Bushidō, meaning "Way of the Warrior-Knight", is a Japanese word which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct and a way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death. Born from Neo-Confucianism during times of peace in Tokugawa Japan and following confucian texts, Bushido was also influenced by Shinto and Buddhism, allowing the violent existence of the samurai to be tempered by wisdom and serenity. Bushidō developed between the 9th and 12th centuries and numerous translated documents dating from the 12th to 16th centuries demonstrate its wide influence across the whole of Japan,although some scholars have noted "the term bushidō itself is rarely attested in premodern literature."
According to the Japanese dictionary Shogakukan Kokugo Daijiten, "Bushidō is defined as a unique philosophy (ronri) that spread through the warrior class from the Muromachi (chusei) period." In Bushidō: The Soul of Japan (1899), author Nitobe Inazō wrote: "...Bushidō, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe... More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten... It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career."
Nitobe was not the first person to document Japanese chivalry in this way. In his text Feudal and Modern Japan, (1896) Historian Arthur May Knapp wrote: (broken reference) "The samurai of thirty years ago had behind him a thousand years of training in the law of honor, obedience, duty, and self-sacrifice..... It was not needed to create or establish them. As a child he had but to be instructed, as indeed he was from his earliest years, in the etiquette of self-immolation. The fine instinct of honor demanding it was in the very blood..." Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, aspects of bushidō became formalized into Japanese Feudal Law.
The Samurai Creed
I have no parents; I make the Heavens and the Earth my parents.
I have no home; I make the Tan T'ien my home.
I have no divine power; I make honesty my Divine Power.
I have no means; I make Docility my means.
I have no magic power; I make personality my Magic Power.
I have neither life nor death; I make A Um my Life and Death.
I have no body; I make Stoicism my Body.
I have no eyes; I make The Flash of Lightning my eyes.
I have no ears; I make Sensibility my Ears.
I have no limbs; I make Promptitude my Limbs.
I have no laws; I make Self-Protection my Laws.
I have no strategy; I make the Right to Kill and the Right to Restore Life my Strategy.
I have no designs; I make Seizing the Opportunity by the Forelock my Designs.
I have no miracles; I make Righteous Laws my Miracle.
I have no principles; I make Adaptability to all circumstances my Principle.
I have no tactics; I make Emptiness and Fullness my Tactics.
I have no talent; I make Ready Wit my Talent.
I have no friends; I make my Mind my Friend.
I have no enemy; I make Incautiousness my Enemy.
I have no armour; I make Benevolence my Armour.
I have no castle; I make Immovable Mind my Castle.
I have no sword; I make No Mind my Sword.
Bushido, the way of the samurai, grew out of the fusion of Buddhism and Shintoism. This way can be summarized in seven essential principles:
1. Gi: the right decision, taken with equanimity, the right attitude, the truth. When we must die, we must die. Rectitude.
2. Yu: bravery tinged with heroism.
3. Jin: universal love, benevolence toward mankind; compassion.
4. Rei: right action--a most essential quality, courtesy.
5. Makoto: utter sincerity; truthfulness.
ó. Melyo: honor and glory.
7. Chugo: devotion, loyalty.