WHAT IS "BUSHIDO"?
A recent search on the internet using
the keyword “bushido” yielded almost 95,000 hits. A cursory glance at
this overwhelming list of websites revealed an equally overwhelming range
of topics raised in relation to bushido, “the way of the warrior.” Entries
related to bushido addressed everything from martial arts (probably the most
common) to early twentieth century Japanese imperialism and wartime aggression,
from video games to Japan’s so-called economic miracle in the postwar period,
and the list could go on.
With all this information out there, how
is one able to make sense of bushido, especially without the ability to look
at primary Japanese language sources? With that question in mind, we
embarked on this group effort to compile a resource guide for bushido-related
documents and works available in English.
But rather than trying to provide a comprehensive
explanation of bushido (One soon realizes the difficulty of this task.
Numerous books, after all, have been and continue to be written in the attempt
to explain bushido.) we have sought to provide basic information about the
history of bushido and focus more specifically on some of its key texts.
In addition to summaries of these texts we have included details about their
authors, their historical background, and their significance. Where
applicable we have also provided evaluations of the often strikingly different
English translations. We have also compiled and included two bibliographies
of bushido-related works available in English and a chronology of Japanese
language books about bushido.