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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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The Early Bushidō Boom, 1894–1905

The Early Bushidō Boom, 1894–1905

(p.76) 3 The Early Bushidō Boom, 1894–1905
Inventing the Way of the Samurai

Oleg Benesch

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the ‘bushidō boom’ that began soon after the Sino-Japanese War, and traces its development through the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905. Many currents of Japanese thought became increasingly nationalistic, and the ostensibly traditional ethic of bushidō was widely disseminated. Whereas earlier bushidō theories tended to be more ‘internationalist’ than nationalistic, the newly confident and often chauvinistic bushidō that marked the bushidō boom quickly superseded these earlier foundations. The legitimacy bestowed on bushidō by its alleged relationship with the historical samurai, combined with a lack of concrete historical roots that could be used to define or refute it, made it an ideal vehicle for nationalistic sentiments that came to the fore in the years around 1900. This chapter re-evaluates the roles of educator Nitobe Inazō and philosopher Inoue Tetsujirō in the spread and development of an emperor-focused ‘imperial bushidō’ that would become a dominant state ideology.

Keywords:   Nitobe Inazō, Inoue Tetsujirō, Sino-Japanese War, Russo-Japanese War, POW, nationalism, militarism, Meiji

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