Talk:Bushido/Archive 1

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I feel this page is in need of protection against vandalism. Within the article on a heading, I found the word "mansack" with absolutely no relation to anything whatsoever. Gederoth 20:09, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

Corrected characters

I corrected the characters for "loyalty", they clearly must be "忠義" and not "尽忠", which cannot be pronounced as "chugi".

Thanks, bye''

Factual accuracy

Why the heck would you quote "serious historians" like Karl Friday? I'd rather hear from someone who actually lived there and translated the books themselves, seeking the advice of experts. Karl Friday didn't even bother to crack open a Japanese dictionary which would have explained to him that it is very old. He is obviously just another westerner trying to rewrite history.

This does Dr.Karl Friday a major diservice. He most certainly did live in Japan, is a trained historian, and much more besides. I expand on this below. His contrary (to the article) arguments are not unique to him or Western historians. I wont add the link to one of his articles just to keep the peace but dissing people who don't particularily agree with you is bad form.Peter Rehse 12:15, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

proof that Bushido is very old:

IDEALS OF THE SAMURAI, WRITINGS OF JAPANESE WARRIORS BY WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON (EXCERPT) Having been born into the house of a warrior, one's intentions should be to grasp the long and the short swords and to die.

If a man does not investigate into the matter of Bushido daily, it will be difficult for him to die a brave and manly death. Thus it is essential to engrave This business of the warrior into one's mind well. -KATO KIYOMASA


- According to the Shogakkan kokugo daijiten: - Bushido is defined as a unique philosophy (ronri) that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi (chusei) period.


Q.: What is Bushido?

A.: Bushido might be explained in part by the etymology of the Chinese characters used for the word. Bu comes from two radicals meanings "stop" and "spear." So even though the word now means "martial" or "military affair," it has the sense of stopping aggression. Shi can mean "samurai," but also means "gentleman" or "scholar." Looking at the character, you can see a man with broad shoulders but with his feet squarely on the ground. Do, with the radicals of head and motion, originally depicted a thoughtful way of action. It now means a path, street or way. With this in mind, we can understand Bushido as a Way of life, both ethical and martial, with self-discipline as a fundamental tenet. Self-discipline requires the warrior at once to consider his place in society and the ethics involved, and to forge himself in the martial arts. Both should eventually lead him to understand that his fundamental opponents are his own ignorance and passions.

Q.: How did the code develop and how did it influence Japanese society?

A.: The warrior class began to develop as a recognizable entity around the 11th and 12th centuries. The leaders of this class were often descended from the nobility, and so were men of education and breeding. I would say that the code developed when the leaders of the warrior class began to reflect on their position in society and what it meant to be a warrior. They first began to write these thoughts down as yuigon, last words to their descendents, or as kabegaki, literally "wall writings," maxims posted to all their samurai. Samurai itself is an interesting word, coming from the classical saburau, "to serve." So when we understand that a samurai is "one who serves," we see that the implications go much farther than simply being a soldier or fighter.

Also, it is important to understand that Confucian scholars had always reflected on what it meant to be true gentleman, and they concluded that such a man would be capable of both the martial and literary. The Japanese inherited this system of thought early on, so certain ideals were already implicitly accepted.

The warrior class ruled the country for about 650 years, and their influence–political, philosophical and even artistic–had a long time to percolate throughout Japanese society.

Q.: The Samurai were very much renaissance men – they were interested in the arts, tea ceremony, religion, as well as the martial arts. What role did these interests play in the development of Bushido? How did the martial arts fit in?

A.: This question goes back to the Confucian ideal of balance that Japanese inherited, probably from the 7th century or so. The word used by both to express this concept, for the "gentleman" by the Chinese and the warrior by Japanese, is (hin), pronounced uruwashii in Japanese, meaning both "balanced" and "beautiful." The character itself is a combination of "literature" (bun) and "martial" (bu). The study of arts like Tea ceremony, calligraphy, the study of poetry or literature, and of course the martial arts of swordsmanship or archery, broadened a man's perspective and understanding of the world and, as mentioned above, provided him with a vehicle for self-discipline. The martial arts naturally were included in the duties of a samurai, but this did not make them any less instructive in becoming a full human being.

Q.: What was sword fighting like? Was the swordplay different for different samurai?

A.: There were literally hundreds of schools of samurai swordsmanship by the 1800's and, as previously mentioned, each school emphasized differing styles and approaches. Some would have the student to jump and leap, others to keep his feel solidly on the ground; some would emphasize different ways of holding the sword, others one method only. One school stated that technical swordsmanship took second place to sitting meditation. Historically speaking, there were periods when much of the swordfighting was done on horseback, and others when it was done mostly on foot. Also, as the shape and length of the sword varied through different epochs, so did styles of fighting. Then I suppose that a fight between men who were resolved to die would be quite different from a fight between men who were not interested in getting hurt.

Q.: How is the code reflected in Japanese society today?

A.: When I first came to live in Japan in the 60's, I was impressed how totally dedicated and loyal people were to the companies where they were employed. When I eventually understood the words samurai and saburau, it started to make sense. While these men (women would usually not stay long with a company, giving up work for marriage) did not carry swords of course, they seemed to embody that old samurai sense of service, duty, loyalty and even pride. This may sound strange in our own "me first" culture, but it impressed me that the company had sort of taken the place of a feudal lord, and that the stipend of the samurai had become the salary of the white-collar worker.M

That is on the societal level. On an individual level, I have often felt that Japanese have a strong resolution, perhaps from this cultural background of Bushido, to go through problems rather than around them. Persistence and patience developed from self-discipline?

It looks like some people have different beliefs regarding the bushido, and this is reflecting on the previous edits of this article. Something must be done about this, and until that happens, the {{disputed}} tag should remain there. Me, I don't know enough about the subject, so I can't really stick my finger on this. I hoped I could find something more reliable here. As for my opinion, I've always thought their code of honor was indeed real in that past. Something that was common sense, followed by a large part of the samurai. Now I don't know anymore, though.

The discussion pertaining this can be carried here.--Kaonashi 04:26, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Recent edits by anon user sound dismissive and POV: "Bushido was the supposed warrior code of the samurai." "In reality, however, bushido was an invention of frustrated samurai", "Today it is dismissed by serious historians" "Bushido re-emerged during World War 2 as Japanese propaganda" etc... Maybe a line could be written on such alternative views (with "serious historian"'s reference please), but isn't organizing the whole article around this theme quite excessive? PHG 10:33, 18 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I agree this page needs to stay disputed for awhile, and that anon should have worded their entry a little more elegantly, though the actual content of the entry is essentially correct. The mistake people make with the whole samurai/bushido thing is that they are mixing up the eras, and reading the wrong books. The Sengoku Jidai period samurai is the samurai that most people are familiar with. Most of the Akira Kurosawa samurai films are taken from this period (mid 15th century up until the beginning of the 17th century), and this is where the image of the warrior samurai that everyone is familiar with comes from. These samurai were as unloyal as you could imagine, retainers often changed masters, and daimyo were continuingly forming and breaking alliances as soon as an advantage was to be had. Then Tokugawa Ieyasu won the battle of Sekigahara and established the Tokugawa Bakufu, ushering in the "Edo period", and with it several centuries of peace. In this period the samurai quite rapidly became aristocrats. They still wore their swords and some of them even practiced the martial arts, but there were no battles to fight and most samurai spent their lives on guard duty, collecting taxes or enjoying poetry and theatre (along with booze and the odd trip to the brothel!). This is where the image of the elegant & learned samurai comes from, though even that has been exaggerated somewhat over the years. Now, the topic of bushido. I was going to write up my opinions on the matter, but the article listed on the current Bushido page,, does a pretty good job of it (and it's written by historian Karl Friday, to boot). A quick summary would be - during the Edo period, the period of peace, the Tokugawa Bakufu had to find a way to satisfy and reward their samurai, who no longer had much of a chance of moving through the ranks without the opportunity of proving himself in battle, which had been the main cause of promotion in the Sengoku Jidai period. To do this the Bakufu tried to change the concept of "honour" from a personal one to that of the clan and your master. The intent of this was that even if you were likely stuck at your social level for your whole life, you should still work hard to make your clan and your daimyo look better, which in turn will make you look better. To anyone who has read "Hagakure" this should sound familiar, giving and not getting anything back ut the knowledge that you've improved your clan's status. As you may imagine, this didn't quite work in practice as samurai are, after all, human beings, and are just as ambitious as everyone else. It also led to some problems, like with Lord Asano and the 47 ronin, who revenged their lord as any good samurai was supposed to, yet were still condemned to death because they acted contrary to the Bakufu's ruling on the matter. But the actions of these 47 men were pretty unique, and could not be considered the standard. The real problem is that during the Edo period there was a certain consensus of what defines a samurai, however it differed from clan to clan and was not a written code in any sense of the word, nor was it followed by each and every man who wore the two swords. It's also important not to think of this as "bushido", as this term was simply not used back in those times. I think a great book that should help disillusion people about samurai of this period is the dairy of Katsu Kokichi, titled "Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai". This is a great example of exactly what a good percentage of the samurai had become during the period of peace following Sekigahara. "The Taming of the Samurai" by Eiko Ikegami is also a great look at the changing role of samurai during the Edo Period, from a sociological perspective. It touches on the Hagakure as well. Personally, I think the Bushido article hosted here needs a couple of things to be complete - a quick description of the transition of the samurai from warriors to administrators, a description on what it meant to be a samurai in the Edo period, the appearance of Bushido as Japanese propaganda after the Meiji restoration and a final blurb about the modern view of the bushido code, comparing the fiction to fact.--AngusH 04:25, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

What I find wrong here is the way the anon user filled the article with his "the bushido was nothing but a farse" pseudo-arguments. Things were not so simple. There was a strong feeling of keeping an honorable status among the samurai of certain eras in the feudal Japan. What you say about the samurai changing their concepts through the ages, Angus, sounds more than plausible, but still, there was no farse. Sure, our minds are filled with fantasy nowadays, and that surely clouds our judgement regarding certain things (specially things like this), but I still think this article is filled with endless bias. I will give an example that might sound good for some, and might sound like BS to others, but there it goes anyway.

I think one of the biggest demonstrations of honor to one's owns beliefs, at that time, was the seppuku. The reasons varied greatly. Tainted reputation, overwhelming disappointment, protest, etc. Cases of seppuku, however, weren't isolated among the samurai community. They were very common. It was part of their culture, and still is, in certain ways. It comes from the concept that it's better to have an honorable death than live a life in shame. It was a fast way of getting rid of every single dishonor on their lives. It was an act considered to be so full of honor, that after it's done, the person would be forgiven of everything. A decent ending. Now, anyone paid attention to the recent cases of mass suicides in Japan, set up via the Internet? Young people commiting suicide together inside cars? Would that be just a coincidence? I wouldn't say so. There's more there than meets the eye.

I'm not just pulling that off my head, though. I've read a lot about it, so nah, I'm not wrong. You might think this is completely unrelated, but to everybody that read a thing or two about suicide in Japan, you know that these aren't the only cases. Why do certain subway stations in Japan have acrylic barriers in the platforms to prevent people from jumping down the rails? Keep thinking.

Alright, this is just an example. Now, to my point. Would a culture that preserved such traditions based purely on honor (which "evolved" through the ages, certainly), so strongly, have nothing to do with that same honor? It's true I'm talking about something more complex than bushido right now, but see if you can trace the connections. As it's said in the seppuku article, "Seppuku was a key part of bushido". I'm still talking about the same thing, besides the appearances. "Invention of frustrated samurai"? I wouldn't say so. --Kaonashi 01:07, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Hi, I agree with AngusH. But this article is titled Bushido which is a term that did not even exist before the late Edo period and in fact probably the Meiji era (mid 1800s). Niitobe's book Bushido, written in English, is the most widely read text on this topic and it is largely fictious, although Japanese themselves have adopted much of it. Niitobe turned his back on Japan. The book Shogun is another bad influence.

Just as well I didn't write this article, it would have been far more pointed. Maybe I can re-write it.

As for Seppuku, it was far more rare than reported. Mostly it was a forced suicide. Originally the individual stabbed himself and the assitant decapitated him after sufficient agony had been endured. By the Edo period people were commiting seppuku with (folded) fans, they reached for the fan as a purely symbolic act and were decapitated by the "assistant".

Kaonashi, there are no subway stations in Tokyo with acrylic barriers to prevent suicides.

Yes, there are. It's glass by the way, if that makes any difference. This time I'll even show you exactly where I read about it. That's a famous Brazilian magazine that talks exclusively about the Japanese culture. What you're referring to is right at the editorial. Too bad you won't be able to see it. And yes, you guessed it. It's Tokyo. Congrats.

As for seppuku, I'm afraid you don't completely understand it. The "assistant" you talk about was usually a close friend of the person in question. He was there to finish his pain as soon as possible, by yes, chopping the head. They had no reasons to make the seppuku committer endure more pain than necessary. Now, about the "forced seppukus" you also referred to, that's not that different either. When captured prisoners were sometimes given the choice of commiting seppuku or by dying by the sword of someone there. To be given such a choice was a great regally. It was better to commit seppuku and die a honorable death than dying by the hands of the enemy, once again. In that case, the "assistant" would be there to end the person's pain just as fast. No changes on that. Otherwise, why would the enemy suggest the seppuku anyway? It's a chance of being "forgiven" by many. Not a chance of getting through even more pain.--Kaonashi 15:43, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • Factual accuracy: sliding walls in the recently built subways throughout Japan are not designed specifically to avoid suicides, but more generally as a security feature against people falling on the tracks. It's been especially implemented when there the trains are fully automated and don't have drivers (such as the Yurikamome line going to Odaiba), but not exclusively. It is also a usefull security feature when you have a Shinkansen rushing through a station without stopping (in that case these are not "walls", but sliding barriers about 1 meter high, which cannot prevent someone jumping over anyway). By the way, the latest line in the Paris Subway also has sliding transparent wall: Paris Metro Line 14, which is also fully automomated. Of course, there are also some suicides in France too...PHG 21:59, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Kaonashi (literally) Mr No Face, I have lived in Japan for 8 years, Tokyo for 3. I catch the subway daily and have never seen a barrier of any type. Perhaps you could tell me the name of the line and station that have these barriers. As PHG mentioned the Yurikamome does, but if I remember correctly that is a monorail (certainly not a subway) and of course the Shinkansen (bullet train) has them at some stations.

Yes I do understand Seppuku; problem is there was no enemy after Tokugawa united Japan. I used quotes on the term assistant as during this era seppuku was used as a form of execution and the assitant was most usually not a close associate and the subject did not stab himself.

