Famous Samurai Clans Katana Sword

The most famous Samurai clans were born out of the two most important feudal conflicts: the Genpei War (1180-1185) and the Warring States period (1467-1590). Samurai were basically great warriors of feudal Japan who deserved respect and fear because of their gracefulness in brutality and peaceful warfare. They were bound by a strict code of honor and were willing to sacrifice their own lives rather than suffer a harsh existence of dishonor. They existed as the most dominant warriors in Japan for hundreds of years, and their success in battle can be attributed to their hard work and dedication. Here are some of the most famous samurai clans that you should know about.

Clans of famous samurais

samourai sur cheval

1. Minamoto

The Minamoto were from eastern Japan and, like their main opponent, the Taira, were descendants of the imperial family. Both the Taira and the Minamoto gained popularity during the 12th century when they fought for control of Japan. When the Minamoto clan is mentioned, some of its members are remembered because of the role they played. Their greatest general, Minamoto Yoshitsune, led the victory against the Taira, and his half-brother Yoritomo created the position of shogun.

2. Taira

The Taira were the main opponents of Minamoto and their power ended when they lost the sea battle of Dan-no-Ura in 1185. This defeat led many warriors to resort to sepukku (samurai suicide out of honor) and their number is still considered today to be the largest mass suicide in samurai history.

3. Ouchi

The Ouchi are descended from a Korean prince and have played a crucial role in Japanese politics for nearly 900 years. The clan gained popularity in the early 1500s when Yoshioki, the clan leader, restored a fallen shogun. Yoshioki had a son, Yoshitaka, who was not like him because he focused on art rather than war. At some point, his servant and some warriors rebelled against him and, in embarrassment, father and son committed suicide, ending their lineage

4. Imagawa

Imagawa was one of four clans that worked hard day and night to control eastern Japan in the mid-15th century. They used cunning, war and marriage as strategies to dominate their opponents, but like the other three clans, they were overshadowed by the rise of one of Japan's most famous leaders, Oda Nobunaga.

5. Takeda

Takeda were the rivals of the Imagawa and their success can be attributed to their leader Takeda Shingen who had exceptional leadership skills and expanded the territory of his clan at the expense of his neighbors. He sent some of his people to the rice fields to provide food for the people and the trained warriors were sent to war.

Other clans :

- Tokugawa

- Asai

- Asakura

- Mori

- Ashikaga

- The Hojo

Knowing the samurai clans: in summary

Without a doubt, the samurai were the great warriors of feudal Japan. They dedicated their lives and time to fighting in wars. Probably when you hear the word samurai, what comes to mind is a single group of warriors, but surprisingly, there are different clans and if you want to know about them, our list of the most famous samurai clans will get you started. 

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