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Advances in Japanese Business and Economics

The Mercantile Ethical Tradition in Edo Period Japan

A Comparative Analysis with Bushido

Authors: Horide, Ichiro

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  • Is the first known attempt to systematically prove the existence of a singular merchants’ ethical code, shonindo, and compares it with the “Way of the Warrior”, or Bushido, in Japan’s early modern Edo period (1603–1868)
  • Analyzes the business ethics of Edo period Japanese merchants
  • Clarifies the influence of virtue derived from three religions or philosophies: Shintoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism 
  • Demonstrates differences and similarities between Western and Japanese merchant ethical codes 
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Hardcover $139.99
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About this book

This book demonstrates that during Japan’s early modern Edo period (1603–1868) an ethical code existed among the merchant class comparable to that of the well-known Bushido. There is compelling evidence that contemporary merchants, who were widely and openly despised as immoral by the samurai, in fact acted in highly ethical ways in accordance with a well-articulated moral code.

Japanese society was strictly stratified into four distinct and formally recognized classes: warrior, farmer, craftsman and merchant. From the warriors’ perspective, the merchants, at the base of the social order, had no virtue, and existed only to skim profits as middlemen between producers and consumers. But were these accusations correct? Were the merchants really unethical beings who engaged in unfair business practices? There is ample evidence that negates the ubiquitous slanders of the warrior class and suggests that merchants – no less than the warriors – possessed and acted in accordance with a well-developed ethical code, a spirit that may be called shonindo or “The Way of the Merchant.”

This book examines whether a comparison of shonindo, depicting the ethical point of view of the merchant class, and Bushido, embodying that of the warrior class, reveals that shonindo may have in fact surpassed Bushido in some aspects. Comparing contemporarily published historical documents concerning both shonindo and Bushido, as well as Inazo Nitobe’s classic work Bushido: The Soul of Japan, published in 1900, the author examines how Bushido surpassed shonindo in that warriors were willing to die for their strict ethical code. Shonindo, however, may have surpassed Bushido in that merchants were liberal, willing to expand and extend application of their ethical beliefs into all aspects of everyday life for the overall benefit of society. This ethical code is compared with that of the conservative Bushido, which demonstrably proved not up to the task for the modernization and improved well-being of Japan.

Ichiro Horide is professor emeritus of Reitaku University. Edward Yagi (Reitaku University) and Stanley J. Ziobro II (Trident Technical College) collaborated in the translation of the original Japanese manuscript into English.

About the authors

Ichiro Horide is Professor Emeritus of Reitaku University, Japan. 

Edward Yagi, who supervised the overall translation of the manuscript from Japanese to English, is a Professor of Economics and Business Management at Reitaku University. 

Stanley J. Ziobro II, who converted most of the original Japanese manuscript into English, is an Adjunct Professor in Religion at Trident Technical College, USA.

Table of contents (6 chapters)

Table of contents (6 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $79.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-981-13-7338-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $139.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-981-13-7337-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Mercantile Ethical Tradition in Edo Period Japan
Book Subtitle
A Comparative Analysis with Bushido
Authors
Translated by
Yagi, E., Ziobro II, S.
Series Title
Advances in Japanese Business and Economics
Series Volume
20
Copyright
2019
Publisher
Springer Singapore
Copyright Holder
Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.
eBook ISBN
978-981-13-7338-1
DOI
10.1007/978-981-13-7338-1
Hardcover ISBN
978-981-13-7337-4
Series ISSN
2197-8859
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XII, 233
Number of Illustrations
1 b/w illustrations
Topics