Samurai ethic in modern japan Essay

This essay has a total of 1333 words and 6 pages.

samurai ethic in modern japan

Yamamoto, Tsunetomo
Bushido: The Way of the Samurai
Garden City Park, NY
2002


After reading this book it is my belief that it is important for Westerners to understand
the seemingly strange concepts of Bushido, not only as a guide to events of the past, but
as a primer for understanding the Japanese business mentality of today. The first thought
that comes to mind when Japanese work ethic is hard working, no breaks, complete
commitment to ones job. There may be a reason why Japan was able to rebuild their country
so quickly after World War II, this reason is Bushido, the principles of the samurai.

The origin of this book is from the Hagakure, which this book was based on was dictated by
Tsunetomo Yamamoto, a samurai. And later scribed verbatim by Tsuramoto Tashiro over a
period of seven years (1710-1716) in which they lived together in a far off mountain
retreat in Japan. Tashiro was sworn to secrecy over the texts contents because the author
believed the teachings to be far too radical and too militaristic for the then peaceful
times during the Shogunate Rule (1603-1867). During this time of unusual calmness, the
teachings of Buddhism and the ethical codes of Confucius permeated Japan, enriching every
aspect of its culture from arts to politics. But the old samurai, Yamamoto, believed that
the samurai, as a class, had become effeminate and weak. Yamamoto's basic premise was that
the samurai could not serve two masters, religion and the clan, and by doing so had become
less effective. The service of the lord and the clan should come first, and once this was
done, one could then amuse oneself with the studies of the humanities.



In writing the Hagakure, Yamamoto hoped that someday the Samurai would return to the
purity of its strong and compassionate past.

This book gives a unique look back to the late 18th century, when Yamamoto was active as a
samurai. The view is unique, because Japan was unifying and there was less need for each
minor lord to have an armed class. The warrior ethic was changing as war became less
common. In some way, these notes seem to mourn the passing of the clearest, purest form of
that ethic.

The warrior ethic only changed, though and still underlies many aspects of modern Japanese
thought and policy. The feudal caste system still gives a fair description of different
levels of management.

This book is not just about a time and a culture different from that in the modern West.
It teaches personal responsibility, a lesson that too many people still need. In part,
this means responsibility to one's self, in maintaining professional skills and personal
credibility. It also means responsibility and loyalty towards one's employer. From a
workers point of view I do not feel thoughtless in saying that, by accepting the pay that
feeds and houses me, I have a duty to return the value given. Self interest, if not
personal honor, should encourage me to support my employer well enough to keep supporting
me and to support me in the future.

I was also interested to see that a strict code of honor can include a strictly preserved
set of personal freedoms. Yamamoto stresses the need to tolerate a few flaws in order to
use a person's strengths. He also notes that samurai or, I think, any professionals can be
effective only when free to make decisions on their own. This is not defiance


though, but quite the opposite. The skilled employee must be able to make decisions based
on that skill. Too tight an administrative reign just strangles the professional's
effectiveness.

Today there exists a general belief that a powerful force, militarism based on the
economic imperialism is beginning to revive in Japan. Through additional research I have
found out there is no doubt that the Hagakure has come to be read by more and more
Japanese as a book of today. This edition as well as the other editions has emphasized the
up-to-datedness of Hagakure as a book showing how individual members of an organization
Continues for 3 more pages >>