Samurai were the warrior class of Japan for hundreds of years. However, under Emperor Meiji, the Samurai lost their right to be armed in public and lost much of their military power.
The Samurai were officially in decline by the late 1800’s. Photography was just coming to Japan in its early forms during this time period and the decline of the Samurai were documented by several photographers in both black and white and hand colored photographs.
Many former Samurai and their families continued to hold some influence, but it was through the establishment of businesses, newspapers, and government jobs, not military might.
The following photographs capture the last decades of the final generation of true Samurai.
But this article would not be complete with the true “Last Samurai”… Tom Cruise.