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It depended on the time period. The earliest version of samurai came about in the 8th and 9th century when Emperor Kammu was attempting to crush a rebellion of the Emishi people in Japan. Since his army was mostly made up of untrained and undisciplined conscripts, the campaign was largely a failure. To that end, he introduced the title of Shogun, who was to be to leader of several regional clans of warriors who were charged with putting down the Emishi rebellion. After the campaign was over, and over the next few hundred years, these clans grew in power and influence, although the title of shogun largely faded away. They assumed positions and titles of ministers, and others in their family or in their good graces would buy or otherwise obtain titles of power and influence in the regions that these warrior-clans controlled. Through a combination of protection agreements between one another, political marriages, and force, they attained a large degree of political influence and power. They accumulated a great deal of wealth by imposing taxes on the farmers who lived on the lands under their control. As greater wealth was needed to bolster their military power as well as make deals with other clan leaders and politicians, these taxes could be quite heavy. This caused a large numbers of farmers to end up landless, and essentially tied to the clan leaders that were in control of their region. This laid the foundation for the Japanese feudal system. However, in some cases, these farmers would band together in the same manner that the regional clansmen had done initially. By allying themselves with other farming communities, some of these groups were able to resist being controlled by the existing regional clans, and essentially became similar entities themselves. Around this time, the foundation of Samurai beliefs was laid: the principles of Bushido. Arguably, this is when the first true Samurai 'emerged' in that they were a warrior class who followed the ideal of Bushi. Also during this time, the clans amassed enough wealth, manpower, resources, and political influence to rival if not surpass the aristocracy. There were a number of clashes between the Samurai clans after this time, while they essentially vied for supremacy with one another. Two notable clans in the 12th century were the Tairo clan and the Minamoto clan, which clashed twice, both of which had influential results. The Tairo clan emerged victorious after the first clash, and the leader of that clan, Tairo no Kiyomori, became the first Samurai to hold the title of imperial advisor. He later seized control of the government, after which point the Emperor became primarily a figurehead title. This was the first time that the government had been dominated by the Samurai. Later, when the Tairo and Minamoto clans clashed again, Minamoto was the victor. He declared himself Shogun, and was in every relevant way the head of the Japanese government. It was during this time that the Samurai began to adopt (and adapt) some of the features of the aristocracy; when they engaged in things such as art, calligraphy, music, and poetry. The popular view of Samurai as noblemen, the counterpart of Western knights, stems from this period onward. Thus, to 'become' a Samurai between the 8th and 15th centuries, one essentially had to be born into or absorbed somehow into one of these warrior clans. By the time Samurai has established themslves as the leaders of the Japanese government, the title was largely hereditary. People didn't simply become Samurai. This however, would change in the centuries to follow. From the 15th to the 17th centuries, Japan was embroiled in a series of many, many conflicts between regional lords (Daimyo). This was known as the Sengoku Jidai, or the warring states period. Essentially, because the government was headed by Samurai, there were warriors in control of every province of Japan. These provinces were headed by feudal lords, or Daimyo. These Daimyo had their own ranks of Samurai who were loyal explicitly to them. For many different reasons, these Daimyo clashed with each other in efforts to gain more wealth, power, influence, or resources. Such a long and sustained period of conflict led to a need for more and more warriors. Thus, individuals who were skilled warriors essentially could become Samurai by performing in the service of a Daimyo. By the end of the warring states period, the distinction between Samurai and non-Samurai was almost non-existant. Most adult men of almost every social class were at some point serving in a military, and military (as well as many aspects of social) life was dictated by the ideals of Bushido. A large number of Samurai families which lasted until the late 1800s sprang up during this time period. Thus, to become a Samurai during the warring states period was comparatively easy. One could do it through distinguished service in the military, or in some cases service in the administration of the government. The warring states period ended after a series of three powerful Daimyo unified Japan. The first, Oda Nobunaga, was the Daimyo largely responsible for unifying many if not most of Japan's Daimyo under his banner. He was in turn murdered by one of his generals, which opened the opportunity for another of his generals, Toyotomi Hideyoshi to take control. Hideyoshi continued the process of unifying the Daimyo and consolidating his power. However, he died somewhat suddenly. Before he did, he appointed a council of the five most powerful Lords in Japan, who were to rule until Toyotomi Hideyoshi's son was old enough to rule. Before that happened, one of the appointed lords died, and Ieyasu was accused of disloyalty to the established rule of the Toyotomis. This prompted a battle, which Ieyasu won, and he established what would become known as the Tokugawa Shogunate. This would be the military government of Japan until the Meiji restoration, when Japan underwent a thorough and rapid period of modernization and westernization. Under Tokugawa, the ability of common people to ascend to the rank of Samurai was ended. Samurai became a restricted and hereditary title, and furthermore was reserved only for those Samurai families who had followed Nobunaga, Toyotomi, and himself. Many other samurai were either killed or largely abandoned their titles and became reabsorbed into the non-samurai population. Many others became Ronin, or masterless Samurai. So, from the 17th century on, no one could become a Samurai without being born into one of the families which had been established by law by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Not even Tom Cruise.

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Q: How did the Ancient Japanese become Samurai?
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Related questions

What is the ancient Japanese warriors called?

They were called Samurais. Hope this helps ♥

Why is samurai important to japaness people?

the samurai was only a very high class in ancient Japanese culture and were a high rank in the Japanese armies.

What were the Japanese also known as in war?

Their ancient name was "Samurai"; during WWII Japanese or Nipponese.

What was the ancient Japanese warriors called?

They were called samurai, which came from the verb "saburau" meaning "to serve."

Do you have to be a samurai if you're Japanese living in Japan?

No. The samurai were a warrior class and were a cut above your common foot soldier. You would have to be trained to become one.

What is the word Samurai when translated from English to Japanese?

侍 /sa mu rai/ is originally a Japanese word. It means 'warrior, samurai' in English.

Were the samurai Chinese or Japanese?


What was the ancient Japanese social classes?

Emperor, Shogun, Daimyo, Samurai*, Peasants, Artisan, and Merchants. *There are also Ronin, which are Samurai without a Daimyo (because he/she was killed, committed seppuku, etc.).

Is a samurai sword Japanese or Chinese?

Samurai were from Japan, and the samurai sword is from Japan.

What is the word Samurai in Japanese?

samuri is samuri in Japanese but the collective is bushi a samurai, many bushi

What were challenges for a samurai?

Ancient knights and Japanese samurais were trained to fight against difficult circumstances. They were willing to die for the cause for which they were fighting.

The Meiji Restoration abolished traditional Japanese class system including the upper class of samurai. Many samurai rebelled against this change. However many other samurai?

the answer to this question is a