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Odds and Ends
I know gun-fu
23 2, 2:50pm
Thus the qualifier "virtually". The word is old, yes, but obscure in part for the reasons you mentioned. While the samurai did have a sense of honor as did all professional warriors, and Japanese culture did have some variations as all cultures do, bushido was not nearly as extensive or as ritualized as pop culture would have you believe. It wasn't until the very end of the 19th century, due to a popular publication, that any but a few, even among former samurai themselves, would've even heard of the word "bushido". But, Japan wanted to romanticize a part of their past, and the Japanese government was more than eager to establish a single national identity, so, well, history.
And in an ironic twist, for all Japan tries to set itself as being different from, say, Europe and its knights, the mythology of Bushido is actually yet one more way that Japan is similar. For you see, Chivalry has virtually the same history (meta-history?) as Bushido...