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50 Samurai Quotes to Live Your Life With Honor

It’s likely that you have heard of a Samurai sword, but how much do you know about the Samurai who wielded them? What were the duties of a Samurai? Were there special qualities the Samurai possessed? What kind of rules were the Samurai expected to follow? Keep reading through these Samurai quotes to learn the answers to these questions and more, including how they felt about their homes!

In medieval, and early-modern Japan (from the 12th until the 1870s), the Samurai were hereditary military nobility and officers. They were paid well to be the defenders of the daimyo (the great feudal landholders).

Samurai were held in high regard and afforded special privileges, like wearing two swords. The Samurai crafted the bushido code. This code is the rule of the Samurai and governs their martial virtues, views on pain and death, loyalty, and conduct in battle. These quotes delve deep into some of their beliefs like Seppuku.

Don’t forget to also check out these Japanese quotes and proverbs on wise everyday life to help you.

Samurai quotes and sayings about Seppuku and not fearing death

1. “The samurai who failed his lord suffered a dishonor worse than death. There was only one way to erase the disgrace. The samurai must commit seppuku, sometimes called hara-kiri, or belly-slitting. In this horribly painful suicide, the dishonored samurai used a short sword to cut open his belly and release his spirit.” ― Virginia Schomp

2. “My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” ― Elon Musk

3. “Samurai are born to die. Death is not a curse to be avoided — but the natural end of all life. Death is not eternal…dishonor is.” ― Rick Remender

4. “The way of the samurai is found in death. When it comes to either or, there is only the quick choice of death. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and advance.” ― Nabeshima Naoshige

5. “The samurai swore an oath of loyalty to their leader and would fight to the death to protect him or her. This oath made the samurai even more fearsome on the battlefield because the samurai were not afraid of death.” ― Jim Ollhoff

6. “Engage in combat fully determined to die and you will be alive; wish to survive in the battle and you will surely meet death.” ― Uesugi Kenshin

7. “The samurais were very interested in Zen because they admired the tremendous precision that the Zen Masters had, their lack of fear and pain and their absolute lack of fear of death.” ― Frederick Lenz

8. “Generally speaking, the way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death.” ― Miyamoto Musashi

9. “A samurai should always be prepared for death – whether his own or someone else’s.” ― Stan Sakai

Samurai quotes from Tommy Ito

10. “The story of the samurai warriors charts the rise and fall of the most skilled and courageous group of elite combatants the world has ever seen.” ― Tommy Ito

11. “Although the samurai are well-known for their use of the sword, they began as skilled mountain archers, and used a variety of weapons, including longbows, spears, and firearms.” ― Tommy Ito

12. “Two of the most remarkable aspects of samurai culture are bushido, a strict philosophy which places absolute loyalty to the master above all else, and seppuku— ritual suicide, performed in preference to dishonor.” ― Tommy Ito

13. “Growing a mustache was one of the disciplines of a samurai so that his head would not be thrown away upon his death.” ― Tommy Ito

14. “A child born into a samurai family was immersed in warrior culture from its first breath. During its birth, a priest, or the baby’s father, pulled a drawstring so that the twanging sound might ward off evil spirits. The future samurai was presented with a small sword talisman to wear from infancy.” ― Tommy Ito

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15. “Samurai girls did not receive formal education, but they were expected to run their husband’s estate while they were away at war.” ― Tommy Ito

Samurai warrior quotes about Bushido, the code of honor

16. “The Samurai lived by a code of honor, not unlike the code that you live by. It’s called the Bushido. It was never written down; was always something the Samurai knew, and it was handed down from one warrior to another.” ― Kenneth Eade

17. “I look at the Samurai because they were the artists of their time. What I think struck me when I read Bushido is compassion. ‘If there’s no one there to help, go out and find someone to help.’ That hit me because I try to lead my life like that.” ― Tom Cruise

18. “Samurai culture did exist really, for hundreds of years and the notion of people trying to create some sort of a moral code, the idea that there existed certain behaviors that could be celebrated and that could be operative in a life.” ― Edward Zwick

