A warrior with sword raised, pierced by arrows and bleeding from numerous wounds; from series ‘Heroes of Taiheiki’


The Samurai philosophy of giri (duty) and chugi (loyalty) are the twin pillars on which nearly 700 years of Japanese military history rest. A samurai’s main concern was to display loyalty to his lord (or daimyo), his family and to society; in fact the term samurai comes from the verb “Saburu” which means ‘to serve.’ Beginning with the civil war known as the Gempeii War, which placed the first shogun (commander of the Japanese army) in power in 1185, until Commodore Perry steamed into Tokyo Harbour in 1853, the samurai, under their commander-in-chief, the shogun, ruled Japan.

The Samurai collection includes such topics as Arms and Armour – the weapons and protective wear used by the samurai, the 47 Ronin – a true story which illustrates samurai loyalty, Bushido – the code by which the samurai lived, and Noh Theatre - a type of play both performed and enjoyed by samurai.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans