to describe the regular officers in the Japanese army and navy, many of whom committed “harakiri,” rather than being captured.
The samurai code of conduct had to be strictly observed, but it is, more or less, forgotten for almost a century. Although, the samurai is still considered as a class by itself, the present generation in Japan does not put any emphasis on the historical significance of the samurai and it seems the meaning of the word has come to be almost forgotten. Today, the young generation in Japan are involved in other more important aspects of life, such as the fast pace of technology. Historically, the samurai way of life, though not practiced, is etched on the memory of those who consider it to be one of Japan’s age-old custom that had once personified unmatched bravery and courage that could never be compromised.