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Old 05-27-2009, 06:51 AM   #76
Buck
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
At your university, did you also study the phenomenon known as Nihonjinron 日本人論? Nitobe is part of this phenomenon, as are Lafcadio Hearn, Ruth Benedict and, to a lesser extent, Eugen Herrigel. The focus of this phenomenon is the supposed uniqueness of Japanese culture. Examples of nihonjinron are, for example, that Japanese literature is impossible to translate into other languages because of kotodama: the Japanese spirit which is believed by Japanese to exist in the Japanese language, or that Japanese are uniquely emotional because they are believed to process certain vowel sounds on the opposite side of their brains to those of 'westerners' (= all non-Japanese).

After Nitobe's book was written to communicate to western intellects, it was translated into Japanese. Subsequently, it was taken up and given a special place, along with the Hagakure, as a 'correct' view of Bushido. Benedict was also translated into Japanese and her view of Japan as a 'shame' culture also also taken up and enshrined by the postwar Japanese, as a 'correct' view of Japanese culture.

You state that you have studied Nitobe in English at university in the USA. I have taught Nitobe in Japanese at university in Japan and much of my time was spent in showing the fundamental flaws in his picture of bushido, to Japanese bureaucrats who still believed that it was an attractive picture and therefore 'probably' accurate. (They had been taught this by their Japanese teachers, who, almost certainly, were believers in nihonjinron.)

Of course, if you believe Nitobe's view of bushido is not fundamentally flawed (despite being directed at western intellects), then please argue your point. I am sure some would be happy to respond.

Yours sincerely,
What I am commenting on when Nitobe is discussed on the internet like he is now, he is discredited in such a way as I described that it over-looks what Nitobe was arguing. The internet also makes the assumption that he was defining bushido definitely. And fails to focus on or includes what he was really discussing. And that was morality and ethics between two cultures that knew very little about each other. Budo (which Nitobe had experience in) was his model in his argument that had parallels to ancient European knighthood and its military chivalry.

What I studied was what and how Nitobe argued mechanically against other western arguments concerning morals and ethics of other thought and cultures. I don't see his book as guide for bushido as other older Japanese military books describe.

I think there is a fatal flaw, but not in Nitobe's writings rather in how people think he was defining budo, and those who argue that. And as a result, the whole point of his book is missed, something that never gets properly argued, to communicate the misconceptions (at that time and written in the acceptable western vogue) about the Japanese.

And finally, if a person is going to mistake Nitobe's book for a guide to budo, I don't think is so wrong. The morality and ethics presented in the book are good, and universal. He doesn't speak of coldly killing a sleeping stranger for snoring out of annoyance. Or declares an eye for an eye.
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Old 05-27-2009, 08:29 AM   #77
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
What I am commenting on when Nitobe is discussed on the internet like he is now, he is discredited in such a way as I described that it over-looks what Nitobe was arguing. The internet also makes the assumption that he was defining bushido definitely. And fails to focus on or includes what he was really discussing. And that was morality and ethics between two cultures that knew very little about each other. Budo (which Nitobe had experience in) was his model in his argument that had parallels to ancient European knighthood and its military chivalry.
Well, I think you would need to go into details here. I have just looked through the archives of E-Budo and there is much good stuff by scholars like Karl Friday and G Cameron Hurst III. As for Nitobe defining Bushido, the subtitle of the book is The Soul of Japan and this is how the Japanese understood the term. Whether it was a strict definition is immaterial.

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What I studied was what and how Nitobe argued mechanically against other western arguments concerning morals and ethics of other thought and cultures. I don't see his book as guide for bushido as other older Japanese military books describe.
Well, in the introduction, Nitobe appears to be responding to the question of M. de la Laveleye: "No religion! How to you impart moral education?" His response is in the second paragraph of p.xii of the (Tuttle) edition that I possess: "I found that without understanding feudalism and Bushido, the moral ideas of present Japan are a sealed volume." Thus, one might reasonably conclude that the purpose is to give an explanation of moral education--in terms of bushido. This is borne out by the list of contents. Chapters III to XI deal in turn with the supposed Bushido virtues: Rectitude; courage; benevolence; politeness; veracity/sincerity; honor; the duty of loyalty. If Nitobe was not defining bushido, what was he doing? Giving his own views about the concept?

