View Full Version : Bushido

23rd June 2007, 20:05

Bushidō (武士道, Bushidō), meaning "Way of the Warrior", is a Japanese code of conduct and a way of life, loosely analogous to the European concept of chivalry. Bushidō developed between the 11th to 14th centuries as set forth by numerous translated documents dating from the 12th to 16th centuries (as mentioned below). However, some dependable sources also state the document might have been formulated in the 17th century. According to the Japanese dictionary Shogakukan Kokugo Daijiten, "Bushidō is defined as a unique philosophy (ronri) that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi (chusei) period."

The core tenets of Bushidō date from as early as the 12th century as demonstrated by the earliest translations of Japanese literature and warrior house codes. Honor codes are still used today. Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, Bushidō became formalized into Japanese Feudal Law.

Nitobe Inazō, in his book Bushidō: The Soul of Japan, described it in this way. "...Bushidō, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe... More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten... It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career."

Early history

There is evidence of Bushidō in Early literature to suggest that the stylings of Bushidō have existed in the Japanese literature from the earliest recorded literary history of Japan. Kojiki is Japan's oldest extant book. Written in 712 AD,it contains passages about Yamato Takeru, the son of the Emperor Keiko. It provides an early indication of the values and literary self-image of the bushido ideal, including references to the use and admiration of the sword by Japanese warriors. Yamato Takeru may be considered the rough ideal of the Japanese warrior to come. He is sincere and loyal, slicing up his father's enemies "like melons", unbending and yet not unfeeling, as can be seen in his laments for lost wives and homeland, and in his willingness to combat the enemy alone. Most important, his portrayal in the Kojiki shows the ideal of harmonizing the literary with the martial may have been an early trait of Japanese civilization, appealing to the Japanese long before its introduction from Confucian China.

This early conceptualising of a Japanese self-image of the "ideal warrior" can further be found in the Shoku Nihongi, an early history of Japan written in the year 797. A section of the book covering the year 723 A.D.is notable for an early use of the term bushi in Japanese literature and a reference to the educated warrior-poet ideal. The term bushi entered the Japanese vocabulary with the general introduction of Chinese literature and added to the indigenous words, tsuwamono and mononofu.

In Kokin Wakashū (early 10th century), the first imperial anthology of poems, there is an early reference to Saburau — originally a verb meaning "to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society". In Japanese, the pronunciation would become saburai. By the end of the 12th century, samurai became synonymous with bushi almost entirely and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class.

13th to 16th centuries

From the Bushido literature of the 13th to 16th Centuries, there exists an abundance of literary references to the ideals of Bushido.

Written in 1371, the Heike Monogatari chronicles the struggle between the Minamoto and Taira clans for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century—a conflict known as the Gempei War. Clearly depicted throughout the Heike Monogatari is the ideal of the cultivated warrior. The warriors in the Heike Monogatari served as models for the educated warriors of later generations, and the ideals depicted by them were not assumed to be beyond reach. Rather, these ideals were vigorously pursued in the upper echelons of warrior society and recommended as the proper form of the Japanese man of arms.

Other examples of the evolution (though it has been suggested constancy) in the Bushido literature of the 13th to 16th centuries included:

"The Message Of Master Gokurakuji" by Shogunal Deputy, Hōjō Shigetoki (1198-1261 AD)
"The Chikubasho" by Shiba Yoshimasa (1350-1410 AD)
Writings by Imagawa Ryoshun (1326-1420 AD)
Writings by Governor of Echizen, Asakura Toshikage (1428-1481 AD)
Writings by the Samurai general Hōjō Nagauji (1432-1519 AD)
The warlord Takeda Shingen (1521AD-1573 AD)
The Precepts of Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611 AD)

This period of early development of Bushido, as depicted in these various writings and house codes, already includes the concepts of an all encompassing loyalty to their master, filial piety and reverence to the Emperor. It indicates the need for both compassion for those of a lower station, and for the preservation of their name. Early Bushido literature further enforces the requirement to conduct themselves with calmness, fairness, justice, and politeness. The relationship between learning and the way of the warrior is clearly articulated, one being a natural partner to the other. Finding a proper death in battle, for the cause of their lord, also features strongly in this early history.

17th to 19th centuries

Although Japan enjoyed a period of peace during the Sakoku ("closed country") period from the 17th to the mid-19th century, the samurai class remained and continued to play a central role in the policing of the country. It has been suggested that this period of relative peace led to the refinement and formalism of Bushido that can be traced back through the era of feudal Japan, or the Edo Period. Literature of the 17th to 19th Century contains many ideas of the philosophy of Bushido. This includes:

The Last Statement of Torii Mototada (1539-1600 AD)
Kuroda Nagamasa (1568-1623 AD)
Nabeshima Naoshige (1538-1618 A.D.)
Go Rin No Sho (The Book of Five Rings) by Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645 AD)
Bu[shi]do Shoshinshu (Bushido for Beginners) by Taira Shigesuke [Daidoji Yuzan] (1639-1730 AD)

devil may cry
11th December 2007, 21:54
The Bushido Code is hard to pursuit,i f you are interested in it and in samurays i recommend you to read MUSASHI by Eiji Yoshikawa

26th February 2008, 20:33
Thx for info now I can present to my class at History of culture the Bushido code!

devil may cry
1st August 2008, 00:28
Hagakure is also a 'must read'