THE ANNOTATED BUSHIDO
About ten years ago, while spending a few days under the hospitable roof of the distinguished Belgian jurist, the lamented M. de Laveleye, our conversation turned during one of our rambles, to the subject of religion. “Do you mean to say,” asked the venerable professor, “that you have no religious instruction in your schools?” On my replying in the negative he suddenly halted in astonishment, and in a voice which I shall not easily forget, he repeated “No religion! How do you impart moral education?” The question stunned me at the time. I could give no ready answer, for the moral precepts I learned in my childhood days, were not given in schools; and not until I began to analyze the different elements that formed my moral notions [1905: my notions of right and wrong], did I find that it was Bushido that breathed them into my nostrils.
The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan.
In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and to my wife, I found that without understanding Feudalism and Bushido, the moral ideas of the present Japan [1905: moral ideas of present Japan] are a sealed volume.
Taking advantage of enforced idleness on account of long illness, I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversation. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when Feudalism was still in force.
Between Lafcadio Hearn and Mrs. Hugh Fraser on one side and Sir Ernest Satow and Prof. Chamberlain [1905: Professor Chamberlain] on the other, it is indeed discouraging to write anything Japanese in English. The only advantage I have over them is that I can assume the attitude of a personal defendant, while these distinguished writers are at best solicitors and attorneys. I have often thought,--”Had I their gift of language, I would present the cause of Japan in more eloquent terms!” But one who speaks in a borrowed tongue should be thankful if he can just make himself intelligible.
All through the discourse I have tried to illustrate whatever points I have made with parallel examples from European history and literature, believing that they [1905: these] will aid in bringing the subject nearer to the comprehension of foreign readers.
Should any of my allusions to religious subjects and to religious workers be thought slighting [1905: slighting,] I trust my attitude towards Christianity itself will not be questioned. It is with ecclesiastical methods and with the forms which obscure the teachings of Christ, and not with the teachings themselves, that I have little sympathy. I believe in the religion taught by Him and handed down to us in the New Testament, as well as in the law written in the heart. Further, I believe that God hath made a testament which may be called “old” with every people and nation,--Gentile or Jew, Christian or Heathen. As to the rest of my theology, I need not impose upon the patience of the public.
In concluding this preface, I wish to express my thanks to my friend Anna C. Hartshorne for many valuable suggestions and for the characteristically Japanese design made by her for the cover of this book.
[1905: I. N.]
Malvern, Pa., Twelfth Month, 1899.
Since it was first brought into print, six years ago, this little book has had a history that was unexpected and that has been richer in results than could have been anticipated.
The Japanese reprint has passed through nine editions. The present edition is issued simultaneously in New York and London for the use of English-speaking readers throughout the world. In the meantime, the book has been translated into Mahratti by Mr. Dev of Khandia, into German by Fräulein Kaufmann of Hamburg, into Bohemian by Mr. Hora of Chicago, and into Polish by the Society of Science and Life in Lemberg. Versions in Norwegian and French are also in preparation, and a Chinese translation is in plan. Certain chapters of Bushido have also been brought before Hungarian and Russian readers in their respective languages. A detailed review, almost amounting to a commentary, has been published in Japanese. Full, scholarly notes for the help of the younger students of English, have been compiled by my friend, Mr. Sakurai, to whom I also owe much in other ways.
I have been more than gratified to feel that my little treatise has found sympathetic readers in widely separated circles, showing that the subject-matter is of interest to the world at large. Exceedingly flattering is the news (which reaches me from a trustworthy source) that President Roosevelt has done me the honour of reading the treatise and of distributing copies among his friends.
In revising the present edition, I have confined the additions chiefly to concrete examples. I regret my inability to add a chapter on Filial Piety, which is considered one of the two wheels of the chariot of Japanese ethics--Loyalty being the other. My difficulty in writing such a chapter is due rather to my ignorance of the Western sentiment in regard to this particular virtue than to ignorance of our own attitude toward it, and I cannot draw comparisons satisfying to my own mind. I hope some day to enlarge upon this and other topics. All the subjects which are touched upon in these pages are, of course, capable of further application and discussion; but I do not see my way clear to make the present volume larger than it is.
