The Annotated Bushido

Chapter X


were conducted accordingly.

[1905 start:] The first point to observe in knightly pedagogics was to build up character, leaving in the shade the subtler faculties of prudence, intelligence and dialectics. We have seen the important part aesthetic accomplishments played in his education. Indispensable as they were to a man of culture, they were accessories rather than essentials of samurai training. Intellectual superiority was, of course, esteemed; but the word Chi, which was employed to denote intellectuality, meant wisdom in the first instance and placed knowledge only in a very subordinate place. The tripod that supported [1905: which supported] the framework of Bushido was said to be Chi, Jin, Yu, respectively Wisdom, Benevolence, and Courage. [1905: respectively, Wisdom, Benevolence, and Courage.] A samurai was essentially a man of action. Science was out of the pale [1905: without the pale] of his activity. He took advantage of it in so far as it concerned his profession of arms. Religion and theology were relegated to the priests; he concerned himself with them in so far as they helped to nourish courage. Like an English poet the samurai believed "'t is not the creed that saves the man; but it is the man that justifies the creed." Philosophy and literature formed the chief part of his intellectual training; but even in the pursuit of these, it was not objective truth that he strove after,--literature was pursued mainly as a pastime, and philosophy as a practical aid in the formation of character, if not for the exposition of some military or political problem.

From what has been said, it will not be surprising to note that the curriculum of studies, according to the pedagogics of Bushido, consisted mainly of the following,--fencing, [1905: following:--fencing,] archery, jiujutsu [1905: jiujutsu or yawara], horsemanship, the use of the spear, tactics, caligraphy, ethics, literature and history. Of these, jiujutsu and caligraphy may require a few words of explanation. Great stress was laid on good writing, probably for this reason,-- that our logograms, [probably because our logograms,] partaking as they do of the nature of pictures, possess artistic value, and also chirography [1905: and also because chirography] was accepted as indicative of one's personal character. Jiujutsu may be briefly defined as an application of anatomical knowledge to the purpose of offense or defense. It differs from wrestling, in that it does not depend upon muscular strength. It differs from other forms of attack in that it uses no weapon. Its feat consists in clutching or striking such part of the enemy's body as will make him numb and incapable of resistance. Its object is not to kill, but to incapacitate one for action for the time being.

A subject of study which one would expect to find in military education and which is rather conspicuous by its absence in the Bushido course of instruction, is mathematics. This, however, can be readily explained in part by the fact that feudal warfare was not carried on with scientific precision. Not only that, but the whole training of the samurai was unfavorable to fostering numerical notions.

Chivalry is uneconomical; it boasts in [1905: Chivalry is uneconomical: it boasts of] penury. It says with Ventidius that "ambition, the soldier's virtue, rather makes choice of loss, than gain which darkens him." Don Quixote takes more pride in his rusty spear and skin-and-bone horse than in gold and lands, and a samurai is in hearty sympathy with his exaggerated confrère of La Mancha. He disdains money itself,--the art of making or hoarding it. It is to him [1905: It was to him] veritably filthy lucre. The hackneyed expression to describe the decadence of an age was "that the civilians loved money and the soldiers feared death." Niggardliness of gold and of life excited as much disapprobation as their lavish use was panegyrized. "Less than all things," says a current precept, "men [1905: '  men] must grudge money: it is by riches that wisdom is hindered." Hence children were brought up with utter disregard of economy. It was considered bad taste to speak of it, and ignorance of the value of different coins was a token of good breeding. Knowledge of numbers was indispensable in the mustering of forces as well as in distribution of benefices and fiefs; but the counting of money was left to meaner hands. In many feudatories, public finance was administered by a lower kind of samurai or by priests. Every thinking bushi knew well enough that money formed the sinews of war; but he did not think of raising the appreciation of money to a virtue. It is true that thrift was enjoined by Bushido, but not for economical reasons so much as for the exercise of abstinence. Luxury was thought the greatest menace to manhood and severest simplicity was required of the warrior class, sumptuary laws being enforced in many of the clans.

We read that in ancient Rome the farmers of revenue and other financial agents were gradually raised to the rank of knights, the State thereby showing its appreciation of their service and of the importance of money itself. How closely this is connected with the luxury and avarice of the Romans may be imagined. Not so with the Precepts of Knighthood. It persisted in systematically regarding finance as something low--low as compared with moral and intellectual vocations.

Money and the love of it being thus diligently ignored, Bushido itself could long remain free from a thousand and one evils of which money is the root. This is sufficient reason for the fact that our public men have long been free from corruption; but alas! how fast plutocracy is making its way in our time and generation! [1905: in our time and generation.]