19. “A samurai chooses to serve a master and does it out of respect and love, not because they are forced. Service to them is not demeaning; service is an expression of their prowess and their pride; they serve because only they are strong enough to serve with such flawless perfection and such consummate ability. It is a source of pride to them.” ― Alexei Maxim Russell

20. “The samurai code of honor affected every part of their lives.” ― Jim Ollhoff

21. “Bushido as an independent code of ethics may vanish, but its power will not perish from the earth; its schools of martial prowess or civic honor may be demolished, but its light and its glory will long survive their ruins.” ― Inazo Nitobe

22. “Bushidō is about experiencing life in every breath. Seeing life in the simplest of things. There is beauty and honor in that.” ― Renée Ahdieh

23. “Bushido refers not only to martial rectitude but personal rectitude. We understand that in serving each other we serve our own interests. In serving our world, our world serves us. Allowing us to live in harmony with it.” ― Rick Remender

Short Samurai quotes and captions

24. “The Samurai always has to rise and move on, because new challenges will come.” ― Lyoto Machida

25. “As a samurai, I must strengthen my character; as a human being I must perfect my spirit.” ― Yamaoka Tesshu

26. “A samurai must remain calm at all times even in the face of danger.” ― Chris Bradford

27. “It’s actually the samurai spirit, which is ‘no fear and never give up.” ― Enson Inoue

28. “Everyone feels fear. What a samurai or warrior is, is what you do when you feel fear.” ― Enson Inoue

29. “The word samurai translates to ‘those who served.’” ― Blake Hoena

30. “A samurai was essentially a man of action.” ― Inazo Nitobe

31. “My philosophy is the same as a Samurai: To hit without getting hit.” ― Lyoto Machida

32. “Be a Samurai. Because you just never know what’s behind the freaking sky.” ― Laini Taylor

33. “The true meaning of the ‘samurai’ is one who serves and adheres to the power of love.” ― Morihei Ueshiba

Samurai quotes about their homes and swords

34. “Every samurai home had a soothing, artistically designed garden that served as a hideaway for thought and prayer.” ― Virginia Schomp

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35. “The samurai castle is the grandest example of the blending of beauty and practicality in the Japanese arts.” ― Virginia Schomp

36. “The size of a samurai’s house depended on his rank, but all shared the same basic design.” ― Virginia Schomp

37. “Working on the samurai sword is very different because your body position has to be very still. It’s a much quieter way of fighting.” ― Lucy Liu

38. “Katana, the sword of Samurai too became an integral part of the warriors at that time. As the honor of the Samurai resided in his sword, the craftsmanship or making the perfect Katana grew as an art.” ― Sreechinth C.

39. “The sword was a very elegant weapon in the days of the samurai. You had honor and chivalry much like the knights, and yet it was a gruesome and horrific weapon.” ― Dustin Diamond

Samurai quotes from Yamamoto Tsunetomo

40. “A samurai will use a toothpick even though he has not eaten. Inside the skin of a dog, outside the hide of a tiger.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

41. “The person who practices an art is an artist, not a samurai, and one should have the intention of being called a samurai.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

42. “This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai: if by setting one’s heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he gains freedom in the Way. his whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

43. “I have found that the Way of the samurai is death. This means that when you are compelled to choose between life and death, you must quickly choose death.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

44. “Bushido is realized in the presence of death. In the case of having to choose between life and death, you should choose death. There is no other reasoning.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

45. “It is bad when one thing becomes two. One should not look for anything else in the Way of the Samurai. If one understands things in this manner, he should be able to hear about all Ways and be more and more in accord with his own.” ― Yamamoto Tsunetomo

Samurai quotes about their history

46. “To a great extent, the story of a samurai has been the story of Japan during most of the past millennium, and it is surely premature to relegate the samurai tradition entirely to the past.” ― Stephen Turnbull

47. “Samurai were feudal lords who mostly ruled farmland. But as more and more people moved to larger cities, such as Tokyo, the samurai began to lose their influence and wealth.” ― Blake Hoena

48. “As the samurai’s influence grew, so did their status in Japanese society. They went from being professional soldiers to land-owning nobles. The most powerful of these lords were called daimyos.” ― Blake Hoena

49. “The samurai no longer exist. But even today, they capture our imagination with their skill, their loyalty, and their fearlessness.” ― Jim Ollhoff

50. “The word Samurai itself is a synonym as they are the great ferocious aristocratic warriors in the history of the country.” ― Sreechinth C.

