For our first listener-submitted topic, we’re tackling Bushido: the warrior code of the samurai class. We’ll discuss the evolution of the bushido ideology, the role it played during the ages of warfare in Japan as well as during the Tokugawa, and its modern legacy in a post-samurai world.
Listen to the episode
The Taming of the Samurai.
A History of Japan.
Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Vol III: 1615-1867.
The Last Testament of Torii Mototada
Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)
Kusunoki Masahige, the famous warrior who was loyal to his Emperor to the last. This statue is in the open part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace, as Masahige became something of a popular touchstone for Imperial loyalty after the Meiji Restoration.
Torii Mototada, whose sacrifice (according to some) enabled Tokugawa Ieyasu to win the Battle of Sekigahara, and thus control of Japan.
A bust of Yamaga Soko, the Bushido/Confucian philosopher.
The 47 Ronin storm the home of Lord Kira, by Katsushika Hokusai.
The graves of the 47 Ronin at Sengakuji in Tokyo.
The Senjinkun, a military manual for Japanese soldiers in World War II. The text was heavily influenced by bushido ideology.
American translator William Scott Wilson led an international group of Hagakure enthusiasts to produce a manga version of the text (sample above). It’s a pretty telling example of the hold Hagakure (and bushido more generally) still has on Japanese culture.