bushido

bushido (bŏshˈĭdō, bōˈshĭdō) [key] [Jap., = way of the warrior], code of honor and conduct of the Japanese nobility. Of ancient origin, it grew out of the old feudal bond that required unwavering loyalty on the part of the vassal. It borrowed heavily from Zen Buddhism and Confucianism. In its fullest expression the code emphasized loyalty to one's superior, personal honor, and the virtues of austerity, self-sacrifice, and indifference to pain. For the warrior, commerce and the profit motive were to be scorned. The code was first formulated in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and put into writing in the 16th cent.; the term itself, however, did not come into use until the 17th cent. It became the standard of conduct for the daimyo and samurai under the Tokugawa shoguns and was taught in state schools as a prerequisite for government service. After the Meiji restoration (1868), it was the basis for the cult of emperor worship taught until 1945.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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