Samurai quotes about their lives

51. “New eras don’t come about because of swords, they’re created by the people who wield them.”  –Watsuki Nobuhiro 

52. “I dreamt of worldly success once.”  –Miyamoto Musashi 

53. “In the Kamigata area, they have a sort of tiered lunchbox they use for a single day when flower viewing. Upon returning, they throw them away, trampling them underfoot. The end is important in all things.”  –Yamamoto Tsunetomo

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54. “There is no greater solitude than that of the samurai unless it is that of the tiger in the jungle… Perhaps…”  –Jean-Pierre Melville 

55. “Rehearse your death every morning and night. Only when you constantly live as though already a corpse (jōjū shinimi) will you be able to find freedom in the martial Way, and fulfill your duties without fault throughout your life.”  –Yamamoto Tsunetomo

56. “The Way of the warrior (bushido) is to be found in dying.”  –Yamamoto Tsunetomo

57. “At times because of one man’s evil, ten thousand people suffer. So you kill that one man to let the tens of thousands live. Here, truly, the blade that deals death becomes the sword that saves lives.”  –Yamamoto Tsunetomo

58. “At the moment of victory, tighten the straps of your helmet.” –Tokugawa Ieyasu 

59. “There is even rhythm in being empty.”  –Miyamoto Musashi

60.“Becoming the opponent means you should put yourself in an opponent’s place and think from the opponent’s point of view.” –Miyamoto Musashi

Samurai Quotes about Being a True Warrior

61. “Honour may not win power, but it wins respect. And respect earns power.” – Ishida Mitsunari

62. “Victory is reserved for those who are willing to pay its price.” Sun Tzu

63. “Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.” Miyamoto Musashi

64. “See first with your mind, then with your eyes, and finally with your body.” – Yagyu Munenori

65. “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” – Archilochus

66. “Without Knowledge, Skill cannot be focused. Without Skill, Strength cannot be brought to bear and without Strength, Knowledge may not be applied.” Alexander the Great

67. “Civilize the mind but make savage the body.” Mao Zedong

68. “I’m not a fighter, but in my mind I’m fighting every day. ‘What’s new? What am I doing?’ I’m fighting myself. My soul is samurai. My roots aren’t samurai, but my soul is.” – Masaharu Morimoto

69. “Master the divine techniques of the Art of Peace and no enemy will dare to challenge you.” – Morihei Ueshiba

70. “The undisturbed mind is like the calm body water reflecting the brilliance of the moon. Empty the mind and you will realize the undisturbed mind.” – Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi

What did you learn from these Samurai quotes?

They were not always referred to as Samurai. The Japanese traditionally called the men bushi (武士, [bɯ.ɕi]), which means “warrior”. The Chinese character, 侍 was originally a verb that meant ‘to wait upon’, or ‘accompany persons’ in the upper crust of society.

Translators discovered a reference to the word samurai in the Kokin Wakashū (a 10th-century work). By the end of the 12th century, samurai became synonymous with the word bushi, which is why today they are most commonly known as Samurai.

The Bushido code governed the Samurai’s behavior. It is still used in martial arts today and is a good code for life. The eight codes within the Bushido are justice, courage, mercy, politeness, honesty, honor, loyalty, and self-control. The Samurai lived this code in their daily life, and not just on the battlefield.

The most noted weapons associated with the Samurai are Japanese swords. These swords include the Chokutō, which had a straight blade. The Tachi had a curved blade and preceded the Katana. The swords are awe-inspiring, especially if you see them up close!

Do you have any other favorite Samurai quotes and sayings to add? Share them with us in the comment section below.

Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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