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Bushido: The Spirit of the Samurai

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,227 ratings  ·  93 reviews
There are eight virtues of Bushido, the code of the samurai: justice, courage, benevolence, politeness, sincerity, honor, loyalty, and self-control. These virtues comprise the essence of Japanese cultural beliefs, which are still present today.

Inazo Nitobe, one of Japan's most respected scholars, explores the ethical code of the samurai and contextualizes it within Japan'
Hardcover, 145 pages
Published October 11th 2005 by Shambhala (first published 1900)
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What an interesting little book! As many of my Goodreads friends know, I have a keen interest in Japan, although I've never really read into its' history or the philosophical foundations on which it developed, at least to be what it was prior to significant Western influence.

The author makes a great point that now (over 100 years since he wrote this) that Bushido as a way of life passed through generations is long gone, what with Japan as we all see it today being what it is, but the soul of it
I wish all philosophy books were more like this! Engaging and beautifully written, BUSHIDO is an insider's look into the foundational beliefs and customs of one of the most mysterious (to Westerners) cultures on the planet. After reading this, you'll definitely have a much better understanding and appreciation of many aspects of Japanese culture that initially come across as being either senseless or totally barbaric. Nitobe does a fantastic job of finding unexpected parallels between both Easte ...more
Miss Laura
Dec 20, 2007 Miss Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in Japanese history and culture
I read this book as i have a general fascination with japan and its sense of morals and values. This book was immeasurably helpful when it comes to giving an insight into where their beliefs came from and the thinking behind it. This book contains many quotes from priests and scrolls which give a better understanding of the many ways in which the samurai code can be interpreted. This was great for understanding, so much so that even though its a small book, it took a long time to read because i ...more
emi Bevacqua
It's not often I read non-fiction, and this was undeniably dry; but I'm glad I stuck with it. Being half-Japanese and having studied Japanese language and literature, having lived in Japan and with Japanese people, I've accumulated a slew of images and memories of quirks, anomalies, mannerisms and truisms that are all uniquely Japanese. A Japanese movie or TV show generally brings one or two of those to mind, but reading this Bushido book really gets to the heart of the Japanese matter. I'm surp ...more
Bernie Gourley
On the whole, people have ambivalent feelings about feudal times. On the one hand, these were horrible times to be alive for 99.5% of the population. Chances are that if you'd lived during that time you'd be toiling ceaselessly on the land with no hope of your lot in life ever improving. To add insult to injury, everything was determined on a hereditary basis, with merit having little to do with anything. Therefore, that person you would have to slather obsequiousness on was as likely to be a pu ...more
Ian Miley
Nitobe shows his strong respect for the Bushido ethical system. Placing a high value on stoic character, loyalty, and honorable behavior, bushido has no like in modern day society. Since the 18th century, Japan has tried to adopt Shintoism as its national religion, but has not succeeded in finding a replacement for Bushido. Instead, a Westernized utilitarian ethic has emerged, which has no binding principle. He hints that the Christian ideal of love might be the answer to our modern quest for sy ...more
This book was really interesting, but hard to understand (I read it in English, so that should be why), I'm glad I made to the last page because this book provides the reader with enlightning insights on (current) Japanese culture.
Peter W
Very informative about the code of the samurai. Great book of ethics and morals. Also helped me to understand some of the underlying principles of Japanese culture
Jared Dale Combista
Except for the works of Kung Fu Tzu, Lao Tzu and a few Zen leadership stuff, Eastern Philosophy is something that is taken for granted. So it was there that I decided to look at one country in the far-east, somewhere in the Pacific—Nihon (Japan). And from there, I decided to read Bushido – The Soul of Japan by Nitobe Inazo (surname Nitobe, first name Inazo).