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I think there is a fatal flaw, but not in Nitobe's writings rather in how people think he was defining budo, and those who argue that. And as a result, the whole point of his book is missed, something that never gets properly argued, to communicate the misconceptions (at that time and written in the acceptable western vogue) about the Japanese.
Well, we would have to go through the book chapter by chapter to argue this. The fact that Nitobe is using a 'fundamentally flawed' conception of bushido to communicate western misconceptions about the Japanese does not alter the fact that the conception is fundamentally flawed. If you do not think there is a flaw about bushido in Nitobe's writings, you need to argue this point, with evidence.

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
And finally, if a person is going to mistake Nitobe's book for a guide to budo, I don't think is so wrong. The morality and ethics presented in the book are good, and universal. He doesn't speak of coldly killing a sleeping stranger for snoring out of annoyance. Or declares an eye for an eye.
Well, he wouldn't, would he? He was a Christian: "I believe in the religion taught by Him and handed down to us in the New Testament, as well as in the law written in the heart." (Preface, p. xiv.) The morality and ethics presented in the book might well be good and universal, but it is much more questionable whether they were the morality and ethics of a code that really existed and was actually followed by samurai who believed in something called Bushido.

As always, best wishes,

PAG

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Old 05-27-2009, 09:35 AM   #78
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

I think that you are all missing what the original intent of my post was. Does Aikido and Bushido have anything in commom? And i believe they do. If you look at Bushido as an internal seeking for peace, and calmness of spirit in the face of any type of situation that appears before you then it most definitely jives real well with Aikido. However this is my interpretation of the two. Unfortunately i dont seem to be as well educated as a couple of the other posters on this thread, so i guess my laymans approach to this may be flawed. It is however my belief.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:15 AM   #79
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Hi Brian, I think if that is how you as a laymen define Bushido, and you understand that other's have no need to accept that definition, then all is fine.

Some of us just like to be more rigorous...but that is not a slight on your choice, just our preference. You will find that often a thread takes on a life of its own, while still at least partially addressing the Original Poster (OP).

Best,
Ron

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Old 05-27-2009, 12:48 PM   #80
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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How closely do you find the philosophies of Aikido and Bushido compare?

Or do you find that they are in no way similar?
Depends on what you mean by Bushido. Personally I ignore anything from the edo period onwards because it seems a bit too idealised and a bit too "gangsta." It's very insecure, like a bunch of people desperate to prove themselves by killing anyone who looks at them the wrong way.

The attitude I find in pre-edo period stuff, to me, is the real deal. It's much more sensible and pragmatic, much more about living as best you can in what's likely to be a short and bloody life. It's things like you have a one in three chance of surviving a real fight or that you can have the best training available, but you're still going to get killed. The focus seems to be on living your short life as best as you can.
And that's the kind of attitude I find in Aikido, especially when weapons work is taught. I also find that, on the whole, Aikido dojo aren't so up tight and formal as some other arts. I can imagine that back in the day that training wasn't overly formal, you were bushi you trained, you were respectful but there was no big deal to it, training was what you did because of who you were.
These days I think a lot of arts have this Hagakure-like insecurity where how badass they are is measured by how up tight, aggresive and formal they can be.
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Old 05-27-2009, 04:05 PM   #81
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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I think that you are all missing what the original intent of my post was. Does Aikido and Bushido have anything in commom?
You defined neither, and much of the thread has been taken up doing so and critiquing those efforts.

In essence, you haven't really asked a question, despite the presence of words and grammar.

The bushi was a thousand year institution spread across an archipelago, some parts of which couldn't even understand each other's language.

You want to encompass this diversity with one word?!

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Old 05-27-2009, 04:20 PM   #82
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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Hagakure-like insecurity
Yup. Well said. Kinda like career noncombatants declaring, "Bring it on!" (to the children of mothers not their own...)

