I was born shortly after World War II in a primarily
rural Caucasian community disconnected from my
Japanese heritage. In fact, I did not realize that I was
different until my grade school classmates teased me
about it; this was my first encounter with prejudice.
I was blamed for the bombing of Pearl Harbor and
World War II--a heavy burden on young shoulders,
but there was something inside that would not allow
the pain I felt to defeat me.
After graduating from college in 1978 with a
Bachelor of Arts Degree, I had the fortunate opportunity
to work at the Tacoma Art Museum in Tacoma,
Washington. I was the assistant to the curator, international
designer Sara Little Turnbull, who became
my first mentor. At only four feet 11 inches, she has
been described as a giant in design and the mother of
invention. Sara had spent time researching in Japan
and loved Japanese culture, so she encouraged me to
explore my Japanese heritage. My assignment was to
research and catalog the artifacts in the "Sara Little
Center for Design Research," many of which came
I became fascinated with the beauty, ingenuity,
and simplicity of the Japanese artifacts, and the
research consumed me. She always said that I was more
Japanese than I realized and suggested that I travel to
Japan. Sara referred to herself as my Jewish mother. It
was God's plan for me to connect with and appreciate
my Japanese heritage.
In 1994, I attended an exhibit at the Wing Luke
Museum in Seattle, Washington, featuring Chiune
Sugihara, also known as the Japanese Schindler. The
exhibit described Sugihara's work in saving the lives of
the Jewish refugees in Lithuania just before World War
II. His courage deeply moved me and another seed was
planted regarding my Japanese heritage.
Later in 2003, I watched the movie, The Last Samurai,
and I felt a connection to the emotional strength of the
Japanese characters. My study on the subject of the
samurai and the Bushido code commenced.
These two events caused me to turn pain into gain and embrace
that which I once scorned. They also served as the
impetus for this book. I am a sansei (third-generation
Japanese American) and a descendant of the samurai
warrior on the paternal side of my family.
Since my initial trip to Japan in 1982, I have returned
numerous times to study, visit, and have a
deeper connection to my Japanese heritage. I have
been reading, writing, interviewing, and studying relentlessly
to search for answers; this is my passion and
purpose in life. This book represents a step of discovery
and my journey home.
This search also has given me the opportunity to understand
the qualities of leadership. Although these are
not principles unique to Japan, this study has helped
me to embrace my Japanese heritage with pride. It has
also opened my eyes to how far from these principles
we as a society have moved.
Not long ago, there was a time when your word
was your bond, and it was safe to leave your doors
unlocked because you knew your neighbors. In our
modern society, it would seem that the distinction between
right and wrong gave way to situational ethics.
The term honest business dealing is almost considered
Have we succumbed to mediocrity?
Are there leaders today worth following?
Are you concerned about the direction our society
seems to be taking? Do you feel concern not only for
yourself, but also for younger generations such as your
children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren? Is it
your desire to leave this earth a better place because of
you and your contributions?
Life is full of challenges. Tests and trials can allow a
stronger you to emerge. In order to survive and grow
in these difficult times, do you know how to weather
the storm? Do you have a strategy in place to overcome
the challenges that you face?
This determination to survive challenges was ingrained
in the Japanese immigrants who settled in America through
the bushido code. This feudal code provided moral and
ethical structure that allowed them to survive and prosper
in a country often hostile to their very presence.
The issei (first-generation Japanese immigrants to the United
States) taught the bushido code of honor, loyalty to family
and country, and to always do one's best to their children.
The niseis (second-generation Japanese Americans) were
the generation who weathered life behind barbed wire
during World War II. They also volunteered to serve their
country in both Europe and Asia.
Throughout this book, you will learn the principles
of the samurai and be inspired by how these principles
influenced their descendants. You will also discover
why these principles became the basis for great leadership.
Bushido literally means the way of the warrior;
it is the code of chivalry developed by the warriors of
ancient Japan known as the samurai. This code formed
the basis of their conduct. It emphasized courage, loyalty,
and the idea of death before dishonor. Over the
centuries, it influenced not only the samurai warriors,
but also all of Japanese society.
The bushido code includes the following principles:
The samurai, or warrior class, evolved from powerful
clans banded together as a means of resistance to
the encroachment of imperial power. Their principles
embraced a sense of order, honor, selflessness, and
moral integrity. They understood those imbued with
power were required to wield it for the good of the
many, not for the selfishness of the few. The samurai
dedicated his life to uphold these principles, and such
dedication was not optional. He also served and protected
his lord, and those in his care.
Bushido code principles were not only for the samurai warriors but
were a code of ethics that can be utilized and practiced
in our everyday life both personally and professionally.
In this book, each principle is discussed with examples
of people who embody these principles.
At the end of the book, a chapter discusses the
Japanese word ganbaru, loosely translated as do your
best, try your hardest, never give up, and go for broke!
There are several translations for this one word ganbaru
because as it so often happens in the Japanese
language, there are words describing more of a feeling
and state of mind. I believe that ganbaru summarizes
the bushido code. Samurai are known to Westerners as
having the ability to possess many different characteristics
of the bushido code. These may include serving
people, striving for honor, and doing one's best.
A colleague and author, Bruce Brummond, wrote a befitting
and timeless acronym for the word samurai below:
- Results in
I wrote this book to bring honor to the courageous
men and women who dedicated their lives by adhering
to the bushido code whether they knew it or not. They
determined to do the right thing all the time. Their
decisions sometimes cost them dearly, but our lives are
forever enriched because of their sacrifices.
My goal is to inspire, educate, and empower you,
the reader, to take action in your personal and business
lives. I believe that you were born to live a life of
courage, honor, and integrity, and I would love to be
your coach, mentor, and accountability partner on this
journey. If you are just beginning, welcome! If you
are well on your way, I hope you will be inspired to
continue and achieve your highest goals, dreams, and
visions. Regardless of where you are, let us link arms,
and travel this journey together!
You can live a life of honor in today's society.
Let the principles of the ancient samurai code guide
you along that path.
Are you ready to embark on an incredible journey?
Are you open to an honorable way of living in your
personal and business lives? Do you want to learn what
the ancient principles of the samurai teach about overcoming
your challenges? If you are ready, then sharpen
your sword, and let's begin!
"A year from now, you will wish you started today."