Dr. Linda Johnson
Samurai Warriors of Japan
"Ivan Morris has identified the important role of the failed hero in Japanese history. How have representations of samurai contributed to the development of "nobility of failure"-the tragic heroes of Japan?"
Sometimes losing can be nobler that winning. With true effort and sincere goals in mind losers can be looked up to as heroes. Throughout Japan's history many failed heroes set the basis for the nation's beliefs, morals and ethics. Three very beloved, yet tragic heroes of Japan-Yamato Takeru, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, and Kusunoki Masashigu-all embellish the idea of Ivan Morris's notion of the "nobility of failure". Although their careers are short-lived, these three heroes rise above all other samurai warriors throughout Japanese history. They define Morris's idea of the failed hero through their all enrapturing ability to show true sincerity. For these three heroes, candor is rooted so deeply in their hearts that they would be immediately willing to die in honor of a loyalist cause.
Because failure for each hero is basically inevitable, the Japanese develop a deep sense of empathy for the heroes. The compliance towards each heroes' death is done out of utter loyalty for their lord. Even though they fail, they fail with remarkable sincerity, making them honorable legends in the eyes of the Japanese.
Reckless and merciless in character, Yamato Takeru shows early loyalty and obedience to his father, Emperor Keiko.1 As an assassin, Yamato is assigned mission after mission by the emperor, each successfully completed and reported to the emperor by Yamato.2 However, the young warrior becomes tired of fighting as a result of no break given by the emperor.3 Because of this Yamato is prone to failure and anticipated to die an early death. Even though the odds are against him, Yamato's...