Bushido, The way of Samurai

  • The samurai had an unwritten code accumulated through centuries that was practiced by all the members.
  • In 1899, Nitobe Inazo, a Western educated son of a samurai in the late Edo period, wrote a book explaining this code: Bushido: The soul of Japan.
  • Bushido has a deep impact on the Japanese society (e.g karoshi, life time employment, no competitive advertising, etc.)
  • For centuries the samurai always stuck to these values and never compromised:
  • Righteousness (義 gi) : Justice is the most important virtue for the samurai. A true samurai knows when to strike and when not to.
  • Loyalty (忠義 chūgi): The samurai must be loyal to their master and those who are under their care even if this means an inconvenient life.
  • Honor(名誉 meiyo): Honor is what the samurai live for. Once disgraced, only seppuku can clean the stained image of a samurai.
  • Respect (礼 rei): A samurai should always respect his enemy, whether he wins or loses.
  • Honesty ( 誠 sei): Commitment to truth should be maintained throughout a samurai’s life. This means many sacrifices.
  • Courage  (勇 yū): If a cause is morally just, a samurai is never afraid of fighting for it till the end.
  • Benevolence(仁 jin): Despite his privileged social status, it is a moral obligation for a samurai to help those who are in need and his subordinates.

DO NOT FEAR DEATH. This was the most important part of being a samurai. Bushidō is really the “Way of Dying” or living as though one was already dead. This means that the Samurai lives as if he were dead, and acts as though life is only a dream and death is the awakening. A samurai must be willing to die at any moment in order to be true to his lord. (N. Shang)

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