This is a summary of the first chapter of the book "Bushido, the soul of Japan", written by Inazo Nitobe, called "Bushido as an Ethical System". I compiled it myself by assembling all major quotes, I thought were important in this chapter. As I'm reading it right now, I thought it could benefit some of you who are interested in it too and I think I can improve my understanding through that quite a lot too. Enjoy.
>The Japanese word which I have roughly rendered Chivalry, is, in the original, more expressive than Horsemanship. Bu-shi-do means literally Military-Knight-Ways - the ways which fighting nobles should observe in their daily life as well as in their vocation; in a word, the "Precepts of Knighthood," the noblesse oblige of the warrior class. Bushido, then, is the code of moral principles which the knights were required or instructed to observe. It is not a written code; at best it consists of a few maxims handed down from mouth to mouth or coming from the pen of some well-known warrior or savant. More frequently it is a code unuttered and unwritten, possessing all the more the powerful sanction of veritable deed, and of a law written on the fleshly tablets of the heart. It was founded not on the creation of one brain, however able, or on the life of a single personage, however renowned. It was an organic growth of decades and centuries of military career. True, early in the seventeenth century Military Statutes (Buke Hatto) were promulgated; but their thirteen short articles were taken up mostly with marriages, castles, leagues, etc., and didactic regulations were but meagerly touched upon. Only as it (Bushido) attains consciousness in the feudal age, its origin, in respect to time, may be identified with feudalism. In Japan its rise was simultaneous with the ascendency of Yoritomo, late in the twelfth century. Again, in Japan, when feudalism was formally inaugurated, the professional class of warriors naturally came into prominence. These were known as samurai, meaning literally guards or attendants. A Sinico-Japanese word Bu-ke or Bu-shi (Fighting Knights) was also adopted in common use. They were a privileged class, and must originally have been a rough breed who made fighting their vocation. This class was naturally recruited, in a long period of constant warfare, from the manliest and the most adventurous, and all the while the process of elimination went on, the timid and the feeble being sorted out, and only "a rude race, all masculine, with brutish strength" surviving to form families and the ranks of the samurai. Coming to profess great honor and great privileges, and correspondingly great responsibilities, they soon felt the need of a common standard of behavior (Bushido), especially as they were always on a belligerent footing and belonged to different clans.