Bushido: The Samurai Code of Conduct and Honor




НазваниеBushido: The Samurai Code of Conduct and Honor
Дата конвертации16.02.2013
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Bushido:

The Samurai Code of Conduct and Honor

“Bushido” actually comes from a combination of words - "Bushi" which means "warrior" and “Do" which means “way”. Combined, these words mean "the way of the warrior".

The term “Bushido” refers to the code of conduct and honor that developed among the samurai of Japan. The samurai code of honor was influenced by Zen Buddhism and Confucianism. The term “Bushido” was first used during the “warring states” period of the 1500’s when daimyos regularly fought against each other for control of the shogunate (the shogun’s government).

The exact meaning of “Bushido” has changed several times in Japanese history. These changes in meaning have occurred largely as a result of the shifting in prestige and power when it came to the status of the samurai in Japanese society. Despite these changes, one ideal that has remained consistent was that of the martial spirit. Martial skills included the samurai’s athletic and military skills, as well as traits such as bravery and fearlessness when it came to facing enemies on the battlefield. Frugal living, education, and honesty were also highly esteemed ideals. Like Confucianism, Bushido required filial piety; but, different from the Chinese version of filial piety, Bushido required that supreme honor was owed to one’s lord/master until death. The samurai was bound by this loyalty to his lord – even if it conflicted with his family’s interests and caused suffering to his parents.

The meaning of Bushido was greatly developed during the Tokugawa period (1600 - 1868).The samurai was identified as the Confucian "superior man". Each samurai was taught that his essential function was to exemplify virtue to the lower classes. Obedience to authority was stressed, but duty came first even if it entailed violation of the shogun’s law. In such an instance, the true samurai would prove his loyalty to his lord and make amends for his crime against the government by taking his own life.

http://sanadaclan.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/bushido7.jpghttp://www.japanesebushido.net/wp-content/uploads/japanese-bushido-chart.jpg


The Samurai and His Swordstrue swords samurai


Samurai carried two swords at all times. The larger sword was known as a katana and the smaller sword was known as a wakizashi. The wakizashi was used as as a backup weapon and wore it as a companion to the katana.. When worn together, these two swords were known as the daisho (meaning large and small).


The length of a katana sword was between 23 and 29 inches long. The length of a wakizashi sword was between 12 and 24 inches long. The katana sword was used for open combat against an enemy. The wazikashi sword was used for decapitating one’s enemies and performing ritual suicide.


Seppuku: Ritual Suicide

What is seppuku? Seppuku is the formal term for hara-kiri or ritual suicide. Samurais would perform this act if they felt they had disgraced their house and their master. In some cases, rather than dying at the hands of an unworthy opponent, the samurai would commit sappuku to avoid disgrace or shame.


"Seppuku was an institution, both legal and ceremonial. An invention of the middle ages, it was a process by which warriors could make amends for their crimes, apologize for errors, escape from disgrace, redeem their friends, or prove their sincerity and loyalty. When enforced as a legal punishment, it was conducted with ceremonial rituals. It was a refinement of self-destruction, and none could perform it without the utmost coolness of temper and composure of demeanor, and for these reasons it was particularly fitting to the profession of the bushi." (Nitobe, 1908)

“Seppuku was an act of suicide performed by the process of cutting open the abdomen. Seppuku is better known in the West as hara kiri (belly-cutting), and is a concept so alien to the European tradition that it is one of the few words from the world of the samurai to have entered foreign languages without a need for translation. .................................The cutting of the abdomen released the samurai’s spirit in the most dramatic fashion, but it was an extremely painful and unpleasant way to die, and sometimes the samurai who was performing the act asked a loyal comrade to cut off his head at the moment of agony or to deliver a merciful blow on to his neck at the moment of agony." (Turnbull, 2006)

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