The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen, and to a lesser extent Confucianism and Shinto, influenced the samurai culture. Zen meditation became an important teaching caused by it offering a procedure to calm one's mind. The Buddhist idea of reincarnation and rebirth led samurai to abandon torture and needless killing, while some samurai gave up violence completely and became Buddhist monks after coming to believe that their killings were fruitless. Some were killed as they came to terms with the conclusions in the battlefield. The most defining role that Confucianism played in samurai philosophy was to stress the importance of the lord retainer relationshipthe loyalty that a samurai was obliged to show his lord.
Painting of O,ishi Yoshio committing seppuku, 1703.
After the Japanese defeat of China in 1895 and of Russia in 1905, nationalists started to propagte a purportedly ancient samurai code they called bushido, "way of the warrior" as part of a nihonjinron hypothesis of Japanese exceptionalism, the term and idea are rare in pre-20th century literature. Hagakure or "Hidden in Leaves" by Yamamoto Tsunetomo and Gorin no Sho or "Book of the Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi, both written in the Tokugawa period 16031868, are theories that have been related with bushido, and Zen philosophy.
The philosophies of Buddhism and Zen, and to a lesser extent Confucianism and Shinto, are attributed to the development of the samurai culture. as indicated by Robert Sharf, "The notion that Zen is in some way related to Japanese culture overall, and bushido, in specific, is familiar to Western students of Zen through the writings of D. T. Suzuki, no doubt the single most important figure in the spread of Zen in the West."
In an account of Japan sent to Father Ignatius Loyola at Rome, drawn from the statements of Anger Han Siro's western name, Xavier describes the importance of honor to the Japanese Letter preserved at College of Coimbra. :
In the 1st place, the nation with which we have had to do here surpasses in goodness any of the nations recently discovered. I really think that among barbarous nations there may be none that has more natural goodness than the Japanese. they're of a kindly disposition, not at all given to cheating, wonderfully desirous of honour and rank. Honour with them is placed above everything else. There are a great many poor among them, but poverty isn't a shame to any one. there's one thing among them of which I hardly know if it's practised anywhere among Christians. The nobles, but poor they can be, get the same honour from the rest as if they were rich.
n the 13th century, Ho,jo, Shigetoki 11981261 AD wrote: "When one is serving officially or in the master's court, he shouldn't think of a hundred or a thousand people, but should think about only the importance of the master." Carl Steenstrup noted that 13th and 14th century warrior writings gunki "portrayed the bushi in their natural element, war, eulogizing such virtues as reckless bravery, fierce family pride, and selfless, at times senseless devotion of master and man". Feudal lords like Shiba Yoshimasa 13501410 stated that a warrior looked forward to a glorious death in the service of a military leader or the Emperor: "It is a matter of regret to let the moment when one should die pass by... 1st, a man whose profession is using arms should think , then act upon not only his own fame, but also that of his descendants. He shouldn't scandalize his name forever by holding his one and only life too dear... One's major function in throwing away his life is to do so either for the sake of the Emperor or in some great undertaking of a military general. it's that exactly that will be the great fame of one's descendants."
General Akashi Gidayu preparing to commit Seppuku after losing a fight for his master in 1582. He had just written his death poem
In 1412 AD, Imagawa Sadayo wrote a letter of admonishment to his brother stressing the importance of responsibility to one's master. Imagawa has been admired for his balance of military and administrative expertise throughout his lifetime and his writings became extensive. The letters became central to Tokugawa era laws and were a obliged study for conventional Japanese till World War II:
"First of all, a samurai who dislikes fight and hasn't put his heart in the right place although he was born in the house of the warrior, shouldn't be reckoned among one's retainers... it's forbidden to forget the great debt of kindness one owes to his master and ancestors and thus make light of the virtues of loyalty and filial piety... it's forbidden that one should... Attach little importance to his duties to his master... there's a main have to distinguish loyalty from disloyalty and to set up rewards and punishments."