5 Zhang Hanyao


After reading Bushido, I highlight several reasons why Bushido vanished during the modernization of Japanese society. Firstly, I think samurai’s loyalty limited their ability to assimilate into the new world. Each samurai is loyal to his master. As mentioned in the text, this loyalty is like the “bone that gives firmness and stature.” (Nitobe 37). It is this loyalty that makes samurai a samurai. However, as the society is modernized, as people need to face more and more strangers, a samurai’s loyalty only makes him personally defensive but not open to the new world. Some of the ways of samurais show their loyalty are also unacceptable from a modern aspect, for example, the story of Michizane, who sacrifices his own son to serve his master. Moreover, although Bushido emphasizes on rectitude, which is similar to the idea of Justice we claim in the modern society, the concept it gives is quite vague. In the text, it said, “Rectitude is the power of deciding upon a certain course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering; to die when it is right to die, to strike when to strike is right.” (Nitobe 37). However, this definition does not give a clear statement about when is right to die and when is right to strike. Rectitude is based on feelings such as consciousness and instinct, whereas in modern society, we need to clearly distinguish between does and do nots. So we invent laws and policies to define such an edge, using terms instead of feelings to make judgments. Apart that lack of distinction, Bushido still has several elements that are practiced in modern society. The calmness, the system of education and individualism are all precious values that were inherited from Bushido’s history and will continue to influence Japanese society in the future.

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