Nitobe's likeness on a 5000 yen noteBushido: the Soul of Japan

 When Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933) published his book, “Bushido: The Soul of Japan”, the book was acclaimed internationally and made him an authority of Bushido in the Western world and especially in America. Nitobe was not from a samurai family but a brilliant educator, writer, diplomat and politician. His desire to present the Japanese culture and to be a “bridge” between Japan and the West made him the perfect author of “Bushido: The Soul of Japan”. The book was one of the first major works on samurai ethics and Japanese culture written originally in English for Western readers. The book was later on translated to Japanese.

Roosevelt bought five copies

A best-seller in its day, it was read by many influential foreigners, among them President Theodore Roosevelt that bought five copies of the book, President John F. Kennedy and Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the scout movement.

The most admired virtues

“Bushido: The Soul of Japan” was published exactly in the right time as Japan in the beginning of the 19th century underwent deep transformations while forging into a modern nation. Nitobe found in Bushido (Way of the Warrior) the sources of the virtues most admired by his people: loyalty, rectitude, courage, benevolence, politeness, sincerity, honor and self-control. His approach to his task was eclectic and far-reaching.

Five doctoral degress

Nitobe was a fine stylist in English; he wrote five out of his sixteen volumes in that language, which earned him a place among the best known Japanese writers of his age. "Bushido: The Soul of Japan" was nonetheless a pioneering work of its kind and made him most famous in the West. His best-known work in Japanese, Shuyo (Self cultivation), was reprinted 140 times. Nitobe Inazo studied in the United States for three years and in Germany for another three years. By the time he returned to Japan he had published one book in English and German and had earned the first of five doctoral degrees (two of them honorary). He was married to Mary Patterson Elkinton. The Japanese Yen5000 banknote Series D, printed from 1984 to 2004 has his portrait. 

Read "Bushido: The Soul of Japan" here (free e-book) 

Sources for this page about “Bushido: The Soul of Japan”: Wikipedia, Kodansha's Encyclopedia of Japan and 


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