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Bushido: The Soul of Japan written by Inazo Nitobe is, along with the classic text Hagakure by Tsunetomo Yamamoto, a study of the way of the samurai. A best-seller in its day, it was read by many influential foreigners, among them President Theodore Roosevelt, President John F. Kennedy and Robert Baden-Powell. It may well have shaped Baden-Powell's ideas on the Boy Scout movement he founded.
As Japan underwent deep transformations of its traditional lifestyle while forging into a modern nation, Nitobe engaged in an inquiry into the ethos of his nation, and the result of his meditations was this seminal work. A fine stylist in English, he wrote many books in that language, which earned him a place among the best known Japanese writers of his age.
He found in Bushido, the Way of the Warrior, the sources of the virtues most admired by his people: rectitude, courage, benevolence, politeness, sincerity, honor, loyalty and self-control. His approach to his task was eclectic and far-reaching.
He also delved into the other indigenous traditions of Japan, such as Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism and the moral guidelines handed down over hundreds of years by Japan's samurai and sages. In addition, he sought similarities and contrasts by citing not only Western philosophers and statesmen, but also the shapers of European and American thought and civilization going back to the Romans, the Greeks and Biblical times. He found a close resemblance between the samurai ethos of what he called Bushido and the spirit of medieval chivalry and the ethos of ancient Greece, as we observe it in books like the Iliad of Homer.
Nitobe Inazō (新渡戸 稲造?, 1 September 1862 - 15 October 1933) was a Japanese agricultural economist, author, educator, diplomat, politician, and Christian during Meiji and Taishō period Japan.
Nitobe was a prolific writer. He published many scholarly books as well as books for general readers (see below). He also contributed hundreds of articles to popular magazines and newspapers. Nitobe, however, is perhaps most famous in the west for his work Bushido: The Soul of Japan (1900), which was one of the first major works on samurai ethics and Japanese culture written originally in English for Western readers (The book was subsequently translated into Japanese and many other languages). Although sometimes criticized as portraying the samurai in terms so Western as to take away some of their actual meaning, this book nonetheless was a pioneering work of its kind.