A social class of Japan
formed in the 12th century during the conflict between the Taira and Minamoto families during the Heian Era. The elite of society, they were the only class allowed to wear a sword in public (the longer katana and the shorter wakizashi). They refer to themselves as "bushi" rather than "samurai". Each samurai is trained in the art of warfare, martial arts, the sword, or the spear as well as in the way of Bushido. Each region developed their own unique style of swordsmanship or kenjutsu (such as Yagyu Shinkage-ryu as opposed to Itto-ryu) . The samurai is a cultural symbol of the ideal traits of the Japanese people- loyalty, honor,a centered mind, and attention to detail. During times of peace (Tokugawa Shogunate, 1600s+)the samurai would become artisans, farmers, or idlers (ronins/vagabonds). Their decline came in the late 19th century, with the Westernization of Japan and the advancements in weaponry.
Samurai during the 19th century spent more time drinking sake than fighting.