Writing Samurai was an era in Japan that saw a huge increase in literacy and the use of writing technology. Samurai, merchants and peasants were able to write novels and poetry using the portable yatate (Jewel, 1998; Kato, 1997).
Yatate is a type of Japanese ink writing instrument that was invented during the Edo period in the 16th century. It looked like a small dipper and had an ink retainer on top that slid down to the side revealing a cloth that was saturated with liquid ink. The yatate was used for both drawing and writing and was a revolutionary invention at the time.
It was a portable and efficient writing device that allowed for a steady flow of ink while being light weight and extremely easy to carry around. It was also a great tool for sketching and documenting religious pilgrimages and spreading the word of Shintoism (Stutler, 2009; Marshall, 2008).
In addition to writing, a Writing Samurai was expected to meditate regularly to gain spiritual strength and discipline. Both Zen and Amida Buddhism taught the importance of meditation in reaching enlightenment and paradise. This was a very important skill to develop as it aided in the training of a samurai’s hand and the ability to be patient and calm.
A samurai was also encouraged to write about their life experiences and adventures. These stories were often published in the form of poems and novels, but there was no strict rule on what the samurai could or couldn’t write about.
During this era, samurai were viewed as the greatest leaders of their times and were regarded with respect in Japan. They were renowned for their military skills and their code of honour and loyalty.
These values were embodied in the Bushido code which was based on eight virtues: Justice, Courage, Mercy, Politeness, Honesty and Sincerity, Honor, Loyalty and Character. The code is still followed today and has become a symbol of Japanese culture.
Samurai were also known for their art and creativity. Some of their most popular works are known as haiku and Noh dramas which retell stories from the past with elaborate costumes, music and gestures.
Haiku was a form of short poetry where poets portrayed the beauty of nature or rejected love in their words. It is believed that the samurai were influenced by these poets and would later use their writing skills to become successful warriors in the warring periods of the Edo period.
The samurai were also very skilled at playing the shinobue, a stringed musical instrument that was very similar to the flute. They would perform their own pieces to their family and friends during tea ceremonies or ceremonies that celebrated festivals.
Samurai had a strong commitment to their faith, ensuring that they were faithful to their God and to their family. They also had a strong sense of honour and were very proud of their history and culture.