The biggest problem with Japan's history is that most of the English (or non-Japanese) texts are wrong.

I say those who disagree with what has to say change this article back at least for the moment. elvenscout742 16:54, 2 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I disagree. In my opinion leave it as it is now until someone comes up with something better. Better a sharp, pointed entry than a fictional and misleading one. --AngusH 05:11, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

What you say would make sense, if the "sharp" and "pointed" content in question had any theoric basis. Never saw those claims anywhere else. What I did see, funnily enough, is exactly the "fictional and misleading" claims. I'll refrain from this discussion from now one, though. Better that way.--Kaonashi 00:03, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Fair enough, not sure what more I can do to convince you otherwise outside of the link I posted right here as well as my first post above, and the other information I added in my original post, all of which has been taken from a great variety of textbooks on the subject. Please feel free to check out this page, too: The Top 11 Misconceptions About the Samurai. If I still can't sway your opinion, *shrug* what more can I do? --AngusH 03:17, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Either way, it seems to have been fixed now by this PHG figure. I've never seen the claims made by anywhere else, and chances are they were just supporting a wild conspiracy theory or something with little basis in reality. It is good the way it is, and if someone can back up up those unfamiliar claims with fact I will accept it. Until then, the whole "Bushidō didn't exist" argument stands alongside those infernal "Hirohito was evil" and "Japanese people are lazy" rants in my mind. elvenscout742 13:41, 12 Mar 2005 (UTC)
What's here now is fair enough I guess. Let me clear one thing up though: Bushido did "exist" and I don't mean to imply it didn't, it just wasn't a "code". Bushido simply means "way of the warrior", and there was obviously a "way of the warrior" (i.e.. a way that a warrior could be expected to behave), and it did go by this name. This was more cultural than anything else though, and was the result of centuries of families specialising in the martial arts, and varied in many ways from house to house. Out of interest I picked up my copy of the Cambridge History of Japan volumes 3 & 4 (arguably the best and most complete books you can get on the topic of Japanese history, which explains their price...), which cover the samurai/bushi periods, and checked the index for mentionings of "bushido". There are precious few, I believe only two, neither being longer than a single sentence. I feel this should help people gauge exactly how important bushido was in the grand scheme of things.--AngusH 04:22, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I realise this has all been going on some while ago, and that it's probably all sorted by now, but while I can sit and listen to any argument about the reality or otherwise of Bushido (not being a historian myself and generally unfamiliar with Japanese history), this idea about 'modern seppuku' needs addressing. First, the matter that previous posters here seem to have got hung up on is whether or not Tokyo has barriers on subway stations to prevent suicides. That's not the point. The point is that suicides happen all over the world, and where there are trains there will be people who select that particular method. Similarly, where there are cars that emit carbon monoxide, there will be people who choose that. People throw themselves in front of tube (subway) trains in London almost daily. Is there any reason to believe they are committing a ritual seppuku to reclaim their honour? There are many motivations for suicide, and I think it's an unsafe assertion to claim that people kill themselves for a specific reason based purely on where they are. Japanese-style swords are freely available from the Internet in Britain - I can only assume they're similarly available in Japan. If someone wanted to commit a ritual suicide in this particular style, then I cannot imagine any reason why they would not obtain a sword to do it with - that way at least the method would suggest the reasoning for investigators.--Adaru 11:31, 4 October 2005 (UTC)

I am starting a Samurai / Bushido website

I am giving wikipediots a preview of what will be on it. See the wikipedia SEPPUKU and SAMURAI pages also. Enjoy the links and remember "It is man that makes The Way Great"-- MASARU 5/3/2005

The word "Bushido" did exist as a word before the Tokugawa era

The writings of Imagawa Ryoshun, author of "Michiyukiburi" and "Nan taiheki" mentions "The Way of The Warrior" (Bu Shi Do) in his "regulations" (AD1412). The regulations were respected by traditional Japanese as a guide to correct moral and ethical behavior until world war II.

Afraid not, at least in the Imagawa Letter (or his regulations, as they are more commonly known). The term he uses is budo, which has a very different meaning than the bushido that is being discussed here.--AngusH 04:12, 15 July 2005 (UTC)

-Okay i stand corrected on this point, though i have never read an actual copy of the letter in Kanbun. Imagawa does however, espouse the same Bushido Values that the other warriors did in their 1412. This is still proof of how early the codes developed.

So there may have been the codes and values but not the term itself. I think this is an important difference. Noone would call the french revolution of 1789 a communist revolution either only because of values and arguments which were later on also used by communists... PJ

Samurai fiction

what is it about samurai that so fascinates people that they feel the need to Make up things about them? Bushido has a set of three kanji representing the word. The kanji for "creed" has never, to my knowledge been used in the word for Bu ("military") it is a very distinct symbol. I challenge you to find one mention of the symbol for creed in japanese literature to represent "bushi". That would change the meaning of the word. Japanese people define the meaning of a word by the underlying character, not the romanized pronunciation. Source books in Chinese literature during the warring states period were the source of the adopted "bu shi" characters in Japanese. These books are more than 2000 years old. By the way, "secrets of the samurai" is one book I reluctantly admit to 1991. It is lame and actually compares budo, bushido and bujutsu which are distant relations.

The Sad Truth About Thomas Conlan-- why would you want to use him as a source?

Historian Wrong About Samurai--

Volume 56 Number 1, January/February 2003 RELICS OF THE KAMIKAZE Excavations off Japan's coast are uncovering Kublai Khan's ill-fated invasion fleet. BY JAMES P. DELGADO


"In his recent book In Little Need of Divine Intervention, which analyzes two Japanese scrolls that depict the Mongol invasion, Bowdoin College historian Thomas Conlan suggests that a scene showing a samurai falling from his horse as a bomb explodes over him was a later addition. Conlan's research masterfully refutes many of the traditional myths and commonly held perceptions of the invasion, downplaying the number of ships and troops involved and arguing that it was not the storms but the Japanese defenders ashore, as well as confusion and a lack of coordination, that thwarted the khan's two invasions. But his suggestion that the exploding bomb is an anachronism has now been demolished by solid archaeological evidence. Moreover, when the Japanese x-rayed two intact bombs, they found that one was filled just with gunpowder while the other was packed with gunpowder and more than a dozen square pieces of iron shrapnel intended to cut down the enemy. "

Uh, OK. So he is proven wrong thanks to new information, and so should not be used again as a source? I don't think so. There are numerous bits of outdated information in Sansom's three volumes of history on Japan, should we throw those in the garbage too?--AngusH 01:42, 19 August 2005 (UTC)

-Angus, he really went out on a limb and called the artwork faked and made broad assumptions. Thats different from minor (and unintentional) factual errors in Sansom's books. This guy is a publicity seeker. by making outrageous statements he gets attention and sells books

What the article says is that the "exploding bomb is an anachronism has now been demolished by solid archaeological evidence". It does not say his interpretation of the artwork is wrong and even if it were - this is the realm of historical research and opinion. New finds, new information change old ideas. Artwork and manuscripts were altered in both China and Japan quite commonly (in the West also). Figures added, poetry overlayed. Think of a medival wiki. Its not a question of fake but when something was added. As I understand it he made his supposition on style and composition rather than an assumption that bombs were not used. The article goes out of its way to describe most of his premis as masterful. His expressed ideas about samurai (which is what this is about) are not unique to him or other Western historians.Peter Rehse 10:38, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

---Peter. what do the words "suggestion solid evidence" mean to you? I take that to mean "incorrect". If you examine what this guy says over his career, he makes bold statements, gets publicity from them and then sells books. Take a look at articles where he comments on "The Last Samurai" movie.

Oh please. I just finished reading his monograph State of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth-Century Japan and it was a fascinating read, with each statement and conclusion he states backed up using primary sources. I hardly think that someone going for publicity would be writing about the 14th century anyway, as it's a specialist field that few outside of enthusiast even care about... --AngusH 00:25, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Character Definition Accuracy

Shouldn't 誠 (makoto) be defined as 'sincerity' more than 'truth', to distinguish it from 'shin'?

Biographical Information

I moved the biographical information on Kato to his own, already existing, biography page. That's what links are for. The article is already quite long.Peter Rehse 04:36, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Moved back after discussion.Peter Rehse 05:59, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Please allow intro for Kato Kiyomasa

Hey guys, i dont mean to start a p*ssing contest here, but each lord has a small intro after each quote to describe who he is and a little bit about his persona. This is very important information. If it is okay with you, Lord Kato, probably one of the most impressive Samurai, had his intro stripped off with no discussion. I would like to add that back. I am the person who wrote pretty much this entire page in its current form. If we dont have this intro, it leaves out A LOT of very important details about how Japan ended up in history.

I'm the guy that moved your description to Kato Kiyomasa's own page (please read the discussion point above). I liked what was written but I really do think it belongs there rather than the Bushido section. As I said above that is what links are all about. If we had a similar length addition for everyone mentioned in that article it would be problematic. As it stands now your text is repeated in two places and should be removed from one of them. I'll leave it to you but perhaps you could modify the sentence which first mentions Kato and leave the expansion in the Kato Kiyomasa biography page. Right now the description of the man is longer than what he says about Bushido - more than the usual small intro.Peter Rehse 05:04, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
I also didn't realize how much you did contribute to the article. I didn't mean to step on toes.Peter Rehse 05:14, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

-Oh, dont worry, I know I tend to get long winded. I probably have to cut it down some. Kato was the only Lord with no explanatory paragraph afterwards. Kato is significant because he was born the son of a commoner--a blacksmith, and rose up during the short period of social mobility allowed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. His passage shows that he had lesser appreciation for education and poetry--probably because of his commoner background. It could also be that the Sengoku Daimyo had little time for the luxuries and flowery aspects in life that the Edo Period Samurai appreciated.

Torii Mototada is definitely important because his last statement demonstrates that his adherance to Bushido (his beliefs) caused him to stubornly resist a massive invasion. His belief in Loyalty and Duty changed the course of Japanese history. He clearly says so in his final letter. He also tells his son not to aspire for lordship or desire money.

There are plenty of people out there who say that the Samurai didn't emphasize Bushido or the aspects of loyalty during the Sengoku (Pre-Tokugawa) era, yet here are examples and one of them shifted power away from the Toyotomi to the Tokugawa.

No problem. I'll remove the paragraph from the biography page to sooth my hatred of redundancy so we will be back where we were before. I don't think people are disputing the existance of codes on honor (by whatever name) but there is a bit of reactionism against over romantization. For every example of the higher ideal there is another of the more base. Nitobe tried showing the west how alike Bushido and Chivilry were in the good sense, but one does have to ask how the average knight or samurai behaved. I don't know who it was that critisized Karl Friday above (the advantages of registration) but he lived and studied in Japan, studied one of the older Koryu (has a menkyo kaiden), and has probably read the same texts in Japanese. He certainly doesn't make the case that codes of conduct didn't exist - just that they weren't universily followed.Peter Rehse 05:51, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

-I am not impressed by Karl Friday. I have seen some Bushido articles where he obviously didnt bother to look anything up and tries to say that Bushido is Bull or something in that order. These articles i do not agree with.

The article is "Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition". Not Bushido is Bull. It is complete with references to both English and Japanese articles and makes an interesting and pretty convincing case. The main thrust is a comparison between what the Imperial Army defined and glorified as Bushido and what the medieval samurai knew as such. If anything his case is that the behaviour of the Japanese imperial army during WWII was a propagandistic corruption of the Japanese Warrior Tradition. I would certainly like to think so. I personally think Dr. Karl Friday does a very good job and would recommend his books. "Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Japan." is a bit academic, while Legacies of the Sword: The Kashima-Shinryu and Samurai Martial Culture is mainly about the Koryu he trained in while studying history in Japan. I never got the impression that he was not intimately familiar with his area of expertise which extends far beyond English language sources. I'm pretty sure he has read the same stuff you have and far more (ie Japanese sources). Not trying to put Karl Friday up or your perspective down but I really don't see him disagreeing with your overall thesis. I will say that accusing him of not cracking a book or looking things up is a bit off.Peter Rehse 08:39, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
    • Peter, My Great Grandfather and several of my great uncles served in the Japanese Imperial Army in Manchuria and in other areas before and during World War II. At least one uncle was a Kamikaze pilot at the age of 17. Some of them were descendants of high ranked warrior families. I can tell you with some certainty that the articles above over simplify and are simply not true in some parts. My uncle who was a Kamikaze pilot is still alive and he tells me how the government trained and indoctrinated them. We have long discussions at the dinner table about this. I found out that he was a pilot after knowing him for my entire life. Last year he showed me pictures of his Aviation squadron with him dressed in white formal uniform. We had to ask him directly if he was a Kamikaze and he answered "yes", went to his closet and produced a real katana. He was feeling nostalgic that day and showed us pictures of the reunion of the surviving pilots in Japan he attended recently. We probably would have gone the rest of our lives not knowing, if we didnt ask about it. He is a close relative and we see him often, but they never speak of such things because of manners.

My great uncle died within the last few years and he told stories of being captured, sent to Siberia and escaping to return to Japan, years after the war was over. My mother said that he had been declared dead by the government and funerals held. They all told the stories of experiences in the Imperial Army. Another uncle returned home emaciated, having survived by eating insects in the pacific islands. He also returned years later after the war. We have written and verbal accounts of my great grandfathers experiences in Manchuria. My grandmothers family were the highest ranked members of the Date Clan for hundreds of years and they served until the Meiji restoration. My grandfathers side of the family served as Buddhist ministers and are currently 19th generation descendants in the same building! They live in a temple in Kumamoto-ken founded the by the feudal lord Kato Kiyomasa. The temple celebrated its 400th anniversary a few years ago. It has been passed down from father to oldest son for 400 years. There was a direct passing down of values from the old feudal families to the generations who fought in the pacific. The values were passed on and didnt change until after the war.

There are several websites containing the writings of Kamikaze. Many of them are final letters before they went on the last mission. You can see that they were well aware that the government asked them to do things that they did not agree with and cite the treachery or tricks of politcians, but they agreed to go anyways. They cited the beauty and values of their mother land as the reason. I could easily refute these articles point by point. I will have to take the time to reread them.


