Tohoku earthquake of March 11th in 2011, in relation to Bushido - Perfume Story

Tohoku earthquake of March 11th in 2011, in relation to Bushido

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Tohoku earthquake of March 11th in 2011, in relation to Bushido
- Why could the Japanese victims act the way they did? - Part 2 -

The tsunami attacked Japan on March 11th, 2011

At 2:46 pm (JST) on March 11th, 2011, a great earthquake of magnitude 9.0 at a depth of 24 km below surface struck the northeast region of Japan. The earthquake was followed by a huge tsunami, which, in some areas, formed 40.5 meter-high waves and, as a result, caused landslides, soil liquefaction and land subsidence. This disaster caused massive damage and more than 20,000 casualties. The foreign media reported on the calm, unselfish, and stoic behavior of the victims as a demonstration of social virtue inherent in Japanese culture.

The Japanese overcame great disasters by believing in Bushido spirit.

The Japanese Bushido spirit was introduced to the world when Inazo Nitobe wrote "Bushido: The Soul of Japan" in English. It was published in the United States in December of 1899 and later translated into many languages.

In the second chapter of this book, titled "Sources of Bushido," Nitobe starts with "I may begin with Buddhism". He follows by clearly explaining, "The Japanese have stoic composure in sight of danger or calamity."

Simply put, more than 110 years ago, Inazo Nitobe stated that the Japanese will act calmly during great disaster because the Buddhist ideas of a respectful society are deeply ingrained in the culture. The people's reactions in Tohoku earthquake mirrored what Nitobe stated in his book. The behavior of the victims shows the true Bushido nature of Japanese people.

What is Bushido?

Then, what is Bushido? Bushido is the code of conduct including ideal spirituality of the Samurai class of the Edo era (1603〜1868). However, Bushido was not documented officially as a written code; instead, it was conveyed orally, though sometimes warriors or serfs wrote down elements of Bushido as adages. Thirty years after the feudal period ended, Inazo Nitobe finally organized and documented the influences of Bushido on Japanese culture. The details of the book will be explained in detail later.

Why did Inazo Nitobe publish Bushido?

However, it should be mentioned why he wrote his book on Bushido. He states in the preface as follows:
"The direct inception of this little book is due to the frequent queries put by my wife as to the reasons why such and such ideas and customs prevail in Japan. In my attempts to give satisfactory replies to M. de Laveleye and to
my wife, I found that without understanding feudalism and Bushido, the moral ideas of present Japan are a sealed volume."
Nitobe thought that the code of conduct naturally associated with the Japanese people was most clearly present in the samurai class. In order to understand the Japanese people, it was best to analyze the conduct of the samurai because the code was more pronounced compared to the rest of Japanese society.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by administer published on August 8, 2011 4:43 PM.

Haruki Murakami's speech about the Tōhoku earthquake on March 11th, 2011 was the previous entry in this blog.

Visiting a perfume collector in Rouen, France in March, 2010 is the next entry in this blog.

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