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Inventing the Way of the SamuraiNationalism, Internationalism, and Bushidō in Modern Japan$
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Oleg Benesch

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198706625

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198706625.001.0001

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First Explanations of Bushidō in the Meiji Era

First Explanations of Bushidō in the Meiji Era

(p.42) 2 First Explanations of Bushidō in the Meiji Era
Inventing the Way of the Samurai

Oleg Benesch

Oxford University Press

This chapter concerns the origins of modern bushidō from the late 1880s to the beginning of a popular ‘bushidō boom’ around 1895. It examines the writings of journalist Ozaki Yukio and subsequent commentators on his bushidō theories, which drove the popular development of bushidō. These thinkers were influenced by three broad trends: the maturation of Japan’s relationship with the West; a dramatic change in Japan’s views of China; and an increased interest in Japanese culture. The presence of foreign ‘others’ was another essential element in the development of modern bushidō, and its early theorists were more influenced by current events beyond Japan’s borders than they were by the historical samurai class. The reimagining and rehabilitation of the samurai image through bushidō was inspired by contemporary European notions of chivalry and gentlemanship, which legitimized the search for comparable sources of morality in the historical Japanese equivalent of knighthood.

Keywords:   Ozaki Yukio, Fukuzawa Yukichi, nationalism, internationalism, chivalry, feudal, gentlemanship, China, Meiji

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