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Bushido - The Warriors Way

The Code of the Samurai - Sometimes called "The Seven Virtues of the Samurai", "The Bushido Code", or "The Samurai Code of Chivalry".

In Chinese characters, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja it translates as "The Way of the Warrior", "The Warrior's Way", or "The Warrior's Code". (The Korean word is pronounced "Moosado" (무사도).

Bushido is a set of virtues that warriors/samurai from Japan, China and Korea had to live and die by. It is not solely a Japanese belief system, but common to much of Asia (but referred to by different names).

In many ways Bushido is similar to the Seven Virtues (from Christianity). It incorporates a variety of virtues like courage, sense of justice, benevolence, respectfulness, honesty, honour, loyalty, piety, fidelity, and wisdom. Many of the virtues are also found in the belief system of Confucianism, which was certainly an influence on the creation of the Bushido code.

Between the 9th and 12th centuries in Japan the warrior class was known as bushi or samurai, thus bushido basically means "way of the warrior" or "warrior's way". It was during this time period that the bushi became the ruling class of Japan until their decline and later total abolition in 1876 during the Meiji Era.

Not all warriors lived by the Bushido code, but many did and saw it as a way of life to guide all actions they did - not just in combat. The Bushido code incorporated many concepts followed by Zen Buddhism. The elite of the bushi warrior class was typically known as samurai.

Not all samurai used swords. Indeed in the early days of the samurai their preferred weapon was the Japanese bow. As the quality of Japanese swords improved however, and the art of swordplay in Japan also rose dramatically, the samurai changed their focus to use swords more often. (Due to pop culture the use of swords by samurai has since become over-emphasized.)

A samurai's loyalty to the emperor and his overlord / daimyo were unsurpassed. They were trained to be trustworthy and honest. They lived frugal lives with no interest in riches and material things, but believed in honor and pride. They were men of true valor, having no fear of death and believed that to die in battle would only bring honor to one's family and one's lord.

The actual Bushido code was passed on verbally to each new generation of samurai, but over time, seven chief virtues emerged, and became the written form of Bushido. Please note that variations of this list exist, as some people use different Kanji or have 8 or 9 tenets.

The Seven Virtues of the Bushido Code

(Korean and Chinese pronunciation in brackets)

Note: I have included all 10 from various versions of the Bushido Code.

Gi - Justice / Rectitude / Right Decision (의, yi)

Isamu - Bravery / Courage (용, yong)

Jin - Benevolence (인, ren)

Rei - Respect / Gratitude (례 or 예, li)

Makoto - Honesty / Confidence (성, cheng)

Meiyo - Honour / Respectful (명예, ming yu)

Chuujitsu - Loyalty / Devotion (none)

Kou - Filial Piety / Respect for Elders (효, xiao)

Shin - Honesty / Fidelity (신, xin)

Chi/Tomo - Wisdom / Resourcefulness (지, zhi)


Title
Characters 
Simplified
Traditional
Japanese Romaji
(Romanized Japanese)
Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Bushido / The Way of the Samurai武士道
武士道
bushidowǔ shì dào
wu shi dao
wu shih tao
wu3 shi4 dao4
wushidao
Justice / Rectitude / Right Decision
gi
yi
i
yi4
yi
Bravery / Courage
isamu / yu-
isamu/yu-
yǒng
yong
yung
yong3
yong
Benevolence
jinrén
ren
jen
ren2
ren
Respect
rei
li
li3
li
Honesty
makotochéng
cheng
ch`eng
cheng2
cheng
cheng
cheng
Honour 名誉
名譽
meiyomíng yù
ming yu
ming yü
ming2 yu4
mingyu
Loyalty / Faithful / Devoted忠実
忠實
chuujitsu
chujitsu
n/a
Filial Piety
kou
ko
xiào
xiao
hsiao
xiao4
xiao
Honesty / Fidelity
shinxìn
xin
hsin
xin4
xin
Wisdom
chi / tomo
chi/tomo
zhì
zhi
chih
zhi4
zhi

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