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Bushido: The Soul of Japan: An Exposition of Japanese Thought

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  2,738 ratings  ·  121 reviews
This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We be ...more
Paperback, 158 pages
Published April 9th 2010 by Nabu Press (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
Ali Reda
A book written by a Westernized Japanese scholar,to answer Westerners' questions about the Japanese mentality and Bushido. So the book doesn't feel Japanese at all, you will find historical comparisons between the Chivalry of Europe and the Bushido of Japan. You will find many examples from the European and American cultures describing Bushido. Even when we encounter something against values of the western culture, like ritual suicide, we find him citing examples for it from the Western Culture. ...more
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
Jackson Burnett
When men's fowls and dogs are lost, they know to seek for them again, but they lose their mind and do not know to seek for it.

If the author of this book on the way of the Samurai had stopped two-thirds of the way through, I would be writing a five star review. The last third dealt with women and the future of the Japanese warrior. The former was painful; the latter verged on cultural chauvinism. Bushido: The Soul of Japan. A Classic Essay on Samurai Ethics merits about a 3.4 star rating.

Author I
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 is a bit dated. For example:

Niggardliness of gold and of life excited as much disapprobation as their lavish use was panegyrized. - pg. 72

Just the use of the term "niggardliness" (which means quite simply, "greed" without overt albeit underlying racist connotations) shows that this is an old book. For reference, since the Shambhala cover and the relatively unknown nature of the book (but not its concept) could imply otherwise, "Bushido" was published at the turn of the 20th Century, a
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
J.D. 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
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 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 f ...more
More of an historical artifact than a relevant book. The Japanese equivalent of "Up from Slavery" by B.T. Washington.
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
There are several reasons why I didn't really like this book. First, it feels very dated. Nitobe often compares samurai to the knights of chivalry in a favorable light, which may have appealed to westerners when this was published, but really doesn't appeal to the modern reader which has a less romantic understanding of medieval life. When I read these comparisons, it brought up mostly negative images even though it was clear that the author meant it to be a positive image.

Second, Nitobe's sourc
This insightful (even if a bit dry) 1900 book, written by a Japanese author, guides the reader through the history and principles of Bushido (bushi = warrior; do = way, path; bushido = way of the warrior). Bushido developed around 16th century and represents the ethical code of samurai in Japan. Author introduces feudal Japan, which witnessed the rise of the samurai class, and discribes the philosophies that inspired Bushido - Zen Buddhism (calm trust in faith, submission to inevitable), Shinto ...more
Lucie Fuentes
I've always been interested by Japanese history and the Samurais. I've been fascinated by the honor, the courage, the self-control these men were displaying. Also the noble and respectful way they were fighting an enemy by killing while reciting poems on the battle field.

In this book you have very interesting details about chivalry and philosophical views about samurai life and death.
The author mix Buddhism, Greek time with western philosophers and even talk about the women condition.
Very great
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
Stoica Raul
A great reminder of a forgotten culture.
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.
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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...

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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.” 4 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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