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What is Bushido?

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Bushido is an unwritten code of honor which was influential in Japanese society from the 12th to the 20th century. The word means "way of the warrior" and throughout most of its history the code applied to the manners and ethics of the feudal class of samurai warriors.

It was based on military ideals dating from the 10th century and gradually added religious elements from Confucianism and Zen Buddhism. Bushido stressed courage, self-control, self-sacrifice, and loyalty to one's feudal lord. The samurai preferred to die rather than violate the code.

During the 1900's, Bushido became the basis of fanatic loyalty to the Japanese emperor and ceased to be identified exclusively with the warriors. It contributed greatly to the morale of Japanese troops in World War II.

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