Bushidō as a Hybrid: Hybridity and Transculturation in the Bushido Discourse

  • Masaki SHIRAISHI Kobe College
Keywords: Bushido, Hybridity, Transculturation, Modernity, Tradition


This paper examines the discourse on bushido in the late Meiji period. My aim is to shed light on bushido’s hybridity by using the concept of transculturation. Transculturation conceptualizes encounters between different cultures as a process of mutual construction. The bushido theorists that are discussed in this paper are in some sense transculturators, struggling between Japan and the West, the particular and the universal, and tradition and modernity. One of the common theoretical strategies for solving this problem attempted to valorize bushido and was mostly dependent on establishing equivalence with similar traditions in Western culture, such as chivalry or gentlemanship. Nitobe’s famous book on bushido went beyond this type of strategy. He not only accounted for things in Japanese cultural tradition by using Western logic, but also reinterpreted Western concepts in light of Japanese cultural traditions. This makes Nitobe a more perfect example of a transculturator than others. The ultra-nationalist discourse on bushido by Inoue Tetsujiro shows another curious aspect of bushido’s hybridity. Bushido became at once purified and hybridized through the distinction he made between superficial formality and the essential spirit. Thus, the discursive strategies of bushido theorists are closely related to bushido’s hybridity.

How to Cite
SHIRAISHI, M. (2018). Bushidō as a Hybrid: Hybridity and Transculturation in the Bushido Discourse. Asian Studies, 6(2), 51-70. https://doi.org/10.4312/as.2018.6.2.51-70
Defining Bushidō