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Preface 1899
Honor
The Duty of Loyalty
The Sword
The Training and Position of Woman
Is Bushidô Still Alive?
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Bushido, the Soul of Japan, by Inazo Nitobe
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Title: Bushido, the Soul of Japan
Author: Inazo Nitobe
Release Date: April 21, 2004 [EBook #12096]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BUSHIDO, THE SOUL OF
JAPAN ***
Produced by Paul Murray, Andrea Ball, the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team and the Million Book Project/State Central Library, Hyderabad
BUSHIDO THE SOUL OF JAPAN
BY INAZO NITOBE, A.M., Ph.D.
Author’s Edition, Revised and Enlarged
13th EDITION
1908
DECEMBER, 1904
TO MY BELOVED UNCLE
TOKITOSHI OTA
WHO TAUGHT ME TO REVERE THE PAST
AND
TO ADMIRE THE DEEDS OF THE SAMURAI
I DEDICATE
1
THIS LITTLE BOOK
–“That way
Over the mountain, which who stands upon,
Is apt to doubt if it be indeed a road;
While if he views it from the waste itself,
Up goes the line there, plain from base to brow,
Not vague, mistakable! What’s a break or two
Seen from the unbroken desert either side?
And then (to bring in fresh philosophy)
What if the breaks themselves should prove at last
The most consummate of contrivances
To train a man’s eye, teach him what is faith?”
–ROBERT BROWNING,
_Bishop Blougram’s Apology_.
“There are, if I may so say, three powerful spirits, which have
from time to time, moved on the face of the waters, and given a
predominant impulse to the moral sentiments and energies of mankind.
These are the spirits of liberty, of religion, and of honor.”
–HALLAM,
_Europe in the Middle Ages_.
“Chivalry is itself the poetry of life.”
–SCHLEGEL,
_Philosophy of History_.
Transcriber’s Note:
[=O] represents O with macron,
[=o] represents o with macron,
[=u] represents u with macron]
PREFACE
About ten years ago, while spending a few days under the hospitable roof of the
distinguished Belgian jurist, the lamented M. de Laveleye, our conversation turned,
during one of our rambles, to the subject of religion. “Do you mean to say,” asked the
venerable professor, “that you have no religious instruction in your schools?” On my
replying in the negative he suddenly halted in astonishment, and in a voice which I
2
shall not easily forget, he repeated “No religion! How do you impart moral education?”
The question stunned me at the time. I could give no ready answer, for the moral precepts
I learned in my childhood days, were not given in schools; and not until I began to
analyze the different elements that formed my notions of right and wrong, did I find
that it was Bushido that breathed them into my nostrils.
The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to
the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan.
In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and to my wife, I found that
without understanding Feudalism and Bushido,[1] the moral ideas of present Japan are a
sealed volume.
[Footnote 1: Pronounced _Boó-shee-doh’_. In putting Japanese words and names into
English, Hepburn’s rule is followed, that the vowels should be used as in European
languages, and the consonants as in English.]
Taking advantage of enforced idleness on account of long illness, I put down in the order
now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversation.
They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when Feudalism
was still in force.
Between Lafcadio Hearn and Mrs. Hugh Fraser on one side and Sir Ernest Satow and
Professor Chamberlain on the other, it is indeed discouraging to write anything Japanese
in English. The only advantage I have over them is that I can assume the attitude of a
personal defendant, while these distinguished writers are at best solicitors and attorneys. I
have often thought,–“Had I their gift of language, I would present the cause of Japan in
more eloquent terms!” But one who speaks in a borrowed tongue should be thankful if he
can just make himself intelligible.
All through the discourse I have tried to illustrate whatever points I have made with
parallel examples from European history and literature, believing that these will aid in
bringing the subject nearer to the comprehension of foreign readers.
Should any of my allusions to religious subjects and to religious workers be thought
slighting, I trust my attitude towards Christianity itself will not be questioned. It is with
ecclesiastical methods and with the forms which obscure the teachings of Christ, and not
with the teachings themselves, that I have little sympathy. I believe in the religion taught
by Him and handed down to us in the New Testament, as well as in the law written in the
heart. Further, I believe that God hath made a testament which maybe called “old” with
every people and nation,–Gentile or Jew, Christian or Heathen. As to the rest of my
theology, I need not impose upon the patience of the public.