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Old 05-27-2009, 09:07 PM   #83
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Whether it was a strict definition is immaterial.
If Nitobe was not defining bushido, what was he doing? Giving his own views about the concept?
The morality and ethics presented in the book might well be good and universal, but it is much more questionable whether they were the morality and ethics of a code that really existed and was actually followed by samurai who believed in something called Bushido.
From what I have read Budo isn't a constant and seem to change thus, I agree with what Don said. You can't pin it down. Cause what it meant to one clan was different to another and it varied at different times in Japanese history. I think Hagakure shows that. Base on that Nitobe's view can't be flawed if defining budo was his target. His target I get from the good was to show Victorian's Japan had a soul. They had chivalry and honor, etc just like knights.

I have to disagree, here is why, based on why he felt compelled to write it, and thus the context I feel of the title. Nitobe was a western learned man, a researcher, a scholar of both cultures in his day. He researched budo, he practiced budo arts. He ran into those whose lived, breathed and defined budo of that time. He, in my view, was defending Japan- not budo, showing the Victorians that Japan had morals and ethics similar to theirs, and stuff. And that is what is not posted, like as you did initially.

I really don't think Nitobe was writing a new Hagakure or a 5 rings, I mean budo during that time was the tail of the comet, right. It's kind of like the Chaplin was saying the last prayers over the remains of what was left of budo. Nitobe knew that. He wasn't on a bent to resurrect budo, instead he was communicating or educating to Victorian snobs who knew nothing about Japan, using budo code palatable to those snobs by making a parallel to knights. That is clear in his book. Yamamoto, unlike Nitobe dictates the way of the samurai in detail with definite purpose intent, as a primer. I see Nitobe writing about morals and ethics (using the idea of bushido as a model based on bushido for to argue, and it was not intended to educate them solely on how to be a samurai or how to live like a samurai. Nitobe wrote in the same stylize language of the time.

I think that is the main flaw that many make on the net concerning Nitobe, imo. You just can't say Nitobe's views are flawed on budo. What is that compared to? The Hagakure, or other ancient texts written by scholars, or those like Mushashi, etc? Budo, now a days, is found in the Japanese military, and isn't what it was during Japan's feudal period or at budo's inception, or any other period in history.

You want a fundamentally flawed view of budo, look to the Japanese organized crime mob. Now they have a flawed view of budo.



Last edited by akiy : 05-27-2009 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 05-27-2009, 09:09 PM   #84
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Brian,

You question as straight forward as it is, doesn't elicit an equal straight forward answer. And Don's response illustrates that too. I think Peter in this responses including the one here does answer your question. It may not be a cookie cutter answer, but rather a more complex intricate that requires some background and context information as an answer. You would have to agree with him over me of course that Nitobe view of bushido is flawed.

Nitobe has been criticized for Romanizing budo. If you agree- I don't, rather he writes in the vogue of the day that comes off as Romanizing the subject vs. writing in a romantic style of the day- then O'Sensei Romanized Aikido and so did every other peer of other martial arts of O'Sensei's time, Romanize budo, and they can be seen as have the same flaw as Nitobe. Keep in mind Aikido wasn't something out of O'Sensei's imagination. Aikido came from other legitimate sources. O'Sensei is quoted saying that his teacher taught him budo. He learned budo from his teacher who was a sword carrying member of a samurai clan and upbringing. O'Sensei was a solider as well, who followed bushido of his day. Yes, is a simple unjust answer of mine is you can't separate budo from Aikido. Just as you can't separate an element from something and expect it maintain its completeness, existence, or whole. For lack of a better example, it would be like taking Christ out of Christianity.

Now if you took budo out of Aikido you would have something like, Ikebana, or nothing at all. I am mean, look at O'Sensei he strongly believe budo was a part of Aikido, and he defined it and how Aikido and budo are as one thingy, in the book he wrote, titled, Budo Training in Aikido.

Personally, I would go with what Peter does or would say over what I said if you are looking for an answer. He has been at Aikido longer and has had better Aikido opportunities and experiences then I. I am on in the bleachers writing it all down, in that sort of way. But, outside of that feel free to weigh my opinion on Nitobe's credibility, and the internet conspiracy against Nitobe.

