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The Samurai
In the Heian period, the imperial court relied on agriculture, produced in distant estates.
The wealthy landowners of these estates hired warriors to defend themselves from raids by local chieftains.
By the 12th century, political power had shifted significantly away from the Emperor.
The Genpei War of 1180 to 1185, pitted the Taira clan with sworn loyalty to the emperor,
against the Minamoto clan.
And the Minamoto's victory established the Kamakura Shogunate, a hereditarian military dictatorship.
The samurai warrior trained by serving under his master,
and following a strict code called Bushido,
the way of the warrior.
In battle, the warrior would decapitate his defeated enemy and mount the head on a spike.
For a samurai who was facing defeat or dishonor,
Seppuku or Harakiri was performed.
This involved the warrior committing suicide by cutting his belly with a dagger.
As part of Bushido,
samurai who had lost their master were also expected to commit Harakiri.
Those who did not Ronin or difters,
often there was a stigma attached to being masterless Ronin,
and many found other ways to make a living with their swords,
becoming mercenaries or turning to crime.
Samurais were experts in fighting both on horseback and on the ground
They used a variety of weapons:
bows & arrows, spears and eventually guns.
However, their main and most symbolic weapon was the sword.
In the late 13th century,
Masamune Okazaki invented the unique dual of soft and hard steel,
that is one of the key characteristics of the katana
The sword came to have great significance
and eventually samurai would carry two types:
the katana, a long sword
and the wakizashi, a short sword.
In the 15th century, the Shogun's power was waning,
and a century long period of fighting for dominance,
between (the daimyōs) local lords began,
Warring States period.
Oda Nobunaga succeeded in uniting half of the clans in the late 16th century.
But he was betrayed by one of his vessels
and committed Seppuku
before the national unification was completed.
Stability was finally brought in the 17th century,
with the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogunate
headed by Tokugawa Ieyasu.
At this point, the social order was also frozen with the samurai at the top of the social hierarchy.
However, despite their high social position,
the material well-being of many samurai began to decline.
With relatively stable peace,
the importance of martial skills declined.
And many samurai took on careers as bureaucrats or teachers.


侍の歴史~平安から江戸まで~ ( The Samurai )

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Shinichiro 2019 年 11 月 7 日 に公開
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