By the by William Scott Wilson is trained in political science (BA) and literature (BA), not history. I think he does a great job in translating (I have all but his last book) but a historians, approach is much more critical. That is something that must be understood when comparing Mr.s Friday and Wilson. I know I mentioned it above but Karl Friday's immersion in one of the oldest extant koryu also gives him a very unique view point of what Bushido is and isn't. A Menkyo Kaiden is far beyond Saturday morning sword swinging. By comparison William Scott Wilson is an outsider looking in.Peter Rehse 09:11, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

  • Wilson consulted with and listed in his book the names of all of the experts he used. The book I quoted "Ideals of the Samurai was exhaustively reseached. Wilson's skills are obviously very good since he was selected by the Japanese Embassy to work as an advisor. Like I said, I have first hand knowledge of the experiences of the Kamikaze, the Imperial Army and how these people were indoctrinated. I also have a little first hand knowledge of Samurai, because oral and written history has been passed down in the family. This is easily corroborated by historical record. The so-called "experts" are in deep trouble because just a small fraction of existing writings have been translated into English. The Samurai House codes are relatively unexplored and they provide the greatest insight into what the warriors were really about. Wilson was on the right track and he opened the door into a interesting area of research. That is why I am a fan of his books.

He recently received an award ffrom the Consulate General of Japan:

__This Wikipedia was a mess when I first saw it. People were saying Bushido started in the Tokugawa era and anyone who has ever used a Japanese dictionary knows this isnt true. Look at the silly debates above. The Samurai House Codes are strikingly similar over time and geographic location spanning hundreds of years. My point is that you can read what Imagawa wrote in 1412 and what Kato and Torii wrote circa 1600 and they are nearly the same- emphasizing loyalty and respect for elders, etc. People dont even realize that if it wasnt for Bushido and the aspect of loyalty, Tokugawa could have been captured at his headquarters at Fushimi.... and killed. (Tokugawa actually considered devoting his troops to the defense of Fushimi and making a stand there)

It took a lot of political manuvering and a small miracle (the defection of a major lord during the battle) for Tokugawa to win Sekigahara which was THE battle of all battles in Japan. It decided the fate of the entire country for hundreds of years

-if you do a google search for the word "Bushido" this entry comes up almost at number one....and it was terrible. It is really important that it be accurate because so many people read it. The wikipedia entry for "Seppuku" said that it was a "shameful act, rare and caused the person to lose their estate" which is absolutely wrong. (I have since provided the links and material heavily used in SEPPUKU, SAMURAI and RONIN definitions) The entry for "Ronin" said that it was a person "who had foresaken honor and failed to commit seppuku" again totally wrong. For some odd reason Japanese history and Samurai attracts a large number of people who make up "facts". This is the first step in setting the record straight. I have about a dozen more translations and some from Wilson's book that demonstrate the uniformity of Samurai codes over time and geography.

Personally I am not that hung up on the word. If a different term was used to describe essentially the same thing during different periods that is fine. Just as point of discussion, the defections to Tokugawa were not only decisive but a clear example of a failure to follow the ideals of Bushido (ie loyalty). Historically intances of ideals being set aside for convenience abound. This is, in my opinion, an important consideration when describing the who and what the samurai were. Of course this article is about Bushido not all aspects of the samurai.Peter Rehse 07:08, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

-Bushido or the House codes from which Bushido developed were suprisingly static over the years given the fact that they developed from Buddhism and the Chinese classics such as the Analects of Confucious. As far as loyalty goes, here is my undertanding of it: The Samurai usually pledged loyalty to their immediate lord, whom they probably served for many years. In many cases, their ancestors served the ancestors of their immediate leader for several generations. These regional lords pledged loyalty to higher level lords such as the Toyotomi and Tokugawa. These alliances DID shift according to convenience and compensation. If you look at the Samurai ideal, what they wrote, you will see that they did admire loyalty to their immediate superior. The study of the chinese classics which were already very ancient, reinforces filial piety, etc...

-another important point is that a lot of people say that the "way of the warrior is death" (emphasis on death) began in the Edo period. These entries clearly show the Sengoku Daimyo stating "a samurai's only duty is to grasp the sword and die" and Torii states " i will stand off the forces of the entire country and die a resplendant death". Another Myth dispelled.

Post your sources

I vote to remove the Chamberlain and Karl Friday sections. These people are not doing their reading.


"Shinto, the notion of loyalty to the Emperor, and bushido, which he notes does not appear in any dictionary before 1900. In critiquing bushido Chamberlain declared, “Chivalrous individuals of course existed in Japan, as in all countries at every period; but Bushido, as an institution or a code of rules, has never existed. "

REAL SAMURAI WARLORD: In his writings, Shiba Yoshimasa dictated that a warrior should not hesitate to lay down his life for an important cause such as the defense of the emperor:

First, a man whose profession is the use of arms should think and then act upon not only his own fame, but also that of his descendants. He should not scandalize his name forever by holding his one and only life too dear. On the other hand, in the light of this, to consider this life that is given to us only once as nothing more than dust and ashes, and lose it at a time when one should not, would be to gain a reputation that is not worth mentioning. One's main purpose in throwing away his life is to do so either for the sake of the Emperor or in some great undertaking of a military general.


Several famous sengoku daimyo mention Bushido in their writings. Lord Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611) orders his men to follow it:

If a man does not investigate into the matter of Bushido daily, it will be difficult for him to die a brave and manly death. Thus it is essential to engrave this business of the warrior into one's mind well.....One should put forth great effort in matters of learning. One should read books concerning military matters, and direct his attention exclusively to the virtues of loyalty and filial piety.....Having been born into the house of a warrior, one's intentions should be to grasp the long and the short swords and to die.


"Bushido" is a very tricky term, one of those we're probably all best off just forgetting about. It was scarcely used at all until the modern period (in fact, Nitobe, whose Bushido: the Soul of Japan did more than any other work to publicize the term, thought he had invented it!).

In fact, there is no source given in the article cited above. But there is another.

"In the first place, the term was not used to designate a code of warrior behavior until the early modern era and was only rarely used in this context prior to the late nineteenth century. (In fact, the word was so unusual that Nitobe Inazo, whose 1899 tract, Bushidó: the Soul of Japan, probably did more than any other single book to popularize the idea of bushidó in both Japan and the West, was able to believe that he had invented it himself!)" Karl Friday, Bushidó or Bull? A Medieval Historian’s Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition, in: The History Teacher, Volume 27, Number 3, May 1994, pages 339-349.

In this article Friday referrs to G. Cameron Hurst, III, "Death, Honor and Loyalty: the Bushido Ideal," Philosophy East & West, 40 (1990), pp. 512-13. --PJ

Tell that to Kato Kiyomasa.

Even as a kind of historiographic term--i.e. a modern label for warrior ideology--"bushido" is a problematic construct. There was very little discussion in written form of proper "warrior-ness," except for legal codes developed by daimyo, until the Tokugawa period.

  • This is absolutely false

The concept of a code of conduct for the samurai was a product of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Japan was at peace, not the medieval "Age of the Country at War."

*What he means is that there is very little translated into ENGLISH which Americans can read. Just because it is not translated doesnt mean it doesnt exist. (see above examples) There are hundreds of additional house codes and writings which are untranslated and they clearly spell out the qualities of Bushido.

The Japanese Dictionary definition of Bushido:

According to the Japanese dictionary Shogakukan Kokugo Daijiten: "Bushido is defined as a unique philosophy (ronri) that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi (chusei) period."

I'm not sure who you are as you have not signed your name.
  • What does posting my name have to do with the fact that you are posting false material?
I added a quotation from Chamberlain for balance. A quote from a respected Japanologist
  • If you call a person a "respected Japanologist" who didnt bother to read the Samurai writings or the dictionary, you are not doing enough research.

is not "false information" (as was stated by the person who removed it). If you feel that Chamberlain's view is incorrect, add a paragraph proving him wrong.

  • I'd like to see you post a holocaust denial on a Jewish website. I already DID post the material proving him wrong. You are suffering from the same problem as Chamberlin: Denial and failure to read Japanese literature.
Is this your response to my challenge to add a refutation to Chamberlain? Sorry, I can't see how doubts about "Bushido" rank up there with "holocaust denial". In addition to which, the refutation needs to be posted in the article itself.

Censoring -- deleting -- views that you don't agree with is not the way to go. In fact, these views are quite widely held and some mention should be made of them, otherwise the article can only be described as biased.

  • You are intentionally posting false material it will be deleted by admistrator if necessary. Read the actual 750+ year old writings and learn. Chamberlin didnt even bother to read the dictionary.
Which dictionary? Shogakukan Kokugo Daijiten? So anything that disagrees with you will be deleted? On whose say-so? You haven't even identified yourself.
Bathrobe 06:44, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

  • What part are you not understanding? Chamberlain claims that loyalty to the emperor didnt exist. I posted writings of a warlord who stated that you should die for the emporer. Entire families existed to serve the emporer. These "Japanologists" as you call them are the same thing as the Holocaust denial people.

"the notion of loyalty to the Emperor, and bushido, which he notes does not appear in any dictionary before 1900." DUHHHHHHH come on.

There are significant point-of-view differences over this issue. If you are so confident you are right, you shouldn't be afraid to put a note concerning this in the article itself. It would help your credibility a great deal. People coming to this article are going to conclude it's written by a fanatic. You can't simply ignore the doubts that have been raised about the authenticity of Bushido (the doubts being that Meiji-period bushido was a very different animal from the actual warrior codes of the feudal era). The only way to deal with these doubts is to post a short paragraph refuting them. To do otherwise is to do users of Wikipedia a disservice.
Bathrobe 07:43, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I posted a relevant quote from several translations of writings which are ancient (375 to 750 years old). These disprove the idiots who try to claim that Bushido is a Edo Period invention and that loyalty was never emphasized etc. The largest Japanese dictionaries state that it developed in the Muromachi Period. The only "doubts" come from people who had limited exposure to Japanese literature. Chamberlin probably based his views on the Hagakure and Edo period works.
The doubts and the refutations have to go in the article. Can it be so painful? Something along the lines of: "Some modern Western observers have claimed that both the word 'Bushido' and Bushido as an institution or a code of rules was fabricated in the Edo period, and that its application to the Emperor was an innovation of the Meiji Period. However, the word Bushido has been attested in.... The concept of samurai loyalty to the Emperor is also found in (source and date).”
Bathrobe 08:11, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I wouldnt be caught dead posting material from those sources. They are blatantly false and should be ommitted at all cost. Why give idiots free press? I would rather read the translations of what the men actually said.
But if other people post information from these sources, you are not within your rights to delete it. This is not your personal encyclopaedia and not your personal article. You would have a hard time getting the administrator to side with you.
Bathrobe 08:27, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I wrote pretty much this entire page myself. I left some material out of respect to others that I do not agree with. When i first got here, Bushido was defined as" a code developed during the Edo Period" or something similar to that, which is totally false. I posted my sources, where all of the quotes came from and they date back more than 700 years. I am familiar with these two sources which are blatantly false. These men did not bother to read beyond Hagakure.
If it was largely your work, I can appreciate why you feel so protective of the article. However, Wikipedia doesn't belong to one person. The passage I suggested adding doesn't contradict anything that you have written. People who Google for Bushido are going to find the opposing views anyway, and they are just as likely to conclude that the "idiots" (as you call them) are right and that the Wikipedia article was written by a martial arts fanatic (or whatever) and is wrong. You can't exclude other people's views in Wikipedia -- deleting other people's material is a no-no. In this case, I didn't say "Bushido is a modern invention", I noted that people have raised doubts -- which is not false, it is true. You have to have a good reason for deleting something that is factual. As I have said, your best defence of your position is to state why these doubts are not, inf fact, valid.

Bathrobe 08:54, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

  • i dont hold claim over any of this. I am merely a stickler for accuracy. I would delete any false information anywhere. I already have stated why my position is valid. You are the one posting uninformed sources. Chamberlain doesnt even say what causes his beliefs, Karl Friday is just plain making statements contradictory to written record.

So you are saying that a statement of the form: "Some observers claim x, but x is demonstrably false based on the following sources:..." is false? For that is what you are saying!

I appreciate your point that the written record should be paramount. It's something that is too often disregarded. Still, the fact that these people were wrong in ways that you have pointed out doesn't necessarily invalidate the larger point, that Meiji-style Bushido was different from the original code in certain respects.

For instance, you allude to the fact that one 'feudal lord', Shiba Yoshimasa said that "One's main purpose in throwing away his life is to do so ... for the sake of the Emperor". This contradicts those people who claim that the code of Bushido was not originally meant as a code of loyalty to the Emperor. However, I would be curious to know if this was a general principle of Bushido, or one specific instance in a specific era (given that the Bakufu at that time was in Kyoto). Put it another way, does the fact that Shiba Yoshimasa said that bushi should lay down their life for the Emperor mean that this became an immutable part of the Bushido code, that was carried over automatically into the Meiji period? Or was it a specific case in a specific time and place that needed to be stated anew after the Meiji Restoration? Since I have not read the sources in question as you have, I would be interested in hearing your comment. Bathrobe 12:43, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

I posted the quote by Yoshimasa to refute Chamberlains assertion that "the notion of loyalty to the Emperor, and bushido, which he notes does not appear in any dictionary before 1900." Chamberlains should have known that the warriors DID write about loyalty to the emperor especially since many were related to and existed for the purpose of serving him. All of the great unifiers of the country had to obtain final approval from the emperor: The great Taiko, Hideyoshi, the Shogun Tokugawa, etc......

I find it hilarious that a bunch of amateur historians and bushido fanatics are criticising the work of a well-respected professor of Japanese history, Prof. Karl Friday. Go check your history books and monographs and see how many people use Prof. Friday's book Hired Swords as a reference. To quote the Kato Kiyomasa section from an ENGLISH TRANSLATION is incorrect. The translation used is from Wilson's book, which also has Imagawa Ryoshun as using the term 'bushido'. I have the Japanese writing of Ryoshun's Imagawa-jo, and the term he uses is budo, NOT bushido. I suspect the same is probably true for Kiyomasa. The only people that need to do some more reading are you bushido fanatics. Try reading some history books, or at least get a clue as to who the respected historians in the field are. To see both Friday and Conlan insulted on this discussion page - the very same discussion page that is littered with so many other misconceptions of bushido that I lack the strength to even begin arguing - makes me just shake my head in disgust.--AngusH 00:34, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Link to "Samurai Creed" should be reconsidered

I cant find any mention of Samurai Creed in Japanese Literature. I think this is a modern invention and should be omitted

People posting here seem to have the bad habit of not identifying themselves.
Bathrobe 07:48, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Not identifying yourself is not the problem. I cannot find the "Samurai Creed" in any historical document. It is more than likely a modern construction. I challenge the poster of this material to post the source LIKE I DID for my quotes.

The "Expert Speaks" Link

The link to Kodansha site about WILLIAM SCOTT WILSON's book "The Lone Samurai The Life of Miyamoto Musashi" is fine, but the interview at the bottom doesn't quite live up to the hype. There are a couple of problems:

Quote: "Bushido might be explained in part by the etymology of the Chinese characters used for the word. Bu comes from two radicals meanings "stop" and "spear." So even though the word now means "martial" or "military affair," it has the sense of stopping aggression."

