The Way of the Samurai was born in the midst of the reoccurring battles of the Sengoku Period, known as the Age of Warring States (1467-1603).Samurai believed in maintaining one’s dignity,
while also maintaining the dignity of others, even in the midst of a fierce battle.
When a peaceful era without conflict came, this way of thinking became known as ‘Bushido’. It was spread around the world by Inazo Nitobe.The ‘way’ of Bushido has been passed down to this very day. While searching for a place where it is possible to be in touch with the Samurai Spirit, we came across a castle town called Aizu-Wakamatsu City, located in the north of Japan. The essence of the way of the samurai is still alive in this place.
There is a book called The Three Cries of Aizu. The first time a visitor to Aizu weeps is in anguish when he or she has to travel there. The second time is upon realizing how kind and considerate the people are. The third time a visitor sheds tears is when it is time to leave. Aizu is one of the main cities in Fukushima, the southernmost prefecture of the Tohoku region in Japan which contains three major mountain ranges. The summers are typically hot, and the winters are cold with heavy snowfall.
One thing that took me by surprise in my travels, however, was the apparent lack of knowledge my guides had of yet another group of consisting of Aizu warriors who exemplified samurai ideals. They told me of the Shonentai and the Byakkotai, but had they known of the “Battotai” and their exploits ten years after the Boshin War, I am sure the angst caused by the unflattering historical narrative about their ancestors would be mollified considerably.