Bushido: The Samurai Spirit Passed Down to the Present Day

By Staff Writer
May 31, 2024
Japan is often said to have no religion, but to be precise, there is just no nationally defined religion. Buddhist and Confucian philosophies have influenced many people, and Bushido is also inspired by them.

Bushido is a code of conduct that emerged in Japan as the Samurai spread their ideals throughout society. The word “Bushi,” which means warrior, serves as a root for “Bushido,” while the word “Samurai” roughly translates to “those who serve,” but has come to mean warrior.
Bushido contains eight key principles which are Justice, Courage, Compassion, Respect, Integrity, Honor, Loyalty, and Self-Control, and Samurai must uphold these.
Bronze statue of Date Masamune, a warrior in the Sengoku era
Bushido has been influenced by the various experiences that the Samurai had on the battlefield and in martial arts training. It is also said that Bushido has been nurtured and fostered over a long time through daily lives, family education, oral traditions, and the family ethics of ancestors.

Bushido’s code of conduct played a significant role in the spread of many important traditions, including Japanese culture, such as Bowing, Seiza (sitting pose), and Keigo (honorific language). Although the Samurai only accounted for 6-7% of the Japanese population, the nobility of Bushido spread its way of life not only among the warrior class, but also to ordinary people. The Bushido philosophy has also been passed down to the present day, influencing the moral behavior of Japanese people.
Judo practitioners sitting in Seiza pose
The philosophy of Bushido has also become popular overseas thanks to Nitobe Inazo’s book titled Bushido. He redefined the ambiguous concept of Bushido from the perspective of modern people as an idea that encompasses the aesthetics of the Japanese way of life, morality and ethics in society and a view of life and death that includes religious elements.
Nitobe Inazo, whose portrait was featured on Japan’s old 5,000-yen bill
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