This may explain the "banner" element in the title which points to a need to be unified under one roof.
Warlord Takeda Shingen wanted to expand his territory and he employs the ambitious and mysterious Kansuke who becomes the brain behind the victories. The setting was feudal Japan, 1543 to 1562. Specifically, Kansuke as a samurai dreams of a country united, peaceful from sea to sea. He convinces Takeda, the lord of Kai domain, to kill the lord of neighboring Suwa and take his wife as a concubine. He then convinces the widow, Princess Yu, to accept this arrangement and to bear Takeda a son. Pledging them his life, he spends years using treachery, poetic sensibility, military and political strategy to expand Takeda's realm, advance the claim of Yu's son as the heir, and prepare for an ultimate battle with the forces of Echigo (Yasushi: Riley 2006).
The samurai of traditional Japan were among the most important characters of Japan's history. These honorable warriors fought almost all of the major battles and wars until the end of traditional Japan in the 1800's. Without the samurai, the struggles for power, and the numerous unifications brought about by the most powerful of the daimyo, Japan could not be what it is today (Amini 2002). It is debatable however, if these samurai values form the national character of the Japanese now (Hayford 2007).
The samurai bThis paper discusses The Samurai Banner in the context first of Bushido - The Way of the Samurai, and secondly of Samurai values and the Japanese sense of unity.
Bushido - The Way of the Samurai
The samurai became known as the "Knights of Medieval Japan." They started as military elite and turned into social elite (Turnbull 1987) who were bound to a specific lord, or daimyo, and also bound to their communities by duty and honor (Grabianowski 2007). This code of honor is known as Bushido, and comes from the word bushi, which means "warrior." The Japanese word do means "the way," so Bushido means, "The way of the warrior." (Grabianowski 2007).
The samurai had rules and styles. Having the proper hairstyle of the front half of the head being shaved off and the rest of the hair gathered in a ponytail and oiled became necessary for a samurai (Turnbull 1987). Another important practice was recognition by armor and the helmet unique to each samurai (Holmes, 1988. p. 67). All of these costumes and hairstyle were exemplified in the characters of this novel (Yasushi: Riley 2006).
A way of thinking used by the samurai was that self-interest and reflection were both bad traits and could ruin a samurai (Tsunetomo and Wilson 1992). In the Samurai Banner, the ambitious Kansuke was found with guile and cunning as he assisted Takeda who did not agree with all of his ways. And sure, Kansuke had self-interest as that was how he had engineered his way into getting his position (Yasushi: Riley 2006). This runs counter to what a supposed samurai characteristic should be.
The Bushido philosophy of loyalty to the leader is primarily exemplified in the