Samurais - bravery and spirit
Samurai, the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. William Scott Wilson, the world's foremost expert on the samurai's philosophy of Bushido:
"In Chinese, the character Ž˜ was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau. In both countries the terms were nominalized to mean "those who serve in close attendance to the nobility, "the pronunciation in Japanese changing to saburai." An early reference to the word "samurai" appears in the Kokin Wakashu, the first imperial anthology of poems, completed in the first part of the ninth century (905-914).
The modern samurai
Bushido, the warrior code of the Samurai, is still preserved in modern Japan. The most important virtue of Bushido is loyalty, but also honour and respect have a significant role. And loyalty, honour and respect are ultimately to their country, the Imperial House and their families. The Japanese would do nothing to shame or dishonour these core values. Loyalty, honour and respect are three keywords that are lost in most societies. Perhaps Japan is today the only country in the world that in daily life possesses these characters.
Backing traditional values
In many ways Bushido encompasses many aspects of the lives of the people even today as modern Japanese culture and society consist of a diverse mix of the old and new. Japanese children are taught respect for learning, but also the social values of loyalty and honour, which means the children in early days learn the traditional arts and ethical system that exist in the educational system as well as in other parts of the society. These early footsteps in diverse aspects of the Japanese heritage and ethical system lead to, already in young days, backing for traditional cultural values.
The Bushido code plays a vital role
Even if the reality of contemporary Japan in many ways is complex, especially because of the faith in many Western values, the Japanese have an emphasis on maintaining traditional values. They live in many ways through their past, and their behaviour is in many ways formed by the Samurai traditions. To enhance their own personal skills, and strengthen the character traits, the Bushido code therefore still plays a vital role.
Positive factors of the Samurai culture
The astounding economic success of Japan in the post war period can not only be explained by group orientation and "Japanese-style management". This "Japanese miracle" is also in many ways connected to the Japanese culture itself and the positive factors of the Samurai culture and Bushido.
To really understand what the samurai culture means in Japan you have to visit one of the samurai festivals which are held annually around Japan.
Leif Almo, Hon. Consul General of Japan in Sweden