  • Using character etymologies is a common fallacy. The etymology of a character cannot be interpreted as the meaning of a word. For instance, 'ie' 家 is a roof with a pig underneath, but what does this tell us about the 'ie' system in Japan, for instance? Precious little! The only point that can be made of Wilson's comment is that the character 武 is generally accepted as meaning "martial" or "military affair", but Wilson believes it has the sense of "stopping aggression".

Quote: "Shi can mean "samurai," but also means "gentleman" or "scholar." Looking at the character, you can see a man with broad shoulders but with his feet squarely on the ground."

  • The character 士 had a lot of meanings in ancient Chinese, including "bachelor", "gentleman", "scholar", etc. All very well and good. It's also used in (for instance) the modern Chinese word for "nurse" 護士/护士. Does this mean we are supposed to imagine nurses as men with broad shoulders with their feet squarely on the ground? Wilson is simply making too much of the origins of the character 士.

Quote: "How is the code reflected in Japanese society today?" Answer: "When I first came to live in Japan in the 60's, I was impressed how totally dedicated and loyal people were to the companies where they were employed. When I eventually understood the words samurai and saburau, it started to make sense."

  • Yes, this has a certain resonance, but it is a personal feeling on the part of the speaker that needs to be backed up by facts. Filling in the gaps between ancient codes developed in relation to the samurai class and modern-day Japanese values is a detailed job for the historian. An impressionistic statement, no matter how expert the man may be, is insufficient.

I suggest that the link can remain, but the description 'An Expert Speaks' should be changed to 'Introduction to "The Lone Samurai The Life of Miyamoto Musashi" and interview with the author'. Bathrobe 00:45, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Bathrobe, thanks for the explanation. In addition to being Japanese, having nearly two decades of research experience on Japanese history, read and write the language, I am also a direct descendant of the highest ranked member of one of the largest Samurai clans. I am well aware of what these mean and I can assure you that Wilson's work is just fine and I am very impressed by it. Save your breath. You are an outsider looking in.

I am not the only person sharing this opinion, If you read the above links, you will see that Wilson was honored by the Japanese embassy in Florida for his works and was also a consultant to the Japanese embassy in Washington. I am pretty sure he would not have had this recognition if his work was substandard. Even the Japanese government is suitably impressed.

Thank you for your reply, you have laid my mind at rest.
Your original objections to any attempts to alter this page were based on an appeal to factual accuracy. Now that I have called into question the accuracy of the content of one of the links, you abandon that course, and resort to asserting your "superior knowledge": "I am Japanese, I read and write Japanese, I have two decades of research experience, .... save your breath, you are an outsider looking in." Your credentials (assuming they are authentic) would be impressive if they weren't covering up for the fact that you haven't mustered a single fact to answer the point that I raised. The fact that you are (if we are to believe you) Japanese does not automatically make you an expert on Chinese characters, their etymologies, or the relevance of character etymologies to language.
  • You try to pass yourself off as some sort of expert, when the information you provided are very rudimentary and basic characters, well known and simple translation. Wilson merely tries to make the information understandable to the English speaking world. I am very sure he could go into great (and boring to most people) depths on the esoteric characters no longer used.
--On the contrary, you are not answering the simple point that I made. Whether or not Wilson was merely trying to "make the information undrestandable to the English speaking world", the use of character etymologies is inherently problematic. If you can prove otherwise, go ahead! But please don't say things like "you try to pass yourself off as some sort of expert". Expressing contempt for other people doesn't make you look better. Wikipedia:No_personal_attacks
  • It is quite obvious that during the interview wilson cannot give legnthy/boring replies to the interviewer. If this interview were for a Academic journal, I am sure he would go into great depths. The fact that you cant see this is very telling.
  • My direct and extended family and family friends have donated artifacts handed down through the generations to a major museum and some sat on the boards of directors. I think it is very funny when some so-called expert comes up and tells me how my family grew up and what their values were.
--Come again? I don't believe I have come up and told you how your family grew up and what their values were. In fact, we don't even know who you are. You haven't even got a User page to identify you as a contributor! (We don't need to know your name, but it might be useful if you could state all your credentials in one place so people can judge what your background is). See Wikipedia:Sign_your_posts_on_talk_pages.
  • Why does the wikipedia allow me to post then? It seems to Irk you that an unnamed person has exposed your lack of knowledge about Bushido.
  • My direct family has written history and documents which are hundreds of years old. Much of the information is significant because it details the history of the surrounding regions. I also have access to information regarding the development of the Tohoku region until the Meiji era. The main branch of my family lives in a temple which is 404 years old and was built by the feudal lord Kato Kiyomasa. My grandmother's family are direct descendants of the highest ranked member of the Date Clan.
--You seem to have a personal stake in all this! Perhaps your strong identification with the samurai class isn't helping you see other points of view.
  • Your assumption, like all of your other statements are..assumptions, are incorrect. I tend to listen to people who were actually present when an event occurred, which is why I would read Mitford, who was a member of the British Legation in the 1860's when he wrote about the Bakufu. I would also give more credibility to members of the military of that era when they say they werent exposed to bushido propaganda. I have that insight. I have actually spoken to military veterans who were in the Imperial army My family associations aid in my understanding of history because they pass on verbal and written history, sat on boards of museums etc....
The point I made about Chinese characters was a reasonable one and pertains to an area in which I am not, as you assert, "an outsider looking in". If you are unable to give a proper answer to this, then I can only conclude that much of your bluster about the rest of the article is also suspect. (It appears that this is not the first time you have been caught out. If I am not mistaken, you are also the person who had to climb down after asserting that Imagawa Ryoshun used the word Bushido. Perhaps a little humility would be in order).
  • Let me make this very clear. First of all, It is clear from the Streenstrup translation that it is a less direct translation and therefore open to interpretation. He is a great translator and I have the utmost respect for his works, and appeciate him for making them accessible to the English speaking world. However, the Wilson translation is more direct. Even the academics agree on this. I would hold the opinions of Streenstrup in highest regard as opposed to the so-called Bushido denial group who didnt bother to read or translate the older books. As for myself, I still havent had a chance to view the original document written in Kanbun.

As for the article itself, there are definitely places where it could be written better. You speak above of refuting the views of people like Chamberlain through your quotations, but in the article itself you never make it clear that you are arguing against these people. If the article was written as a refutation of them, that should be made explicit. If not, then it needs to be rewritten to remove that particular slant, by which I mean the slant inherent in the fact that you are implicitly arguing against unnamed persons.
  • Chamberlain does not even go into detail as to what causes him to believe Bushido is not real. Other historians quote him and so the chain continues. His opinion goes against written record. It is obvious that he did NO in depth research.
--I think you've made your point about Chamberlain ad nauseum. That is not what I was saying above.
As it is, the article mainly consists of a string of biographical details and quotes that are not tied together to make a point. It would be useful if the point was made that (as you said above) "The Samurai House Codes are strikingly similar over time and geographic location spanning hundreds of years. ...You can read what Imagawa wrote in 1412 and what Kato and Torii wrote circa 1600 and they are nearly the same - emphasizing loyalty and respect for elders, etc." That would be the first step to giving the string of biographies/quotes a little more coherence.
  • Any person can read the entries and conclude that the chronology presents a clear, unbroken chain demonstrating the Bushido ethic from the 13th century to the Meiji Era. My chronology could be organized a bit better, but i will be editing over time.
--Well, I'm afraid it didn't read that way to me. It just read like a string of biographical details and quotes.
  • Which is a lot more than Chamberlain provided. where are his sources? I make sure to give mine. The biographical details and quotes are very important.

Finally, I have no doubt that William Scott Wilson is a person of great depth of learning. However, I doubt he was awarded anything by the Japanese Embassy in Florida. As a researcher with twenty years' experience, I am sure you are aware that embassies are found only in capital cities. It is more likely that he was given an award by the Japanese consulate.
  • Read it for yourself. This comes directly from the Consulate's own website:


  • Here is an article in the Miami Herald noting the award:


--I said he was probably given the award by the consulate, not by the embassy as you stated. Couldn't you just say "Sorry, I meant the consulate"?
Bathrobe 14:51, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Please stop wasting our time by making things up. This is not the "what a 15 year old learned by playing Samurai video games" webpage. I thank people like Streenstrup and Wilson for making the actual translations available to the public. We should all learn from this.
  • Administrators, I hope you are taking note of this uninformed person trying to downgrade the quality of this site. By the way, much of my information is verified by a professor at a major university in Japan with a PHD in Japanese History and is certified by the Ministry of Education. I have also contributed accurate information to the Wikipedia pages for Ronin, Samurai and Date Masamune.
--I am not sure why you claim I am making things up. I am basically suggesting three changes to the article:
1. A simple sentence at the beginning of the History section would add greatly to the clarity of the article: "The Samurai House Codes are strikingly similar over time and geographic location spanning hundreds of years....." This would bring the entire section into focus.
2. A point should be added that 'Bushido has always embraced service to the Emperor. In his writings, Shiba Yoshimasa dictated that a warrior should not hesitate to lay down his life for an important cause such as the defense of the emperor'. That way people will know where you are coming from.
3. "The Expert Speaks" should be changed to 'Introduction to "The Lone Samurai The Life of Miyamoto Musashi" and interview with the author'.
As a fourth point, I personally would prefer it if you could put in a sentence noting the existence of Bushido deniers and pointing out that they are wrong. But you seem hostile to anything like this, despite the fact that this is also factual information!
None of these suggestions would detract from what you are saying. I am quite happy for you go to the Administrators as I don't believe that I am "trying to downgrade the quality of this site" with my suggestions.
--Bathrobe 11:56, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

The bottom line here is these so-called researchers ignored 800 years of literature and then proclaim the warriors code a modern invention. They dont really merit any mention because they did not do the reseach of Streenstrup and the others who took the time to translate the ancient documents of the early sengoku period or earlier. Your three suggestions differ sharply from what you first posted.

By even bringing up the names of these incompetents you are mixing in Mc Donalds with Gourmet food.

Shiba Yoshimasa's is a good quote because he emphasizes service to the emporer and it shows that Chamberlain didnt bother to read his literature. The Fujiwara are one example of a family who existed for and were intermarried into the emporer's family. Chamberlains works are quoted by contemporary historians who dont bother to verify whether he was correct or not. The misinformation continues on because of ignorance.

This is not hostile. The article is written so that a reasonably intelligent person can see the chronology of the ethic which developed over 800 years. I give wikipedia readers the benefit of the doubt. I am sure they are smart enough to recognize this.

You keep repeating your dismissal of Chamberlain et al! If you read what I said you will realise where I was coming from.
My original quotation from Chamberlain, quite some days ago, was put up in good faith as I understood that Chamberlain was a respected foreign observer of the Meiji period. You have made adequately clear why you object to his dismissal of Bushido. I get the feeling that, having waved a red flag at a bull, the bull still keeps charging me no matter what I do!
  • If I had to choose a work from that era, I would name off Lafcadio Hearn (complete works are available online), Mitford (Has minor factual errors, but is otherwise a great work--entire work is online)
I understand your hostility to Chamberlain, but I suspect that what Chamberlain was railing against was not ancient Bushido itself, but the way in which it, along with many old concepts, was being shaped into a new entity -- one might say same ingredients, different flavour. His mistake was to say that some of the ingredients were 'fake' when they were not. This you have made very clear.
  • Chamberlain and Friday are so far off base that they dont even merit a mention other than as a joke. Their works basically feed off of each other and when discussing Japanese history, you would look silly to even bring it up.

At any rate, I would be interested in what you and other contributors have to say to my suggestions. As I said, I think they make things clearer by providing a brief framework into which the elements of the article fit.
Bathrobe 09:15, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

How does this article stack up? (It does refer to Friday but seems to agree with your analysis to some extent):

  • This article while good in some parts, has some of the same misconceptions, such as the use of Bushido during WWII as a propaganda tool. There are those veterans who say that they never were subjected to Bushido indoctrination. There are also claims that it was a invention specifically for use during the conflict, when in actuality, it was probably older officers who were passing on the tradition. There are several angles to this. I have read copies of Kamikaze Pilots fianl letters where they state that they were aware that the governmnet lies to them, but thay are making the last flight anyway to defend their family and the beauty of the country, etc.... I can provide links and bibliography for all of this. It goes beyond the scope of the Bushido page and belongs on the Kamikaze page.

Right or wrong?

So Im writting a paper on European and Japanese millitary capabilities and practice in the middle ages. It is sort of a comparison betweene knights and samurais. So my question would be about the accuracy of the bushido article? All the sources mentioned in the article are europena ( excepte those historical), how come no japanese historians wrote on the subject? I would be grateful if anyone could send me a list of litterature on the subject( . .

Turnbull is good and is available at your library: [3]

also A. Bryant works would be good for this research: [4]

  • There are many sites by Japanese historians, however the language barrier prevents much of this to be useful. The translated works are however, very limited and give an inaccurate view of Bushido since they are from such a small representation of the available works (Budoshoshinshu, Go Rin No Sho and Hagakure.CA 1700AD) It can also be said that the aforementioned works were penned during the era of relative peace of the Tokugawa era and do not reflect the values of the "true" fighting warriors of the Sengoku Jidai (pre-1600). This is strictly my opinion, but after reviewing the older works of the warriors, I can see that these "newer" works (the ones translated to English) ARE a accurate representation of the warrior values and I dont see anything wrong in studying them. However keep the context in mind. I am the oerson who wrote most of this page, and you can be assured that I have included the widest selection of quotes Available in English to show the development of the code from 1200-1600AD.

I have read the discusion above and, altough i am not a historian, some things that have been said here are incorrect. Some say that Bushido is a fictional philosophy created by the imperial goverment before W.W.II as popaganda, other say that bushido has been gloryfied by pop culture today. . . As I see it, its the same thing with chivalry and there is no such discussion there. . . It has also been renowned as something grate when in fact, for the most, part it wasnt . . .

  • The origins of Bushido date back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Examples have been posted here in Wikipedia. I admire it as a part of history, because the way of life was empashized as a "honor" code and included manners, etiquette, respect and education...balance in life. Not just violence and killing. Keep in mind that these people were fighting for their lives and those of their family. Winning and success were the most important, but these people also recognized that all people should be treated humanely and that excess of any form was bad and that people should also be humble. The Sengoku Jidai was a time of terrible bloodshed and suffering. Most people like to glorify it when they talk about the warriors, but the military leaders themselves could not rule by brute force and intimidation, They realized that "without the love and respect of the masses, all matters are difficult to achieve."
  • Bushido was passed on by older military officers and was used to some extent during WWII where it gained a bad name in both Japan and in the west. In Japan, a historian that I communicate with tells me that they are just now beginning to study Bushido after all of these years because it was and still is a taboo subject. Japanese Veterans of WWII have scoffed at the notion of Bushido's inluence as propaganda, stating that there was no such influence. I am inclined to listen to those who were actually there.