In concluding this preface, I wish to express my thanks to my friend Anna C. Hartshorne
for many valuable suggestions and for the characteristically Japanese design made by her
for the cover of this book.
3
INAZO NITOBE.
Malvern, Pa., Twelfth Month, 1899.
PREFACE TO THE TENTH AND REVISED EDITION
Since its first publication in Philadelphia, more than six years ago, this little book has had
an unexpected history. The Japanese reprint has passed through eight editions, the present
thus being its tenth appearance in the English language. Simultaneously with this will be
issued an American and English edition, through the publishing-house of Messrs. George
H. Putnam’s Sons, of New York.
In the meantime, _Bushido_ has been translated into Mahratti by Mr. Dev of Khandesh,
into German by Fräulein Kaufmann of Hamburg, into Bohemian by Mr. Hora of Chicago,
into Polish by the Society of Science and Life in Lemberg,–although this Polish edition
has been censured by the Russian Government. It is now being rendered into Norwegian
and into French. A Chinese translation is under contemplation. A Russian officer, now a
prisoner in Japan, has a manuscript in Russian ready for the press. A part of the volume
has been brought before the Hungarian public and a detailed review, almost amounting to
a commentary, has been published in Japanese. Full scholarly notes for the help of
younger students have been compiled by my friend Mr. H. Sakurai, to whom I also owe
much for his aid in other ways.
I have been more than gratified to feel that my humble work has found sympathetic
readers in widely separated circles, showing that the subject matter is of some interest to
the world at large. Exceedingly flattering is the news that has reached me from official
sources, that President Roosevelt has done it undeserved honor by reading it and
distributing several dozens of copies among his friends.
In making emendations and additions for the present edition, I have largely confined
them to concrete examples. I still continue to regret, as I indeed have never ceased to do,
my inability to add a chapter on Filial Piety, which is considered one of the two wheels of
the chariot of Japanese ethics–Loyalty being the other. My inability is due rather to my
ignorance of the Western sentiment in regard to this particular virtue, than to ignorance of
our own attitude towards it, and I cannot draw comparisons satisfying to my own mind. I
hope one day to enlarge upon this and other topics at some length. All the subjects that
are touched upon in these pages are capable of further amplification and discussion; but I
do not now see my way clear to make this volume larger than it is.
This Preface would be incomplete and unjust, if I were to omit the debt I owe to my wife
for her reading of the proof-sheets, for helpful suggestions, and, above all, for her
constant encouragement.
I.N.
4
Kyoto,
Fifth Month twenty-second, 1905.
CONTENTS
Bushido as an Ethical System
Sources of Bushido
Rectitude or Justice
Courage, the Spirit of Daring and Bearing
Benevolence, the Feeling of Distress
Politeness
Veracity or Truthfulness
Honor
The Duty of Loyalty
Education and Training of a Samurai
Self-Control
The Institutions of Suicide and Redress
The Sword, the Soul of the Samurai
The Training and Position of Woman
The Influence of Bushido
Is Bushido Still Alive?
The Future of Bushido
5
BUSHIDO AS AN ETHICAL SYSTEM
Chivalry is a flower no less indigenous to the soil of Japan than its emblem, the cherry
blossom; nor is it a dried-up specimen of an antique virtue preserved in the herbarium of
our history. It is still a living object of power and beauty among us; and if it assumes no
tangible shape or form, it not the less scents the moral atmosphere, and makes us aware
that we are still under its potent spell. The conditions of society which brought it forth
and nourished it have long disappeared; but as those far-off stars which once were and
are not, still continue to shed their rays upon us, so the light of chivalry, which was a
child of feudalism, still illuminates our moral path, surviving its mother institution. It is a
pleasure to me to reflect upon this subject in the language of Burke, who uttered the wellknown touching eulogy over the neglected bier of its European prototype.
It argues a sad defect of information concerning the Far East, when so erudite a scholar as
Dr. George Miller did not hesitate to affirm that chivalry, or any other similar institution,
has never existed either among the nations of antiquity or among the modern
Orientals.[2] Such ignorance, however, is amply excusable, as the third edition of the
good Doctor’s work appeared the same year that Commodore Perry was knocking at the
portals of our exclusivism. More than a decade later, about the time that our feudalism
was in the last throes of existence, Carl Marx, writing his “Capital,” called the attention
of his readers to the peculiar advantage of studying the social and political institutions of
feudalism, as then to be seen in living form only in Japan. I would likewise invite the
Western historical and ethical student to the study of chivalry in the Japan of the present.