When Nitobe was asked how Japan could have had any sense of morality since religion was not taught in school, he suddenly came up with the a
Tim Gannon
Since it was free on my Kindle, that alone should make it a 4 but I decided to base my decision on its readability and content - Bushido is the code of moral virtues that were followed by the samurai - I thought the analysis of these virtues was superficial - However, the text's real strength was in the author's efforts in describing the personality of the Japanese, and often, how it is tied to Bushido. Also, the author compared and contrasted Samurai and Bushido to European Knights, and to the ...more
Aug 25, 2007 Nash rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Japanese history & culture enthusiasts.
Shelves: already-read
Well, may be I'll be the only one in the world that ranks this book "negative"! See, this is the peril of someone who is doing Ph.D. on Bushido! Well, not that I don't like this book because it gives me the sufferings relating to my dissertation! ha ha ha And actually, the level of English used by the author is one of the best in the world! I mean, he was the Japanese super scholar that could write the kind of Victorian English that most western scholars have to respect until this very day! He w ...more
Short, sweet, enlightening. Inazo Nitobe does a great job of making parallels between the Oriental and Occidental traditions that enlighten our understanding of Bushido and the Japanese people. I think this is a must read, really, because it provides such a profound insight into a culture that values all of the same things we do, but structured their cultural as a different solution to the same problems. Nitobe shines when he shows how apparent differences, like how Japanese insult their family ...more
Riko Nogami
Bushido The Soul of Japan
time: 70 minutes
7words: source- Byddism-justice-courage- love-son- daughter
1. Do you like samurai? why or why not?
my answer: I don't like samurai because samurai is too strict . I can't understand they sell their daughter.

2. Do you have justice? why or why not?
my answer: yes. I think young people don't have justice.

Bushido the soul of Japan
time: 70min
7words: politeness- custom- honesty- sincerity - honor- duty-loyalty

1.Did you see the people who ar
I've read a German version, published by Nikol Verlag and translated by Dr. Hannelore Eisenhofer.

While it was a nice read, it doesn't really tell you anything about Bushido as such. The writer has a spiritual idea about Japan, about Bushido and that is what he speaks about. He uses examples from literature and history (Chinese and Western) to explain to his readers about Japanese culture. It's clear to see he's widely travelled and very well read, but the case is never truly convincing.

I feel,
The now classic book written to expose Westerners to samurai culture, and by extension Japanese culture as a whole, when Japan began to modernize at the end of 19th century. This book is now in it's 11th printing, and won much attention and applause when first printed (including the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt), so it's a notable book for that alone.

However, I would just recommend you keep an open mind while reading this and remember that Nitobe's purpose was to introduce Japan to
For any non-japanese wanting to learn about Bushido, this is definitely a must. Written in English, by Inazo Nitobe, a japanese who lived during and after Japan's feudal era, the insight and comparisons he offers between Bushido and other western "Knighthood precepts" or ethical systems is invaluable. Even when English was not his native tounge, his writing is way better than what many other native speakers would dream to offer. I highly recommend this book.

I do not, though, recommend this editi
Peggy Oates
Nov 12, 2007 Peggy Oates rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all
Bushido is a hard tradition to understand. Those who do often are totally removed from western culture and thus they cannot place the tradition in the context of western thought or ethics in a way a western reader can understand. Nitobe makes Bushido understandable by comparing it to Christian ethics, Shakespearian action and literature from a western tradition.

The one criticism is it only speaks of Bushido only at its best. But then we have all read hundreds of books about Christian ethics whic
I sometimes I wonder what inspired a post world war Japanese ambassador to the US to write this book about representing the spirit of the Japanese people. There is an incredible amount of patience, ambivalence, and honesty in this small country, but I can understand why people still tries to convey this spirit in Japan. Sadly, I believe capitalism has eaten away much of these spirit and only the remains of those foolish enough to live that away are left. However, there is still much we can learn ...more
This is an inspiring treatise trying to help the western mind grasp the eastern concepts of Bushido, or The Way of The Warrior. It's particularly interesting since Nitobe, the author, brings the point of view of 100 years ago, as the industrial age was getting started. He served as the undersecretary of the League Of Nations and was respected across borders at a time when tolerance for different race/creed/color/religion was minimal. The book takes on different concepts that are distinctly not o ...more
Yosuke Hashimoto
this book is quite powerful and splendid to express Bushido spirits laying in our deep mind. Most of us probably say "Samurai, and Bushido was dead long time ago." I've been thinking so, but now I can state that Bushido is still alive in our mind, even though getting weak and nearly dead . As the matter of fact, people who were in the latest catastrophe ware able to keep their "benevolence", one of the essences of Bushido. I'm very proud of being born in the country of "Samurai", Japan. we shoul ...more
Randy Daugherty
Bushido the Warriors Code, this book has remained in my collection over the years and one that I keep returning too. This is more than the Warriors Codes it is a code more people should try to live their lives by.
I have recommended this to all my students as we discussed shared ideas.
I would still advise reading this book though it has been years since it has been published, as I think the philosophies and ethics presented here are sorely missing in the martial arts world today as well as in gen
Paul Wunderlich
This is the soul of the warrior, the principles that define a knight in Japan. He is called a Samurai. It is an honor to be called for such a duty, it is of great honor both to the individual in question and his family. He will donn the armor, carry the blade that can split iron like warm butter.

