Blog for 5/25/18

What are some Samurai ideals that appear in the Heike?

As romanticized and exaggerated as the Western portrayals of Samurai and other aspects of Japanese culture are, they are based in some truth. Some Samurai ideals that were present in the Heike reading include ideas about Samurai that we talked about yesterday in class. Such ideals include an idea of honor in battle; the idea that it is better to die fighting a worthy opponent or at their own hand than it is to flee or be captured. In fact, it seems that many of these warriors entered battle and war fully expecting and prepared to die. However, Western portrayals rarely focus on the importance of poetry to the Samurai and the fact that they were poets themselves. In the Heike books, this duality of Samurai is clear throughout the stories. In the “Death of Tadanori” warriors on both sides lament after his death, “A man skilled both in both arms and the practice of poetry, a true commanding general!” and after it is stated “And there were none who did not wet their sleeves with tears” (743). This shows how everyone was able to universally appreciate the greatness of this Samurai due to his prestige in battle and his ability of poetry.

 

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