The Writing Samurai Creative Writing Course is an online English enrichment program for children of primary 1 – 6 in Singapore. Students will learn writing skills, strategies and techniques in an engaging and interactive way with videos to watch at their own pace.
The samurai were one of the most influential and powerful groups in early Japanese history. They were known for their sword fighting skills, strict codes of conduct and loyalty to family. They also supported the development of art and literature, allowing literacy to be spread amongst the commoner class.
Their reverence for literacy was evident in the yatate, a portable writing Visit Website technology that was designed to be carried by samurai warriors (Marshall, 2009; Deal, 2007; Kato, 1997; Kwo, 1981). It was a lighter weight, more mobile alternative to the traditional calligraphy box set used by literate Japanese during this period.
While the yatate was designed for samurai use, it was passed on to commoners by samurai during the Edo period. During this time, the yatate was not only used by samurai, but by merchants and citizens who travelled on pilgrimages to Shinto shrines.
Documented proof of this is in the woodblock prints by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), which show travellers carrying yatate (Stutler, 2009). A slim knife was included on some models of yatate, which was thought to be a commoner’s weapon of self defence.
Yatate was a more efficient writing tool than the calligraphy box set used by the samurai which had a limited ink supply and took up significant space when carried around. The portable yatate could be folded out like a Japanese fan and soaked in a cotton or raw silk cloth to dispense liquid ink.
It was an efficient tool as it did not smear or spill ink and was able to be stored easily. It also allowed for greater control over the ink and a more consistent flow of ink from the brush into the paper.
The yatate was a portable and dependable writing device which may have been a driving force behind the growth of literacy in the Edo period. A portable writing technology was essential for samurai to travel quickly and efficiently as they wrote to their lords and generals about battles, taxes and land transactions.
This writing technology was used by samurai during this period until emperor Meiji abolished the shogunate and established a formal monarchy in 1868, which opened Japan to international trade. Emperor Meiji also opened up Japan to rapid modernization and the yatate was replaced with the Western fountain pen. This change in technology may have influenced the high literacy rate at this time which was forty percent, according to Andressen (2001).