Bushido: The Soul of Japan is one of the first books on samurai ethics written in English for a Western audience . Nitobe found in Bushido, the Way of the Warrior, the sources of the virtues most admired by his people: rectitude, courage,benevolence, politeness, sincerity, honor, loyalty and self-control. Nitobe used his deep knowledge of Western culture to draw comparisons with Medieval Chivalry, Philosophy, and Christianity.Bushido: Soul of Japan is a must read for anyone wanting to know the beauty and culture of Japan's warriors, the Samurai. This version has been reformatted and edited for easier reading and referencing.
BUSHIDO - THE SOUL OF JAPAN BY INAZO NITOBE DECEMBER, 1904 PREFACE About ten years ago, while spending a few days under the hospitable roof of the distinguished Belgian jurist, the lamented M. de Laveleye, our conversation turned, during one of our rambles, to the subject of religion. " Do you mean to say," asked the venerable professor, " that you have no religious instruction in your schools?" On my replying in the negative he suddenly halted in astonishment, and in a voice which I shall not easily forget, he repeated " No religion ! . How do you impart moral education ?" The question stunned me at the time. I could give no ready answer, for the moral precepts I learned in my childhood days, were not given in schools and not until I began to analyze the different elements that formed my notions of right and wrong, did I find that it was Bushido that breathed them into my nostrils. The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan. In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and to my wife, I found that without understanding Feudalism and Bushido, the moral ideas of present Japan are a sealed volume. Taking advantage of enforced idleness on account of long illness, I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversation. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when Feudalism was still in force. Between Lafcaclio Hearn and Mrs. Hugh Fraser on one side and Sir Ernest Satow and Professor Chamberlain on the other, it is indeed discouraging to write anything Japanese in English. The only advantage I have over them is that I can assume the attitude of a personal defendant, while these distin Pronounced Boti-shte-doh'. In putting Japanese words and names into English, Hepburn's rule is followed, that the vowels should be used as in European languages, and the consonants as in English. guished writers are at best solicitors and attorneys. I have often thought, " Had I their gift of language, I would present the cause of Japan in more eloquent terms!" But one who speaks in a borrowed tongue should be thankful if he can just make himself intelligible. All through the discourse I have tried to illustrate whatever points I have made with parallel examples from European history and literature, believing that these will aid in bringing the subject nearer to the comprehension of foreign readers. Should any of my allusions to religious subjects and to religious workers be thought slighting, I trust my attitude towards Christianity itself will not be questioned. It is with ecclesiastical methods and with the forms which obscure the teachings of Christ, and not with the teachings themselves, that I have little sympathy. I believe in the religion taught by Him and handed down to us in the New Testament, as well as in the law written in the heart. Further, I believe that God hath made a testament which may be called "old" with every people and nation, Gentile or Jew, Christian or Heathen. As to the rest of my theology, I need not impose upon the patience of the public. In concluding this preface, I wish to express my thanks to my friend Anna C. Hartshorne for many valuable suggestions and for the characteristically Japanese design made by her for the cover of this book. - INAZO NITOBE. Malvern, Pa., Twelfth Month,
Bushido, often translated as Way of the Warrior, came from the Samurai way of life and moral code. It emphasized loyalty, skill, moderation and honor, and became a widespread influence throughout Japan. In Shogakukan Kokugo Daijiten, the Japanese dictionary, "Bushido is defined as a unique philosophy (ronri) that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi (chusei) period." Nitobe Inazo, in his book Bushido: The Soul of Japan, described it in this way. "...Bushido, 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."
The Book of Five Rings, Hagakure - The Way of the Samurai & Bushido - The Soul of Japan
Author: Miyamoto Musashi
The Samurai Series brings together three of the most important books dealing with the Samurai path and philosophy into one deluxe, illustrated hardcover volume. "The Book of Five Rings" was written by Miyamoto Musashi, a Samurai of legendary renown, about 1645. It is a masterpiece of simple exposition written by a master swordsman, who, near the end of his spectacular life, tried earnestly to explain the essentials of individual combat and the essence of being a Samurai. His book is widely considered to a cornerstone of the philosophy of "Bushido." "Hagakure - The Way of the Samurai," which means: "Hidden by Leaves," was composed from dialogs by the famous Samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo, by a scribe, Tashiro Tsuramoto, about 1716 AD. It explains the major ideas and philosophy that are essential to the "way of the Samurai," by which is meant the "way of dying." It contains numerous tales of various Samurai and their deeds which illustrate their philosophy and practice. "Bushido - The Soul of Japan" by Inazo Nitobe was first published 1899. It is an extremely literate presentation by a Japanese intellectual who wished to present Japan and its fundamental philosophy in a way that could be understood by Westerners. It describes how the Shinto religion and Buddhism are the underpinnings of the essentially militaristic view of honor and life that are inherent in Bushido, the Samurai code. Excerpt from The Book of Five Rings. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. The Gaze in Strategy The gaze should be large and broad. This is the twofold gaze, "Perception and Sight." Perception is strong and sight, weak. In strategy, it is important to see distant things as if they were close, and to take a distanced view of close things. It is important in strategy to know the enemy's sword, yet not be distracted by insignificant movements of his sword. You must study this. The gaze is the same for single combat and for large-scale strategy. It is necessary in strategy to be able to look to both sides without moving the eyeballs. You cannot master this ability quickly. Learn what is written here; use this gaze in everyday life and do not vary it...
Bushido is the code of moral principles which the knights were required or instructed to observe. It is not a written code; at best it consists of a few maxims handed down from mouth to mouth or coming from the pen of some well-known warrior or savant. More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten, possessing all the more the powerful sanction of veritable deed, and of a law written on the fleshly tablets of the heart. It was founded not on the creation of one brain, however able, or on the life of a single personage, however renowned. It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career. It, perhaps, fills the same position in the history of ethics that the English Constitution does in political history; yet it has had nothing to compare with the Magna Charta or the Habeas Corpus Act. True, early in the seventeenth century Military Statutes (Buké Hatto) were promulgated; but their thirteen short articles were taken up mostly with marriages, castles, leagues, etc., and didactic regulations were but meagerly touched upon. We cannot, therefore, point out any definite time and place and say, "Here is its fountain head." Only as it attains consciousness in the feudal age, its origin, in respect to time, may be identified with feudalism. But feudalism itself is woven of many threads, and Bushido shares its intricate nature. As in England the political institutions of feudalism may be said to date from the Norman Conquest, so we may say that in Japan its rise was simultaneous with the ascendancy of Yoritomo, late in the twelfth century. As, however, in England, we find the social elements of feudalism far back in the period previous to William the Conqueror, so, too, the germs of feudalism in Japan had been long existent before the period mentioned.
Nitobe was a prolific writer. He published many scholarly books as well as books for general readers (see below). He also contributed hundreds of articles to popular magazines and newspapers. Nitobe, however, is perhaps most famous in the west for his work Bushido: The Soul of Japan (1900), which was one of the first major works on samurai ethics and Japanese culture written originally in English for Western readers (The book was subsequently translated into Japanese and many other languages). Although sometimes criticized as portraying the samurai in terms so Western as to take away some of their actual meaning, this book nonetheless was a pioneering work of its kind.