Like many reviews already published about Bushido and its code of virtues, I also will comment on why it is valuable to read such book. I read this book because I've always had a curiosity to understand
Really enjoyed this; stopped halfway the first time but blitzed right through the second. Concepts like rectitude, courage, politeness and the like are contemplated with grace and harmony. Especially love how he practices what he preaches in the way he gently puts down inferior ideas and perspectives, and was fascinated by the analysis of seppuku, or ritual suicide, with references to things like Socrates and Shakespeare. Elegant, graceful, thought-provoking.
A nice little introduction into Japanese thinking but a bit superficial. I was left with the impression that I needed another side of the story, because this author thinks samurais and their way of life basically made Japan. It may be true but I'm not satisfied with just this one point of view.
Otherwise, Nitobe does a good job of drawing comparisons between Eastern and Western philosophies, exemplifying with Shakespeare, Socrates, and Plato.
Joey Kurtzman
This was a staggeringly sucky book. Nitobe convinced me that the Samurai possessed all the sublime virtues of the most dreamy European knight. I imagine him expounding on this point while wearing a tophat in a London salon, charming the knickers of some gaggle of Oxbridge twats. For those who'd like to learn about Bushido, rather than about a Japanese Anglophile's apologetics on behalf of Bushido, this book should definitely be ignored.
Los caballeros de la mesa cuadrada?
Los nibelungos de Wagner?
El Código Rojo de los Marines norteamericanos?
El pacto secreto de los Anasazi?

Nada nuevo, dirán los japoneses.
Este libro rememora, explica, enumera, alecciona sobre el código de caballeros en el antiguo Japón.
Ferreo como el acero.
Ondulante como el bambú.

Unico, como el Bushido.

Para los amantes de la justicia, una delicia de leer.

Deviant Geek
A book describing all the virtues and morals of Japan in general And the samurais in specific. Honor. Honesty. Justice. Veracity. Loyalty. Persistent. All of these had their way. Everything had it's own way. And if the bushido morals and their ways are gone. Like an old rusty piano.. The song that was played and the virtues will remain like a soothing lullaby..
I loved the book..
An interesting book. Being a non-fiction book part philosophy/history bein g a bit 'dry' I expected it to be a bit dry. The quotations from so many western philosophers was done, I'm guessing, to give those of us with a western background a point of reference. I would rate this as a good introduction to Bushido but not as a first exposure to Japanese culture or history.
Mar 23, 2007 Christopher rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: bush, i do
Shelves: japan
Nitobe was an interesting cat, a Japanese Christian, and one of the very first "international" Japanese to try and explain the soul of Japan. Japanese certainly think about some things differently than "westerners", but it always makes me uncomfortable when the differences are emphasized. Never sure how many stars to give this one. Depends on how I feel about Japan that day.
Nov 19, 2011 Paweł rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fascynaci Japonii
Interesująca książka, chociaż ja czuję niedosyt, jak na mój gust za dużo filozofii, cytatów z ludzi żyjących w XIX wieku i odwołań do religii, a za mało konkretów. Można znaleźć perełki w postaci anegdot. Niestety napisana stylem lekko archaicznym, bo wydana ponad 100 lat temu, ale nie jest źle. No i ładne ilustracje, szkoda że w tym wydaniu czarno-białe.
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Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933): agriculturalist, scholar, Quaker, philosopher, statesman, educator.

Inazo Nitobe was educated at Sapporo Agricultural College, University of Tokyo, Johns Hopkins, and University of Halle (Germany). Early in his life he expressed the desire to be a “bridge over the Pacific” and he devoted much of his life to promoting trust and understanding between the United States and J
More about Inazo Nitobe...
Kyoiku no mokuteki (Japanese Edition) Shūyō The Japanese Nation BUSHIDO THE SOUL OF JAPAN ( annotated ) The Samurai Way

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“the feeling of distress is the root of benevolence, therefore a benevolent man is ever mindful of those who are suffering and in distress.” 3 likes
“Did not Socrates, all the while he unflinchingly refused to concede one iota of loyalty to his daemon, obey with equal fidelity and equanimity the command of his earthly master, the State? His conscience he followed, alive; his country he served, dying. Alack the day when a state grows so powerful as to demand of its citizens the dictates of their consciences!” 3 likes
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