Comparative Analysis Essay: Samurai Vs Knight

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You are a feudal Knight who has traveled to feudal Japan. You visit a samurai, his daimyo, the shogun, and the emperor. Write a letter home explaining the similarities and differences you notice between these people and knights, lords, and monarchs.

  • Weapons
    • Armour
    • Training

Weapons - Samurai

    • They had a long and a short sword
    • The swords were symbols of honor and status because only samurais, daimyo, and shoguns could carry them
    • When a samurai lost his sword it was considered a great loss of honour
    • They also carried bows and arrows
    • The long sword was used in fighting
    • The short swords were used to behead an enemy or sometimes they cut off their opponents’ nose
    • If the samurai was dishonored (lost their sword) he was expected to commit ritual suicide, known as seppuku,
    • In the 1500s onwards the samurais also carried guns

Armour – Samurai

    • Laced together small pieces of leather and iron with silk thread
    • The pieces were similar in looks to fish scales
    • Together it made the armour flexible and weighed only 10kg
    • Armour was decorated for easy identification
    • Helmets had horns or frightening images to scare people as well as identify which clan the person was in
    • Shaven head and the rest drawn into a ponytail

Training – Samurai

    • Training sometimes consisted of walking barefoot in the snow or going long periods of time without food
    • Every Samurai’s first duty was to honor and obey his master
    • If a Samurai was defeated in battle, captured by the enemy or dishonored in any way they had to follow the code and commit ritual suicide, known as seppuku
    • Seppuku was taken out by using their short sword to stab themselves in the abdomen and cut across the body from left to right
    • Taking their life this way would prevent them and their family from public shame and disgrace

Weapons – Knights

    • Knights owned a long sword, wooden lance with an iron tip, metal-headed mace, battle-axe, and dagger
    • The sword was the most important weapon knights owned as it resembled the knight’s status
    • The long sword was around 1 meter in length and was to be held with both hands

Armour – Knights

    • Knights generally either fought in an army or were on guard duty in a castle

Training – Knights

    • Knights begin training in their childhood
    • A skillful knight was able to severely injure their armored enemy

Character Profile

Peyton - The name means ‘fighting man’s estate’

Age - 31 – has been training for 19 years

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Status - Experienced knight

The Japanese are very different from us Europeans and it brings me great delight to inform you about my journeys in discovering more about the Japanese.

Yours sincerely, Peyton


    1. Easton, M., Saldais, M., Smith, R., Dumovic, V. and Machar, C. (n.d.). Oxford Big Ideas Humanities 8.
    2. Cartwright, M. and Cartwright, M. (2019). The Weapons of an English Medieval Knight. [online] Ancient History Encyclopedia. Available at: [Accessed 29 Sep. 2019].
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