Somebody said that the book shogun was a bad influence . . . Why? I have read the book and have always thought that the description of their way of life was accurate. . . I apologize for all the bad grammar and typing errors . . .

  • I have read Clavell's books and seen the movie and there were some minor errors, nothing outrageous though. Obviously the story had to be embellished (liberty taken with some events and names) in order to keep it entertaining. Japanese Purists and historians may cringe at it, but I didn't see anything offensive or outrageous about it. In fact, if you want an interesting research area, this book was based on the true life exploits of Will Adams (see the book ["Samurai William"] ). Adams was a Englishman, shipwrecked in Japan who rose to become a trusted advisor to Ieyasu Tokugawa and was awarded the rank of Hatamoto and a large fiefdom to go along with it, along with hundreds of warriors.

also the works of Sansom are very good:

I tend to agree, Lukamaricl. At the moment, one person who identifies very strongly with the samurai caste is preventing any changes to the article that don't agree with his particular point of view. The article as it stands has a lot of problems.
It presents a specific point of view through a very select group of quotations, without making clear what the quotations are driving at. There is little or no attempt to link Bushido to other issues of history or society.
  • Please give wikipedia readers the benefit of the doubt. People can see that the quotes emphasize, the same unchanging values over time. They are written in the hand of the warriors themselves. If Chamverlain had listed his sources and listed his bibliography, we wouldnt be having silly discussions. I list my sources.

It is only on your say-so that Wikipedia readers are supposed to understand what you are driving at. I don't happen to agree. You wrote most of the article single-handed but you may not have noticed that the content no longer belongs to you. People are within their rights to change the article without interference from you.

  • You are just mad because you tried to lecture a Japanese person on basic Kanji that any Karate Student knows and use examples of some uninformed western writer such as Chamberlain and Karl Friday and GOT CAUGHT. Now you are trying to BS the people here. It doesnt work that way. You are NO authority on Japanese history or Bushido for that matter.

Bathrobe 01:29, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

There is a tone of undisguised adulation for one or two researchers in the field. When I questioned the accuracy of what one of these researchers said in an interview, I was dismissed as an 'uninformed person'.
  • Hey bathrobe, your lack of knowledge on this subject becomes even more apparent. Streenstrup and Wilson were pretty much the ONLY people who did translations of this type in recent years. There is no "tone of undisguised adulation". It is simply that they are the ONLY people who did legnthy study on these house codes.

  • The two persons named: Wilson and Streenstrup actually took the time to research and translate the actual ancient writings of the warrior leaders. Very few people had the patience or resources to do this. Instead, we have a denial group, who refuses to look up thye older works and tries to deny their existence. This is called burying your head in sand.
There is no discussion of opposing points of view -- indeed, opposing points of view are being excluded point blank -- even for the purposes of refutation!
  • Why would you give press to anyone who is such an insignificant researcher that they didnt bother to even read the dictionary or research the ancient texts of the country that they supposedly researched? While Wilson is receiving recognition from the Japanese government, these men are writing internet articles that are not accurate.

For the very reason that such views are current! Ignoring them without a mention is academically dishonest -- yes, academically dishonest even if you think these guys are 'so far off base' that they don't rate mentioning -- and is also burying your head in the sand. Chamberlain died long before the Internet came along. And he did have the advantage of living in Japan at the time.

Issues such as the role of Bushido in forming the modern nation, the fact that actions by the Japanese military in WWII threw a cloud over the name of Bushido, the modern glorification of Bushido by pop culture, these and other issues are not being addressed and, it seems, will not be allowed to be addressed.
  • Due to the popularity of video games, If you look at many Japanese entries in Wikipedia, you will see such odd entries as "This character was portrayed in ________" video game " or song or media. Encylcopedias do not have entries like this. If you want a "Bushido in Pop Culture page", be my guest, I won't touch it. This page is for accuracy and the history of Bushido.
  • example from the wikipedia "Samurai" page: "Samurai are also heroes and enemies in many games where they are generally depicted wielding katana as foot soldiers. An example of one such American game is the Age of Empires series. Some popular Japanese titles featuring samurai include Samurai Warriors, Seven Samurai, and there is even a lead character portraying a samurai in the Sci-Fi thriller game, Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse. Jin Uzuki, Shion Uzuki's brother, is a Samurai wannabe who fights only with a sword, trying to force his Kimono styles onto his sister." If you want to make up a pop-culture page for Bushido, so that I can keep silly CRAP like this off of this one, I welcome your efforts.

I have raised some of these points above and am still waiting for a reasonable response. If there is no response forthcoming, then I will have no choice but start making changes to the article.
  • You are so far off base quoting these "historians" who are no different from the Holocaust denial people, I can tell that you know very little about Japanese history or Bushido. I will be here to change back the article each time and a complaint will be filed with the Administrators.

Go ahead and complain. You seem to have lost sight of the fact that Wikipedia doesn't belong to you personally. I happen to feel that the views of these men should be put in the article simply for the purpose of refutation. I don't care how glorious your background is,

  • i do not claim a "glorious" background. I claim greater knowledge of Bushido than you do because I have first hand knowledge of those supposedly exposed to it during the war and those descended fom the warrior class in real life. Stop making up stories.

your contention that these people's views should be excluded is simply a personal opinion and is not sufficient grounds for acting as a dictator over the article. (And I sign my comments!)

  • I never said that. I said that uninformed writers who didnt do research should not be given press. They take a back seat to those researchers who DID study and translate the REAL articles.Your lack of knowledge on the topic of Bushido is so glaring, because any knowledgeable person would not be having this discussion. GO WRECK A DIFFERENT WIKIPEDIA PAGE. You have zero credibility here. Why fixate on one you know nothing about?

Bathrobe 01:22, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

  • You sign your articles, but does that guarantee greater knowledge of Bushido? NO. You are just upset because an unsigned person has greater knowledge.
  • You sign as "bathrobe" does that really count as signing? what kind of a name is bathrobe? In your case you might want to consider NOT SIGNING since we now know that anything typed by you is suspect as inaccurate and we can now identify and label it as such. Quit while you are ahead.
You are insulting and arrogant in your use of language. You also have the gall to denigrate other people who you know absolutely nothing about. Let me make it clear: I have never claimed great knowledge of Bushido. As an ordinary reader, however, it is clear to me that the article is poorly written for reasons I have already set out. Your only response to reasonable suggestions for change is an appeal to some large amorphous body of "Wikipedia readers" who are all supposedly able to fill in the gaps you have left.
  • If you dont claim knowledge of Bushido, then stop fixating on this page and go wreck a different one. You didnt know that Wilson and Streenstrup were the only two who had done extensive research into the house codes and you labelled my mention of them as a "tone of undisguised adulation". That is pure BS.
As for your contention that "uninformed writers who didnt do research should not be given press", that is purely your personal opinion. There are plenty of places on Wikipedia where information is given with the specific objective of correcting misapprehensions. What gives you the right to dictate that this page should be different?
  • and what gives you the right to lecture us with rudimentary kanji that anyone learns on their first week in karate class? I am not impressed.
I initially gave you the benefit of the doubt because you seemed to have a point and some knowledge of Bushido. But when you responded to valid criticisms of Wilson's mystifications in applying kanji etymologies (which don't require an iota of knowledge about Bushido to notice) with a completely intolerant dismissal of other people's points of view, it became clear that you are not quite the infallible font of knowledge that you pretend to be. Only the totally insecure can respond so vehemently (and so ineptly) to a valid criticism! You are just upset because somebody has the temerity to stand up to your bullying tactics.

Bathrobe 14:43, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

  • What bullying tactics? You asked us to address the "Pop culture influence of Bushido". You can go create your own page for that. I deal in facts not BS. All incorrect information is deleted. That is not bullying.

  • You make a big deal about signing your name, yet you sign as a bathrobe. Whats the purpose of signing if you sign as a bathrobe anyway? Sign with your real name if you want to sign. Signing does not guarantee knowledge of a subject. You sign as bathrobe, yet you know far less than those who remain unsigned. Your argument is void.

Leave discussion of history to us experts instead of trying to put words in our mouths.

I am sorry, I think you are insufferably arrogant. It seems impossible to engage you on any issue, even the most trivial, without provoking a torrent of unjustified abuse and denigration, without ever actually addressing the issue at hand.
  • I expect you to read first and act as an educated person instead of coming here and trying to inject falsehoods and untruths into the article. You try to use big words and pass yourself off as some sort of pseudo-intellectual. You are the arrogant one, trying to pass off knowledge of basic kanji into some authority over the bushido page. By the way, if you look far enough up the page you will see my REAL name posted, not some article of clothing wrapped around a person's wet body after a bath. Signing my real name didn't give me any extra knowledge over the topic of Japanese history. Years of research did. You place the "arrogant" label on me because you are embarassed at being outted here. Please go fixate on a wikipedia page that you DO know something about.
  • Despite this answer, you have at least had the grace to answer some of my questions below. Incidentally, if you look at my user page, you will also find out who I am. You have been on Wikipedia for some time but you don't seem to have figured out the function of user pages.
  • You will also find that I have never made an attempt to pass off "knowledge of basic kanji". I questioned the significance of kanji etymologies to the meaning of words/forms associated with the kanji. I mentioned the kanji etymology for 家, a pig under a roof, simply to point out that the composition of the kanji 家 doesn't really have anything to do with the meaning of the word いえ. Nothing more, nothing less. I am not really that interested in the etymology of kanji because it often has nothing to do with the meaning of the word in question -- which is precisely my point about Wilson's talk.

I am not an expert on Bushido and never pretended to be. But I certainly don't think that you are justified in talking down to me as though I am some kind of filth that happened to cross your path. However, as you don't seem able to accept any kind of criticism that doesn't agree with your own views, I will refrain from engaging in any further bouts of denigration with you. It is futile and demeaning to do so. The language you use ('save your breath, quit while you're ahead') doesn't seem fitting of someone who appears to have some pride in being a descendant of a famous samurai clan. Whatever good intentions you may have (and I am sure you do, as you are obviously trying to paint a historically accurate picture of Bushido based on actual writings), they are quite spoiled by your attitude to people who don't see eye to eye with you. I wish you the best in what you are trying to do. I do suggest, however, that you learn how to write English without adopting a tone of contempt.

Bathrobe 10:16, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

  • The problem is that with the advent of the internet, any person can write an article and proclaim himself as some sort of expert. Many of these people, yourself included, stated the opposite of the truth. I post my sources. A serious historian already knows that the Bushido code is mainly a way of life. Loyalty is directed towards one's superiors, usually the feudal lord. If the family happens to serve the emperor directly, then one could say that they serve the emperor. There were troops who did serve the emperor directly and so yes, it could be loyalty to the emperor.

"I appreciate your point that the written record should be paramount. It's something that is too often disregarded. Still, the fact that these people were wrong in ways that you have pointed out doesn't necessarily invalidate the larger point, that Meiji-style Bushido was different from the original code in certain respects."

  • Just Before the Meiji era, during the Imperial Restoration, the southern clans of Samurai who lived under subjugation of the Tokugawa for 268 years needed a means to overthrow their conquerors and to meet the west's demand for open trade and relations. This could not be done without the guise of making the Emporer appear to be the true leader of the country again, because the Southern Samurai could not raise enough support to overthrow the Tokugawa without it. By manipulation, the clans were able to propose that the Samurai restore the emperor to power and it became known as the Meiji Restoration. The wearing of swords and the Samurai class were abolished soon afterwards. The military was comprised of both commoner and Samurai descendants alike and the aspects of Bushido were used to imbue a sense of nationalism into the troops, whether commoner or not. Westerners try to imply that it was created especially for world war II or that it played a heavy role. I have seen varying accounts where former Kamikaze laughed when asked if they followed Bushido and said "we never yelled Banzai for the emporer before leaving on a mission" Their final letters state that they knew that the government lied to them, but they were dying because of duty to family and country. The older generations of military men likely passed on tenets of Bushido to the soldiers. i really do not think that it was created specifically for the world wars.

"For instance, you allude to the fact that one 'feudal lord', Shiba Yoshimasa said that "One's main purpose in throwing away his life is to do so ... for the sake of the Emperor". This contradicts those people who claim that the code of Bushido was not originally meant as a code of loyalty to the Emperor. However, I would be curious to know if this was a general principle of Bushido, or one specific instance in a specific era (given that the Bakufu at that time was in Kyoto). Put it another way, does the fact that Shiba Yoshimasa said that bushi should lay down their life for the Emperor mean that this became an immutable part of the Bushido code, that was carried over automatically into the Meiji period? Or was it a specific case in a specific time and place that needed to be stated anew after the Meiji Restoration? Since I have not read the sources in question as you have, I would be interested in hearing your comment"

  • the answer to this is very complex. The Emperor was more of a figurehead leader for most of history, even after the Meiji restoration. Since the beginning, the Emperor's power has waxed and waned according to the times. His association with the various warrior families determined his power through the ages. Some families directly supported the Emeperor and were related to the imperial line. Some families existed solely to serve the Imperial family and others contributed troops to act as a personal guard for the emperor. It was desirable to intermarry with the Imperial family to gain some measure of influence over it. Intermarriage with the Imperial line also increased the prestege of one's family line. One could say that Bushido required loyalty to the daimyo who ultimately was loyal to the emperor, so in a way, yes, it was a code of loyalty to the Emperor. In a family that directly served the Emperor, yes it would imply loyalty to the emperor. It is very silly for a historian to make statements to the contrary of this because it is well established in history books and the warriors even wrote about loyalty to the emperor. Even if the writings didnt exist, the actions of the warriors demonstrated loyalty to the emperor. All of the great leaders and unifiers of the country such as Hideyoshi and Tokugawa had to apply to the emperor for official titles. Some of the men did not have the breeding or lineage to become shogun and there is some controversy as to whether Tokugawa Ieyasu did. After the Meiji restoration, power "officially" reverted to the emperor, but make no mistake about it, he was very much a figurehead and subject to the influence of those around him.

  • Support for the emperor was often divided and at one point, the imperial line split into a Northern and Southern Court before being reunited some years later.
  • Thank you for finally giving some answers to questions that I have raised.

