The Samurai Code Of Bushido Is All A Hoax

Grace Higgins | October 24th, 2019

A term that has been spread all around Western culture especially video games, is the word Bushido, an ancient code of the Samurais. It was thought that the code was so strong and hellbent on preserving honor that they would rather take their own life than live with shame. We have seen blockbuster films such as The Last Samurai that portraits their way of life as something that follows a code of loyalty and self-control.

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And well it is portrait as if this was how it happened in Japanese history because this is what popular culture would have us believe. The real kicker though is that the actual term Bushido was not recognized in Japan at all. It was all a hoax to bring the samurai class to popular culture, a trick by the powers of Hollywood to turn something into a movie. It is believed by historians that samurai probably never uttered the term once.

Bushido only really started to be used in the twentieth century and received much more recognition abroad than in Japan. Inaze Nitobe published a book in 1900 titled Bushido: The Soul of Japan, but he published it in English and intended it to be read by a Western audience. Nitobe banked on the fact that the Western world was idolizing the Japanese culture and well, he wanted to simply make money selling a fake story.

However, it was not entirely fake, Nitobe took an idea of Japan’s samurai class and infused it which Christian values as he hoped to take part in shaping the new generation of Japan – however, his ideas and book were initially rejected by Japan. Until the government needed a way to bring an empowering vision to the forefront of their culture, they needed to continue driving their war efforts. Therefore, many nationalists took bushido as a way of living and exploited it to bring forth Japan’s fascism to power – eventually leading to them entering World War II.

So it is sort of hoax, not truly a reflection of how the ancient samurai lived or a code that was followed during those times. And though it was published for good intentions, the end goal became a twisted broken code that was used to push self-interest instead of being a way of benevolence.

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