Are There Samurais in Japan? Let’s Explore Japanese Culture and History.

samurai Japan Guide

The belief that there are samurais in Japan has become an intriguing aspect of foreign interest in Japanese history and culture. Samurais are seen as iconic figures embodying virtues such as bravery, honor, and loyalty, making them a recognized symbol of Japan for foreigners. They encounter the image of samurais through movies and literary works, and are drawn to their charm.

However, in modern Japan, the existence of samurais has become part of history and is not visible in everyday life. Nonetheless, foreigners believing in the existence of samurais is evidence of their deep fascination with Japanese history and culture, demonstrating their understanding and interest in a different culture.

The Origin and History of Samurai


“Samurai, known as warriors in ancient Japan, existed from the medieval period to the early modern period. The origin of samurai can be traced back to the Heian period (794-1185).

During the Heian period, the samurai established their position and role as warriors. They served their lords, fought on the battlefield, and protected lands and territories. Samurai trained in martial arts such as swordsmanship and horsemanship, while upholding values of loyalty and the samurai code.

In the 12th to 13th centuries, the status of the samurai further elevated. The Kamakura period (1185-1333) witnessed the rise of samurai with political power and the establishment of the shogunate system. The shogunate governed the samurai clans and defined the social status of samurai.

In the subsequent Muromachi period (1333-1573), the role of samurai underwent changes. With a decrease in warfare and the onset of a peaceful era, samurai developed an interest in culture and the arts. Samurai life emphasized not only martial arts training but also pursuits like poetry, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and etiquette.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the status of samurai was further strengthened. Under the rule of the Edo shogunate, samurai enjoyed privileges and held economic power. However, their roles evolved even in times of peace, requiring them to fulfill social responsibilities such as serving their lords and receiving moral education.

In the Meiji period (1868-1912), as Japan modernized, the class system of samurai was abolished, and the samurai class disappeared. Nevertheless, the image of samurai and the spirit of bushido (the way of the samurai) continue to influence modern Japanese culture.

Samurai played a significant role in Japanese history, with their bravery and loyalty highly regarded.”

Reasons to Believe There Are Samurais in Japan

Foreigners believing that there are samurais in Japan can be attributed to several factors, primarily:

Influence of Movies and TV Dramas

Popular Japanese movies and TV dramas that are well-received abroad often depict historical settings and samurai culture. These media have a significant impact on shaping the image of Japan for foreigners, contributing to the belief in the existence of samurais.

Tourism Industry and Advertising


Japan is a popular tourist destination, and samurai culture is an appealing aspect for visitors. Japanese tourism operators and advertising agencies leverage the image of samurais to attract foreigners, resulting in some believing that samurais actually exist.

Folklore and Legends

Some foreigners may believe in folklore or legends that suggest samurais secretly exist in modern Japan. The same applies to ninjas. These stories are based on Japanese mythology and traditional tales, making them appealing elements for some foreigners.

Cultural Misunderstandings


The belief in the existence of samurais among foreigners may stem from a lack of understanding of Japanese history and culture. Historically, samurais existed during the Sengoku and Edo periods, shaping the culture of bushido (the way of the warrior) and martial arts. However, in modern Japan, encountering samurais in everyday life is rare.

Please note that while the concept of samurais continues to captivate the imagination of people around the world, the actual practice of samurai culture as it existed in the past is no longer a part of contemporary Japan.

For these reasons, some foreigners may believe in the existence of samurais.

“I Witnessed a Samurai in the Past!?”


When elderly individuals claim to have seen samurais in Japan in the past, it is likely based on misunderstandings or misconceptions stemming from experiences such as visiting film or drama sets or encountering individuals dressed in samurai cosplay. In particular, scenes where people dressed as samurais frequent restaurants and other establishments are common in tourist areas or entertainment venues.

Please note that while these encounters or claims may contribute to the belief in samurais, they are often based on misinterpretations or experiences related to the entertainment industry rather than the actual existence of samurais in contemporary Japan.

So, you happened to witness someone dressed as a samurai while they were out for lunch, likely for the purpose of a film shoot. This led you to mistakenly believe that there were actual samurais present. In the past, when there was limited access to information through the internet or smartphones, such encounters may have been one of the reasons for such misconceptions.

Therefore, even if someone claims to have actually seen a samurai, it is highly likely that it is based on experiences related to the world of movies, dramas, or interactions with cosplayers. It does not necessarily mean that they directly witnessed the physical presence of historically existing samurais.

This understanding is common, and the image of samurais has been widely spread through media such as movies and dramas, influencing people who are interested in Japanese culture. As a result, claims of directly witnessing the existence of samurais should be understood as based on entertainment experiences rather than being factual representations of historical reality.



Unfortunately, in Japan, there are no real samurai who carry traditional swords like in the past. Carrying weapons such as swords in public is illegal and can lead to arrest. However, you may have the chance to witness such scenes in entertainment, like dramas or film sets. While the outward appearance of samurai has become less common, the spirit of “samurai spirit” still exists within the hearts of the Japanese people.

The samurai spirit refers to the moral and ethical values that the samurai of Japan were expected to uphold. It encompasses virtues such as loyalty, courtesy, bravery, compassion, sincerity, honor, and self-discipline. The samurai spirit served as a guideline for samurai to become better human beings. This spirit still resonates within the hearts of the Japanese people today.

I also recommend embracing the samurai spirit and enjoying Japanese culture.