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Seven Virtues of Bushido

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Quick links to words on this page...

  1. Bushido / The Way of the Samurai
  2. Justice / Rectitude / Right Decision
  3. Bravery / Courage
  4. Benevolence
  5. Respect
  6. Honesty
  7. Honor
  8. Loyalty / Faithful / Devoted
  9. Filial Piety
10. Honesty / Fidelity
11. Wisdom


Bushido / The Way of the Samurai

China wǔ shì dào
Japan bu shi do
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This is the title for. "The Code of the Samurai".

Sometimes called "The Seven Virtues of the Samurai", "The Bushido Code", or "The Samurai Code of Chivalry".

This would be read in Chinese characters, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja as "The Way of the Warrior", "The Warrior's Way", or "The Warrior's Code".

It's a set of virtues that the Samurai of Japan and ancient warriors of China and Korea had to live and die by.

The seven commonly-accepted tenets or virtues of Bushido are: Benevolence 仁, Courage 勇, Honesty 誠, Honour 名誉, Loyalty 忠実, Respect 礼(禮), and Rectitude 義.


See Also...  Warrior

Justice / Rectitude / Right Decision

Also means: honor loyalty morality righteousness
China
Japan gi
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This is about doing the right thing or making the right decision, not because it's easy, but because it's ethically and morally correct.
No matter the outcome or result, one does not lose face if tempering proper justice.

This character can also be defined as righteousness, justice, morality, honor, or "right conduct". In more a more expanded definition, it can mean loyalty to friends, loyalty to the public good, or patriotism. This idea of loyalty and friendship comes from the fact that you will treat those you are loyal to with morality and justice.

This is also one of the five tenets of Confucius doctrine.

儀There's also an alternate version of this character sometimes seen in Bushido or Korean Taekwondo tenets. It's just the addition of a radical on the left side of the character. If you want this version, click on the image to the right instead of the button above.


See Also...  Judgement | Impartial | Confucius Tenets

Bravery / Courage

Single Character for Courage
China yǒng
Japan isamu / yu-
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This character can be translated as bravery, courage, valor, or fearless in Chinese, Japanese and Korean. This is the simplest form to express courage or bravery, as there is also a two character form which starts with this same character.

This character can also be translated as brave, daring, fearless, plucky or heroic.


See Also...  Bravery | Courage

Benevolence

China rén
Japan jin
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ribbon top
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Beyond "benevolence" word can be also be defined as "charity" or "mercy" depending on context.

The meaning suggests that one should pay alms to the poor, care for those in trouble, and take care of his fellow man (or woman).

This is one of the five tenets of Confucius. In fact, it is a subject in which Confucius spent a great deal of time explaining to his disciples.

I have also seen this benevolent-related word translated as perfect virtue, selflessness, love for humanity, humaneness, goodness, good will, or simply "love" in the non-romantic form.

This word is so important to me that I named my second daughter with this character. Her name is "Renni" which means "Benevolent Girl".
-Gary.


See Also...  Love | Altruism | Kindness | Charity | Confucius

Respect

Can also be a sign of gratitude
China
Japan rei
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We show respect by speaking and acting with courtesy. We treat others with dignity and honor the rules of our family, school and nation. Respect yourself, and others will respect you.

This is also one of the five tenets of Confucius.

This character can also be translated as propriety, good manners, politeness, rite, worship or an expression of gratitude.

Chinese RespectPlease note that Japanese use a simplified version of the character for respect - it also happens to be the same simplification used in mainland China. Click on the character to the right if you want the Traditional Chinese version.


See Also...  Confucius

Honesty

China chéng
Japan makoto
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This character means truth, faith, fidelity, sincerity, trust and/or confidence.

As a single-character wall scroll, this suggests that you believe "honesty is the best policy", as your personal philosophy.


See Also...  Sincerity | Sincere

Honor

Japanese / Simplified version
China míng yù
Japan meiyo
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This version of honor is about having or earning the respect of others and about your reputation. It is the status of being worthy of honor (not to be confused with doing honorable things or specific actions - see our other "honor" listing for that).

譽Both modern Japanese and modern mainland Chinese use the same simplified version of the second character of honor. We will automatically use the simplified version shown to the left, unless you make a special request for the traditional second character as shown to the right (just click on that character to order the traditional Chinese version). Before WWII, both Japan and China used the traditional form, but modern Japanese and Chinese are more likely to identify this simplified form. Koreans still use the traditional form when they are not writing in their modern Hangul glyphs.


See Also...  Integrity | Respect

Loyalty / Faithful / Devoted

Japan chuujitsu
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This is a Japanese way to write "Loyalty" - it also contains the ideas of being faithful, devoted, true, and obedient.

The second character is a modified form only used in the Japanese lexicon, however, Chinese speakers can easily guess the meaning.

