Types of Japanese Warriors


History says that ancient Japanese warriors were a sight to behold with their colorful armor and diverse history. But what else sets them apart? From their unique fighting style and untarnished honor to the variety of classes held among the warriors, there was something truly unique about them. If you’re wondering about the different types of warriors in Japanese culture, read on to learn more from the experts at Swords of Northshire.


1. Ashigaru


The Ashigaru were Japanese samurai foot soldiers who had been used in battle since the 300s. They were introduced during the constant feudal Japan wars because there was no national army and there weren’t enough samurai to unequivocally win battles.


Ashigaru Japanese warriors started out as hired soldiers, boasting limited skills and lacking war training. They offered more numbers to the army during conflicts such as the Mongol Invasion. Despite not being as skilled as the samurai, the Ashigaru were still well-trained and armed with an assortment of similar weapons and armor including katanas.


2. Samurai


These are by far the most well-known and prominent class of Japanese warriors. This type of warrior has evolved over time to become a paragon of virtue whose members are strict followers of the Bushido code. The first Samurai fought in feudal wars or subsequently worked as tax collector bodyguards. The Samurai later became a more value-based group of soldiers operating under their own set of codes and ethics. The Samurai weaponry, armor, and training improved with time, transforming them into the now-famous figures we know today.


3. Wokou




Wokou is a Japanese term meaning Japanese pirates, and this type of warrior is true to its name. The Wokou Japanese warriors were coastline raiding pirates who operated during the 13th century. According to ancient records, Wokou were not independent pirates and operated under the command of coastal region feudal lords who used them in fulfilling their secret ventures. The Wokou were known to carefully plan and execute raids on trading vessels from small islands off the mainland of Japan. They also went after other nations including Korea and China with the sole aim of looting as instructed by their lords.


4. Sohei


This type of Japanese warrior is the Buddhist warrior monk who operated during feudal Japan. History tells us that the Sohei were constantly embroiled in numerous wars, fighting in defense of their lords and offering advice. Sohei would provide teachings in various training temples and brotherhood monasteries to pass down weapons and fighting skills to their recruits.


The Sohei armored themselves like samurai and fought similarly. However, the main difference between the two is that the Sohei used the naginata, which allowed them to easily attack and disarm horse riders.


5. Yamabushi


These Japanese warriors were lonesome mountain hermits who adhered to a strict code of ethics that forbade them from engaging in worldly pleasures according to the exclusive Shugendo traditions and lifestyle. Yamabushi means mountain warriors, and they were believed to boast special supernatural powers that led them to be considered both mystical and spiritual beings. The Yamabushi were effectively skilled in battle tactics and martial arts.


More from Swords of Northshire


All types of Japanese warriors were formidable enemies. This is a characteristic that was primarily due to the expertise in sword use. If you would like to emulate these warriors of the past with your own Japanese sword, Swords of Northshire has the selection for you. Explore our variety of ninja swords and knives to connect with these ancient warriors and experience their training methods.

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