The Last Of The Samurai--Stunning Photos Capture The End Of The 19th Century Japanese Warriors

In feudal Japan samurai were hugely influential military class and belonged to the elite in terms of social caste. Skilled warriors, they've gone on to become iconic figures in popular culture of all forms.

Up until the 1900s they were an integral part of Japanese society, military leaders were very much dependent on them for their specialized training.

But then in 1868 came the reforms known as the Meiji Restoration when Emperor Meiji came to power and decided to introduce a more modern, Western-style army.

It meant the samurai lost their position as the country's only armed warriors. Up until Emperor Meiji they were the only people who were legally allowed to carry a sword in public, after he came to power it was a right they lost.

While samurai (also called bushi) may have now completely disappeared they have become legendary figures with their code, known as the bushidō or "Way of the Warrior," being a big part of that mythology.

It was a code influenced by the teachings and philosophy of Confucius and Zen Buddhism. Some of the principles it taught were frugal living, kindness, filial piety, honesty, and personal honour.

Below are a series of photos taken between 1862 and 1900 of the men and women that represent the last of the Japanese samurai, some in their osei-gusoku, or plated armour, some in the more casual kimonos.

0aa4e0cf881146fc14ef55ff564be6e1_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-11-5715d1029452f_880
1e58b490fd3b61d48bff9edef0dd86de_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-14-5715d10e3c0ae_880
2d31ac65da0529995018631c69f86061_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-20-5715d11c56d61_880
2fff7755f02770c554e45f28b3ce38d0_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-19-5715d119e3b04_880
05de9ab1ee4c23307f270f75be1f2b2f_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-12-5715d105b14f5_880
7ff89fd6ebfbfed772f1257667dfd24c_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-17-5715d1157fc1e_880
38cdf81edb9fe4b4c0078f293b41dd2b_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-3-5715d0ea0166a_880
82c0550f41c75b01c441afc4baa05e64_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-7-5715d0f59cf99_880
88ff071f505a7f860b23a875c3e5aab4_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-18-5715d11793521_880
408ec612ca38596462b8b4d26515c529_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-16-5715d1130d1cd_880
434a61cff439d2e24f9005df0b0c24c2_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-15-5715d1110c59c_880
5237ae97557d19d76458c18b8397ddea_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-8-5715d0f8ad90c_880
a6174c8e8e6d2b2283e00a0bd93602ef_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-2-5715d0e6740c3_880
article-0-19519989000005DC-941_634x413
article-0-19519991000005DC-752_634x408
article-0-19519999000005DC-893_634x419
article-2310033-19519981000005DC-134_634x444
article-2310033-19519985000005DC-271_634x482
c1ac1c3df1e390194bc898869ab6d4a0_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-5-5715d0ef89db2_880
c28d317d36fc6247ff078c360af4597d_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-9-5715d0fb89c14_880
c34c088f280bc9b5f44c733d97ecec7e_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-6-5715d0f2c272c_880
ca80f60bf2342bbafb8cab2781968eb3_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-4-5715d0ec76f63_880
d20b8a82c9bb396532888f6bf1968ce5_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-13-5715d10bde532_880
ee808f12d7b63462ee6f981c8047afc9_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-1-5715d0e38d1d6_880
fc91ee507122850af07806e9ba3fd03e_last-samurai-photography-japan-1800s-10-5715d0ff90407_880