Last edited by Buck : 05-27-2009 at 09:11 PM.
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Old 05-28-2009, 01:25 AM   #85
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
You want a fundamentally flawed view of budo, look to the Japanese organized crime mob. Now they have a flawed view of budo.
I want to be clear about one point. You regard budo and bushido as being synonymous. Is that right?

PAG

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Old 05-28-2009, 06:55 AM   #86
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Quote:
But, outside of that feel free to weigh my opinion on Nitobe's credibility, and the internet conspiracy against Nitobe.
I can understand the smiley...that statement is quite amusing...


Best,
Ron

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Old 05-28-2009, 06:56 AM   #87
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

I greatly appreciate all answers to my question, i have found them to be very enlightening. And as such they are helping me in my quest to have a better understanding of my own thoughts. Thank you all.

Brian
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Old 05-28-2009, 08:34 PM   #88
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
I can understand the smiley...that statement is quite amusing...


Best,
Ron
Uff Da! It's close enough, you finally got my sense of humor.
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Old 05-28-2009, 10:32 PM   #89
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
I want to be clear about one point. You regard budo and bushido as being synonymous. Is that right?

PAG
It's in error, a typo, and should read as the following. "You want a fundamentally flawed view of bu[shido], look to the Japanese organized crime mob. Now they have a flawed view of bu[shido]." It is said in light elbow ribbing humor, it is not a statement the should to be argued, but rather a statement this is to be enjoyed like a fine wine. Thanks for pointing it out.
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Old 05-28-2009, 10:48 PM   #90
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Let me leave you the following from the last chapter of Nitobe's book, published by Ohara Publications Inc. as something to look over.

Of course, the preface by Nitobe recalls his Belgian jurist friend astonished (as a sense of being incredulous) and completely incomprehensive that the Japanese have no religion (in the western sense), means lacking moral instruction/education. Like how ghastly.

Also in his preface Nitobe states, "All through the work, I have tried to illustrate the points I have made with similar examples from European history and literature, I hope this will make the subject more relative for the comprehension of the Western reader." Keep in mind he is writing to an 1899 educated moral Western audience. That is the people he is making his views on paper more relative and comprehensive to.

This passage is from the last chapter, "The Future of Bushido" and he is concerned about the future of Bushido. It reads to like aw...like...where are we going to put Grandpa kind of thingy. That is also a major concern for him. Cause Japan doesn't have a religion to keep Bushido like the church in the West did for European Chivalry when European feudalism ended.

"Christianity and Materialism (including Utilitarianism) - or will the future reduce them to still more archaic forms of Hebraism and Hellenism? - will divide the world between them. Lesser systems of morals will ally themselves to either side for their preservation. On which side will Bushido enlist? Having no set dogma or formula to defend, it can afford to disappear as an entity: like the cherry blossom, it is wiling to die at the first gust of the morning breeze. But a total extinction will never be its lot. Who can say that stoicism is dead ? It is dead as a system: but it is alive as a virtue: its energy and vitality are still felt through many channels of life -in the philosophy of Western nations, in the jurisprudence of all the civilized world.

Bushido as an independent code of ethics may vanish, but its power will not perish from the earth; its schools of martial prowess or civic honor may be demolished, but its fight and its glory will long survive their ruins."


I think any flaw is in thinking in anyway that Nitobe's book is a primer for Bushido. What I also see in Nitobe's philosophy and view on Bushido is similar to O'Sensei's in many ways. I often wondered is that because such views where the common views during post Japanese feudalism. Or was O'Sensei influenced some how by Nitobe. I don't know if the latter is possible. But it seems there is a commonality between the two men in their thinking along the same lines.

Something to consider when there is comment made about Nitobe being flawed in his understanding of Bushido. I would definately not mistake Nitobe for anything thing else than being, well I will quote him, "The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such ideas and customs prevail in Japan. He is talking about what formed his moral notions which he credited it to Bushido. He was born during the feudal period of Japan.