This preface would be incomplete and unjust, if I were to omit the debt I owe to my wife for her painstaking reading of the manuscript, for helpful suggestions and, above all, for her constant encouragement.
First Month, Tenth, 1905.
Since its first publication in Philadelphia, more than six years ago, this little book has had an unexpected history. The Japanese reprint has passed through eight editions, the present thus being its tenth appearance in the English language. Simultaneously with this will be issued an American and English edition, through the publishing-house of Messrs. George H. Putnam's Sons, of New York.
In the meantime, Bushido has been translated into Mahratti by Mr. Dev of Khandesh, into German by Fräulein Kaufmann of Hamburg, into Bohemian by Mr. Hora of Chicago, into Polish by the Society of Science and Life in Lemberg,--although this Polish edition has been censured by the Russian Government. It is now being rendered into Norwegian and into French. A Chinese translation is under contemplation. A Russian officer, now a prisoner in Japan, has a manuscript in Russian ready for the press. A part of the volume has been brought before the Hungarian public and a detailed review, almost amounting to a commentary, has been published in Japanese. Full scholarly notes for the help of younger students have been compiled by my friend Mr. H. Sakurai, to whom I also owe much for his aid in other ways.
I have been more than gratified to feel that my humble work has found sympathetic readers in widely separated circles, showing that the subject matter is of some interest to the world at large. Exceedingly flattering is the news that has reached me from official sources, that President Roosevelt has done it undeserved honor by reading it and distributing several dozens of copies among his friends.
In making emendations and additions for the present edition, I have largely confined them to concrete examples. I still continue to regret, as I indeed have never ceased to do, my inability to add a chapter on Filial Piety, which is considered one of the two wheels of the chariot of Japanese ethics--Loyalty being the other. My inability is due rather to my ignorance of the Western sentiment in regard to this particular virtue, than to ignorance of our own attitude towards it, and I cannot draw comparisons satisfying to my own mind. I hope one day to enlarge upon this and other topics at some length. All the subjects that are touched upon in these pages are capable of further amplification and discussion; but I do not now see my way clear to make this volume larger than it is.
This Preface would be incomplete and unjust, if I were to omit the debt I owe to my wife for her reading of the proof-sheets, for helpful suggestions, and, above all, for her constant encouragement.
Fifth Month twenty-second, 1905.
At the request of his publishers, to whom Dr. Nitobe has left some freedom of action concerning prefatory matter, I am glad to offer a few sentences of introduction to this new edition of Bushido, for readers of English everywhere. I have been acquainted with the author for over fifteen years, indeed, but, in a measure at least, with his subject during forty-five years.
It was in 1860, in Philadelphia (where, in 1847, I saw the Susquehanna, Commodore Perry's flagship launched), that I looked on my first Japanese and met members of the Embassy from Yedo. I was mightily impressed with these strangers, to whom Bushido was a living code of ideals and manners. Later, during three years at Rutgers College, New Brunswick, N. J., I was among scores of young men from Nippon, whom I taught or knew as fellow-students. I found that Bushido, about which we often talked, was a superbly winsome thing. As illustrated in the lives of these future governors, diplomatists, admirals, educators, and bankers, yes, even in the dying hours of more than one who "fell on sleep" in Willow Grove Cemetery, the perfume of this most fragrant flower of far-off Japan was very sweet. Never shall I forget how the dying samurai lad, Kusakabe, when invited to the noblest of services and the greatest of hopes, made answer: "Even if I could know your Master, Jesus, I should not offer Him only the dregs of a life." So, "on the banks of the old Raritan," in athletic sports, in merry jokes at the supper table when contrasting things Japanese and Yankee, and in the discussion of ethics and ideals, I felt quite willing to take the "covert missionary retort," about which my friend Charles Dudley Warner once wrote. At some points, codes of ethics and proprieties differed, but rather in dots or tangents than as occultation or eclipse. As their own poet wrote--was it a thousand years ago?--when in crossing a moor the dew-laden flowers brushed by his robe left their glittering drops on his brocade, "On account of its perfume, I brush not this moisture from my sleeve." Indeed, I was glad to get out of ruts, which are said to differ from graves only by their length. For, is not comparison the life of science and culture? Is it not true that, in the study of languages, ethics, religions, and codes of manners, "he who knows but one knows none"?
