Bushido, meaning the way of the warrior, is the Samurai's philosophy and code of conduct for life. It stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and death before dishonor. It was created from a mix of the violent existence of the samurai and the peacefulness and wisdom of Confucianism and Buddhism. Bushido was created between the Heian and Tokugawa Ages (9-12th century)
From Buddhism, Bushido gets its relationship to danger and death. Samurai believe that they will be reincarnated after they die and live another life. Through Zen, which is a branch of Buddhism, Bushido gets its focus. In Bushido you must be incredibly focused in life as well as combat so that you may rely on reflexes and react quickly. Zen teaches one to focus and reach a level of thought which words cannot describe.
Shintoism the original religion of Japan, deals with sprits teaches loyalty. Shintoism includes ancestor worship, which makes the Imperial Family (especially the Emperor) considered to be almost gods. The Emperor is known to be the Heaven's living embodiment on Earth. Loyalty to the Emperor and his family means that a Samurai who follows Bushido will die in a heartbeat if needed or do whatever is necessary to reach their goals without thought of themselves.
Confucianism influences Bushido in its interactions with the human world their environment and family. In Confuciansism there are five moral relations: A friend and a friend; a father and a son; a husband and wife; older and younger brother; and master and servant. The same moral codes are followed in Bushido. Samurai did not agree with Confucianism with everything. They did not think that an intellectual specialist was a good thing because samurai thought there was better things to do then write poetry all day.
Justice was also a big part of Bushido. People who did unjust things were to be considered inhuman. Benevolence was considered to be one of the greatest virtues. Also one's sincerity was on value with one's life. Stoicism was also great part of Bushido, a person following Bushido was never to show pain.
In all, Bushido has a big focus on death. A good death is to die with honor and a bad one without. If a samurai failed in a mission, was disgraced, or mortally wounded they were to commit seppuku. If a samurai committed seppuku their reputation would be intact or it might even be enhanced. Sepukku is ritual suicide. A samurai would take their wakazishi and slice through their own abdomen, to release their sprit, which was incredibly agonizing. Sometimes a samurai would ask a friend to cut off his head at the moment of agony.
Bushido was necessary for Japan because the warriors had the greatest power in the country. Many other countries had warrior codes. The purpose of these codes was to prevent corruption. For example, European chivalry is a lot like Bushido. The rules of chivalry are stated by the book Old Catholic Encyclopedia.
  1. Duties to countrymen and fellow Christians: this contains virtues such as mercy, courage, valor, fairness, protection of the weak and the poor, and in the servant-hood of the knight to his lord. This also brings with it the idea of being willing to give one’s life for another’s; whether he would be giving his life for a poor man or his lord.
  2. Duties to God: this would contain being faithful to God, protecting the innocent, being faithful to the church, being the champion of good against evil, being generous and obeying God above the feudal lord.
  3. Duties to women: This would contain what is often called courtly love, the idea that the knight is to serve a lady, and after her all other ladies. Most especially in this category is a general gentleness and graciousness to all women.
Chivalry and Bushido have many of the same virtues. Especially the virtue of honor and serving ones lord. Although; they have obvious religious differences but still both groups of followers to be loyal to God or the emperor. In Bushido, women are lesser than men but are still to be respect whereas in Chivalry all women are to be treated as angels.
Let's compare Bushido to one more warrior code, the Marine Corps's core values.
1. Honor-Marines are held to the highest standards, ethically and morally. Respect for others is essential. Marines are expected to act responsibly in a manner befitting the title they’ve earned.
2. Courage-Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to face fear and overcome it. It is the mental, moral and physical strength ingrained in every Marine. It steadies them in times of stress, carries them through every challenge and aids them in facing new and unknown confrontations.
3. Commitment-Commitment is the spirit of determination and dedication found in every Marine. It is what compels Marines to serve our country and the Corps. Every aspect of life in the Corps shows commitment, from the high standard of excellence to vigilance in training.
In Bushido and the Marine Corps honor is highly valued, however in the Marine Corps there is no death penalty for breaking it whereas in Bushido there is. In the Marines they do not teach you not to fear but to overcome it. In Bushido though, you are not suppose to feel fear so there is no need to overcome it. In both Bushido and the marines though commitment is required, perhaps on an equal level.
Bushido is way of the Japanese warrior. It is hard to believe in today's world that a person could value their own life so little and servitude so much. Though being a samurai must have been a difficult life it's hard not to see he gains of having them in society. The question is could any American take on a rigorous code such as Bushido?