Bushido involved not only martial spirit and skill with weapons, but also absolute loyalty to one's lord, a strong personal honor, devotion to duty, and the courage, if required, to sacrifice one's life in battle or in ritual suicide.

The composite of indigenous and Confucianized Bushido regulated much of the ethical behavior and intellectual inquiry of the samurai class in the Edo period.

The emphasis on action, purity of motivation, loyal service, and political and intellectual leadership inherent in Bushido helps to explain why the samurai class could serve as the moving force of the movement that led to the Meiji Restoration and ultimately play an influential role in the modernization of Japan.

Although Bushido was temporarily submerged in the early Meiji surge of modernization and Westernization, after the Sino-Japanese War it found new expressions in patriotism and devotion to the emperor.

It was also later interpreted by Nitobe Inazo in his Bushido: The Soul of Japan (1899) as all that was most admirable in Japanese tradition and society.