[Footnote 2: _History Philosophically Illustrated_, (3rd Ed. 1853), Vol. II, p. 2.]
Enticing as is a historical disquisition on the comparison between European and Japanese
feudalism and chivalry, it is not the purpose of this paper to enter into it at length. My
attempt is rather to relate, _firstly_, the origin and sources of our chivalry; _secondly_, its
character and teaching; _thirdly_, its influence among the masses; and, _fourthly_, the
continuity and permanence of its influence. Of these several points, the first will be only
brief and cursory, or else I should have to take my readers into the devious paths of our
national history; the second will be dwelt upon at greater length, as being most likely to
interest students of International Ethics and Comparative Ethology in our ways of thought
and action; and the rest will be dealt with as corollaries.
The Japanese word which I have roughly rendered Chivalry, is, in the
original, more expressive than Horsemanship. _Bu-shi-do_ means literally
Military-Knight-Ways–the ways which fighting nobles should observe in
their daily life as well as in their vocation; in a word, the “Precepts
of Knighthood,” the _noblesse oblige_ of the warrior class. Having thus
6
given its literal significance, I may be allowed henceforth to use the
word in the original. The use of the original term is also advisable
for this reason, that a teaching so circumscribed and unique,
engendering a cast of mind and character so peculiar, so local, must
wear the badge of its singularity on its face; then, some words have a
national _timbre_ so expressive of race characteristics that the best of
translators can do them but scant justice, not to say positive injustice
and grievance. Who can improve by translation what the German “_Gemüth_”
signifies, or who does not feel the difference between the two words
verbally so closely allied as the English _gentleman_ and the French
_gentilhomme_?
Bushido, then, is the code of moral principles which the knights were
required or instructed to observe. It is not a written code; at best it
consists of a few maxims handed down from mouth to mouth or coming from
the pen of some well-known warrior or savant. More frequently it is a
code unuttered and unwritten, possessing all the more the powerful
sanction of veritable deed, and of a law written on the fleshly tablets
of the heart. It was founded not on the creation of one brain, however
able, or on the life of a single personage, however renowned. It was an
organic growth of decades and centuries of military career. It, perhaps,
fills the same position in the history of ethics that the English
Constitution does in political history; yet it has had nothing to
compare with the Magna Charta or the Habeas Corpus Act. True, early in
the seventeenth century Military Statutes (_Buké Hatto_) were
promulgated; but their thirteen short articles were taken up mostly with
marriages, castles, leagues, etc., and didactic regulations were but
meagerly touched upon. We cannot, therefore, point out any definite time
and place and say, “Here is its fountain head.” Only as it attains
consciousness in the feudal age, its origin, in respect to time, may be
identified with feudalism. But feudalism itself is woven of many
threads, and Bushido shares its intricate nature. As in England the
political institutions of feudalism may be said to date from the Norman
Conquest, so we may say that in Japan its rise was simultaneous with the
ascendency of Yoritomo, late in the twelfth century. As, however, in
England, we find the social elements of feudalism far back in the period
previous to William the Conqueror, so, too, the germs of feudalism in
Japan had been long existent before the period I have mentioned.
Again, in Japan as in Europe, when feudalism was formally inaugurated,
the professional class of warriors naturally came into prominence. These
were known as _samurai_, meaning literally, like the old English _cniht_
(knecht, knight), guards or attendants–resembling in character the
_soldurii_ whom Caesar mentioned as existing in Aquitania, or the
_comitati_, who, according to Tacitus, followed Germanic chiefs in his
time; or, to take a still later parallel, the _milites medii_ that one
7
reads about in the history of Mediaeval Europe. A Sinico-Japanese word
_Bu-ké_ or _Bu-shi_ (Fighting Knights) was also adopted in common use.
