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A samurai with his sword and armor, photographed by Felice Beato c. 1860. The samurai, records of which date back to the early 10th-century Kokin Wakashū, were the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan. As Japan modernized during the Meiji period beginning in the late 1860s, the samurai lost much of their power, and the status was ultimately dissolved. However, samurai values remain common in Japanese society.Photograph: Felice Beato