7 Virtues of Bushido – The Samurai Warrior Code

The samurai of ancient Japan followed a sequence of rules called the Bushido or “The Way of the Warrior”. These philosophical codes and guiding principles were specifically for the samurai warriors.

Samurai of the Medieval Era

During the medieval period in Japan, the samurai were present to serve their lord and protect the land. Though the warriors are no longer in service, their influence is still evident since some Japanese still refer to the Bushido in this day and age.

Zen Buddhism and the Bushido

From the thirteenth century, the samurai conduct was heavily affected by Zen Buddhism. Meditation was utilized to relax, calm, and soothe the mind, providing mental focus over the enemy.

The 7 Virtues of Bushido

Gi – Justice or Integrity

This is ensuring that the individual has the right way and mindset when making decisions – that they have the power to decide swiftly. It is to guarantee that the person avoids indecisiveness and that decisions are based on the proper reasons.

Yu – Courage

Yu is focused on ensuring that an individual does and has the courage to do the right thing, not what others expect them to do. If a person is raised particularly, they have their own beliefs that they follow and have the courage to do.

Jin – Mercy or Benevolence

As great warriors, samurai have the right power to kill; yet due to the Bushido, Jin is to ensure that their mind and thinking is balanced – having mercy and sympathy at the proper situation.

Jin and the Samurai
This is to ensure that the warrior fought for the right reason and belief; it is also to guarantee that if there was no need to kill, the samurai would have mercy.

Rei – Respect

Based on the belief of a samurai, it is important that they respect and be polite towards everything. Their way of life meant they should be respectful of elders, respect life, and respect the belief of others.

Makoto – Honesty

Honesty was always vital since the warriors believe that honesty in everything they do will acquire respect. It would also mean that they are trustworthy.

Meiyo – Honor

Living and dying with great honor was vital to every samurai warrior. Everything they did was with great honor; meaning, everything that they did based on their belief was with honor.

Chugi – Loyalty

Another vital aspect of the Bushido was loyalty. The samurai treated each other just like family and would safeguard and help their fellow warriors.

This was important because it meant they could trust each other, knowing that they would be loyal despite the circumstances.

Source of the Bushido

Just like strict and honorable doctrines, Confucius’ teachings were considered the best source of the Bushido. His articulation of the five moral relations confirms what the race instincts had acknowledged even before his works were introduced.

First Usage

The word Bushido was first utilized during the 17th century in Japan, though it wasn’t commonly utilized until after the publication of the Bushido – The Soul of Japan by Nitobe Inazo.

Why was Bushido Practiced

The 7 Virtues of Bushido were mainly practiced to reach heightened levels of performance and self-discipline. The principles then evolved into the Bushido which stayed in place at the heart and core of the Japanese’s culture and philosophy.

Influence of the Bushido in Modern-Day Japan

In this day and age, there are hints and values of Bushido in Japan. The Japanese have high respect, value, as well as loyalty to their families and country.

Bushido – Working as a Propaganda Tool

The Bushido was utilized by the military and government as a propaganda tool and customized it based on their needs. Scholars of history also acknowledged that the implementation of Bushido in modern Japan wasn’t only a continuation of their traditions.

For Militarism

During World War II Showa Japan and pre-World War II, the principle was utilized for militarism: war for purification and death as duty. The Bushido was displayed as a reinvigorating traditional value and exceeding the modern.

Bushido Defined Laws

In the past, higher social ranked people could kill those with lower social ranks if they were insulted or disgraced; yet with the Bushido, it helped define the feudal law of Japan. The principles set a basis on how they’d fight and live, making Bushido extremely vital as it was the beginning of the law in Japan.

Bushido in the 21st Century

In the 21st century, Bushido was more present in English martial arts publications compared to texts from earlier warriors. And despite not having Nitobe’s virtue list directly derived from the substantial warrior codes, it reflected the warrior’s ideals.

The Bushido – When it was Created

The Bushido was said to have been created between the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries, taking the form of a code only during the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries.

Bushido and its True Meaning

To understand Bushido by heart, one should first recognize its meaning; and if broken down, it basically means “The Samurai’s Way of Life” where Bushi means samurai or warrior, while Do means the way of life.

Bushido as a Spiritual Basis

The Bushido of a warrior was also considered as a spiritual basis for anyone who made kamikaze attacks during the Second World War.

Kendo and Bushido

Kendo, a modern sport, utilizes the basic philosophy of the Bushido, particularly the idea that the whole purpose of the sport is to execute one cut, one kill.

The Beginnings of the Bushido

As soon as the eighth century, military people were writing texts about the perfect utilization of the sword. They also made an ideal warrior poet – an individual who was well-educated, brave, and loyal to his country.

Formalization of the Bushido

The Bushido was formalized during the Tokugawa era and Confucian values that honored the divine and unique nature of Japan were added to the code. This resulted in a code of devotion, wisdom, serenity, skill, and true honor.

An Ethical Code

It was known as an ethical system instead of a religious system. Numerous samurais believed they were excluded from receiving any blessings in the afterlife when based on the Buddhism rules.