Called, in 1870, to Japan as pioneer educator to introduce the methods and spirit of the American public-school system, how glad I was to leave the capital, and at Fukui, in the province of Echizen, see pure feudalism in operation! There I looked on Bushido, not as an exotic, but in its native soil. In daily life I realized that Bushido, with its cha-no-yu, jūjŭtsŭ ("jiu-jitsu"), hara-kiri, polite prostrations on the mats and genuflections on the street, rules of the sword and road, all leisurely salutations and politest moulds of speech, canons of art and conduct, as well as heroisms for wife, maid, and child, formed the universal creed and praxis of all the gentry in the castled city and province. In it, as a living school of thought and life, girl and boy alike were trained. What Dr. Nitobe received as an inheritance, had breathed into his nostrils, and writes about so gracefully and forcibly, with such grasp, insight, and breadth of view, I saw. Japanese feudalism "died without the sight" of its ablest exponent and most convincing defender. To him it is as wafted fragrance. To me it was "the plant and flower of light."
Hence, living under and being in at the death of feudalism, the body of Bushido, I can bear witness to the essential truth of Dr. Nitobe's descriptions, so far as they go, and to the faithfulness of his analysis and generalizations. He has limned with masterly art and reproduced the colouring of the picture which a thousand years of Japanese literature reflects so gloriously. The Knightly Code grew up during a millennium of evolution, and our author lovingly notes the blooms that have starred the path trodden by millions of noble souls, his countrymen.
Critical study has but deepened my own sense of the potency and value of Bushido to the nation. He who would understand twentieth-century Japan must know something of its roots in the soil of the past. Even if now as invisible to the present generation in Nippon as to the alien, the philosophic student reads the results of to-day in the stored energies of ages gone. The sunbeams of unrecorded time have laid the strata out of which Japan now digs her foot-pounds of impact for war or peace. All the spiritual senses are keen in those nursed by Bushido. The crystalline lump has dissolved in the sweetened cup, but the delicacy of the flavour remains to cheer. In a word, Bushido has obeyed the higher law enunciated by One whom its own exponent salutes and confesses his Master--"Except a grain of corn die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit."
Has Dr. Nitobe idealized Bushido? Rather, we ask, how could he help doing so? He calls himself "defendant." In all creeds, cults, and systems, while the ideal grows, exemplars and exponents vary. Gradual cumulation and slow attainment of harmony is the law. Bushido never reached a final goal. It was too much alive, and it died at last only in its splendour and strength. The clash of the world's movement--for so we name the rush of influences and events which followed Perry and Harris--with feudalism in Japan, did not find Bushido an embalmed mummy, but a living soul. What it really met was the quickening spirit of humanity. Then the less was blessed of the greater. Without losing the best in her own history and civilization, Japan, following her own noble precedents, first adopted and then adapted the choicest the world had to offer. Thus her opportunity to bless Asia and the race became unique, and grandly she has embraced it--"in diffusion ever more intense." To-day, not only are our gardens, our art, our homes enriched by the flowers, the pictures, and the pretty things of Japan, whether "trifles of a moment or triumphs for all time," but in physical culture, in public hygiene, in lessons for peace and war, Japan has come to us with her hands gift-laden.
Not only in his discourse as advocate and counsel for the defence, but as prophet and wise householder, rich in things new and old, our author is able to teach us. No man in Japan has united the precepts and practice of his own Bushido more harmoniously in life and toil, labour and work, craft of hand and of pen, culture of the soil and of the soul. Illuminator of Dai Nippon's past, Dr. Nitobe is a true maker of the New Japan. In Formosa, the empire's new accretion, as in Kioto, he is the scholar and practical man, at home in newest science and most ancient diligence.
This little book on Bushido is more than a weighty message to the Anglo-Saxon nations. It is a notable contribution to the solution of this century's grandest problem--the reconciliation and unity of the East and the West. There were of old many civilizations: in the better world coming there will be one. Already the terms "Orient" and "Occident" with all their freight of mutual ignorance and insolence, are ready to pass away. As the efficient middle term between the wisdom and communism of Asia and the energy and individualism of Europe and America, Japan is already working with resistless power.
