Sunday, February 22, 2009

Bushido - 新渡戸稲造の武士道


In January when I was in San Francisco, I encountered with “Bushido” by Inazo Nitobe in a bookstore, and I immediately took it to the cashier. It was a book written around 1900 and discussed a few elements that formed the core of Japanese virtues, perhaps with a sense of anxiety losing them with time in his mind. It all started from a question raised by Belgian jurist, M. de Laveleye: “How do you impart moral education with no religious instruction in your schools?”
I struggled with his classy, century-old English, and almost wrecked frankly, as I later bought another book back in Japan that consisted of English text on the left and Japanese translation on the right in spread pages which was actually very good with lots of auxiliary explanations.
The foundation of Japanese ethics that Nitobe discussed was the ancient regimes of Samurai which had already diminished, and with all the effort to follow American value system after the World War II in Japan, I felt we had come too far to recover our virtues particularly when the moral is something that is accumulated by each one of individuals. Coincidentally, the TV program “Sunday Project” this morning discussed what was missing in Japan now, and Yoshiko Sakurai pointed Bushido as the keyword for the nation’s recovery.

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