150 years from Meiji Restoration (3) 2019/04/10

Samurai’s task

Historically samurai’s main task was to defend their lands and people. However under peaceful Edo period, samurai’s task was shifted gradually toward administrative role or leaders of society instead of military performance.

During Edo period, samurai class occupied around 7% of total population. Although they worked as administrative officials at either Edo central government or reginal feudal domains, most of them never neglected their daily martial and cultural training.

They tried hard to keep and cultivate their humanity. Learning from their daily attitude, farmers and townspeople regarded Samurais as good samples of society.

Some of samurai were willing to educate children of townspeople or farmers. Consequently, at late Edo period, literacy reached over 50% in Japan or 80% in Edo area.


Toward the end of Edo period, they worried about the future of the Nation. They discussed and conflicted inside or outside respective domains how to keep independence of Japan from possible western invasion.

After several small scale civil wars with around 8200 casualties, they together established Meiji new government and they stripped their own privileges, namely feudal lords returned their people and land to Emperor, substantially newly established government and also demolished Edo‘s class system. Samurais lost their privileges together with payment in order to build modern society to compete with western nations


Most feudal lords were willing to return their lands partly because they suffered from financial problems to keep old feudal system but basically because they regarded lands and people as something temporary left in their care.


Meiji Restoration could not be done without samurai’s self-sacrifice.