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Bushido is a special code of behavior developed by a distinctive caste of Japanese warriors known as samurai. This code includes guidelines for honorable and moral conduct and stresses the importance of warrior’s courage, self-discipline and loyalty. However, Bushido is more than just a set of rules. It is a way of life, which is often compared to the knighthood of Middle Ages. 

Bushido’s Moral Code

Bushido emerged in Tokugawa, Japan, and was based on the ground principles of Neo-Confucianism and Confucian doctrines. The prevailing opinion is that Zen Buddhism and Shinto greatly influenced the process of formation of Bushido. According to this moral code, the life of a samurai is supposed to be guided by wisdom and loyalty rather than blind violence. A few centuries after its emergence, Bushido became extremely influential across Japan. Later, it even became a part of current feudal law. Throughout the scope of its development, Bushido evolved into a unique philosophy that spread among caste of Japanese warriors.

The Bushido code of behavior accentuates that the life of a samurai must revolve around seven basic virtues: morally correct behavior and thinking, bravery, kindness, respect, being honest and being honorable. In addition, the Bushido philosophy presupposes that samurai should be experienced, wise and express great respect for older people. In the course of history, a plethora of different Bushido schools appeared throughout Japan bringing variations to the philosophy, involving different social classes, and expanding the doctrine. Due to its extreme influence, Bushido became an essential part of Japanese culture.

Bushido principles generally focus on the image of emperor and promote virtues of loyalty above life, honor, calmness, justice, high morals and self-sacrifice. Samurai honor death and practice an act of seppuku (or hara-kiri) to declare courage. Furthermore, Bushido was used as an exceedingly effective tool of military and governmental propaganda. It changed in the course of its development, accentuating the importance of nationalism and fighting for the native country. As Bushido gradually spread to every area of life, its influence cannot be underestimated. This philosophy includes special studies and trainings aimed at sustaining mind and soul along with strengthening the body. It also stipulates special methods of bringing children up and preparing them to lead a life of honor and loyalty. Some perceive Bushido philosophy as a way of preparation for honorable death, which is interpreted as a reward for one’s good life.

The Contemporary Bushido

The contemporary Bushido spirit is that of absolute dedication, fearlessness, honor, respect, and self-cultivation. According to Bushido principles, the life of a warrior should be excessively simple. A samurai should be prepared for death at any moment, never fear and put loyalty above life. Thus, Bushido cultivates a spirit of patience and wisdom. One of the most remarkable things about this philosophy is the fact that even though the set of rules, around which it revolved, was never written down, Bushido expanded and formed the core of Japanese culture and social life. Bushido teaches to distinguish between right and wrong and provides individual day-to-day instructions for living an honorable and respectful life. Due to the accentuation of one’s duty and loyalty to the country, Bushido affiliated the Japanese society. Another characteristic feature of Bushido philosophy is the principle of kindness that resembles certain doctrines of Christianity.

Bushido is more than just a philosophy or a warrior’s life path. This doctrine unifies Japanese society around the virtues of honor, loyalty, respect and kindness. Having a very long and perplexed history, the Bushido philosophy presents a substantial part of Japanese culture.

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