Bushido, a modern term rather than a historical one, originates from the samurai moral values, most commonly stressing some combination of frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery, and honor unto death. Born from Neo-Confucianism during times of peace in Tokugawa Japan and following Confucian texts, Bushido was also influenced by Shinto and Zen Buddhism, allowing the violent existence of the samurai to be tempered by wisdom and serenity. Bushidō developed between the 16th and 20th centuries, debated by pundits who believed they were building on a legacy dating from the 10th century, although some scholars have noted «the term bushidō itself is rarely attested in premodern literature.»
Under the Tokugawa Shogunate, some aspects of warrior values became formalized into Japanese feudal law.
In Bushido (1899), Nitobe wrote:
- …Bushidō, then, is the code of moral principles which the samurai were required or instructed to observe…. More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten…. It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career.