The values of the bushi, both actual and idealized, have permeated all levels of Japanese society. In the Edo period, members of the merchant class deliberately adopted samurai standards of behavior to identify themselves more closely with the ruling class. After the Meiji Restoration, unemployed samurai became doctors and educators, and brought their written codes with them. The Imagawa kabegaki, by the fourteenth-century poet-warlord Imagawa Ryōshun, was even used as a textbook in Edo-period schools. During the years prior to the Meiji Restoration, the samurai's spirit of sincerity in action, loyalty, and self-sacrifice allowed them to take leadership in the revolt that would lead to the abolition of their class.
Bushido's most tragic legacy is the warped version ultranationalists used in formulating propaganda to encourage and sustain the Japanese solider before and during World War II. The spirit of the Hagakure incited young Japanese men to become kamikaze suicide pilots; death was promoted as preferable to surrender.
In the early twenty-first century the term Bushido appeared more frequently in English-language martial arts publications than it ever did in early warrior texts. And even though Nitobe's list of virtues was not directly derived from actual warrior codes, it did reflect romanticized warrior ideals that the rapidly modernized Japanese recognized as noble and found comforting to call their own.
Edwards, Bernard. Blood and Bushido: Japanese Atrocities at Sea 1941–1945. New York: Brick Tower Press, 1991.
Friday, Karl F. "Bushido or Bull? A Medieval Historian's Perspective on the Imperial Army and the Japanese Warrior Tradition." The History Teacher 27, no. 3 (1994): 339–349.
Hurst, G. Cameron III. "The Warrior As Ideal for a New Age." In The Origins of Japan's Medieval World: Courtiers, Clerics, Warriors, and Peasants in the Fourteenth Century, edited by Jeffrey P. Mass, 209–233. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1997.
Wilson, William Scott, trans. Ideals of the Samurai: Writings of Japanese Warriors. Edited by Gregory N. Lee. Burbank, Calif.: Ohara, 1982.
Yamamoto Tsunetomo. Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. Translated by William Scott Wilson. Tokyo and New York: Kodansha International, 1983.
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