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The Code Of Bushido Essay, Research Paper

In my essay on the Code of Bushido, I will attempt to explain the different sections of the code as well as who used the code that defined Japan’s warrior class, the general history of the code and the honor that accompanies it.

“Bushi” is a term that was given to the warrior class of a pre-feudal and feudal Japan (www.usjujitsu.net/articles/bushi/htm). “Bushido”, which literally translated to “the way of the warrior”(Hall, Eleanor 37), was the certain philosophy that directed the Samurai. The Chivalry code of the European Knights of the High Middle Ages was also compared to the Bushido code. Similar to the Code of Chivalry, the Code of Bushido contains eight principles that a loyal student must follow: Jin-To develop sympathetic understanding for all living things. Gi-Preserve the proper ethics. Chu-Show loyalty to ones master. Ko-To respect and care for ones parents. Rei-Respect for others. Chi-Enhance wisdom by broadening ones knowledge. Shin-To remain truthful at all times. Tei-To care for the aged and of humble station.

This code contains a mixture of Buddhism, Confucius, Chu-Tsu and Shinto, which help this code remain “uniquely Eastern”. This code also helped format the general rules for healthy and proud honor (www.geocities.com/tokyo/towers/9151/bushido.htm).

Contrary to Western belief we tend to classify Japanese warriors as Samurai, but the term “Bushi” is a more correct term to use. The classing and ranking of the Bushi was all dependent on marital status, social status and the most important, Shoguns favor. The Samurai were just one rank among the Bushi, and wasn’t a very high rank at that. Originally known as servants who waited on nobility, but soon the samurai adopted the Bushido code and a warrior class was born (www.usjujitsu.net/articles/bushi.htm).

One of the main features of the Japanese feudal period was the master-vassal relationship (Hall, Eleanor 38), in which the Lord would hire samurai to protect his castle or manor from invasion from other powerful Lords and samurai. The Bushido code holds honor to its highest respect and would go into to battle without any fear of death in the back of his mind (Hall, Eleanor 37-39). From a very early age a father would train their son in the arts of fencing, archery, yawara, horsemanship, spear handling, calligraphy, ethics, literature and the arts. The father would take their son to graveyards, haunted houses and other such places designed to put fear into his child, just to produce the “nerves of steel” one would need to be a samurai on the battlefield. The father would also pay particular attention to justice, courage, benevolence, politeness, truthfulness, honor, loyalty and self-control, which the Bushido code also illustrates (www.usjujitsu.net/articles/bushi.htm).

Loyalty and honor were possibly the most important aspects of the Bushido Code that the samurai held true. If this loyalty and honor would bring about death, then death would be embraced by the samurai (Newman, DeGeer 356). Seppuku, ritualistic suicide, was sometimes the result of that loyalty and honor that the samurai lived by. It was also used to restore honor in certain situations (Hall, Eleanor 42). If a samurai happened to be dishonored in battle his opponent would let him commit seppuku. Or in order to protest a decision made by his master, or lord the samurai would commit suicide to bring attention to the problem (Hall, Eleanor 42). There is also the ceremony for seppuku used to restore honor as I said before. This would take place when the samurai dishonored his town or dishonored himself in front of the town, the man would enter the temple of the town. He would bow to the witness’, walk to a raised platform where he would kneel, and take his blade and stab himself on the left side of his body, just below the waist. He would then drag the blade across to the right side of the body, where he will tilt the blade up and drag it up slowly, but just a few inches. He would have tucked the sleeves of his garment under his knees, as to not fall backwards after his death. It was seen to be dishonorable. Also the man would have to die without a single expression on his face, because this would not restore the honor the man has lost (on the battle field the samurai wore a painted mask that would hide all emotion from his opponent (Leonard, Jonathon 71)). Lastly, a “Kaishaku” would stand by to sever the head of the victim with a single stroke of his sword. If the ceremony was done correctly, the deceased would be left the ever-lasting sense of honor to his name (www.usjujitsu.net/articles/bushi.htm).

Throughout my studies of the Bushido Code two words surfaced time and time again. “Bushi” and “honor”. I found that the Bushi was the foundation for the Bushido code. It enveloped the beliefs and customs that made up the Bushido code, and harmonized a concept of honor that taught the warrior class loyalty for all living things. This code helped shape a feudal Japan into the strong, honorable country it has become today. One question that may come to mind is whether or not Japan would be held in such high regard to their dedication with expanding their knowledge and staying true to their heritage of honor. Well this writer does not think so. I believe the principles of the Bushido code effects Japan to this day, and as long as the new generation continues to take in new knowledge, the code of honor will never die.

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