Max Seinsch

Max Seinsch


Researchproject: The Bushidô-Discourse of the Late Meiji Period.

Abstract: In the second half of the Meiji period, from the 1890s onwards and especially after Japan's victory in the Sino-Japanese War 1895, a body of articles, essays and books began to emerge concerned with 'Bushidô.' This interest in a 'Way of the Warrior' seems paradoxical in a country, which had in the previous two decades witnessed the financial and political uprooting, the sometimes violent suppression and finally the abolition of exactly that social class that gave Bushidô its name. 

In the Meiji government’s constant effort to concentrate political, administrative, fiscal and military power under its central regime, it had been one major task to extinguish the bushi as the single social class, which had the political self-assurance and military potential after the Meiji Restoration to overthrow the new oligarchy. The process of their abolition made it not only necessary to abolish the bushi as a social class, but also to deny them any kind of special quality, property and function in society. But that implied a denial of the feudal 'Way of the Warrior,' which constituted in a sense the claim that bushi are indeed special! All references to Bushidô or the special spirit of the samurai in the 1870’s and 1880’s were uttered by strong opponents of the new legislation and supporters of the view that even in a modernized Japan bushi should play the major political role. 

But during and after the Sino-Japanese War, when bushi as a class had ceased to exist and did not pose any social or political danger any longer, Bushidô became recognized as the inherently Japanese spirit of martial valor and morality indifferent to social class or profession.  However, the alleged application of a feudal, class-specific ethic to a modern society required a profound redefinition and transformation of the subject, which will be the subject of this thesis.



  • Andreas Niehaus, Max Seinsch (eds.), Olympic Japan: Ideals and Realities of (Inter)Nationalism, Würzburg: Ergon Verlag 2007.
  • Yamamoto Jôchô (auth.), Max Seinsch (transl.), Hagakure, Stuttgart: Reclam Verlag 2009.


  • Max Seinsch, Andreas Niehaus, 'Ideals and Realities of (Inter)Nationalism.' In: Niehaus, Andreas; Seinsch Max (ed.): Olympic Japan - Ideals and Realities of (Inter)Nationalism. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag 2007, p. 7-13.
  • Max Seinsch, 'Einführung.' In: Yamamoto Jôchô (auth.), Max Seinsch (transl.), Hagakure, Stuttgart: Reclam Verlag 2009.

Curriculum Vitae:

  • 2011~ Doctorate and Doctoral Training Programme of Oriental Languages and Cultures, Ghent University 
  • 1999-2010 Lecturer at Keiô University, Tôkyô
  • 2006-2010 Lecturer at Hôsei University, Tôkyô
  • 2008-2010 Lecturer at Waseda University, Tôkyô
  • 2001-2003 Lecturer at Rikkyô University, Tôkyô
  • 1996-2000 Graduate Program in Comparative Culture, Sophia University, Tôkyô
  • Degree: Master of Arts in Asian Studies
  • 1995-1996 Exchange Study Program at Faculty of Comparative Culture, 
  • Sophia University, Tôkyô
  • 1993-1995 Tôkyô School of the Japanese Language
  • 1990-1993 Department of Japanology, Universität zu Köln
  • 1989-1990 Department of Mathematics, Westfälische Wilhelmsuniversität Münster



  • 2000~ Member of the Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens (OAG)
  • 2005-2007 Member of the Board of Examiners “German Proficiency Test in Japan”
  • Society for the Promotion of German Studies in Japan