Samurais we’re considered military nobility and officers of medieval and early modern Japan. In Chinese, the kanji for samurai was a verb that meant to wait upon or a company persons.
While only less than 10% of Japan’s population were samurais, their teachings are still found today in daily day life and in modern Japanese martial arts. They served as the enforcement for the ruling shogunate and helped gain rule over the country during the 12th century.
In 1854, Japan finally decided to open it’s ports for international trade and these portraits were found. These pictures capture the final years of the existence of samurais in 1868. There was a prohibition of wielding a sword for anyone other than the Armed Forces which led to the dissipation of the samurai class.
To this day, bushido, meaning the way of the warrior is still a thriving concept. It originates from the samurais moral values, stressing the importance of frugality, loyalty, martial arts and honor. These stunning portrait take us back in time to world seemingly so foreign to ours, yet it was only a few hundred years ago these masters roamed the earth.