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(from Japanese, ‘those who serve’) Warrior retainers of Japan's daimyo (feudal lords). Prominent from the 12th century, they were not a separate class until Hideyoshi limited the right to bear arms to them, after which they became a hereditary caste. Their two swords were their badge. Their conduct was regulated by Bushido (Warrior's Way), a strict code that emphasized the qualities of loyalty, bravery, and endurance. Their training from childhood was spartan. Their ultimate duty when defeated or dishonoured was seppuku, ritual self-disembowelment.

Subjects: Religion.

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