Ichiryo Gusoku - Philosophy

What is an ichiryo gusoku?

An ichiryo gusoku was a term applied to the samurai of Chosokabe Motochika (1539-1599) of the Japanese Island of Shikoku.  The term literally meant “one fief, one suit of armor” – which meant the samurai who not only fought but also worked the land as farmers and only had enough land to support themselves, not any followers.

“These rustic samurai were known as ichiryo gusoku, because what they possessed was “one fief and one suit of armor”.  They were essentially rough-and-ready characters, whose armor came to pieces where the plates where laced together.  They only thing they  prized was courage in battle, and it is said of them that when they were working in the paddy fields they stuck their spears into the ridges between the irrigated sections and fastens their sandals to the shafts, so they could be ready to fight at a moment’s notice.” – The Book of the Samurai: The Warrior Class of Japan, Stephen R. Turnbull

The ichiryo gusoku were ultimately destroyed as a class in the late 16th century when they were forced to either declare themselves as samurai or remain as farmers as it was determined that the two classes had to become separate -although, interestingly enough, the ichiryo gusoku eventually became the goshi, lower level samurai who helped to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate and who, amongst all the samurai, did not have to return their land to the Meiji government as they held it intact from their original status.

My purpose in choosing them as my model is both for emulation of their character and courage as well as they dedication to working on and supporting themselves from the land they owned rather than having others do it for them.

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