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Samurai warrior. Source: DZMITRY / Adobe Stock.

Blood, Swords, and Samurai: Punishment in Feudal Japan (Video)


Medieval Japan may be known for its honor, duty, and bravery, but there was also a darker side to the Samurai clans who ruled the era. Punishments for crimes were brutal and oppressive, with extreme methods of torture used to keep the population under their control. The feudal lords of Japan were the Shogunate, military commanders appointed by the emperor to exercise military power on his behalf. By the fourteenth century, Japanese Emperors were little more than puppets, with the Shogun holding all the power.

This created a massive divide between the commoners and the samurai class, with different social statuses leading to different rights for justice. The Shogunate controlled the judicial system and were open about their superiority complex. Every crime was considered a debt, with criminals expected to repay it in kind. Punishments included burning, sawing people in half, and boiling criminals to death, making being hanged a less humiliating way to die. These are the inhumane punishment practices of Medieval Japan.

Top image: Samurai warrior. Source: DZMITRY / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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