Students will use images of samurai armor and weaponry to learn related vocabulary. They will describe the functional and aesthetic aspects of armor through focused viewing and reading, and they will draw conclusions about the changing code of the samurai over the course of 800 years.
The term, bushido, is often used to describe the samurai warrior code during medieval and modern times. The definition refers to a late 19th century description and was actually quite different than codes from earlier times. Compare warrior codes from different times with the modern definition of bushido. Then, choose which code you think matches the samurai in the screen painting, the Battles at Ichi-no-tani and Yashima, from The Tale of the Heike.
Students will discuss the ways in which spiritual belief supported and enhanced the military function and cultural values of the samurai. They will experience this practice through an ink painting activity.
Compare the famous excerpt of the Battle at Yashima (1185) from The Tale of the Heike with the painting of the Battles at Ichi-no-tani and Yashima, from The Tale of the Heike to analyze how artists and writers have portrayed the life and experiences of a samurai warrior.
Elementary School (K-3),Elementary School (4-5),Middle School (6-8)
Lesson or Activity
Sword making is a refined and highly scientific art that is revered in Japan. A sword guard (tsuba) is a metal guard on a samurai sword between the handgrip and the blade. It protects the hand from sliding onto the sharp edge of the blade. Sword guards vary in shape and design and were carved or molded. Use the templates or create your own shape and design a sword guard.