Instructed in things ancient and modern and cultured in the literatures of the world, Dr. Nitobe herein shows himself admirably fitted for a congenial task. He is a true interpreter and reconciler. He need not and does not apologise for his own attitude toward the Master whom he has long loyally followed. What scholar, familiar with the ways of the Spirit and with the history of the race as led by man's Infinite Friend, but must in all religions put difference between the teachings of the Founder and the original documents and the ethnic, rationalistic, and ecclesiastical additions and accretions? The doctrine of the testaments, hinted at in the author's preface, is the teaching of Him who came not to destroy, but to fulfil. Even in Japan, Christianity, unwrapped from its foreign mould and matting, will cease being an exotic and strike its roots deep in the soil on which Bushido has grown. Stripped alike of its swaddling bands and its foreign regimentals, the church of the Founder will be as native as the air.
WILLIAM ELLIOT GRIFFIS.
ITHACA, May, 1905.
Although the preface to the first edition is dated December 1899 and the copyright is given as the same year, Bushido: The Soul of Japan was actually published by the Leeds & Biddle Co. of Philadelphia in 1900. This discrepancy sometimes causes confusion over the original date of publication, especially since Nitobe himself -- in the preface to the 1905 Putnam edition, described below -- wrote that publication took place "six years ago." A digitized version of the first edition can be downloaded (in various formats) from the Internet Archive. It was scanned from a volume presented to the philosopher William James at Harvard University "from his pupil Tokutaro Sakai."
Here is title page of the first edition, taken from the PDF file in the Internet Archive (the 1899 copyright is on the reverse side):
The cover of the first edition, designed by Anna C. Hartshorne:
The "revised and enlarged" 10th edition of Bushido was published in New York and London by G.P. Putnam's Sons in 1905 (the copyright is given as the same year on the reverse side of the title page). This edition contained a second preface and an introduction by William Elliot Griffis; it also divided the text into independent chapters. Here is the title page of that edition (the source is again the Internet Archive):
The publication history of Bushido is complicated by the fact that English editions were produced in Japan as well as in the United States and Britain. According to the website of the Shōkabō Publishing Company, which in 1898 published a book by Nitobe based on his doctoral dissertation, the company (spelled "Shōkwabō" or "Shokwabo" at the time) published a facsimile edition of the Leeds & Biddle version in 1900. The website states that the facsimile is of an American edition published the previous year, but this appears to be an error based on the copyright date (the image of the book cover on the Shōkabō website is identical to the cover of the Leeds & Biddle edition shown above). The National Diet Library contains no earlier edition than the Shōkwabō 1900 facsimile (Reference ID No. 000006287382; online record here). Furthermore, reviews of the book began appearing in American newspapers in February 1900 (these reviews were reprinted by Shōkabō in the back of early editions of Bushido beginning with the 1901 Fifth Edition, which contains reviews from 15 newspapers, all from 1900 and the last of which is dated July 19).
The Teibi Publishing Company (which until 1907 went by the English name The Student Company) also published English-language versions of Bushido in Japan, including two separate editions in 1905 with a copyright date of 1904 (as in the 1900 Leeds & Biddle edition, the copyright date appears on the reverse side of the title page). The Japanese colophon of the September 1905 Student Company edition (available from the Internet Archive) refers to a revised and enlarged 10th edition published in June 1905 and identifies the September version as the 11th edition. These Japan-published versions lack the "Introduction" by William Griffis that appears in the 1905 Putnam edition; the wording of the new preface differs somewhat from that of the Putnam version; Nitobe places himself in Kyoto rather than in Koishikawa, Tokyo; and the preface is dated May 1905 rather than January 1905, as in the Putnam edition. Since the Student Company preface states that first publication occurred "more than six years ago" (as opposed to the "six years ago" of the 1905 Putnam edition), it seems logical to place publication of the 1905 Student Company (Teibi) editions after that of the 1905 Putnam edition. The mention of periods of "six years" and "more than six years" makes a kind of sense if the publication dates of 1900 and 1905 are taken to be inclusive, even though the span of time is actually five years (or perhaps Nitobe was using the copyright date of 1899 as his starting point, or perhaps -- one final possibility -- Leeds & Biddle actually brought out the book at the end of 1899 with a 1900 publication date).
