Age of Samurai

How important was trade with the outside world after initial contact with the Portuguese?
What defined the Samurai way of life?  What about their code of honor?  How did their contemporaries (those who were not Samurai) view them?
How would you describe the relationship between a Samurai and his sword?  How did Bushido influence a Samurai’s existence?
What made the battle of Seikigahara (1600) important for Japanese history?
How did Musashi revolutionize the way of the Samurai?  What made his style distinctive?