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  • A Japanese woodblock print of a Samurai.
  • Magnifying Glass

Japanese Woodblock Print of Samurai.
By Harunobu, 18th century.
© The Art Archive/CORBIS

Asia

Japan

The samurai, or warrior class, rose to power in the 12th century, and after centuries of civil war the Tokugawa shogunate established a two-hundred and fifty year-long period of peace known as the Edo period (1603-1867). Bushido, or the Way of the Warrior, demanded unwavering loyalty, self sacrifice, martial spirit and honour. Footwear, was part of a samurai's armour; the use of bear symbolized the strength of the warrior.