There comes a time in every kid’s life when he starts wishing he was a brave warrior in ancient Japan cutting down hordes of treacherous ninjas like jonesing crack addicts cut random pedestrians for drug money. In many cases, the dream of becoming a samurai forever remains a fantasy, but considering all the stuff they never told you about these oriental warriors, it might have been for the best. You see… 5.The Samurai Were Rampaging Pedophiles It’s nice to imagine that after a hard day’s work of slashing worthless enemies and being honorable, a typical samurai would retire to his room to meditate on the nature of life and death while sharpening his sword in preparation for tomorrow’s murder filled activities. In reality however, most of them relaxed atop a pasty 12 year old boy clenching his teeth and hoping the “master” will be “done” with him soon. This type or relationship, akin to the Greek pederasty, was known as Shudō (meaning “The Way of the Young”) in medieval Japan all the way up to the 19th century. It was an officially and widely encouraged form of apprenticeship between an experienced samurai and a young boy, established to form strong, basically lover-like bonds between two warriors. Back then it was believed that sexual relations with women weakened the mind and body, but that there was nothing better for one’s battle spirit than having rough bum sex with other men… until your young partner became a full pledged warrior (i.e. an adult). That was when the butt-love stopped because it was no longer considered appropriate. Hey, who knew that NAMBLA was founded on the principles of the samurai code? 4.The Samurai Were About As Faithful As a Lonely Housewife in a Porn Flick We’ve all heard how it supposedly was with the samurai: they would sooner perform impromptu bowel surgery on themselves before bringing shame to their master by surrendering to the enemy. Unfortunately, real life very rarely was that dramatic. While you certainly can find examples of such deeply troubled individuals in the annals of Japanese history, the majority of samurai tended to change allegiances (that is “masters”) more often than most of us change our underwear. During the Sengoku period of Japan—literally “Country at War”—dozens of small time warlords literarily tore up the countryside fighting each other, trying to gain control over the archipelago. If every guy in their ranks killed himself the minute their side lost, the entire samurai population of Japan would have been reduced to nothing more than a handful of schmucks who were out sick the day this s?*t was going down. Coming over to the strongest guy’s camp was a pretty standard thing to do in feudal Japan, and it definitely wasn’t in bad taste to bring your former employer’s head as a present for the new boss. 3.At One Point, the Samurai Simply Quit Their Jobs Everyone who has seen “The Last Samurai” usually comes to the logical conclusion it was the cold uncircumcised sting of technology and “modernity” that killed off this proud class of Asian warriors. Because, hey, it wasn’t like almost all of the samurai have given up on warrioring decades before the West came knocking on Japan’s door, right? Right? Yeah, about that… when the Sengoku period of Japan ended and Tokugawa Ieyasu became the undisputed ruler of a new unified country, there came an era of peace… aka the warrior’s worst enemy. With no domestic enemies to speak of and the country completely cutting itself off from the rest of the world, the samurai found themselves hungry and without work. It was the era of the masterless samurai, the Ronin, traveling the Land of the Rising Sun with a sign that read “Will be a noble fighter for food”. There did remain a very small fraction of samurai clans but only those who were smart enough to rent themselves out as body guards to lesser royalty or wealthier guilds. The rest simply sold off their swords (the very thing they used to call their “souls”) and became either merchants or farmers. Speaking of which… 2.The Samurai Weren’t That Different From Farmers The Samurai were a very diverse social group. Among the non-aristocrats they certainly stood above everyone else but in the samurai social hierarchy, you could find both: a) warriors who were basically the politicians of their times, greatly respected and feared, and also b) the ones who only owned 3 square feet of land in some one-chicken village in the farthest corners of the country. Guess which group was the largest. Their dominion over the land was unquestionable, no one is arguing that, but it was common for these so called warriors to live with the local peasants in very close communities, the only thing separating them from the plebs was that their hut was bigger than the rest’s. Not by much though. Oh sure, when it came to ganging up on some local a?*hole the samurai kicked more a?* than a nuclear powered a?*-kicking machine, but rest of the year they had lands to govern, crops to plant and harvest, and the middle to low level samurai did most of that stuff themselves, as in by using their own 2 hands. Not really something they covered in the Bushido Code. Oh right… 1.There Was No Such Thing as the Bushido Code As in, there never was a written down, revised or reviewed set of rules on how to be an archetypal bada?* warrior of an oriental feudal land. The Bushido Code / The Way of the Warrior, is in the same league as the “code” of washing your hands after peeing. Everyone knows it, it’s not actually codified in any law books and not that many people follow it. The Code was more of an idea of ancient Japanese chivalry. Usually people who weren’t warriors themselves expected them to act accordingly to it. The problem is, a life strictly by the (nonexistent) Bushido book often got you killed – not really everyone’s cup of tea. It is not to say that all samurai were opportunistic cowards with less right to walk the Earth than a rabid weasel with AIDS. They simply, like all rational humans, thought of survival first and honor second. And that (like it or not) very often called for them to be cunning, to switch sides and to stab family members in the back. You can talk about honor and s?*t like that till you are blue in the face, but it doesn’t count for squat if one day your entire clan gets wiped out because you bet on the wrong bastard to win the war.