The overall publication sequence thus appears to be (1) the 1900 Leeds & Biddle edition (copyright 1899); (2) the 1905 Putnam edition (copyright 1905); (3) the June 1905 Student Company edition (copyright 1904); and (4) the September 1905 Student Company edition (copyright 1904). This sequence, however, entails an apparent conflict in that the 1905 Putnam edition and the June 1905 Student Company editions both refer to themselves as the "10th" edition. In addition, Nitobe's new preface to the 1905 Putnam edition mentions the existence of nine previous reprint editions in Japan, while in the new preface to the June 1905 Student Company edition Nitobe puzzlingly states that there have been eight previous reprints in Japan, "the present thus being its tenth appearance in the English language." Perhaps on the basis of actual publication order Nitobe considered the 1905 Putnam edition to be the ninth "appearance in the English language" of Bushido, whereas in the case of the Putnam edition, he gave precedence to the 1904 Japanese copyright. In any case, the 1907 English edition of Bushido published by the Teibi Publishing Company (which carries the same 1904 copyright) refers to itself in English as the 12th edition, and the Japanese colophon makes reference to both the June 1905 10th edition and the September 1905 11th edition. It may therefore be best simply to consider the 1905 Putnam edition and the June 1905 Student Company edition to be a kind of transnational 9th-10th edition and leave the numbering as it stands, despite the minor discrepancies that exist between the two texts. A more thorough bibliographical study would probably help resolve the matter. As a final note, readers should be aware that the online edition of Bushido widely available from such sites as Project Gutenburg is the 13th edition, published in Japan by the Teibi Publishing Company in 1908 and essentially a reprint of the 1905 Student Company edition. Numerous subsequent editions of the book have been published, both in English and in Japanese translation.
For the purpose of this site, then, the Leeds & Biddle edition of 1900 is considered the definitive first-edition source, while the 1905 Putnam edition is considered authoritative for the revised (10th) edition. Revisions made by Nitobe in 1905 have been indicated in the text by the use of a different font color and, where appropriate, brackets (generally speaking, simple additions run continuously within the text while replacements have been bracketed). Notifications of errors or omissions will be gratefully received at the following email address:
Émile Louis Victor de Laveleye (1822-1892) is today usually referred to as an economist. He was apparently skilled at making topics in economics popularly accessible. Nitobe visited Laveleye in the spring of 1887.
Mary Patterson (Elkinton) Nitobe (1857-1938) was a Quaker born in Philadelphia. She met Nitobe when he visited Philadelphia in 1885, and they were wed in Philadelphia on January 1, 1891.
Pronounced Boóshee-doh’. In putting Japanese words and names into English, Hepburn’s rule is followed, that the vowels should be used as in European languages, and the consonants as in English. [Nitobe's note]
Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) is often considered by the Japanese themselves to be the foremost interpreter of their culture to the West during the Meiji period. He was naturalized under the name Koizumi Yakumo.
Mrs. Hugh Fraser. Hugh Fraser (1837-1894) was a British diplomat who served and died in Japan. Mary (Crawford) Fraser (1851-1922) accompanied him to Japan in 1889, and later became known especially for her book A Diplomatist's Wife in Japan, published in 1912.
Ernest Satow (1843-1929) was a diplomat and Japanologist whose A Diplomat in Japan (1921) is an invaluable source of information about Japan during the period leading up to and immediately following the Meiji Restoration.
Basil Hall Chamberlain (1850-1935) was one of the foremost Japanologists of the Meiji period. He resided in Japan between 1873 and 1911, where his most important position was as professor at Tokyo Imperial University. His encyclopedic Things Japanese (first published in 1890) remains fascinating reading.
An allusion to Jeremiah 31:33, which in the King James Version reads "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people."
Anna C. Hartshorne (1860-1957) accompanied her physician father to Japan in 1893 and conducted missionary work there (like Nitobe, she was a Quaker). She published the book Japan and Her People in 1902.