Bathrobe 15:47, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Chamberlain and Lafcadio Hearn were friends and despite a lifetime spent in Japan, were both enchanted and frustrated at the same time by their experiences there. Both men experienced discrimination and this led to changes in their writing styles where they expressed these frustrations. As i recall Hearn was paid (at a lower rate) despite being a naturalized citizen, marrying a Japanese woman and adopting a Japanese name. This affected him and his attitudes towards the end of his life. Chamberlain also experienced similar situations. Chamberlain complained in his personal correspondence and he wrote about Japanese society with a critical viewpoint:

The most sober statement of his own convictions comes from a letter written to Hearn in 1891:

I have myself gone through many phases of opinion, but the net result is that they appear to me far inferior to the European race ・at once less profound, less tender, and less imaginative. Much of what strikes one as originality at first is only, so to say, a relative originality as compared with Europe; after a time one finds out either that the thing, whatever it may be was borrowed from China, or else perhaps that, though superficially pretty, it is not really worth so much as the corresponding thing in the West. Take poetry, for instance. It is perhaps the best instance. I threw myself with the greatest ardour into Japanese poetry, even to the length of trying to compose it. I read practically all, from the Many・i>sh・downwards, and I now see that all of it together hardly contains so much imaginative power as half-a-dozen of Wordsworth sonnets. There is a dryness, a jejuneness in all Japanese thought. All this is very sad to write, and I would not write it publicly, for the reason that many would ascribe the adverse judgement to other motives than dispassionate comparison. Each man must go through the successive stages in his own person. On the other hand, how absolutely the most charming of all countries Japan is to live in, ・how delightful the scenery, how safe the roads, how kind everywhere the welcome, how easy the life! These things must be weighed in the balance against the absence of that greater imagination which has been the root of all our European achievements alike in literature, science, and social life.3

Such a statement should be seen in the light of Hearn's own somewhat uncritical enthusiasm for a Japan that, at this early stage, he himself understood only very imperfectly and would have understood even less had it not been for Chamberlain friendship and advice; but it is a good illustration of the kind of candour that makes one trust the author: he was always scrupulously fair to his own feelings and judgements. A later letter to Hearn, dated May 1894, contains the following: 選 care little for the Europeans here. Barring a few real friends ・Mason and half a dozen more ・ they seem to me to be deteriorated by their surroundings. Brinkley and all that lot disgust me by their sycophancy of the Japanese. Besides them there are the diplomats; but they look down on common folk.・sup>4

Basil Hall Chamberlain's translation of the Kojiki is online here:

another excellent translation is done by Donald L. Philippi's--University of Tokyo Press,1968, but is not available online.

  • Chamberlain's observations on the Kojiki are valid and his observations on the Imperial line are true, but the sections on Bushido are erronous. (Entire text of his work is here:)

The Invention of a New Religion by Basil Hall Chamberlain

Wilson's sources

For your further research:


Textual Sources

Gunsho Ruiju, Vol. 15. Tokyo: Keizai Zasshisha, 1895.

Kamiko, Tadashi. Busho Goroku. Tokyo: Hyakusen Shobo, 1970.

Koyama, Keiichi. Imagawa Ryoshun. Tokyo: Sanseido, 1945.

Kurihara, Arano. Kōshū Hagakure. Kumamoto: Seichosha, 1975.

Shinko Gunsho Ruiju, Vols. 17, 21. Tokyo: Naigai Shoseki Kabushiki Kaisha, 1931.

Yutaka, Takeru et alia, gen. ed. Sengoku Shiryo Sosho. Tokyo: Jinbutsu Oraisha, 1966. Vols. 3, 4, 5, Koyogunkan.

Yoshida, Yutaka. Buke no Kakun. Tokyo: Tokuma Shoten, 1973.

Zoku Gunsho Ruiju, Vol. 21. Tokyo: Zoku Gunsho Ruiju Kansei­sha, 1924.

Zokuzoku Gunsho Ruiju, Vol. 10. Tokyo: Naigai Insatsu Kabu­shiki Kaisha, 1908.

Background Sources

Anesaki, M. A History of Japanese Religion. London: The Japa­nese Council, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1930.

Butler, Kenneth Dean. "The Heike Monogatari and the Japanese Warrior Ethic," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 29. Cambridge: Harvard-Yenching Institute, 1969.

Fairbank, John, Edwin Reischauer and Albert Craig. East Asia: Tradition and Transformation. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Com­pany, 1973.

Giles, Lionel. Sun Tzu on the Art of War. Taipei: Literature House Ltd., 1964.

Griffith, Samuel. Sun Tzu: The Art of War. Oxford: Oxford Uni­versity Press, 1971.

Hyakunensha, ed. Rekishi Dokuhon (special edition). "Sengoku no Busho Nihyaku-nana Ketsu," Summer, 1977. Vol. 3.

Iwanami Bunko, 884-885a. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1973. Kanaya, Osamu, ed. Rongo.

Kitagawa, H., and B. Tsuchida. Trans. The Tale of Heike. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1975.

Lu, David. Sources of Japanese History, Vol. 1. New York: Mc-Graw-Hill, 1974.

McCullough, Helen. The Taiheiki: A Chronicle of Medieval Japan. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959.

Meikai Koten Gakushu Shirizu, 20 Vols. Tokyo: Sanseido, 1973. Konjaku Monogatari, Uji Shui Monogatari.

Morris, Ivan. The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in An­cient Japan. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969.

Murasaki, Shikibu. The Tale of Genji. Translated by Arthur Waley. New York: The Literary Guild, 1935.

Naramoto, Tatsuya. Bushido no Keifu. Tokyo: Chuo Koronsha, 1971. Nihon Rekishi Bunko, Vol. 9. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1975. Sengoku no Busho, by Sasaki, Ginya.

Nihon Shiso Taikei, Vol. 32. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 1970. Yamaga Soko.

Philippi, Donald. Trans. Kojiki. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1968.

Sagara, Toru, ed. Nihon no Shiso, 20 Vols. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1969. Vol. 9, Koyogunkan, Gorinsho, Hagakure Shu.

Sansom, George. A History of Japan to 1334. Stanford: Stanford Unversity Press, 1958.

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, 1334-1615. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1961.

Shintei Chūgoku Koten Sen, 20 Vols. Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1967. Vol. 4, Daigaku, Chuyo, by Shimada Kenji.

Yamamoto, Tsunetomo. Hagakure. Translated by William Wilson. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1979.

Varley, Paul. The Ōnin War. New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.


Dai Kan-wa Jiten, 12 Vols. Morohashi, Tetsuji, comp. Tokyo: Daishokan Shoten, 1960.

Kadokawa Kan-wa Chujiten. Kaizuka, Shigeki, Iwatomo Fujino and Shinobu Ono, eds. Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1974.

Nihon Kokugo Daijiten, 20 Vols. Nihon Daijiten Kanko Kai, ed. Tokyo: Shogakkan, 1977.

Budoshoshinshu is listed twice, if you dont mind im going to remove the duplicate. The link I provided has the text in its entirety, online. ENJOY!

Yamaga Soko

This page ( has the following passage about Yamaga Soko. Would be interested in any comments on the passage, which seems to be at odds with the idea that Bushido was already current before the Edo period. Is the passage totally off the mark, and if it is, how does Yamaga Soko fit into the overall picture -- perhaps a reformulator or restater of the code of Bushido?

  • Yamaga Soko was parroting the REAL warriors whom he studied under. There is nothing wrong with this. However, to get a accurate picture of how the Takeda, for example, thought and acted in real war times, you can read their written works. I would never consider Yamago Soko a source of anything original or anything having to do with creating bushido. Whoever wrote the above article was a novice and completely erronous. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
  • This is the main misconception of western scholars. They rely on English translations from the few sources available, Satow, Mitford, Chamberlain, Hearn and a small handful of others. These sources were usually from the late-19th century. In my opinion, and this is backed by the research of the writers quoted in the wikipedia/Bushido page, the writings of the academics in the west are based on only the limited works translated into English.
  • At some point, some western academics realized Bushido DID exist long ago and they now had to find a way to cover up the mistakes of the papers and essays they had written based on the works of Chamberlain. So what was done was to strictly interpret Bushido by saying that the criteria was that it has to be in writing, it has to contain strict codes or laws etc. Then, they had to contend with the fact that Wilson and Streenstrup had actually sought out Japanese experts and translated the Kakun or Samurai House codes and found that pretty much all of the tenets of Yamaga Soko's Bushido were already in place from the 10th or 12th century onwards. This was a major disaster and embarassment for western academia. All of the major tenets of Bushido occur in the Kakun of the warrior houses: Loyalty, duty, good manners/etiqutte/politeness, education, filial piety,honesty, hard work, humility, etc. In fact, the warriors were rewarded based on loyalty. They were also under orders to strive towards this ideal, in addition to being raised in a household with these values. Keeping in mind that the warriors did come from a wide variety of geography and socio-economic backgrounds, it is amazing how constant bushido remained. This article in BBC has a fairly good write up on samurai except for the section on Bushido.

  • Now I am no appologist for the crazy Imperial line listed in the early Japanese texts like the Kojiki (The early emperors lived to be more than 109 years old), but the "bushido didnt exist" essay is way out of line and easily contradicted by the warriors own written laws.

  • Yamaga Soko re-emphasized and reinterpreted confucianism. There were several waves of both religion and philosophy which came from China over the previous centuries. At first it was the elite who studied Buddhism and the written classics of China. Then it filtered down to the lower classes.

"Perhaps the most important cultural application of Confucianism in Japan was the invention of bushido or "the way of the warrior," an invention of Yamaga Soko (1622-1685). Like Kumazawa, Yamaga was a ronin , a samurai without allegiance to any specific lord. Now the samurai class was a rough and illiterate class in medieval Japan; their job was simply to fight.
  • This passage tries to oversimplify history. By the medieval period, the Japanese culture had already developed and the warriors already had an ideal of a literate person to strive for. This description would more fit the warriors before the Medieval period and they were not even called Samurai. BY "Medieval", i am assuming that the writer means roughly between 1300 to 1575AD.

  • Wilson states that the Warrior Ideal was in place in the Heike Monogatari which was written about 12th century warriors:

Elegant, and yet unwincing at the prospect of death, he he lived and died as both courtier and manly warrior. And, at the declaration of his death, Friends and foes alike wet their sleeves with tears and said, "What a pity! Tadanori was a great general, pre-eminent in the arts of both sword and poetry." (Kitagawa and Tsuchida, 1975)

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. With the Heike Monogatari, the image of the Japanese warrior in literature came to its full maturity.

But Tokugawa Japan was a period of domestic peace, so the samurai class found themselves with little to do. In addition, the Tokugawa regime, in an effort to guarantee peace, rigidly enforced class distinctions and made the samurai class an important class in this system. The purpose was to prevent the large-scale arming of commoners by individual lords trying to raise an army; if you make the warrior class an exclusive class with certain privileges (only the warrior class could bear arms) and if you don't allow entrance by non-warriors into that class, you can keep territorial armies at a reasonable size. These two developments—the creation of warriors as an exclusive and privileged class and the lack of any productive labor for these warriors to do—led to a redefinition of the samurai: their purpose, their character, and their ethical standards.

  • There were short periods of social mobility in Japanese society. Hideyoshi was from a lower class background and rose up to be one of the great leaders of the country. He later banned social mobility and confiscated weapons in his famous sword hunt. Other than that, the classes of people were already fixed. Again, this article oversimplfies, there were some samurai who did labor jobs and farming when they had to, but those employed by the larger clans were professional warriors. During the Tokugawa era, rebellions were suppressed by using "Sankin Kotai" (alternate attendance) whereby the feudal lord had to spend time as a hostage on alternate years in EDo and then trade places with his wife and children back home. The lords were organized into "Inner and outer" lords where the lords perceived as loyal to Ieyasu were placed in the outlying regions of Japan and the rest placed strategically nearby. travel became stricly controlled on the roads and checkpoints kept track of a persons travel along the path. The Tokugawa instituted a police state, and had a massive intelligence network of spies. Intermarriage and political alliances cemented loyalties. (Marrying your enemies daughter or son into your family as a hostage). The high cost of the alternate attendance to most feudal lords kept them from causing trouble. These are the true methods used to prevent rebellion, not locking social mobility as the author above implies.
  • Wilson states that Hideyoshi, not Tokugawa, closed the classes and social mobility:

The image of the aristocratic warrior described in the early chronicles tells only part of the story. Although many of its leaders came from aristocratic or even imperial lineage, the ranks of the samurai class were bolstered by the low class ashigaru (foot soldier), who did not share the cultural background or economic means of his betters. Still, some of these men and their families came up through the ranks rewarded for ability or feats of courage. They became, if not aristocrats, upper-class warriors and generals. This phenomenon was most pronounced during the Warring States Period, and the extreme example would be that of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who rose from a very low estate to be the most powerful ruler in the country. Ironically, this was the same man who, beginning with the famous "sword hunt" of 1588 and through an edict in 1591, closed the social mobility by which he and others had risen, enclosing Japanese society within the four classes of warriors, farmers, artisans and merchants.

here are some good books about Hideyoshi: Life of Toyotomi Hideyoshiby Walter Denning (former Ambassador to Japan)

Hideyoshiby Mary Elizabeth Berry

Both Kumazawa and Yamaga were deeply concerned about the constant inactivity of the samurai, and Yamaga went about defining what the samurai in times of peace should be doing with all that free time they found on their hands. The purpose of the samurai class according to Yamaga is to serve as a model for the rest of society;
  • Read the writings I have posted which predate Yamaga Soko. The lords consider themselves as role models for the other classes and encouraged polite respectful behavior.
  • In time of peace and prosperity, culture flourished and the warriors began to indulge in activites other than fighting: art, noh drama, poetry, calligraphy, more so than in the past. They also had time for more introspection and self analysis, which is why Yamaga Soko had time to write.

in School of Mind Neo-Confucianism it is not enough to understand moral behavior, one must put it into action for to be truly moral. The samurai would serve as a model of cultural, moral, and intellectual development; in particular, the samurai would exemplify a devotion to duties (giri ) and unswerving loyalty. The moral life of the samurai would center around the obligations he has willingly agreed to meet for his lord; his life would be one of temperance, self-sacrifice, high discipline, and fearlessness, particularly fearlessness in the face of death. In addition to these qualities, the samurai would cultivate intellectual, cultural, and political arts; the new role for the samurai, as Yamaga saw it, was to assume political and intellectual leadership. This new educated and politically savvy class would eventually tear down the Tokugawa bakufu and invent a new, centralized government around the figure of the emperor in the late nineteenth century.

