April 18, 2014

"Culture and Bushido"

The way of the gentleman in the West is simply chivalry transformed by capitalist systematization. In the West, in order to prevent foreign incursions, citizens from early on banded together as soldiers taking up military service to meet the enemy. There, among them, the spirit of the warrior (bushido) would quite early pass into the hands of the people. Gallant calls for freedom and people's rights as well as pushes to purge the land of feudalism all exhibit a resolute bushido spirit rooted in the citizenry.
          Japan's misfortune is not that feudalism continued so long as it did, but that the bushido produced by feudalism did not spread to the citizenry. Japanese samurai once exhibited a bushido spirit likely unmatched in the world. Yet the common people of Japan are unmatched in the world in being un-bushido-like commoners, and ungentlemanly. Even the Meiji capitalist revolution was not led by commoners but by samurai. Thus the biggest misfortune is that from the Edo arts produced by this people, Japanese culture as a whole became vulgar, letting go of any high-toned nobility or romanticism.

(Hagiwara Sakutarō, Hagiwara Sakutarō zenshū, vol. 5. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1976, 82.)

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