The mental discipline which would now-a-days [1905: nowadays] be chiefly aided by the study of mathematics, was supplied by literary exegesis and deontological discussions. Very few abstract subjects troubled the mind of the young, the chief aim of their education being, as I have said, decision of character. People whose minds were simply stored with information found no great admirers. Of the three services of studies that Bacon gives,--for delight, ornament, and ability,--Bushido had decided preference for the last, where their use was "in judgment and the disposition of business." Whether it was for the disposition of public business or for the exercise of self-control, it was with a practical end in view that education was conducted. "Learning without thought," said Confucius, "is labor lost: thought without learning is perilous."

When character and not intelligence, when the soul and not the head, is chosen by a teacher for the material to work upon and to develop, his vocation partakes of a sacred character. "It is the parent who has borne me: it is the teacher who makes me man." With this idea, therefore, the esteem in which one's preceptor was held was very high. A man to evoke such confidence and respect from the young, must necessarily be endowed with superior personality without lacking [1905: with superior personality, without lacking] erudition. He was a father to the fatherless, and an adviser to the erring. "Thy father and thy mother"--so runs our maxim--"are like heaven and earth; thy teacher and thy lord are like the sun and moon."

The modern system [1905: The present system] of paying for every sort of service was not in vogue among the adherents of Bushido. It believed in a service which can be rendered only without money and without price. Spiritual service, be it of priest or teacher, was not to be repaid in gold or silver, not because it was valueless but because it was invaluable. Here the non-arithmetical honor-instinct of Bushido taught a truer lesson than modern Political Economy; for wages and salaries can be paid only for services whose results are definite, tangible, and measurable, whereas the best service done in education,--namely, in soul development (and this includes the services of a pastor), is not definite, tangible or measurable. [1905: definite, tangible, or measureable.] Being immeasurable, money, the ostensible measure of value, is of inadequate use. Usage sanctioned that pupils brought to their teachers money or goods at different seasons of the year; but these were not payments but offerings, which indeed were welcome to the recipients as they were usually men of stern calibre, boasting of honorable penury, too dignified to work with their hands and too proud to beg. They were grave personifications of high spirits undaunted by adversity. They were an embodiment of what was considered as an end of all learning, and were thus a living example of that discipline of disciplines, [1905: and thus were a living example of that discipline of disciples, self-control, which was universally required of samurai.]  <continue>


Having concluded his description of the seven specific moral values of bushidō, Nitobe now proceeds to discuss their implications for aspects of social behavior, beginning with the methods by which these virtues were inculcated in the young.

The 1900 Leeds & Biddle edition lists the title of this chapter as "Education and Training of Samurai" in its Contents, although the text itself uses "a Samurai." The 1905 Putnam edition uses the article in both locations.

Robert Bulwer-Lytton (Edward Robert Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1831-1891), an English diplomat who wrote poetry under the name Owen Meredith. The quotation comes from the 1857 poem "The Wanderer," where it is part of the following four-line sentence: "Alas! 'tis not the creed that saves the man: / It is the man that justifies the creed: / And each must save his own soul as he can, / Since each is burthen'd with a different need." (The date of the poem is variously given; I have used the date in the third edition of The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English).

The same word as that misspelled jiu-jitsu in common English parlance. It is the gentle art. It "uses no weapon." (W. E. G.) [William E. Griffis's note]

In Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra 3.1.24-26. Ventidius (Publius Ventidius, 91-31 BC) was the general who triumphed over the Parthians, Rome's last great enemy.

The novel Don Quixote (1605 and 1615), by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), is a central work in the Western literary canon that achieves much of its affective power by balancing the comic against the tragic.

The origin of this expression seems to be the biography of the Southern Song general Yue Fei (1103-1142, pronounced "Gaku Hi" in Japanese). The biography appears in Chapter 365 of the History of Song (1346); Wikipedia has an extensive entry on Yue.

Nitobe is alluding to the aphorism given by the Roman orator, politician, and author Cicero (106-43 BC) in the Philippics: "Endless money forms the sinews of war. "

1 Timothy 6:10, in the King James Version, says: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Deontology is the study of the nature of duty and obligation.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) is considered the first great essayist in English. Nitobe refers to and then quotes from the 1625 version of Bacon's essay "On Studies" (originally written in 1597).

Analects 2:15. The Analects (or the Analects of Confucius) is a collection of aphorisms attributed to Confucius (551-479 BC) that was compiled by his disciples in the years after his death. Its precise origin is uncertain.

In the 1908 Japanese translation by Sakurai Ōson, the following quotation is simply identified as an "old saying."

The maxim is found in the Jitsugokyō (True Words of Learning), a primer in use from the end of the Heian period. This was one of two central texts used to educate Japanese children in the premodern period, the other being the Dōjikyō (Moral Teachings for Children), in common use from the late Kamakura period through the early Meiji period.