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Old 05-28-2009, 11:17 PM   #91
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

The other thing we have to understand is that Nitobe's wrote (like I alluded to earlier several times) in Victorian rhetoric. And in the earlier post I mentioned he was writing to a Victorian audience. I see no flaw in Nitobe's views. What I see by many is that possibly a misunderstanding of Nitobe's writing style, his audience and the time period. I think from reading Nitobe and the study I did on him he is more concern with the reader getting a feel giving it a tangible experience of Bushido for the reader vs. his book reading like a dictionary, or encyclopedia on bushido. He wants his work to be experienced as living and breathing experience.

He was a hell-of-a-scholar and researcher, and according to my copy's Editor worked very hard at a "monumental research task" getting original western material sources, and translated himself the material he chose from Japanese material.

Again when he was writing- about Bushido being the source of his moral code- for his victorian audience.

I think so much is overlooked and misunderstood concerning Nitobe's message in his writing.
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Old 05-29-2009, 12:44 AM   #92
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Again when he was writing- about Bushido being the source of his moral code- for his victorian audience.
Here's the fundamental flaw in Nitobe's work. When asked how the Japanese taught morals without having a religion, rather than thinking back to his bushi father, writing about that, and presenting it as "the soul of Japan", he should have written a book on Neo-Confucianism.

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Old 05-29-2009, 06:42 AM   #93
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Hello Phil,

A few more points and questions.

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
I think any flaw is in thinking in anyway that Nitobe's book is a primer for Bushido.
Why do you assume that Internet attackers of Nitobe see him as writing a 'primer for bushido'? He wrote a book called "Bushido: The Soul of Japan", which was taken by the Japanese themselves as a 'primer for bushido', along with the Hagakure. I want to be clear about this, for your statement entails that the Japanese were/are also as mistaken about Nitobe as his 'western' Internet detractors. To me, it is completely immaterial whether or not Nitobe was writing a 'primer for bushido'. What he wrote was accepted by many Japanese as a 'primer for bushido'.

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
What I also see in Nitobe's philosophy and view on Bushido is similar to O'Sensei's in many ways.
Of course, I suppose that you have evidence for this. Are there any of O Sensei's writings that you can point to?

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
I often wondered is that because such views where the common views during post Japanese feudalism.
With respect, what are the 'common views' in question here? Would you like to summarize O Sensei's specific views on bushido (NB, not budo), on the basis of his discourses?

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Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Or was O'Sensei influenced some how by Nitobe. I don't know if the latter is possible.
Do you have any evidence?

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
But it seems there is a commonality between the two men in their thinking along the same lines.
You have mentioned this seeming commonality, but what is the commonality? What are the 'same lines' of their thinking? Please spell this out.

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
Something to consider when there is comment made about Nitobe being flawed in his understanding of Bushido. I would definately not mistake Nitobe for anything thing else than being, well I will quote him, "The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such ideas and customs prevail in Japan. He is talking about what formed his moral notions which he credited it to Bushido. He was born during the feudal period of Japan.
Wait a minute. You begin the quote at, "The direct inception...," but you do not end it.
Secondly, there is no relationship between your quotation and 'his moral notions'. Perhaps you should have given the entire section:
"In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and my wife (who asked "the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan"), I found that, without understanding feudalism and Bushido (with a footnote on pronunciation), the moral ideas of present Japan are a closed volume."
"Taking advantage of a long illness, I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversations. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when feudalism was still in force." (Preface, p. xii).

So where is the actual evidence about the 'formation of his moral notions'? Actually, Nitobe was born in 1862, which would make him just SIX years old when the 'feudal period' officially ended.

Many apologies for sounding like a professor in a tutorial, but if you are going to quote Nitobe himself in defence of your argument, you should be fair to Nitobe as well as yourself.

As always, best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-29-2009 at 06:47 AM.

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Old 05-29-2009, 07:27 AM   #94
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Quote:
I think any flaw is in thinking in anyway that Nitobe's book is a primer for Bushido.
But I think this is where *you* are making the assumption of what the people posting here and in other theads are saying. One of the primary things people are saying is that his tome is definately NOT a primer in Bushido. And they are advising readers of the context and complexities with the term, and how his work glosses over those for the sake of "clarity" to his western audience. In fact, your posts above point that out very clearly.

And that is why when students of Gendai Budo come online and post romantically about Bushido based on their reading of Nitobe, others are quick to point out the lack of context and complexity inherent within that frame work.

