The Code Of The Samurai

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Author: Daidöji Yüzan
Translator: A.L. Sadler
Pub: 1988 by Charles E. Tuttle Co.
Pages: 108
Ranking:Four Star Rating
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I like this book far more than Bushido by Nitobe, or Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo. It's written (and translated, for that matter) in a friendly easy manner... much more 'readable' than other books on samurai conduct and responsibilities. For insight into Bushido, I'd highly recommend this one!



 PUBLISHER'S FOREWORD                  7
 TRANSLATOR'S NOTE                     9

 CHAPTER I                            13
  Introduction                        15
  Education                           18
  Filial Duty                         19
  Samurai Ordinances                  22
  Never Neglect the Offensive Spirit  25
  Recluse Samurai                     26
  Right and Wrong                     30
  Bravery                             33
  Respect                             36
  Horsemanship                        39
  The Military Arts                   42

 CHAPTER II                           45
  Household Management                47
  Relatives                           48
  Thrift                              50
  House Construction                  52
  Weapons                             53
  On the Equipment of Servants        55
  Samurai                             56
  Sense of Shame                      57
  Choice of Friends                   58
  Friendship                          59
  Breaking Off Relations              61
  Reputations                         63
  Braggarts and Slanderers            64
  Travel                              65
  Backbiting                          67
  War Substitute                      68
  The Latter End                      70
 CHAPTER III                          75
  Service                             77
  A Vassal's Duty                     79
  The Duties of Samurai               82
  Circumspection                      85
  Records                             86
  Escort                              86
  Officials                           87
  Borrowed and Stolen Authority       89
  On Tax Extortion                    92
  On Becoming a Thief                 94
  Laziness                            95
  On the Road                         97
  Showing One's Feelings              98
  Loyal to Death                     100
  Matters Literary and Aesthetic     105


Inside Cover:

The influence of the samurai, and their code of Bushido, on the manners and morals of Japan cannot be measured. For almost 700 years shoguns ruled Japan. These military dictators developed a system of honor which every "gentleman warrior" was expected to follow. With time, these feudal guidelines of behavior became so entrenched in the fabric of Japanese society, that the "way of the warrior" became known as "Japanese chivalry," and finally, "The national spirit of Japan."

This national spirit, or ideal of behavior, is revealed in The Code of the Samurai as in no other book on the subject. Originally written in the 16th century by Daidoji Yuzan, a strategist and military advisor who lived under the rule of six shoguns, it is, more than anything else, a textbook written for the aristocratic warrior class on how to be a knight. This format makes it an unusually revealing-and hence exciting-look at the manners and morals which formed Japan.

From first principles such as, "...a samurai must before all things keep constantly in mind, by day and by night... the fact that he has to die," to rules regarding filial duty, personal obligation, and even money management, the guidelines that men were trained to live by are set out. Honor and obligation are stressed over and over to the young knights, who were also expected to be indifferent to pain, unquestioningly loyal, and expert in all the military arts. Since it was these men who, during Japan's feudal age, set the standard for the entire nation to follow, their education is of particular interest.

The code of the samurai arose during the 12th century, yet out of it has grown the Japan of today. This book helps explain why certain ideas and manners have prevailed over the years, and is a must for anyone who wishes to understand the soul of Japan.


About the translators

A. L. SADLER, M.A., was Professor of Oriental Studies at the University of Sydney from 1922 to 1948, at which time he became emeritus professor. He also served as Professor of Japanese at the Royal Military College of Australia. Among his numerous published works, in addition to the present volume, are The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1936), A Short History of Japanese Architecture (1941), Three Military Classics of China (1944), A Short History of Japan (1946), and a number of translations from Japanese literature. His The Ten Foot Square Hut and Tales of the Heike (1928) has appeared in a reprint version of a similar type to the present volume. From the time of his retirement until his death in 1971, he made his home in England.



This remarkable book, the translation of Daidoji Yuzan's sixteenth-century text for young samurai, is one of the most authentic records ever produced of Japanese chivalry, or Bushido.

First published in English in 1941, The Code of the Samurai presents the "honor system" of the Japanese warrior in a series of straightforward rules. Although out of print for many years, it has retained its reputa-tion as an accurate exposition of a samurai's practical and moral training, and remains a valuable guide to the Japanese school of thought and life.

We would like to extend our thanks to the heirs of A. L. Sadler and to The Japan Foundation, for granting us the permission to reprint this book. Acknowledgments are also due to Satoshi Naka-mura and Takako Katsu of The Japan Foundation, who assisted in bringing The Code of the Samurai back into print.

