Many Japanese arts and traditions were influenced by the Chinese and Buddhist culture. Similarly, the Chinese Taoism concept of 道 influenced Japanese philosophy. 道 is particularly used in traditional Japanese arts, either martial arts or aesthetic arts.
The kanji “道” signifies path or road. The 訓読み kunyomi (Japanese reading) for this kanji is みち michi and its 音読み onyomi (Chinese reading) is どう do.
In Chinese, 道 (pronounced as dao or tao) means “road, way, path …” as well as “to say, to explain, order, rule, doctrine …”.
The word has also a variety of differing and often confusing metaphorical, philosophical and religious uses.
道 characterizes the fundamental principle of a system of thought or a belief, an art, or a skill.
It can also means by extension a system of thought or belief in its entirety or the entire body of principles and skills that constitute an art.
The practice of “道” (“do”) was formalized from the mid-Edo period (1603-1868). Regardless of the art, silent meditation, teacher-student relationship, and learning through repetition are emphasized. They also all give a great importance to spirituality.
“道” (“do”) can be found in a lot of differences arts, martial arts, religious or philosophical doctrines such as :
– 花道 (kado), “the way of flowers”, the art of flower arrangement also known as “生け花” (ikebana).
– “書道” (Shodo), “the way of writing”, the art of calligraphy.
– “弓道” (Kyudo), “the way of the bow”, or Japanese archery.
– “剣道” (Kendo), “the way of the sword”, a Japanese martial art using bamboo swords.
– “柔道” (Judo), meaning “gentle way”
– “神道” (Shinto), literally “the way of god”, the traditional religion of Japan…