THE ORIGINAL BUSHIDO
Warriors have played a dominant role in
the politics and culture of Japan since at least 1185 when Minamoto no Yoritomo
founded the Kamakura shogunate. It is important to keep in mind, however,
that efforts to formally codify and articulate bushido as the ethical code
guiding the lives of Japanís ruling warrior class were not undertaken until
the early Tokugawa period and in some cases even later.
A testament to this fact is the wide range
of names which have been used in different periods to refer to values associated
with the warrior, values that have included (often to varying degrees) martial
spirit, skill with weapons, loyalty to oneís lord, a sense of personal honor,
devotion to duty, and a willingness to sacrifice oneís life. Some of
the older names used in reference to such a "code" of values include "mononofu
no michi," "masurao no michi," "tsuwamono no michi,"
"yumiya no michi," "musha no narai," and "yumiya toru mi
no narai." Other names such as "samuraidô,"bushi no michi,"
and "shidô" have also been used. It appears that the term
"bushido" itself only came into common usage during the Tokugawa period and
did not become the word for designating "the way of warrior" until
the Meiji period.
This variety of names aside, a number
of pre-modern and early modern texts expressed concerns about the ideals and
ethical standards now associated with bushido. Here we have provided
summaries and discussions of the core texts that are available in English
Medieval Samurai House
Book of Five Rings