  • This role was already in place after the 12th century. The southern samurai clans had their own intentions for the overthrow of the Tokugawa: They were still mad after 268 years at having their land taken by the Tokugawa. As soon as Saigo and the other Southern Samurai realized that the Meiji Emporer was abolishing their class and their right to bear arms, they rebelled. (Saigo was the most powerful man in Japan at one point, as secretary general of the Japanese imperial army)

It is fitting that these samurai leading the Meiji Restoration and government also led the charge in adopting Western social and political models, for Yamaga Soko was one of the first Japanese intellectuals to call for the adoption of Western technology, a warning that went largely unheeded until Commodore Perry sailed up with his gunboats in 1853. The term, bushido would in later years be applied to Yamaga's writings on the role and character of the samurai, which he called shido (the way of the samurai) and bukyo (the warrior's creed)."

  • This was done so as to avoid military defeat. The Samurai wanted access to modern military weapons to keep up with the western nations. Yamaga Soko's "Shido" was less radical than bushido

See also and, of course, the Wikipedia article Yamaga Soko. This is not a troll, it is a serious question. Bathrobe 11:30, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

  • I have copies of the house codes of Takeda Shingen and his older brother, Takeda Nobushige, dated from the mid or late 16th century. Takeda Shingen was a major warlord and as an example of confucianism's influence, I will post his writings. Each of his precepts has a footnote from the chinese classics immediately after it. Scholars take this as proof of how educated the men were and how influential confucianism was to the Takeda Family. Most of the writings I have posted on this Bushido Page show a clear Confucian influence. Many of the warriors include their references, as if they were writing a term paper! What is interesting is how uniform the beliefs were, not their differences.

  • examples from 1412:

(from the authors intro for Imagawa Ryoshun 1412 AD)

"As a Confucian, he cited the Chinese Classics and demanded respect for one's family, as well as stressing the concept of loyalty and duty to one's master. In him we see the ideal of the warrior at its most balanced stage"

Imagawa Ryoshun mentions his source of philosophy:

"It is natural that training in the martial arts is the Way of the warrior, but it is important to put them into actual practice. First, it is written in the Four Books and Five Classics as well as in the military writings that in protecting the country, if one is ignorant in the study of literature, he will be unable to govern."

  • from 1558 AD:

"The Ninety-Nine Articles were written down by Takeda Nobu­shige three years before his death for the benefit of his son. Written in kanbun, they are a tour de force of the educated warrior, each precept followed by a relevant quote, usually from a Chinese classic. There is no particular order, and the subject matter ranges from injunctions against carrying a dull sword to encouraging belief in the gods and Buddhas."

This selection from Takeda's work was also included in the Koyogunkan as a part of the Takeda clan's legacy. The Koyogun­kan is given two chapters in this study because it was probably the most widely read book of bushi origin during the Edo Period, and because it was appended and put into its present form' by Obata Kagenori (1572-1663), from whose school of martial studies a number of important writers and philosophers emerged, among them Daidoji Yuzan and Yamaga Soko. Obata himself was the son of one of Shingen's retainers, employed by the Tokugawa after the Takeda clan's demise. After disciplining himself in the martial arts, he took leave of the Tokugawa and traveled the country, testing himself. He participated at both the battle of Sekigahara and the fall of Osaka Castle, thus receiving much of his knowl­edge of martial affairs first hand

Tokugawa house code --sources of reference

  • some distinction should be made between actual laws and bushido, which was more of a moral and ethical code followed by the men. I am providing the following material as a demonstration of how the ancient ethics became written into law with punishments for not following the prescribed law.

The Feudal Laws of the Tokugawa Shogunate were derived from ancient texts listed by the authors: Ieyasu was a reader (and admirer) of Imagawa's writings and heavily incorporated them into his own house codes. The Buke Sho Hatto's sources:

This oath was the foundation of the Tokugawa feudal system. From that time forth, says Mr. Konakamura, Hayashi Doshun and other scholars were employed in investigating and discussing the ancient law sources; especially, the feudal codes and their additions and amendments, from that of Tei-yei (Editor's Note. - otherwise pronounced Jo-yei) onwards; the Yengi-Shiki, the Shoku- Nihongi, the Gunsho-Jiyo, the Tei-gwan (Editor's Note. - otherwise pronounced Jo-gwan) Sei-yo and the rest, with the result that the promulgation of the Buke Shohatto of the 20th, year of Keicho (1615) was successfully accomplished.

History of Japanese Feudal Law--Sources

Ishii Ryusuke, "The Taika reform and the Formation of the Ritsuryu-style State," from Ishii, A History of Political Institutions in Japan (1980), chapter 2.

Steenstrup, Carl, "From the Establishment of Military Rule Until the Founding of the Tokugawa Dynasty," from Steenstup, A History of Law in Japan until 1868 (1991), chapter 3.

Katsumata Shizuo with Martin Collcutt, "The Development of Sengoku Law," in Hall, Nagahara, and Yamamura (eds.), Japan Before Tokugawa: Political Consolidation and Economic Growth (1981), chapter 3.

Hiramatsu, YoshirÇ, "Tokugawa Law," 14 Law in Japan 1 (1981).

Selections from the Osadamegaki, Hall (trans.), Japanese Feudal Laws III, Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, First series, volume 41 (1913).

Henderson, Dan Fenno, "Conciliation in Tokugawa Civil Trials," from Henderson, Conciliation and Japanese Law: Tokugawa and Modern, volume 1 (1965), pp. 127-170.

Selected Tokugawa village documents, from Henderson, Dan Fenno (ed.), Village "Contracts" in Tokugawa Japan (1975), pp. 160-181.

Ooms, Herman, "Mountains of Resentment," from Ooms, Tokugawa Village Practice: Class, Status, Power, Law (1996), chapter 1.

K. A. Grossberg & N. Kanamoto 1981, The Laws of the Muromachi Bakufu: Kemmu Shikimoku (1336) and Muromachi Bakufu Tsuikaho, MN Monographs (Sophia UP)

C. Steenstrup 1974, 'Hojo Soun's Twenty-one Articles: the code of conduct of Odawara Hojo', MN 29:283-303

C. Steenstrup 1977, 'The Gokurakuji letter: Hojo Shigetoki's compendium of political and religious ideas of thirteenth-century Japan', MN 32:1-34

C. Steenstrup 1979, Hojo Shigetoki (1198-1261) and his role in the history of political and ethical ideas in Japan, Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies Monographs (London: Curzon Press)

S. Gay 1985, 'Muromachi Bakufu rule in Kyoto: administrative and judicial aspects', in J. P. Mass & W. B. Hauser, eds, The Bakufu in Japanese history (Stanford UP)

K. Asakawa 1929, The Documents of Iriki: illustrative of the development of the feudal institutions of Japan (Yale UP; reprinted by Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut)

Hall, John C. "Japanese Feudal Laws: the Magisterial Code of the Hojo

    Power Holders (1232) ." Transactions of the Asiatic Society of
    Japan 2nd ser. 34 (1906): 

________. "Japanese Feudal laws: The Ashikaga Code." Transactions of

    the Asiatic Society of Japan 1st ser. 36 (1908): 

________. "Japanese Feudal Laws III: The Tokugawa Legislation."

    Transactions fo the Asiatic Society of Japan 1st ser. 38 and 41


It should be noted that Bushido is not so much a code, but more an ideal. There is no codified Bushido that one follows or may break through inaction or wrong-doing. Rather, Bushido could best be described as an ideal to which one aspires. Unlike Chivalry, which has a set code and set rules of conduct, Bushido is more like ”Good Living” in that there is no concrete definition or rules – simply an ideal of what is right and good in the warrior. (dkdk)

Imagawa states that rewards and punishments should be established: "There is a primary need to distinguish loyalty from disloyalty and to establish rewards and punishments"

Lord Kato states: "The above conditions should be adhered to night and day. if there is anyone who finds these conditions difficult to fulfill, he should be dismissed, an investigation should be quickly carried out, it should be signed and sealed that he was unable to mature in the Way of Manhood, and he should be driven out......"

From the main body of the bushido page: Inazo Nitobe, author of Bushido: The Soul of Japan describes Bushido as an unwritten code: "...Bushido, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai 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."

  • Some or most of the warrior leaders required their men to follow bushido. The problem is what exactly is bushido? Was it the house codes of the warrior's clans? or was it the Buke Sho Hatto of the Tokugawa era feudal law?

If you were disloyal to your lord....well you wouldn't have your head for very long. According to Kato Kiyomasa, anyone watching noh drama "should be forced to commit seppuku" So there were punishments for NOT following elements of bushido (biggest example would be loyalty)

  • The problem is that going by Nitobe's definition of Bushido, which I agree with, the code is very old and based on confucianism, Buddhism and Shinto. When we reach the Edo/Tokugawa period (roughly 1600 to 1868) the foundations of bushido became feudal law called the Buke Sho Hatto (1615) If Bushido is supposed to be a moral/ethical code, then the Tokugawa law doesnt count as Bushido, so therefore Bushido and Tokugawa law co-existed side by side. Honor code and Feudal law both apply. Under the Buke sho hatto of 1663, Junshi was forbidden (killing yourself upon the death of your lord) because the number of people killing themselves was so great. does this count as bushido? The Dog Shogun passed ridiculous laws banning the killing of dogs and later all animals and insects, making life miserable for the entire country. does this count as bushido?
  • it is a myth of western academia that "bushido did not exist in written form" before the Tokugawa era. All of the major precepts of Bushido occur in many of the clan's house codes and writings. In fact, Imagawa Ryoshun was famous while still alive and his writings were in use by other clans as a ideal or example to strive for. They were central to the Tokugawa's house codes and laws before,during, and after the Tokugawa shogunate. The problem has become one of defining what exactly makes up bushido?


Is it really necessary to tell the 47 Ronin tale in its entirety in this article? I think the link to just the 47 Ronin article would work just fine by itself. Bueller 007 05:34, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

  • The 47 ronin story is very important to Bushido because it is a demonstration that warriors can perform their duty even after generations of peace. Tradition survives. My retelling contains details from the people who live at the site of Ako castle to this present day. It also contains quotes, in English which do not appear in the other article. The story is more powerful when the words of the men come alive: "one's life weighs lightly against duty........every day that we waited seemed like three autumns to us.........a man shall not live under the same heavans as the murderor of his lord or father.....other men might laugh at us as grasshoppers trusting in the strength of our arms..........etc..."
    • It would seem to me that we are forgetting that this is a web-based document, and that there is really no reason to replicate information as is presently done here. The story itself is well explained elsewhere (which readers can link to). The only thing that should be here are those elements or consideration that is specifically regarding bushido. There's so much that could be written regarding the history and characters - but they should be placed elsewhere if they are taking up space, and making the article difficult to read.--OzzieB 04:48, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

I have put in a much shorter overview of the story (please modify to better articulate bushido essence of the story). The deleted section is here in full:--OzzieB 05:15, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Deleted : Japan's national tale of duty and honor

I've moved the following section to the discussion section (so it's not lost)... however, it really doesn't appear to add more to the 47 Ronin page already existing. I have put in its place a brief paragraph to indicate the importance. I admit that this does not do justice perhaps (compared to what was written below), but I think we should allow people to explore links rather than duplicating information. I don't want to annoy the author however, and am only trying to show (bit by bit) that a reduced content page is much, much more readable. Also I have to say, most of these sections seem to be historical essays, rather than specifically relating to Bushido. I think all this information is good, but for someone searching for information, it's information overload. If I've upset anyone, I appologise profusely.--OzzieB 08:03, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

In the 15th year of Genroku, the 47 Ronin of Ako cited Confucian edict as the reason for their famous vendetta. (As Translated by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford (1837-1916), Lord Redesdale, British Ambassador to Japan in his book Tales of Old Japan.)

"...still we, who have eaten of your food, could not without blushing repeat the verse, 'Thou shalt not live under the same heaven nor tread the same earth with the enemy of thy father or lord,' nor could we have dared to leave hell and present ourselves before you in paradise, unless we had carried out the vengeance which you began."

The 47 Ronin were retainers of Lord Asano Takuminokami Naganori, Daimyo of Ako Castle. A man 35 years of age, his family was a branch of the powerful Asano Clan. Strict followers of Confucianism, the Asano Clan was a proud and traditional family.

By the year 1700, Japan had been at peace for a hundred years, unified under the sword of Tokugawa Ieyasu. In the absence of warfare, society prospered and the samurai had become more like government bureaucrats. In the capital of Edo, they preoccupied themselves with literature, artwork and fine clothing. They had even begun to lose their fighting skills. The more traditional families like the Asano looked upon the city samurai with disdain.

In order to prevent warfare, the Shogunate's law of Sankin Kotai (Alternate Attendance) required all Daimyo to spend every other year in the capitol of Edo as hostages. While in Edo, Lord Asano was chosen to host a very important Imperial envoy during the holidays. Because he was from the countryside he wasn't accustomed to the manners required for such a fancy ceremony. The Tokugawa shogun's master of ceremonies, Lord Kira Kozukenosuke was appointed to teach Asano the required etiquette. Although it was his job to do so, Lord Kira demanded a bribe of Asano. Asano refused to pay the bribe, offering only a token gift. Kira refused to teach Asano the correct manners and so he made embarrassing mistakes during the ceremony. Lord Kira began taunting Asano's mistakes and so Lord Asano lashed out with his short sword, injuring Kira.

The drawing of a sword inside Edo castle was a capital offense and so Asano was ordered to commit seppuku. Asano's bodyguards rushed home with the bad news, covering more than 425 miles in five days.

Asano's men later learned that Kira had survived the attack. A member of a powerful family, Kira had surveillance placed on Lord Asano's followers.

The leaders of the Ako Domain met to discuss their options. "They discussed siege, capitulation, vengeance and self-immolation." The Bakufu (military government) ordered that Asano's han (domain) be forfeit to the Shogunate. "Oishi Kuranosuke decided on capitulation, and about 50 or so ageed with him." The loss of reputation of their lord and the thought of life as ronin was unbearable to the samurai of Ako. In a solemn and dramatic ceremony, the 322 retainers of Lord Asano secretly swore a blood oath to avenge their dead lord after the surveillance ended.

(note: in Japanese, the word "ronin" means "wave man", a person destined to wander aimlessly forever, like the waves in the sea. The word came to mean a samurai who was no longer in the service of a lord for some reason or another. It was considered undesirable to be a ronin, because it meant being without a stipend from a lord, measured in "koku" of rice. A koku being equal to a roughly 180 liters/150kg, enough rice to feed a man for one year.)

The warriors of Ako disbursed as Ronin with Kira's spies watching their every move. They lay in wait for years before attacking. Spies carefully noted the layout of Kira's house. One man married the daughter of the architect who designed Kira's manor, in order to obtain copies of the floorplans. Some of the men divorced their wives and sent them back to their parents. The ronin endured incredible humiliation. Because they walked in disgrace, they could not enter the service of another lord. Many of the men would even refuse to consider serving Lord Asano's brother, Asano Daigaku, stating "The brother of my lord is not my lord." Some of the Ronin worked at non-warrior occupations and some even pretended to be drunks. Samurai from other provinces would happen upon the men laying drunk in the streets and ridicule their inaction. The drunken and unruly behavior of the Ako Ronin fooled the spies into lowering their guard after two years.