Tokyo, 1987



The historical documents that illustrate the main concepts connected with Bushido* or Japanese chivalry are, in earlier days, the various accounts of the activities of the warrior in war and peace, and later on the House Laws and sets of maxims drawn up by the great feudal lords or sometimes by lesser personages. Among the latter is this textbook for young samurai which purports to lay down what was required of them in the latter half of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. The author was an expert in the military arts and a prominent writer of those days, and since he lived to the age of ninety-two under the rule of six shoguns from Iemitsu to Yoshimune-he was twelve when Iemitsu died and Yoshimune had been shogun for fifteen years when he himself died-he had known the atmosphere of the early Tokugawa period as it was only a decade after the death of Ieyasu, and had lived to see the splendor of the Genroku age under the luxurious and eccentric Tsunayoshi. As a re-tainer of the Tokugawa house he was familiar with the work and teachings of the sage Mitsukuni, Lord of Mito, and was also the pupil of Yamaga Soko, another eminent writer on Bushido and seventeen years his senior. He had witnessed the heroic example of the Forty-Seven Loyal Ronin of Ako, whose leader Oishi Yoshio was another pupil of Soko, and also the ruin of more than one feudal lord owing to domestic trouble caused by the machinations of evil retainers. He was the contemporary also of the great scholar Arai Hakuseki, whose well-known autobiography gives a picture of a samurai family very much according to his ideal. Few can have been better qualified to expatiate on this subject, and his advice as to what the samurai should avoid is very clearly based on the falling away from the austerity and simplicity of the "days of old" that he had in his later days experienced and which the Shogun Yoshimune with his principle of "back to Ieyasu" tried so earnestly to correct. And his work gives a very clear and lively account of Bushido as he knew it, perhaps more succinct than can be found elsewhere, while more detailed than such sets of articles as the "Hundred Rules" of Takeda Shingen or of Ieyasu. Moreover, it is written entirely from the point of view of the retainer and not of the lord. For this reason I have used the word "samurai" in it instead of "bushi," which is not so familiar to readers of English, though it is more comprehensive as meaning the military man or warrior and therefore including the daimyo, or feudal lord, which the term samurai does not. "Samurai" is an expression of respectable antiquity incidentally, and a pure Japanese one, first used in the sense of military retainer in the tenth century, and adopted in the late twelfth century by the Kamakura military govern-ment as the official designation of the War Department or Samurai-dokoro.

Daidoji Yuzan Shigesuke was of a distinguished samurai family claiming descent from the Taira clan through Taira Korehira (10th cent.). His ancestor in the fifth generation was Shigetoki, elder brother of Ise Shinkuro Nagauji, who became famous as Hojo Soun, lord of Odawara, and one of the outstanding warrior administrators of his day. Shigetoki took the name of Daidoji from the village where he retired. His grandson Masashige committed suicide when Odawara was taken by Hideyoshi in 1590, and his son Naoshige became a vassal of Tokugawa Hidetada and fought valiantly at the siege of Osaka, helping to rally the Shogun's troops when they were badly shaken by the desperate charge of the garrison. Yuzan's father, Shigehisa, was a vassal of Tokugawa Tadateru, Ieyasu's sixth son and younger brother of Hidetada, who became suspect, lost his fief, and was retired. Yuzan seems to have followed his father as his retainer for a time, but meanwhile he studied and became an orthodox Confucian scholar and expert in military affairs and took a position as military adviser to Lord Matsudaira of Aizu. He then retired to Iwabuchi in Musashi, but later on went to live in the household of Matsudaira, Echizen no Kami, chief of the Kamon or direct relative houses of the Shogun. Evidently he practiced what he recommended, for he is described as a pattern of loyalty, self-control, and equanimity. He was also a verse writer of some note. As an author he is well known for the Iwabuchi faxa or "Evening Chats at Iwabuchi," a series of anecdotes about Tokugawa Ieyasu arranged in chronological order, and the perhaps more familiar Ochiboshu, a history of Ieyasu and his connections and succes-sors, and of the city and castle of Edo which they built. He also wrote the Taishoden or "Records of Great Commanders" and the Goshinron or "Essays on Five Vassals."

* "The word "Bushido," like "Samurai," has become a loan-word in English and is explained as "The national spirit of Japan, especially the military spirit, traditional chivalry as of the old Samurai class." Its literal meaning is "the Way of the Warrior" and it is found in Japanese first in the late sixteenth century, e.g. in the legacy of Torii Mototada (1539 -- 1600), and elsewhere. Some European writers, following Chamberlain, have maintained that both the word and what it signifies are inventions of the Meiji period intended to fortify national sentiment and unknown before. The currency of the word in the West is no doubt chiefly due to the book called Bushido published in 1899 by Dr. Nitobe, whence the careless statement in a largely circulated popular American work on the thought of the Orient, "Bushido, a word invented by Inazo Nitobe."



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