Quote:
What I also see in Nitobe's philosophy and view on Bushido is similar to O'Sensei's in many ways.
Well, already we have issues with that statement, since Ueshiba ususally spoke of Budo, not Bushido, and as Peter has already pointed out, the two are not synonymous. So already we have a divergence of terms, let alone the difference in how those terms are defined. I know you have claimed that was an error in typing, but it was then a strangly consistent error in typing, and here we see further evidence of an *apparent* confusion.

Quote:
I often wondered is that because such views where the common views during post Japanese feudalism. Or was O'Sensei influenced some how by Nitobe. I don't know if the latter is possible.
It is hard to think so for me at least...Nitobe wrote his book in English, and as you noted, for a western audience. I don't know if a Japanese translation was available at the time when Ueshiba would have been likely to read it during his formative years. Do you have any sources that suggest so? We do know that Ueshiba did not read English...correct? And further, do you have any evidence that **if** Ueshiba did have access to a translation, that he actually read it, and that it influenced his thinking in any way?

Quote:
But it seems there is a commonality between the two men in their thinking along the same lines.
Could you be more specific?

Quote:
Something to consider when there is comment made about Nitobe being flawed in his understanding of Bushido. I would definately not mistake Nitobe for anything thing else than being, well I will quote him, "The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such ideas and customs prevail in Japan. He is talking about what formed his moral notions which he credited it to Bushido. He was born during the feudal period of Japan.
I'm not sure how that statement takes anything away from the cautions raised by the folks on this thread and others.

Best,
Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 05-29-2009 at 07:37 AM.

Ron Tisdale
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Old 05-29-2009, 07:31 AM   #95
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Dito what Peter and Josh have said...

Best,
Ron

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Old 05-29-2009, 10:37 AM   #96
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Some more reference material. It should be particularly noted that this material was NOT originally published online. And that it was written by an historian. Not a layman.

http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_hurst_0501.htm

Some particular things that caught my eye:

Quote:
Nitobe was born in 1862 during the turbulence of the bakumatsu era, but almost immediately embarked upon an educational career that in a sense isolated him from the main events of the age. He began the study of English at age nine and, after several years of study in Tokyo, went off at fifteen to school in Hokkaido, where he became a Christian and studied primarily agricultural economics, in English, from Americans. [EN4] Hokkaido was only just becoming a real part of Japan, so Nitobe was essentially isolated spatially, culturally, religiously, and even linguistically from the currents of Meiji Japan.
This passage does two things...it makes me wonder if there was any way in which Ueshiba's time in Hokkaido could have included any knowledge of Nitobe. And it stresses how unprepared Nitobe was to use Bushido in any accurate sense at all, for ANY purpose.

Quote:
Nitobe was not even aware when he wrote the book that the term bushidó existed: he thought he was coining a new word, and he expressed some surprise several years later when a Japanese pointed out to him that the word actually existed in Tokugawa times! [EN10] Thus Nitobe’s contemporary, Basil Hall Chamberlain – who was virtually the only one with courage enough to challenge him at the time – was not incorrect when he referred to the excitement over Nitobe’s bushidó as the "invention of a new religion."
This I think highlights why we must try to discourage the Gendai Budoka from looking at this book as any type of treatise on Bushido...or having any real value as such (even if incidental to his actual purpose). The dangers of such usage are pointed out in the article, which stresses what happened when others used this idea as the underpinnings of Japanese Nationalism leading up to the war.

Please read the entire article. It really is quite good. And it is NOT a product of an internet fad...

Best,
Ron

Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 05-29-2009 at 10:44 AM.

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Old 05-29-2009, 05:44 PM   #97
Buck
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

It going to take me awhile to answer all of it. Those internet discreditors of Nitobe who say he has a flawed view of bushido (which I think is odd because well his Japanese, and born during feudal Japan etc.) treat his work as if it was a primer for budo it, yet clearly it wasn't. Now if the Japanese accepted the book as a primer for bushido, then it goes to reason the flaw doesn't lay with Nitobe's work. And I would think the Japanese if they feel it was a primer should now, and not the Nitobe discreditors on the internet. Right?