Sakurai Hikoichi (1872-1929), or Sakurai Ōson, was a translator and writer of juvenile literature who helped Tsuda Umeko establish Joshi Eigaku Juku (the present Tsuda College). Nitobe collaborated with him on a biography of Abraham Lincoln, and Sakurai translated Bushido into Japanese in 1908.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) was the 26th President of the United States. According to Tyler Dennett in Roosevelt and the Russo-Japanese War (Peter Smith, 1959), Roosevelt distributed 60 copies of Bushido to friends and family.
Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794-1848) was the American naval commander whose arrival with a fleet of four "black ships" in 1853 led to the opening of Japan to the West. Perry returned in 1854, resulting in the signing of the Convention of Kanagawa with the Tokugawa shogunate.
A Biblical phrase for "fall asleep," and a euphemism for dying. It can be found, for example, in 1 Kings 2:10, where it refers to the death of David.
Kusakabe Tarō (1845-1870) was a samurai of the Fukui domain who sailed to New Jersey in 1867 and entered Rutgers College, where he was tutored in English and Latin by Griffis, a year his senior. Kusakabe was on the verge of graduating in 1870 when he died of tuberculosis; he was awarded his degree posthumously and buried in Willow Grove Cemetery in New Brunswick.
"On the Banks of the Old Raritan" is the alma mater of Rutgers University, in New Jersey. The first verse is as follows:
My father sent me to old Rutgers,
And resolv'd that I should be a man;
And so I settled down,
in that noisy college town,
On the banks of the old Raritan.
Charles Dudley Warner (1829-1900) was an essayist and novelist. He and Mark Twain co-authored the novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (1873).
The source of this poem remains to be identified. Satō Masahiro, in his 2000 Japanese translation, ignores the word "perfume" when he speculates that it might be Poem 224 of the Kokinshū (first "Autumn" section; poet unknown), which in Helen Craig McCullough's translation reads as follows:
Though the night grow deep, / I will go there nonetheless, / letting chill dewdrops / drench my robe in the meadow / where bush-clover flowers scatter.
A reference to the approach adopted by the German-born British scholar Max Müller (1823-1900), who thought that religions could only be properly understood through comparison. This phrase, adapted by Müller from Goethe's "He who knows one language knows none," can be found in Introduction to the Science of Religion (London: Longmans, Green, 1873), on page 16 (or page 13 of the 1882 "New Edition" available from the Internet Archive).
The phrase "died without the sight" refers in Christianity to those who know of the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah but who die before witnessing its fulfillment. The phrase may derive from The Desire of the Ages (1898), a book by Ellen G. White (1827-1915), one of the founders of what is now the Seventh-day Adventist church. In the third chapter of the book, "The Fullness of Time," White writes as follows: "The Saviour’s coming was foretold in Eden. When Adam and Eve first heard the promise, they looked for its speedy fulfillment. They joyfully welcomed their firstborn son, hoping that he might be the Deliverer. But the fulfillment of the promise tarried. Those who first received it died without the sight."
John 12:24, misquoted. The King James Version is "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
Townshend Harris (1804-1878) was the first United States consul general to Japan, where he resided from 1856 to 1861. He negotiated the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Japan and the United States (often referred to as the "Harris Treaty") in 1858.
A reference to the poem "Oh May I Join the Choir Invisible" (1867) by George Eliot (1819-1880). A couplet near the end goes "Be the sweet presence of a good diffused,/And in diffusion ever more intense."
The source of this phrase remains to be identified (as a sentiment it is fairly common, and if Griffis is paraphrasing, identification becomes quite difficult).
William Elliot Griffis (1843-1928) was an author, scholar, and Congregationalist minister who resided in Japan from 1870 to 1874. A graduate of Rutgers College, he supervised education in the province of Echizen (including present-day Fukui Prefecture) and taught at Kaisei Gakkō, the forerunner of Tokyo Imperial University.
Sakai Tokutarō was a director of the holding company (said to be the first such company in the world) that managed the prewar Mitsui zaibatsu. He funded the construction of the Dōshikai dormitory for Christian students at the University of Tokyo on the model of fraternities such as those he had seen while studying at Harvard. The dormitory is still standing.
The name "Teibi" derives from the Japanese Eto ("Stem-Branch") system used to count years in the traditional 60-year calendrical cycle. "Teibi" (or hi-no-to hitsuji ) is the 44th combination in this sequence, and corresponds to the year 1907 under the Western calendar.