Filial Piety

China xiào
Japan kou
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This character represents filial piety. Some will define this in more common English as "respect for your parents and ancestors".

This is a subject deeply emphasized by the ancient philosophy and teachings of Confucius.

Some have included this in the list for the Bushido, although generally not considered part of the 7 core virtues of the warrior.

Note: This character is not the best of meanings when seen along as a single character. Some will read the single character form to mean "missing my dead ancestors". However, when written at part of Confucian tenets, or in the two-character word that means filial piety, the meaning is better or read differently (context is important for this character).

We suggest one of our other two-character filial piety entries instead of this one.


See Also...  Filial Piety | Confucius

Honesty / Fidelity

China xìn
Japan shin
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This is another character that expresses the idea of honesty. It can also mean truth, faith, believe in, fidelity, sincerity, trust and/or confidence.

Some have included this in the list for the Bushido, although "makoto" is probably more common/popular.

Note: In some context, this character can mean letter; news or envoy. However, alone, it will generally be read with the honesty-meaning.


See Also...  Loyalty Trustworthiness Trustworthy

Wisdom

(single character)
China zhì
Japan chi / tomo
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ribbon top
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This is the simplest way to write wisdom in Chinese, Korean Hanja and Japanese Kanji.
Being a single character, the wisdom meaning is open to interpretation, and can also mean intellect, knowledge or reason.

This character is also one of the five tenets of Confucius.

Beyond the title definitions, this also can mean, resourcefulness, or wit.

This character is sometimes included in the Bushido code, but usually not considered part of the seven key concepts of the code.


See Also...  Learn From Wisdom | Confucius

During the 9th and 12th centuries in Japan the warrior class were known as Samurai, also called Bushi ("Bushi" means "warrior", "Do" is "Way", hence Bushido = Way of the Warrior).
They emerged from the provinces of Japan to become the ruling class until their decline and later total abolition in 1876 during the Meiji Era.

These warriors were men who lived by Bushido; it was their way of life. The Samurai's loyalty to the emperor and his overlord or daimyo were unsurpassed. They were trustworthy and honest. They lived frugal lives with no interest in riches and material things, but rather in honor and pride. They were men of true valor. Samurai had no fear of death. They would enter any battle no matter the odds. To die in battle would only bring honor to one's family and one's lord.

The actual code was passed on verbally to each generation of Samurai, but over time, seven chief virtues emerged, and became the written form of Bushido. Please note that variations exist, as some people use different Kanji or have 8 or 9 tenets.

Of course, credit is generally given that a Chinese man (known in the west as "Confucius") is the father of these values in China. Therefore, you'll find these concepts belong not only to the Japanese samurai, but have spread throughout Asia. Variations of these soldierly and moral values can be seen in China, Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere.




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A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The scroll that I am holding in this picture is a "medium size"
4-character wall scroll.
As you can see, it is a great size to hang on your wall.
(We also offer custom wall scrolls in larger sizes)

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.


A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.



The following table is only helpful for those studying Chinese (or Japanese), and perhaps helps search engines to find this page when someone enters Romanized Chinese or Japanese

Title
Characters 
Simplified
Traditional
Japanese Romaji
(Romanized Japanese)
Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Bushido / The Way of the Samurai武士道
武士道
bu shi do
bushido
wǔ shì dào
wu shi dao
wu shih tao
wu3 shi4 dao4
wushidao
Justice / Rectitude / Right Decision
gi
yi
i
yi4
Bravery / Courage
isamu / yu-yǒng
yong
yung
yong3
Benevolence
jinrén
ren
jen
ren2
Respect (Japanese / Simplified version)
rei
li
li3
Honesty
makotochéng
cheng
ch`eng
cheng2
cheng
cheng
Honor (Japanese / Simplified version)名誉
名譽
meiyomíng yù
ming yu
ming yü
ming2 yu4
mingyu
Loyalty / Faithful / Devoted忠実
忠實
chuujitsu
chujitsu
n/a
Filial Piety
kou
ko
xiào
xiao
hsiao
xiao4
Honesty / Fidelity
shinxìn
xin
hsin
xin4
Wisdom
chi / tomozhì
zhi
chih
zhi4

If you have not set up your computer to display Chinese, the characters in this table probably look like empty boxes or random text garbage.
This is why I spent hundreds of hours making images so that you could view the characters in the listings above.
If you want your Windows computer to be able to display Chinese characters you can either head to your Regional and Language options in your Win XP control panel, select the [Languages] tab and click on [Install files for East Asian Languages]. This task will ask for your Win XP CD to complete in most cases. If you don't have your Windows XP CD, or are running Windows 98, you can also download/run the simplified Chinese font package installer from Microsoft which works independently with Win 98, ME, 2000, and XP. It's a 2.5MB download, so if you are on dial up, start the download and go make a sandwich.

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