I didn't state it as evidence, rather an observation. I can point out why I believe that in another thread.

Good question, and if you failed to ask it I would scratch my head in wonder. I see common views of both men toward the transformation of Japan at that time. I base that on O'Sensei's, and Nitobe's books. We will have to start another thread to get into that.

I am going to stop here, and finish the rest later.


Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Phil,

A few more points and questions.

Why do you assume that Internet attackers of Nitobe see him as writing a 'primer for bushido'? He wrote a book called "Bushido: The Soul of Japan", which was taken by the Japanese themselves as a 'primer for bushido', along with the Hagakure. I want to be clear about this, for your statement entails that the Japanese were/are also as mistaken about Nitobe as his 'western' Internet detractors. To me, it is completely immaterial whether or not Nitobe was writing a 'primer for bushido'. What he wrote was accepted by many Japanese as a 'primer for bushido'.

Of course, I suppose that you have evidence for this. Are there any of O Sensei's writings that you can point to?

With respect, what are the 'common views' in question here? Would you like to summarize O Sensei's specific views on bushido (NB, not budo), on the basis of his discourses?

Do you have any evidence?

You have mentioned this seeming commonality, but what is the commonality? What are the 'same lines' of their thinking? Please spell this out.

Wait a minute. You begin the quote at, "The direct inception...," but you do not end it.
Secondly, there is no relationship between your quotation and 'his moral notions'. Perhaps you should have given the entire section:
"In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and my wife (who asked "the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan"), I found that, without understanding feudalism and Bushido (with a footnote on pronunciation), the moral ideas of present Japan are a closed volume."
"Taking advantage of a long illness, I put down in the order now presented to the public some of the answers given in our household conversations. They consist mainly of what I was taught and told in my youthful days, when feudalism was still in force." (Preface, p. xii).

So where is the actual evidence about the 'formation of his moral notions'? Actually, Nitobe was born in 1862, which would make him just SIX years old when the 'feudal period' officially ended.

Many apologies for sounding like a professor in a tutorial, but if you are going to quote Nitobe himself in defence of your argument, you should be fair to Nitobe as well as yourself.

As always, best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Buck : 05-29-2009 at 05:48 PM.
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Old 05-29-2009, 06:10 PM   #98
Buck
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Peter,
I can't argue nihonjinron genera whether it was intended or not, or if it was vague or not, and how it relates to Nitobe. But, to me if it is so that he was guilty of nihonjinron then Nitobe was guilty of being Japanese. I don't see how that makes his viewed flawed on bushido, rather the opposite. I just don't understand the great effort on the net by so many who feel the need to debunk with conviction that Nitobe's view on bushido is so flawed. It isn't in my view, and I don't see any reasonable proof that it is flawed.

I would think people would be attacking his views on western culture, and religion instead of bushido. That would make sense.
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Old 05-29-2009, 06:45 PM   #99
Buck
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
Some more reference material. It should be particularly noted that this material was NOT originally published online. And that it was written by an historian. Not a layman.

http://ejmas.com/jalt/jaltart_hurst_0501.htm

Some particular things that caught my eye:

This passage does two things...it makes me wonder if there was any way in which Ueshiba's time in Hokkaido could have included any knowledge of Nitobe. And it stresses how unprepared Nitobe was to use Bushido in any accurate sense at all, for ANY purpose.

This I think highlights why we must try to discourage the Gendai Budoka from looking at this book as any type of treatise on Bushido...or having any real value as such (even if incidental to his actual purpose). The dangers of such usage are pointed out in the article, which stresses what happened when others used this idea as the underpinnings of Japanese Nationalism leading up to the war.

Please read the entire article. It really is quite good. And it is NOT a product of an internet fad...

Best,
Ron
Ron, that is the author's opinion. It is worth noting that if what Peter said is true, that the Japanese considered Nitobe was a primer for bushido. It really shows there is an effort to discredit Nitobe, by western critics who never lived or partook in bushido at the time of Nitobe when it was ending. It's the same thing if the Japanese said the poetry of Bruce Kiskaddon is flawed because he knows nothing about cowboys. Or we can say the same thing about works by African slaves in the United States; replace Japanese with White people not understanding the Black experience, yet the White people saying they do. I think with this author you cite, it's the samething. And you said there wasn't a conspiracy on the net.