On a dark and snowy December night (December 14, 1702), disguised as firemen, the 47 men attacked the fortress of Lord Kira. A member of a wealthy family, Kira was surrounded by an armed retinue of 60 samurai bodyguards.

Using a giant sledge, the ronin stormed the front and back gates at the same time. Archers were posted on the roof tops to kill any escaping samurai. Because no one liked him, none of Kira's neighbors or his nearby family came to his aid.

(note: The 47 Ronin are always depicted wearing clothing with a zig-zag pattern on them meant to symbolize eternal fidelity, the faithfulness of night following day.)

Lord Kira was captured and members of his clan were put to the sword. Kira was presented with the same knife which Lord Asano used for his seppuku. Instead of killing himself, he knelt trembling and Oishi was forced to behead him. The Ronin marched through the snow with Lord Kira's head in a firebucket. People along the path praised the men and offered them food.

"The forty-six retainers without Terasaka Kichiemon arrived at the Sengakuji Temple at 10 o'clock. They placed Kira Kozukenosuke's decapitated head on the tomb of Asano Takuminokami." Also placed on the tomb is the knife used by Lord Asano in his seppuku ritual. The same knife was used to kill lord Kira. The 46 men then prayed for the soul of Asano to rest in peace.

Gathering all of the money they had left, the Ronin of Ako begged the Abbot of Sengaku-ji for a proper burial after death. Normally a stern and stoic man, it is said that he had tears in his eyes when he heard their final request. After a months long debate among legal scholars, the Ronin of Ako were condemned to Hara-kiri.

In the 1860s, Lord Redesdale lived in a house within sight of Sengaku-ji where the 47 Ronin were buried. Impressed by the loyalty displayed by the ronin, he toured Sengaku-ji and finding tattered and yellowed letters amongst the relics, he translated them for his book "Tales of Old Japan." Each of the ronin carried letters spelling out their intentions in case they were captured or killed. Also translated were the receipt provided by the relatives of Lord Kira for the return of his severed head and the final statement placed by the men on Lord Asano's tomb before surrendering for court martial.

Each of the men were aware of the seriousness of their actions. Onodera Junai would state in a letter to his wife in Kyoto:

"..Even if my dead body is shown, I think my duty will be fulfilled because my dead body will demonstrate Samurai loyalty to the entire country and it will strengthen their resolve."

In John Allyn's book, "The 47 Ronin Story", the leader of the 47 Ronin Oishi Kuranosuke is quoted as saying:

Some people live all their lives without knowing which path is right. They're buffeted by this wind or that and never really know where they're going. That's largely the fate of the commoners--those who have no choice over their destiny. For those of us born as samurai, life is something else. We know the path of duty and we follow it without question.

In describing the 47 Ronin's sense of duty, Author Inazo Nitobe made a comparison to Egyptian mythology in "Bushido: The Soul of Japan":

"What is the most beautiful thing on earth?" said Osiris to Horus. The reply was, "To avenge a parent's wrongs," -- to which a Japanese would have added, "and a master's."

(Nitobe, 1899, p. 128)

Today, Sengakuji is a national shrine. Visitors to the temple at first notice what appears to be fog around the temple, but it is actually smoke from the incense burning before the graves. It is said that the incense at the site has never gone out in the hundreds of years the men have been buried there. Each year, thousands of people from around the world come to pay respects before the headstones of the faithful men. The 47 Ronin are considered national heroes, forever guarding the honor of their beloved Lord Asano. "Sengakuji Temple (Resting Place of the 47 Ronin)"

Uncommon Valor: On December 14, 2002, More than 130,000 people gathered at Sengaku-ji to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the attack on Lord Kira's Mansion by the warriors of Ako. [5]

This article is pretty bad

Try reading the Wikipedia style guide. Not only is this article poorly formatted, but it's also far, far too long and needs to be slimmed down quite a bit. Try:

  1. Removing the lengthy book reviews of every single reference. The name, the author and the link or the ISBN alone would work just fine.
  2. As per my above suggestion, don't repeat the whole damn Akoroshi tale.
  3. Cut the article into pieces (make separate articles for some pieces, i.e. an article "Bushido in Modern Japan", "Bushido in ancient times", etc.) This will allow you to write as much as you wish about each topic, while only listing the key points on the Bushido page. The "13th-19th Centuries" section must be at least 10 printed pages. It's ridiculous.
  4. Add CITATIONS to avoid the bickering that seems to be happening on this talk page.

This subject has so much potential, and I could see it becoming a featured article if it were done right, but as it stands now, this article is far too long, and it really doesn't make Bushido any more accessible to the layperson. They look at it once, say "Holy crap, is this long!" read the intro before the table of contents, and then close their browser window. Bueller 007 05:48, 9 April 2006 (UTC)

- the article demonstrates

1. a definition written by a regular person

2. Japanese dictionary definition

3. Nitobe's definition

4. Bushido's development in ancient Japanese literature, 700 ad to 1375 ad

5. detailed examples of Bushido accross time (7 centuries) socio-economic, and geographic lines. Including several major Daimyo and Buke Families and last statements of men about to die in battle.

6. recitation of the most important stories about Bushido (47 ronin, sekigahara etc)

7. Bushido ethics

8. The Tokugawa era set of values

9. links to all of the major online books dealing with Bushido (Hagakure, Budoshoshinshu, 47 ronin story, Go Rin No Sho)

10.Links to the major articles and authors (Turnbull, Steenstrup, Wilson) assocatiated with Bushido, including an award winning author, recognized by the Japanese Government for his writings about Samurai and Bushido to copy of Tokugawa era feudal law.

The article is long, but then again so is the history of Bushido. To shorten it means to remove examples of the various lord's writings which weakens the effect of the message and the diversity of the background (Time, socio-economic background, geographic origins)

Admittedly, it needs some editing, but i challenge you to find anything coming even close to this on the net. You are looking at the best definition of Bushido, by far, on the net.

As a new user of Wikipedia, I am perhaps not well learned in the art of internet wiki, but I have to say that this is a truly astounding discussion. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in this case we have a someone that has put a great deal of effort into creating a bushido page (and having provided a good range of quotes) - but has perhaps become too attached to the work. That is not to say that he is (or isn't) a considerable expert in the are... who can really tell. All I can say is that on reading the article, I felt wholly underwhelmed in terms of its encyclopedic value.
The purpose of wikipedia is that it is a web-community-based group experience, whereby differences are common and debate encouraged. One person (no matter how expert) does not own any one page - and certainly does not have the right to degrade the views (no matter how they might offend their senses) of others. Actually - having read this latest offerings on the discussion page, I would advise the proponents of the "I'm right - you're wrong" school of editorial review to get someone to read their own comments back to them. That separation might help see how POV the authors views have become. This article is not about expounding the virtues (or otherwise) of Bushido, but providing a useful, balanced, educational and rewarding experience for the readers. The current attempt does not really score well on any of these points, but rather turns people away (as commented earlier). And having read this discussion (how painful it was) I suspect that there are perhaps too many ego's involved.
I do not want to start another debate regarding the right or wrong of modern (western) thinking on Bushido, but as an article on the subject it lacks both structure, neutral point of view, and also (dare I say it) editorial self-control. There is quite clearly a counter view expressed, and unless I'm mistaken, the purpose of such an article is to expound the complexities (not just the truthfulness) of the`subject. You say "but i challenge you to find anything coming even close to this on the net. You are looking at the best definition of Bushido, by far, on the net.", but I think you miss the point. It's not a good encyclopedic document as it distances rather than incorporates the reader. As such this tends to be long, over-zealous, and definitely POV. So can we all PLEASE be a bit more objective, and take on board constructive criticism!
Whilst the articles structure is perhaps not that unreasonable, as such, the text within either is too long or not central to the issue of Bushido. Just my two cents worth (from someone who wants to enjoy the experience, learn something new, and does not try to pretend to be an expert at anything)... and for the record, I'm --OzzieB 13:42, 27 June 2006 (UTC).

This article needs to be split over several pages

Another suggestion to improve this article would be to actually make a separate article on the literature of Bushido, such that the flow of the article is not interupted by the exerpts (which in my mind are useful, but are not essential to the main thrust). That way, if the reader is interested, they can explore rather than being force-fed too much information in one hit. Also there are a lot of sections that can either be broken up (also onto other pages) or are replicating existing pages. We should aim to be concise - with every section (and every entry) relating specifically to Bushido, and not to Japanese history per se.

Does any one have a particular objection to this suggestion?--OzzieB 23:12, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

In the absence of any complaints, I have created a Bushido literature page - basically just a copy of most of what was on this page, and have been progressively editing down this page to remove redundancy. NOTE: nothing has been deleted, but simply moved. I hope that this improves the overall flow and readability of the page - and if readers want to learn more about the literary side, they can concentrate on a separate page just for that purpose.--OzzieB 09:06, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

Separation of Samurai warrior histories

I've been moving material (hopefully not annoying too many people) to the Bushido literature page - however I can't help but feel that there is another significant problem. The page contains rather lengthy sections on individual samurai, but I'm not sur that they really fit within a Bushido page (and if so, should be greatly shortend, and limited to those aspects of Bushido that they encapsulate). I would recommend that sections such as dealing with Kato Kiyomasa (as an example) be moved. Where there aren't existing pages for these peronages, I think we should create new ones, but in the above example there is already a page. I would not feel comfortable however just copying this over complete into those pages... Any comments?--OzzieB 09:40, 30 June 2006 (UTC)

I have moved the Kato Kiyomasa section to (and merged with) the existing Kato page, as this section does not really say much else about Bushido, and at best is a reference to him as a samurai. I've also included a link to his precepts (also on a separate page The Precepts of Kato Kiyomasa.--OzzieB 02:24, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

I have also moved the section on Torii over to his own page... as well as the Kuroda section to the bushido literature page.--OzzieB 04:57, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

Does anyone see why the section on Nabeshima Naoshige is in the bushido page, other than the reference to the Hagakure? I propose that we move this section to his own page.--OzzieB 04:57, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

-I included Naoshige, Torii and Kato to demonstrate the uniformity of the beliefs of Bushido, the use of the word Bushido and their importance to the warrior leaders.

Sorry - I wished you could sign, so that I know if I'm talking to different people (also better than having to read through the history page to work it out). I am not suggesting that there was anything wrong with the inclusion of these - merely (and here I'm talking as someone that edits a lot of analytic papers) I come from the school of thought that if an article is specifically relating to the topic of bushido, that the content should be focussed on this, and the bulk of supporting material should be linked elsewhere.... I guess: statement A=C (link to A=B, B=C). It's in my nature to reduce content to the most direct form, and utilise links as much as possible. As I have mentioned previously, as it stood the bushido page was too large, and in a way, the development or history section didn't really tell anyone how it came to be. {Perhaps the inclusion was more as a response to the belief that Bushido was a modern invention). My greatest concern was the fact that there was a lot of history associated with these people that was not necessarily germain to the topic, but would be more suited to either pages about the individual or samurai in general. I hope that my editing style isn't too confrontational, and i've tried only to improve readability and focus of the article, without losing content per se.--OzzieB 09:16, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

Development of Bushido Required

At present, there is not a clear chronology of the development (and indeed the origin) of bushido. I've tried hard to split the biographies into separate pages (work in progress), as they themselves do not indicate a true evolution (and are prone to being taken out of context). I'm certainly not qualified to represent such an evolution, and would appreciate someone adding details (specific to Bushido) to what I'm re-arranging. Of course - everyone may think I've missed the point here, so I would appreciate commentary on this.--OzzieB 08:13, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

-What i have been trying to show all along by including the translations is that Bushido developed in the late 1100's to early 1200's and did not change much after that. If you read the Hojo Shigetoki's translations and compare to Imagawa, and Torii's writings, the values of Bushido changed very little from 1100 to 1600 because they are based on a core of Confucianism. Tokugawa law somply drew on confucianism and early house codes of the Imagawa family. Bushido was well developed and defined in the time of Hojo which was late 12th century.

Don't disagree with any your views at all. I think that from an encylopedic perspective, the chronology through "excerpts" is not the best way of showing this... firstly they may be selective, secondly they really did detract from the casual reader (which is why I wanted to separate them into a bushido literature page). The question is - has there been much consideration of true origins. What were the influences in the early development, was it truly homogeneous (if so, why), was there any distinction between bushido and the development of samurai-class (I would say yes, but this is something that needs to be explicitly highlighted). There's so much potential to the article - but I think that the history part should focus on the origins and causality. The only problem with the snapshots is that we don't understand why they wrote these things...

___The reason i included so many quotes in the first place, was precisely to demonstrate the true origins. Your paragraph above indicates that you did not bother to read the samurai writings. Most of them included references to the sources of the values or rules that were laid down by the men in the writings. It was as if they were writing a "samurai term paper" These men were very literate and educated. They actually left footnotes at the ends of paragraphs (usually to the chinese classics). If you read the works you will see the heavy confucian influence because the samurai mention them by name.

I gather from your input that your view is that there was not much development - but the direct influence of confucianism is not brought out by the article (or that clearly by the quotations... sorry if I'm being overly objective, or slow). What most likely is needed therefore is something linking the introduction of confucianism into Japanese society, the influences on thinking, and most importantly external sources that strengthen this opinion. Unfortunately, I'm not that experienced in the material to provide this input, but I hope that there are others (including yourself) that can provide these important linkages and citations. One last question - what was there before confucianism came to Japan?... was there something of a bushido creed prior to this, and if so, how was it integrated. This is the sort of information that provides great insight...and I think if the page can be shaped to include the whys not only the who said what, then it will be a brilliant resource.--OzzieB 09:03, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

---The direct influence of confucianism was very clear because it says in the intro "the writings of this lord reflect a heavy confucian influence as opposed to a buddhist one" The ends of the paragraphs of mosty writings had footnotes of some kind or mentioned the chinese classics specifically by name.

as demonstrated by the pre 12th century literature (797AD), there existed an admiration of balance in life and of a person who was strong, yet "not unfeeling". some early elements of bushido appeared in the early japanese literture of the 8th century, before the general introduction of confucianism from china. If you read the article in its original form, you will find all of this material. I strongly recommend william scott wilson's book "ideals of the samurai" which addresses all of these issues and was heavily used for this wiki entry. Wilson was awarded by the Japanese governmnet for his research into Bushido and samurai.