Upholding the samurai code both on and off the battlefield is one of the essential tenets of bushidō, the Way of the Warrior—and Budōshoshinshu is a definitive treatise on living in accordance with the samurai code. When it comes to books on samurai philosophy, the Edo-period classic Hagakure is iconic to contemporary readers, but Budōshoshinshu, which was written during the same period, was equally influential at the time. Many scholars consider Hagakure, which was influenced by Zen, to be the most radical and romantic of samurai texts, while Budōshoshinshu is more measured and practical, owing to its heavy Confucian influence. Taken in tandem, they provide a range of insights on the role of the individual within the samurai order—both addressing the warrior’s role in times of peace and emphasizing the importance of living selflessly.
Written by Daidoji Yūzan, a Confucian scholar who descended from a long line of prominent warriors, Budōshoshinshu comprises 56 pithy, instructive essays for young samurai on how to live morally, with professional integrity and a higher purpose, and to carry on the true chivalrous tradition of bushidō. Budōshoshinshu is imbued with classic Confucian philosophy, centered on living one’s life with sincerity and loyalty.