Last edited by Buck : 05-29-2009 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 05-29-2009, 09:50 PM   #100
Rennis Buchner
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Re: Aikido and Bushido

Quote:
Philip Burgess wrote: View Post
....if what Peter said is true, that the Japanese considered Nitobe was a primer for bushido. It really shows there is an effort to discredit Nitobe, by western critics who never lived or partook in bushido at the time of Nitobe when it was ending.
The context of the work's value is what seems to need to be discussed more here. As I have said previously, the idea that "the Japanese" considered it such a "primer" is false. Many Japan did, and still do, reject the work as having not much, if anything, to do with whatever historically might have been called Bushido. Also this idea of a Western plot by academics to discredit the name seems false as well and Nitobe has and has always had a large number of Japanese detractors as well. If there is a plot, the Japanese are in on it as well, and in fact probably doing most of the work. The fact of the matter is that Nitobe barely lived in the time of, and all sources seems to indicate, did not partake of "bushido" himself.

Yes SOME Japanese did latch onto it, but the context was a bit different. It gained popularity IN JAPAN (for that matter the book has always seemed to be a bit more popular overseas than here) as a work on the "proper" mindset for the loyal Japanese citizen, soldier, etc in years leading up to and through World War Two (a use that some suspect Nitobe himself may not have been comfortable with, although there is much academic debate on this point and many feel that the fact that he never denounced his work being used in such a way has forever tainted his image since, but that is a whole other discussion). The point is that that situation, where the work gained most of its fame in Japan, was in a context where it did not really matter how correct or accurate of a view the work presented on the subject of Bushido in realistic or historical terms. Rather its value was on how a certain segment of the society at the time wanted to the Japanese to view themselves and the work was useful in furthering that view. In the context in which the book gain the most fame, it really had no value as a "primer" to a historically accurate school of thought, which historians, both Japanese and foreign, have long since shown never really existed as a unified system, and while probably not the author's intent, the work has been criticized (by academics Japanese and non-) as being one of many used in some historical revisionism that occured in pre-war and war time Japan.

Nitobe was probably the most famous Japanese man alive during his lifetime (both in and out of the country), but his fame had very little to do with this small work he wrote later in his life. Most of his fame is related to his work abroad in the international community and his high position in the League of Nations. Almost no-one I interact with in Japan outside of some people in the budo or academic communities, are even aware that he wrote the book Bushido, and his fame and area of expertise were in completely unrelated fields. This is basically the point I believe Hurst was trying to make, and it is a view shared by many Japanese I have met. Yes the guy was Japanese, but simply being Japanese, does not in any way qualify the man as an expert in the topic. In addition, his areas of personal interest and professional career seemed to indicate that among people of his generation, he was probably among the least qualified to discuss the topic accurately. Much of his professional work actually was involved with agriculture and economics. It'd be a bit like demanding a highly trained expert on international economics today to write an historically accurate work on the views and social conditions of the United States during the revolution and how that has continued to influence Americans today.

I think really Nitobe's biggest contribution to the whole discussion of commentary on Bushido has very little to do with the actual quality of the work he produced, but rather lies with the fact that he was one of the first to produce a modern work of such a nature.

As an aside, a few people here have brought up the idea that he was very knowledgable about budo (not bushido), I have found no evidence of any real serious commitment to the subject by him. His family appears to have had some connections and he did a bit as a kid, but that seems to be the extent of it (much like my family on my father's side were avid hunters and as a kid I went hunting with them, but outside of it being something I did a bit of as a kid, it has not had much real impact on my personal development and view of the world, much less enable me to make any sweeping generalizations on the effects of the hunting culture on the make up and formation of the United States as a nation).

Anyways, as a simple list of ideas of a way to live your life, the book is as good as any, and perhaps better than many, but it is when you go around trying to claim as being a continuation of bushi-based Japanese ideals accepted by all (or even most) is were you run into trouble and get massively long threads on the issue.

Rennis Buchner
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