The Way of the Samurai must be direct and proud. His severe manners and general behavior must indicate his high position. By not discussing trifles or complaining he avoids the dramatic situations common among lesser men.
The Martial Way is centered in posture. Strive to maintain correct posture at all times.
It appears useless to think of the perishable when you are conscious of infinity, but appearance is important to the Way of the Samurai also. The external and internal are inseparable. In the Way of the Samurai, aesthetics are inextricably linked with ethics and a samurai is expected to maintain inner and outer purity. His appearance and habits should be the embodiment of orderliness and perfection. Every morning, a samurai bathes, gets dressed, and prepares to die.
A samurai must be the color of cherry blossoms.
He whose body is clean is like the god of force and energy.
As far down as the era of Kanbun (1661-1672) the samurai used to take a bath each morning, shave himself, scent his hair, pare his nails and trim them by rubbing with pumice-stone, and polish them with the rough horsetail.
Although it seems that taking special care of one’s appearance is similar to showiness, it is nothing akin to elegance.
Even if you are aware that you may be struck down today and are firmly resolved to an inevitable death, if you are slain with an unseemly appearance, you will show your lack of previous resolve, will be despised by your enemy, and will appear unclean. For this reason it is said that both old and young should take care of their appearance.
Although you say that this is troublesome and time-consuming, a samurai’s work is in such things. It is neither busywork nor time-consuming. In constantly hardening one’s resolution to die in battle, deliberately becoming as one already dead, and working at one’s job and dealing with military affairs, there should be no shame. But when the time comes, a person will be shamed if he is not conscious of these things even in his dreams, and rather passes his days in self-interest and self-indulgence. And if he thinks that this is not shameful, and feels that nothing else matters as long as he is comfortable, then his dissipate and discourteous actions will be repeatedly regrettable.
Temple Cherry Blossoms by Yuhan Ito (woodblock print)The person without previous resolution to inevitable death makes certain that his death will be in bad form. But if one is resolved to death beforehand, in what way can he be despicable? One should be especially diligent in this concern.
It is improperly to look slack or sickly. It is of utter importance to never show disappointment and weariness.
The samurai must be the color of cherry blossoms, even in death. Before committing suicide the custom was to put on rouge not to look pale. Thus, the samurai moral dictates to set his appearance in order before death not to disgrace himself in the eyes of the enemy. But how much more important this precept is while a man is alive and mingles in the society, where appearance has the highest value!
The beautiful is always closer to perfection.
The beautiful must be vigorous, brilliant, and full of energy. This is the main principle. The second principle states that moral must incorporate beauty. It does not mean that care should be mainly taken of clothes and complexion. It means that beauty and ethical purposes must be united.
A constant practice of graceful deportment must bring with it a reserve and storage of force. Fine manners, therefore, mean power in repose.
Fine manners are a spiritual discipline... Read further in Samurai: Spirit of the Warrior
This an abstract from the chapter "Samurai Must Be the Color of Cherry Blossoms" from Spirit of the Warrior by A. R. Berg