They were a privileged class, and must originally have been a rough
breed who made fighting their vocation. This class was naturally
recruited, in a long period of constant warfare, from the manliest and
the most adventurous, and all the while the process of elimination went
on, the timid and the feeble being sorted out, and only “a rude race,
all masculine, with brutish strength,” to borrow Emerson’s phrase,
surviving to form families and the ranks of the _samurai_. Coming to
profess great honor and great privileges, and correspondingly great
responsibilities, they soon felt the need of a common standard of
behavior, especially as they were always on a belligerent footing and
belonged to different clans. Just as physicians limit competition among
themselves by professional courtesy, just as lawyers sit in courts of
honor in cases of violated etiquette, so must also warriors possess some
resort for final judgment on their misdemeanors.
Fair play in fight! What fertile germs of morality lie in this primitive
sense of savagery and childhood. Is it not the root of all military and
civic virtues? We smile (as if we had outgrown it!) at the boyish desire
of the small Britisher, Tom Brown, “to leave behind him the name of a
fellow who never bullied a little boy or turned his back on a big one.”
And yet, who does not know that this desire is the corner-stone on which
moral structures of mighty dimensions can be reared? May I not go even
so far as to say that the gentlest and most peace-loving of religions
endorses this aspiration? This desire of Tom’s is the basis on which the
greatness of England is largely built, and it will not take us long to
discover that _Bushido_ does not stand on a lesser pedestal. If fighting
in itself, be it offensive or defensive, is, as Quakers rightly testify,
brutal and wrong, we can still say with Lessing, “We know from what
failings our virtue springs.”[3] “Sneaks” and “cowards” are epithets of
the worst opprobrium to healthy, simple natures. Childhood begins life
with these notions, and knighthood also; but, as life grows larger and
its relations many-sided, the early faith seeks sanction from higher
authority and more rational sources for its own justification,
satisfaction and development. If military interests had operated alone,
without higher moral support, how far short of chivalry would the ideal
of knighthood have fallen! In Europe, Christianity, interpreted with
concessions convenient to chivalry, infused it nevertheless with
spiritual data. “Religion, war and glory were the three souls of a
perfect Christian knight,” says Lamartine. In Japan there were several
SOURCES OF BUSHIDO,
of which I may begin with Buddhism. It furnished a sense of calm trust
8
in Fate, a quiet submission to the inevitable, that stoic composure in
sight of danger or calamity, that disdain of life and friendliness with
death. A foremost teacher of swordsmanship, when he saw his pupil
master the utmost of his art, told him, “Beyond this my instruction must
give way to Zen teaching.” “Zen” is the Japanese equivalent for the
Dhyâna, which “represents human effort to reach through meditation zones
of thought beyond the range of verbal expression.”[4] Its method is
contemplation, and its purport, as far as I understand it, to be
convinced of a principle that underlies all phenomena, and, if it can,
of the Absolute itself, and thus to put oneself in harmony with this
Absolute. Thus defined, the teaching was more than the dogma of a sect,
and whoever attains to the perception of the Absolute raises himself
above mundane things and awakes, “to a new Heaven and a new Earth.”
[Footnote 3: Ruskin was one of the most gentle-hearted and peace loving
men that ever lived. Yet he believed in war with all the fervor of a
worshiper of the strenuous life. “When I tell you,” he says in the
_Crown of Wild Olive_, “that war is the foundation of all the arts, I
mean also that it is the foundation of all the high virtues and
faculties of men. It is very strange to me to discover this, and very
dreadful, but I saw it to be quite an undeniable fact. * * * I found in
brief, that all great nations learned their truth of word and strength
of thought in war; that they were nourished in war and wasted by peace,
taught by war and deceived by peace; trained by war and betrayed by
peace; in a word, that they were born in war and expired in peace.”]
[Footnote 4: Lafcadio Hearn, _Exotics and Retrospectives_, p. 84.]
What Buddhism failed to give, Shintoism offered in abundance. Such
loyalty to the sovereign, such reverence for ancestral memory, and such
filial piety as are not taught by any other creed, were inculcated by
the Shinto doctrines, imparting passivity to the otherwise arrogant
character of the samurai. Shinto theology has no place for the dogma of
“original sin.” On the contrary, it believes in the innate goodness and
God-like purity of the human soul, adoring it as the adytum from which
divine oracles are proclaimed. Everybody has observed that the Shinto
shrines are conspicuously devoid of objects and instruments of worship,
a …
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