The Hoover Institution Library & Archives presents the Fanning the Flames Speaker Series. This tenth session is moderated by Kay Ueda and presented by Karl F. Friday, Professor Emeritus in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Saitama University, and at the University of Georgia. The “‘Bushidō’ & What Bushi Did: Loyalty, Reputation & Honor in the Samurai Tradition" virtual event is on April 12, 2022 (Tuesday) at 12:00 pm PST | 3:00 pm EST.

The samurai is an entertaining, romantic figure and for many in and out of Japan, a fundamental representative, a symbol, of Japanese national character. And yet the majority of what samurai aficionados—and a great many scholars as well—believe about samurai culture derives from a consciously-fashioned mythology that bear scant resemblance to historical reality. Indeed, to describe samurai culture in historical reality, we must first ask “which samurai historical reality?” 

For while modern commentators have too often attempted to treat “bushidō” (literally, “the way of the warrior”) as an enduring code of behavior readily encapsulated in simplistic notions of honor, duty, and loyalty, the historical reality is far from simple. Warrior values and behavior varied significantly from era to era—most especially across the transition from the medieval to the early modern age—and in most cases bore scant resemblance to twentieth-century fantasies about samurai comportment. This lecture will examine the evolution of the warrior ethos in Japan, with special attention to the key constructs of honor and loyalty.

To learn more about the accompanying book (edited by Kay Ueda, curator of the Japanese Diaspora Collection at Hoover) and to see past events, videos, and highlights, please visit our new interactive online exhibition website, Fanning the Flames: Propaganda in Modern Japan. Please also visit our

exhibition, now open in Hoover Tower at Stanford University.  For complete details please visit our exhibition web page.


WATCH THE DISCUSSION

Participant Bios
 

karl

Karl F. Friday (PhD, Stanford 1989) is Professor Emeritus in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Saitama University, and at the University of Georgia. A specialist in the Heian and Kamakura periods, his publications include Hired Swords: The Rise of Private Warrior Power in Early Japan (Stanford, 1992), Legacies of the Sword: the Kashima Shinryu & Samurai Martial Culture (University of Hawai’I Press, 1997), Samurai, Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan (Routledge, 2004), The First Samurai: the Life & Legend of the Warrior Rebel Taira Masakado (Wiley, 2008), Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850 (Westview, 2012), The Routledge Handbook of Premodern Japanese History (Routledge, 2017) and numerous shorter works.

kaoru

Kaoru (Kay) Ueda is the curator of the Japanese Diaspora Collection at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives. She curated many of the materials used in the Fanning the Flames book and exhibition. Ueda manages the Japanese Diaspora Initiative, endowed by an anonymous gift to promote the study of overseas Japanese history during the Empire of Japan period. She is the editor of On a Collision Course: The Dawn of Japanese Migration in the Nineteenth Century (Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2020).

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