With dedication and extreme loyalty the Samurai became the true power of the Japanese Empire. The long and storied history of this warrior class is full of countless tales of bravery and has inspired epic stories and beautiful works of art!
The traditional samurai developed over a large period of time, becoming the unifying element of a dysfunctional Japan and one of the most significant cultural symbols of the country's long history. The term came from saburai which referred to those who served closely with nobility and referred to a familial class also known as the bushi.
The samurai have been known as the pinnacle of the warring culture that makes up much of Japan's feudal period. Their recognizable armor not only provided a fierce visage but developed over time to offer strength and flexibility. Not only did these elite soldiers defend Japan from Mongol and Chinese invaders time and again but they rose to political prominence under various shogunites--trained not only in the art of war but as scholars, writers, and artists.
Samurai developed strict guidelines, known as bushido, that defined honor in their society and placed great importance on familial ties and unwavering loyalty to their immediate masters and the emperor. Their swords or katana became legendary for their flexibility and strength and the right to wear them publicly and wield them punitively to anyone who dishonored them was a rare privilege.
Historical dramas about samurai known as Jidaigeki have been staples of Japanese film, stage and TV. The legend of the samurai has had an impact across a myriad of genres from anime to westerns. Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai was directly remade in the setting of the wild west as The Magnificient Seven starring Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, Steve McQueen and more and his Yojimba became the Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars starring Clint Eastwood.