The introduction of Neo-Confucianism from China and the establishment of a stable state under Tokugawa rule helped to establish a new perspective of Confucian philosophy. Ultimately, Neo-Confucianism itself did not become a dominant philosophy in Japan, but its presence challenged the dominant Buddhist philosophies. In this paper, by mainly focusing on the incident of Akō vendetta, how the new understanding of 忠 and 孝, which are one of the central ideas of Confucian philosophy, came to be shared by the majority of Japanese people will be explained.
For the hope to strengthen the political rule over the Japanese society, Tokugawa government supported the rise of Neo-Confucianism, and encouraged the establishment of national secular ideology.…show more content… One of what seems to have encouraged the forty-six retainers to kill Kira is the Confucian idea of filial piety, xiào 孝, which is one of the central ideas of Confucian morality. The followers of Confucian philosophy are required to have respect for one's parents, elders, and ancestors. Even among them, since parents are in the direct relation, respecting one’s parents was considered to be the most important element for filial piety. Yet the definition of “parents” was somewhat vague, as the definition of “parents” or “house” was not clearly defined in any of the Confucian text. It was therefore probable for the samurai retainers to consider the group they belong to as “family” or “house,” and the master of the group as “the father of the family.” Further, it was also possible that, as a result, the retainers believed the revenge on Kira would be considered as a legitimate action of…show more content… One of the reasons was that, the action reflected the “true bushido.” In Tokugawa period, there was the idea of “不俱載天の敵 (an inveterate enemy)” driven from the belief of “父の仇は俱に天を載かず (not wanting to live in the same world as one’s father’s or lord’s enemies; being prepared to sacrifice one’s life to avenge one’s father or lord),” which was written in The Book of Rites, Liji 礼記. As it was mentioned above, the Akō vendetta was deeply connected to the idea of bushido. Before concerning 忠 and 義, the retainers may have thought that, living with the enemy of the lord would not be a right thing for a samurai to do.
The idea of “the Way of the Warrior,” bushido, was introduced by Yamaga Soko. For the ideas of loyalty and honor, he combined Confucian values and warrior values. His intention was to develop a warrior mentality, which would be appropriate to the political service under bakufu. Furthermore, while the unemployment rate of samurai was increasing, many of them entered the various Buddhist orders as Zen, of which emphasis on discipline and regimentation were similar to those of ideal image of samurai. The combined result was an idealized code of the bushido as a way of